If you thought the Warriors had looked like a disaster to start the season, things are about to get a lot worse as the team announced on Friday that after having surgery on his broken left hand. If the Warriors' playoff hopes were already circling the drain before Curry went down, this pretty much seals their lottery fate -- which might not be such a bad thing.
That one of the best players in the world is out for three months, at least, would qualify as anything other than disastrous news might sound crazy, but this is a team that's been to five straight Finals. A little rest for their core three stars isn't the worst outcome in the world. Steve Kerr said a while back that Klay Thompson was "unlikely" to play this season, and this injury to Curry all but seals that decision. Why would Klay come back now? For what?
So at the very least, Thompson gets a full 15 months off from playing in NBA basketball games. Curry gets all his rehab time off, and probably a lot of time even when he "returns" as the Warriors will almost inevitably be in at least pseudo tank mode by then. Whether they'll overtly start sitting healthy players behind fake injuries remains to be seen, but they are not going to be putting their best foot forward. If and when Curry does return this season, it certainly won't be to try to score 30 a night.
Draymond Green also suffered an injury Wednesday night, taking a hit to his lower back as he tried to set a screen. He sat on the bench after, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic, in a "padded high chair with a wrap on his sore back." This obviously isn't season ending, but again, what does Green have to rush back for? This is a guy who will be 30 years old this March and, given his rough-and-tumble playing style, is likely already aging faster than your normal NBA player. You can bet Green will be getting his share of rest as the season goes along.
So what does no Thompson, no Curry for a long time, probably no Kevon Looney for a good while and a limited Draymond Green get you? That's right, Bob! A brand-new lottery pick! For the first time since they got Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 overall pick in 2012, the Warriors are almost certain to be back in the game for lottery talent in the 2020 draft with pretty much no shot to make the playoffs.
It calls to mind the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs, who basically had one terrible season in between a bunch of really good ones, and that one terrible season wound up netting them the No. 1 pick in the 1997 draft, which they used to take Tim Duncan. And the rest is history. The Spurs never would've been bad enough to get the No. 1 pick had David Robinson, an MVP player, not gotten hurt and missed most of that season. So Curry becomes the Warriors' Robinson.
That doesn't mean the Warriors are going to land a Tim Duncan. The 2020 class doesn't have a consensus No. 1 player, but it is considered to be very deep with talent through the top 15. So the Warriors are going to get a good-to-great young player to add to a rested Curry, Thompson, Green and Looney heading into 2020-21.
And we haven't even mentioned D'Angelo Russell, who actually becomes the most interesting player in all this. Russell is now going to get pretty much full control of the Warriors' offense, much like he got to run a million pick-and-rolls in Brooklyn last season, thanks to the Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie injuries. If he shines in this sudden opportunity, much like he did last year with Brooklyn, does that up his trade value?
The Warriors have insisted they didn't trade for Russell with the intention of re-trading him a few months later, but what else are they going to say? The Warriors, if they intend to get back in the championship mix next season, will need a lot more defense than they will offense, and Russell wasn't looking like such a great fit next to Curry in the short time they shared the court anyway. Maybe the Warriors look at pumping up Russell's value over these next few months and try to flip him for a package that addresses more short-term needs with a draft pick or two attached.
So again, is this Curry broken hand really all that terrible? It's not an injury from which he might not recover at 100 percent. It's more or less a built-in excuse for Curry to rest, rather than beat his head against a wall for six months on a team seemingly destined to die a slow death anyway.
To recap: The Warriors also get to sit Thompson with no pressure to bring him back even a smidge early. Green gets to take it easy. Russell, hopefully, is now set up to either prove his worth to the Warriors or some other team. This summer Golden State won't be hard capped anymore, and it will have both the mid-level exception plus the $17 million trade exception from the Andre Iguodala deal. This season was a dead one walking anyway. Seems like it's best for everyone to be put out of their misery early so they can start looking ahead to brighter days.