Warriors Players Under Most Pressure Entering 2022-23 NBA SeasonAugust 25, 2022
Warriors Players Under Most Pressure Entering 2022-23 NBA Season
The Golden State Warriors remain in the pressure-free afterglow of their 2022 NBA championship run.
Unfortunately, that all goes out the window when the 2022-23 campaign tips—or maybe the second training camp starts.
Either way, it'll be back to the 82-game grind, only this time with a world title to defend.
While the championship core of this roster shouldn't feel much pressure on the heels of their fourth championship in eight seasons, some of their younger teammates can't say the same. The following three players, in particular, will face the most pressure.
Had Jordan Poole hooped somewhere other than Golden State last season, his breakout campaign may have been the talk of the town.
Instead, his emergence as a fiery scoring threat just became one of several plot points during the team's trek to the title. Beyond being snubbed out of the Most Improved Player finalists, he was rarely the focal point in the Bay despite orchestrating major gains in points (12.0 to 18.5), assists (1.9 to 4.0) and win shares (1.9 to 6.0, per Basketball Reference).
Players who see this kind of production spike are always under pressure the next season to prove the sustainability of those stats. In Poole's case, though, the pressure grows even greater when considering he needs a new deal between now and next summer.
So, he could spend the upcoming campaign playing a substantial role in a championship hunt while also chasing a potential max contract.
If last season was any indication, Andrew Wiggins may have graduated with honors from Golden State University.
Once a frustrating source of inefficient, volume scoring and inconsistent defense, Wiggins made a sudden All-Star turn by harnessing his three-ball and becoming the defensive force his physical tools always said he could be. He posted a career-high 5.1 win shares (per Basketball Reference), had his second-highest true shooting percentage (56.0) and routinely silenced the opposition's top scorer.
"He's one of the best two-way players in the league," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters in January. "Night in and night out he gives us 18 or 20 points. He's shooting 42 percent from the three, he's guarding the most difficult player on the court every single night at the other end."
The only question now is whether Wiggins can repeat that performance. If he does, he could collect a lot more than additional individual accolades. His contract is set to expire after the season, and if he again executes at a high level on both ends, he might just position himself for a max-contract payday.
The third year of a player's career is often a critical one. They don't have to make a leap to stardom by that point, but if they aren't at least dropping some hints about such a spike coming, then it's probably not going to happen.
Now, James Wiseman may not be quite held up to that standard, since his first two seasons featured significant turbulence. His rookie season was disjointed and ultimately derailed by the torn meniscus that wound up sidelining him for his entire sophomore year.
The second overall pick in 2020 has just 39 games, 27 starts and 836 minutes under his belt. You'd hope his awareness and instincts improved during his time away, but there isn't a better developmental tool than floor time, and he just hasn't had much of it.
The Warriors can't afford to wait for him to get on track. If he isn't ready to contribute to their championship defense, they'll simply look elsewhere at the center spot. He has to prove he belongs in the rotation, but if he can do that, he could command a sizable role in it given the different dimensions he could add with his length and athleticism.