No team in the NBA will begin the 2019-20 season with more lost star-power than the Golden State Warriors, who for the first time in more than half a decade aren't considered the title favorite, or even a lock to make the playoffs. Kevin Durant, gone. Andre Iguodala, gone. Klay Thompson, out until at least the All-Star break -- per Warriors GM Bob Myers -- as he continues recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in Game 6 of last season's Finals.
Bob Myers with updates on Klay Thompson and Willie Cayley-Stein. Klay is doing well. Status will be updated at All-Star Break. Cauley-Stein (left foot strain) will miss camp & status will be updated at end of October. #Warriors pic.twitter.com/6BTTEyxDHq— 95.7 The Game (@957thegame) September 30, 2019
This is no surprise. Any timeline that had Thompson returning before the All-Star break was unrealistic.; even the earlier end of that window would put Thompson back on the court in mid-March with about a month left in the regular season. Even providing for some extra leeway on his return, Thompson should, assuming there are no setbacks during his rehab, be ready for the playoffs. Assuming the Warriors make it there, of course.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green and another All-Star in D'Angelo Russell. Here are three quotes, from earlier this summer, from league execs and scouts expressing varying degrees of doubt about the Warriors' 2019-20 prospects:, as crazy as that sounds for a team with arguably the best offensive and defensive player in the league in
"They'll be in the conversation, but they're definitely not a lock," a Western Conference exec told CBS Sports.
"I think it'll be a transition year for them," a Western Conference scout told CBS Sports. "Obviously they're still dangerous, but look at the West. Somebody has to go."
"To me it's a matter of motivation," another league scout told CBS Sports. "If they were to push Curry and Draymond to the limit, those guys are competitive enough to get them through. But after the five-year run they've been on, playing, what, 100 games or more every year? That's tough to keep bringing it every single night. And there's no breathing room in the West. You can't take a week or two off."
Whatever cloud of doubt that hangs over the Warriors exists, in large part, because of Thompson's absence. Yes, Durant leaving for Brooklyn was the headline loss of the summer, but if Thompson was going to be healthy from day one, nobody would be picking the Warriors to miss the playoffs. Everyone would be talking about how they still have the core of a team that won 73 games. But without Thompson, everything is in question.
How will Russell fit next to Curry? How far will the defense fall off without Thompson, not to mention Durant and Iguodala. Gone is Curry's defensive safety blanket in Thompson, who so often assumes the toughest backcourt assignment. Golden State won't be able to switch everything as fluidly as they have in the past. Thompson's absence hurts really bad on offense, but perhaps even worse on defense.
But again, he will be back. Who knows what kind of shape he'll be in or where his skills will be at after such a long layoff, but he'll be back. And if Klay Thompson is on the court, you can't discount him or the Warriors. Between now and then, it's the job or Curry and company to make sure Klay gets his shot to contribute.