While this season has been incredibly disappointing for various reasons, it has hit Warriors fans harder than most.
Not only was the season paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic but the Warriors also saw two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant leave for Brooklyn, Klay Thompson sit out the season recovering from a torn ACL and Steph Curry only play five games before breaking his hand.
Now, that's not to say Warriors fans have a lot to mourn. Golden State is coming off five straight Finals appearances, winning two of them, after all.
But, after losing in six games to the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals, the team needed a year to recuperate and reassess—and that's exactly what it got. It was fifth in the Pacific in the 2019-20 season, going 15-50 before the mid-March pause.
The 2020-21 NBA season will pose as the first chance to show what a fully healthy Warriors team can do in the post-Durant era.
However, Draymond Green, who has a well-documented and ugly history with Durant, says it's not about KD.
"We're always motivated to try to win a championship, whether that's with KD or it's not," he told the Jalen & Jacoby Show Tuesday (h/t NBC Sports). "There's not added motivation with him leaving. We're competitors, we're champions, and we're going to continue to try to raise our level of play to that level in order to finish what we started. And that started before KD, so it's not like we need to rally around this whole notion that KD's not here anymore. We know what it takes to win a championship and that's what we're going to rally around."
Let’s Go Warriors 💦💛💙 @LetsGoWarriors
Draymond on playing with the #SplashBrothers again and a friendly reminder to the ppl who fell off the wagon: “That’s just the Saginaw in me. I can’t change that.” (🎥: @JalenandJacoby) https://t.co/sjPN7Fu0dB Previous Q&A: https://t.co/1HIgngM7P7 https://t.co/ZPZBkfh4Tg
Durant's time in Golden State was anything but easy.
He started his Warriors career with backlash for joining an already-stacked and NBA Finals-ready team. He had a drama-filled tenure, including frequent publicized arguments with Green, and faced criticism for his exit from Golden State.
Even though Durant was a key player for the Warriors in their two championships, his exodus shouldn't impact them irrevocably.
"I definitely think we'll return to a high level of play. To say that we're going to return to championship level, that's never guaranteed. I don't care if you bring the same exact team back that you won a championship with the year before. Every year is different, every year takes on a life of its own.
"We'll definitely be adding key pieces back in, in Steph and Klay, and also continue to build Kevon Looney, (who) will be healthy. That's important. We have a few young guys with more experience under their belt, so definitely looking forward to next year and returning to a high level of play. Hopefully we can come together and get the chemistry back and push for another championship or two."
They still have their championship core, along with some younger and less experienced players—including Eric Paschall and Damion Lee—who were able to play more minutes and prove what they're capable of during the "rebuild" season.
D'Angelo Russell was able to fill a hole in the roster before being traded to the Timberwolves in early February, averaging 23.1 points and 6.1 assists in 33 starts for the Warriors. Green also provided consistency on both ends of the floor, averaging 6.2 assists and 6.2 rebounds in 43 starts.
Paschall was a real standout in his rookie season, playing in 60 of 65 games of his rookie season and boasting 14 points per game on just under 50 percent shooting from the field. The Villanova product should continue to play valuable minutes off the bench next season.
That being said, NBA icon Charles Barkley isn't sure they have what it takes to return to title contention, highlighting that while Thompson, Curry and Draymond make the team competitive, "the rest of the jewelry is out" on the rest of the team.
"The Warriors, it depends on what they do going forward," Barkley told reporters Wednesday. "Obviously, they are going to have a lottery pick. They are going to have a good team. Any time you got Klay and Steph, you're going to have a good team.
Golden State has all the parts to put together a potentially dangerous team, with up-and-coming players who will have experienced veterans to follow. If the Warriors can find their chemistry once again, they could make Durant regret his decision to leave.
Stats courtesy of ESPN