One of the things I've always loved most about Bill Simmons is that he has never, not even in the slightest, tried to hide his fandom. He's a Boston guy. As it pertains to the NBA, he watches pretty much everything through Celtics-colored glasses.
I'm the same way. I was born and raised in Northern California, way north of San Francisco in the part of the state most people think is Oregon, and I went to college near the Bay Area. The Warriors were on my TV before I could walk, and they've stayed on my TV, or at least right at the front of my NBA thoughts, in all the years since.
I have to force myself to be objective about the Warriors. I'm not sure I always succeed. I'm probably a little too high on them when things are going well, and a little too critical when they aren't. Remotes have indeed been known to fly when Steve Kerr refuses to run Steph Curry pick-and-rolls until he's backed into a Game 7 against the freaking Kings.
Yes, I know the Kings aren't the freaking Kings anymore.
And yes, I know Steve Kerr is an all-time great coach.
Still, I get worked up about these things. But something feels different about this Warriors team, and it has me oddly at ease. They're not a legitimate title contender. Not as currently constructed. I've accepted that. For now, at least. When they're treading water on the play-in line in February and don't make a trade for a real difference maker, I can't make any promises.
But as we sit here in mid-November, this Warriors team ain't it. Trying to wedge them into the contender conversation is a legacy play, and that legacy was built with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green at the height of their powers. That is no longer the case. It just isn't.
Green is still super impactful, don't get me wrong (when he can keep his head on straight, at least), but the Thompson decline is too much to overcome for a team already strapped for any sort of consistent scoring outside of Curry. The Chris Paul Kool-aid went from the real deal to sugar free real quick. If Thompson isn't the player he used to be, Paul isn't even close.
Sure, he protects the ball better than Jordan Poole, but the juice ain't there, man. The man can barely get the ball to the front of the rim from 3. You can look up on any given night and see him with two points and not be surprised.
The two-timeline thing was a bust. Poole was a major part of winning the 2022 title, but let's be honest: the real two-timeline players were James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga. Wiseman is gone. Kuminga is going to be a good player and already is to some degree, but relying on him for real championship oomph is not a realistic hope.
Moody is good, as well. But he's redundant next to Thompson and to some degree Wiggins as a 3-and-D guy, and I've simply accepted that the Warriors are going to ride the Thompson nostalgia into the ground. So Moody's minutes are sporadic. And he's not some extreme needle-mover anyway.
The Warriors are 15th in offense and 12th in defense with basically a neutral net rating. They hardly even win the Curry minutes anymore (plus-0.4, per CTG). Sure, part of that is Andrew Wiggins, who has been a shell of the player the Warriors have gotten used to and has dragged the Curry lineups down considerably, but that's hiding from the real, bigger truth.
This Warriors team just doesn't have enough. They could have enough, perhaps, if they were open to a big trade, one that might involve Thompson, but I just don't think they'll do that. I'm not even sure I want them to. Again, I'm attached to this team. Have been for as long as I can remember. I have just as soft a spot for Thompson as every other diehard Dubs guy.
But objectively, he's nothing more than Steph support now -- and even that only on occasion. That's the hard truth. The days of Curry having a true partner in scoring and shooting crime are gone, and without a top-shelf defense or an awesome bench or, dare I say, some Jordan Poole juice to make up for that, well, this kind of is what it is.
In our, I was the only one who picked the Warriors to finish outside the top four in the Western Conference. I had them fifth, and my bias was responsible for at least 50% of even that much optimism.
In reality, I knew this was probably a team that would hover around the play-in line, and so far I haven't seen anything to suggest otherwise. The Warriors are 6-7 and two of those wins came on game-winning shots. It could easily be a 4-9 situation.
Last year they couldn't win on the road, this year they can't win at home. It's tough, man. But it is what it is. The glory days are over. We still have a puncher's chance every night for the simple fact that Curry remains at the height of his powers, but that's about it. Unless they shake up the roster. Which I don't think they will do.