Warriors' Biggest Matchups for 1st Month of 2021-22 NBA Season
In the NBA, measuring-stick matchups are exactly how they sound: A chance to measure up against the highest level of competition.
The Golden State Warriors will draw several of them right out of the gate during the 2021-22 season.
The Dubs should want these early tests to know whether their championship dreams have any shot of becoming a reality. Even if that won't be entirely clear until Klay Thompson returns, the following three matchups from the opening month could be a good indication of what they can accomplish.
Oct. 19: At Los Angeles Lakers
Opening night is always worth circling, but this is like a turbo-charged version of the festivities.
It's a nationally televised tilt (TNT) against the team most commonly picked to win the West. Oh yeah, it's also the latest round of the storied battle between Stephen Curry and LeBron James, which took place in the NBA Finals over four consecutive seasons (2015-18).
Curry is the greatest shooter to ever hit the NBA hardwood. That's no longer up for debate. James might be the greatest player to suit up in this league. That will be debated for the rest of time.
Even if the superstars don't directly match up often in this contest, the fact that they'll share the same floor is reason enough to watch.
If you still need swaying (you shouldn't), this will be Russell Westbrook's regular-season debut for the Lakers, Andre Iguodala's latest chance to dance with James and a potentially tremendous matchup between Draymond Green and Anthony Davis.
Oct. 21: Vs. Los Angeles Clippers
If the Clippers had a healthy Kawhi Leonard—he's out indefinitely with a partially torn right ACL—they might be the most popular pick to come out of the West.
Even without him, though, they are a formidable opponent. Look no further than last year's postseason for evidence of that fact, as they lost Leonard in Game 4 of the conference semis and still pushed through to the Western Conference Finals, where it took the Phoenix Suns six games to eliminate them.
The Clippers still have a superstar in Paul George, and it will be interesting to see who the Warriors employ to handle him. Andrew Wiggins will probably get the bulk of the assignment, but when he's not around, Golden State could try any one of Iguodala, Otto Porter Jr., Juan Toscano-Anderson or even rookie Moses Moody for the assignment.
If L.A. gets the playoff version of Reggie Jackson (17.8 points on 48.4/40.8/87.8 shooting), he could have some fun back-and-forth battles with Curry.
Nov. 8: Vs. Atlanta Hawks
When the Warriors look across the floor at the Hawks, they just might see a mirror image of themselves.
That's by design, as the Atlanta roster, which obliterated all expectations with last season's run to the Eastern Conference Finals, was constructed by former Warriors executive Travis Schlenk, who is now the Hawks general manager.
The Hawks' backcourt combo of Trae Young and Kevin Huerter gives off undeniable Splash Brothers vibes, and center Clint Capela is basically a souped-up version of the pogo-stick centers the Warriors have used in the past, like JaVale McGee.
The comparison doesn't carry over to every inch of the roster, but the backbone of both offenses—high pick-and-rolls with Curry and Young—are the same.
The point guard battle could be spectacular. While Young has never matched the Golden State star's efficiency, his limitless range and ability to create and convert off-the-dribble triples might make him the closest thing we've seen to a Curry clone.