Warriors' Top Priorities to Address in 2021 NBA Free Agency

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJune 17, 2021

Warriors' Top Priorities to Address in 2021 NBA Free Agency

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    There were elite qualities about the 2020-21 Golden State Warriors.

    They had an MVP finalist in Stephen Curry and a Defensive Player of the Year finalist in Draymond Green.

    And yet, this never resembled an elite squad at any point of the season. That was to be expected once the Warriors lost Klay Thompson to a torn Achilles in November, but still it showed how much—or, more accurately, how little—Golden State has around its stars.

    The supporting cast must be upgraded for the Warriors to chase a championship during Curry's remaining prime, and time is of the essence as he turned 33 in March. While the trade market offers their cleanest avenue to a major addition, free agency should be able to find a few valuable contributors in the following three areas.

Shooting

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Any team that is without a sniper of Thompson's ilk won't look the same from distance. But the Dubs have quietly struggled to surround the Splash Brothers with quality support snipers.

    Beyond Curry, the Warriors had just three players average 1.5-plus threes per game. Andrew Wiggins, a career 34.1 percent shooter from deep, had the best connection rate of the trio at 38.0. Jordan Poole, who spent part of this season in the G League, was next at 35.1. Then, it was Kelly Oubre Jr., who never looked fully comfortable in the offense and shot a disastrous 31.6 percent.

    Golden State needs more reliability from its shooters, particularly those who bring enough else to the floor to actually receive significant minutes. In a perfect world, the Warriors would somehow use the taxpayer mid-level exception on an ace three-and-D option like Danny Green or Otto Porter Jr.

    In our reality, the Warriors might be hoping the clearance section offers some overlooked value. Perhaps  down years from JJ Redick and Paul Millsap put them into Golden State's price range.

Reliable Reserves

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Jordan Poole was a fantastic story this season. He surely played his way into the team's long-term plans as a result.

    But he can't be the top reserve on a team with title aspirations. Through 108 NBA games, he has averaged 10.3 points on 38.1/31.6/84.0 shooting. He is better than those number show, but he's not a contender's sixth man.

    The Warriors need more reliability with the second unit. They were more than 12 points worse per 100 possessions when either Curry or Green needed a breather. The ball barely moved without them. Juan Toscano-Anderson, a 28-year-old rookie who spent time at center, was third on the team with 2.8 assists per game.

    Golden State's reserves need veteran reinforcements. The Warriors have to find another center, more shooters, more wings and veterans with the smarts and skill to fit this read-and-react offense.

Backcourt Depth

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    The Warriors knew they needed a backup point guard last season. They even doubled down at the position.

    On draft night, they used the 48th pick on Nico Mannion. In free agency, they added Brad Wanamaker on a one-year, $2.25 million deal.

    One year later, the Warriors still need a backup for Curry. Mannion barely broke a sweat in the NBA—and shot just 34.2 percent in the 30 games he played—and Wanamaker was salary-dumped onto the Charlotte Hornets at the trade deadline.

    Golden State needs a veteran who understands how to keep the offense humming without Curry, who was forced to average his most minutes per game since 2015-16. Finding one won't be easy, but Ish Smith, Patty Mills and T.J. McConnell all loom as possibilities who might fit the tight budget.

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