Warriors 2021-22 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record PredictionsAugust 20, 2021
After falling short in the play-in tournament to miss the playoffs last season, the Golden State Warriors are expecting big things heading into the 2021-22 campaign.
The biggest reason for optimism is the projected return of Klay Thompson. The five-time All-Star hasn't appeared in a game since June 13 2019 against the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals. He tore his ACL in Game 6, keeping him out for the entire 2019-20 season.
As he was preparing to return at the start of last season, Thompson tore his Achilles during a workout.
Adding a healthy Thompson back to a nucleus that still features Stephen Curry and Draymond Green is enough to make Golden State a potential NBA Finals contender in the Western Conference.
In addition to that trio, Andrew Wiggins had the best all-around season of his career. The young core of James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody offers unique upside the Warriors can build around as they try to compete for a top playoff seed this year.
2021-22 Warriors Schedule Details
Season Opener: Oct. 19 at Los Angeles Lakers
Championship Odds: 13-1 (FanDuel)
Los Angeles Lakers (First Game: Oct. 19)
LeBron James and the Warriors have had an intense rivalry dating back to their memorable matchups in the NBA Finals when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors have kept most of the nucleus from those meetings intact, but the situation for James has changed dramatically from the last time they played the Los Angeles Lakers.
James' go-ahead three in the final minute of the play-in tournament game made the difference in the Lakers' 103-100 win on May 19. Their starting five in that game was James, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
After a flurry of offseason activity, the only remaining starters for Los Angeles from that day are James and Davis with a completely revamped bench.
The Lakers won three of the four meetings between these two teams last season, including the play-in game. The Warriors averaged 100.8 per game in those matchups, well below their overall season mark of 113.7.
As long as the Lakers and Warriors are at full strength, they have the potential to be the two best teams in a deep Western Conference.
Brooklyn Nets (First Game: Nov. 16)
Any time Kevin Durant plays the Warriors, there will be no shortage of storylines to go over. The 11-time All-Star played his first game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets against Golden State on Dec. 22, 2020.
It wasn't the best game of Durant's career, as he finished with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting, but the Nets dominated anyway with a 125-99 win.
Their second meeting was one of the few regular-season games in which the Nets' trio of Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden played together. They combined for 82 points, 26 assists and 18 rebounds to lead Brooklyn to a 134-117 victory.
In some ways, the Nets as presently constructed are what the Warriors were when they had Durant. Golden State's defense from that period was better overall, but Brooklyn's offense has the potential to be historic if the big three can remain healthy.
If not for injuries to Irving and Harden in the postseason, the Nets might have wound up winning the NBA championship. They held a 2-0 series lead with just Durant and Irving available against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The Warriors have the offensive talent to keep pace with Brooklyn, especially if Thompson is healthy and plays anywhere near the level he was at prior to his injuries.
One of the biggest problems facing the Warriors is how deep the Western Conference is right now. In addition to an expected bounce back from the Lakers, the Phoenix Suns are the reigning conference champions and return virtually all of their key players.
The Utah Jazz had the best record in the NBA (52-20). The Dallas Mavericks surrounded Luka Doncic with a number of high-quality shooters during the offseason.
There are going to be some teams that seem likely to experience regression, notably the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. Jamal Murray had surgery to repair a torn ACL in April, leaving his status for this season up in the air.
The Clippers will likely be very cautious about the status of Kawhi Leonard's knee after he had surgery in July to fix a partially-torn ACL.
Curry played at an MVP level last season. Green remains one of the most valuable defensive players in the league, and he won't have to shoulder as much of the offensive burden with more scoring depth on the roster.
Wiggins has turned out to be a capable role player since being acquired from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Wiseman is still young enough that he has breakout potential. Moody's outside shooting could make him a factor in head coach Steve Kerr's rotation as the season goes on.
Andre Iguodala returned to the organization after two years with the Memphis Grizzlies and Miami Heat. He will bring a defensive presence on the wing and more leadership to a veteran roster.
Kuminga looks like a great unknown at this point, but his ceiling is enormous if he can develop his talent. It won't be easy for him to get playing time on a team looking to compete for a top seed in the west.
All of the pieces are back in place for the Warriors to rejoin the NBA's elite teams in 2021-22.
Record Prediction: 54-28
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