Warriors' Updated Rotation After Early Free-Agent Contracts

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 12, 2021

Warriors' Updated Rotation After Early Free-Agent Contracts

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    While Klay Thompson is working toward an on-court reunion with Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors' front office was supposed to supply the splashes this offseason.

    Between the club's win-now intentions and small army of future assets, they looked as likely as anyone in the NBA to broker a blockbuster. It's been a series of small waves instead.

    Maybe the massive move is still coming—perhaps hinging on the availability of Bradley Beal—or perhaps they'll enter the 2021-22 season balancing two timelines with a roster split between established veterans and up-and-comers.

    Assuming it's the latter (for now, at least), let's work the offseason additions into an updated depth chart.


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    Point Guard: Stephen Curry

    Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson

    Small Forward: Andrew Wiggins

    Power Forward: Draymond Green

    Center: Kevon Looney

    There shouldn't be much, if anything, for head coach Steve Kerr to figure out with his opening five whenever Thompson is ready to go.

    The only potential debate is at center where James Wiseman, last year's No. 2 overall pick, could theoretically challenge for Looney's spot. But the Warriors, who weren't chasing a title last season the way they will be now, decided that Looney's polish and poise trumped Wiseman's potential.

    If anything, Looney's hold on this position might be as strong as ever, barring some kind of miraculous developmental summer for Wiseman. Golden State needs players it can trust, and when Looney is healthy, he's as sturdy as it gets. He frees the Splash Brothers with solid screens, gets busy on the glass and consistently makes right-place-at-the-right-time rotations.


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    Janie McCauley/Associated Press

    Point Guard: Jordan Poole

    Shooting Guard: Moses Moody, Damion Lee, Mychal Mulder

    Small Forward: Otto Porter Jr., Andre Iguodala, Jonathan Kuminga

    Power Forward: Juan Toscano-Anderson, Nemanja Bjelica

    Center: James Wiseman

    Roles and position labels are really fluid with this reserve group.

    Poole should be the early favorite for the sixth man spot, as his skills best fit the traditional role of an instant-offense shot creator. But if Porter and Iguodala have enough left in the tank, their smarts and savvy should get them all the minutes they can handle. And don't discount Toscano-Anderson's chances of forcing his way into relatively major minutes by making things happen with his high-motor, well-rounded game.

    Then again, a lot of this goes out the window if the youngsters prove they're ready for significant minutes.

    On a basic level, their fresh legs could help spell a roster with several 30-somethings in very prominent roles. More importantly, though, they are the most obvious ceiling-risers if this is really the group Golden State carries into next season. Moody's three-and-D game seems close to a sure thing, but Kuminga's shot-making and Wiseman's explosion are the biggest swing factors with this group.

Roster Questions

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Question No. 1 has been hit on a few times already: Will the Warriors stick with this group? Curry's championship clock is ticking loudly with his 33rd birthday behind him, so it's fair to wonder if the youth won't have time to catch up. Then again, if the right player isn't available, Golden State shouldn't sacrifice assets just to make a move.

    Sticking with the roster as is, all eyes are on Thompson and his comeback from consecutive season-erasing leg injuries. When he's right, he's a fiery three-point shooter who can engineer absurd scoring streaks and lock down most opposing perimeter players. But he's also a 31-year-old who hasn't suited up since June 2019 due to tears of his left ACL and right Achilles.

    Next, there is Wiggins and his never-ending quest to find consistency. The top pick in 2014 showed impressive growth last season as a shooter and off-ball defender, but he still had a tendency to float from game to game or even minute to minute. The Warriors won't make a title run without getting something good from Wiggins more often than not.

    Finally, how ready are Wiseman and Kuminga to contribute? Wiseman's physical tools were obvious last season, but his lack of feel was even more glaring. Kuminga is similarly explosive and flashes some shot-creation moves that will drop jaws, but he's no more seasoned than Wiseman. If either shows up substantially ahead of schedule, though, Golden State's outlook grows exponentially brighter.