Biggest Questions Warriors Face Heading Into 2019-20 NBA Season

The Warriors enter the 2019-20 season under unique circumstances. The roster looks completely different as the team enters its first season at Chase Center with an injured Klay Thompson and without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston.

To get you ready, here are six of the biggest questions facing the team this season. 

How will the Warriors do without Kevin Durant?

Last season, Durant averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists amid reports he was leaving Golden State in free agency. By the postseason, he was playing arguably the best basketball of his career before a calf injury -- and then Achilles tear -- ended his final season with the Warriors. 

Durant's absence will be missed. His presence in the Bay Area made the Warriors invincible. Over his last two seasons in Golden State, Steph Curry missed 44 of a possible 168 regular-season games and the Warriors still averaged 57 wins, never finishing a season lower than second in the Western Conference. 

Golden State's future without Durant will depend on if the Warriors hit on free agent reclamation projects Alec Burks, Willie Cauley-Stein, Glenn Robinson III, as well as how much all-star guard D'Angelo Russell can mesh with the roster as Klay Thompson recovers from a knee injury.

(More on that next).

How effective will Klay Thompson be upon return?

After tearing his ACL in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, Thompson is expected to miss most of the 2019-20 season. 

"I don't want to rush it because I want to play until I'm 38, 39, 40 years old," Thompson told ESPN last month. "That's my plan, especially with the way I can shoot the ball. I'd love to see the floor this season. Don't know when that is. I doubt it's before the All-Star break. But at some point, it will be a goal of mine."

While the injury is the worst of Thompson's career, the guard has been the most durable player of Golden State's run. Despite hamstring and ankle issues in last year's postseason, Thompson didn't miss a game to injury. There's no reason to believe Thompson won't be back to his full powers upon return. 

If that's the case, expect a late-season run out of Golden State. 

How well will D'Angelo Russell mesh?

Last season, Russell averaged 21.1 points and seven assists in 81 games last season with the Brooklyn Nets. In his best season as a pro, Russell made his first NBA All-Star team and finished second in voting for the league's Most Improved Player. 

Russell's place on the roster dramatically will shift the Warriors offense. Throughout coach Steve Kerr's tenure, he's been reluctant to employ the pick and roll -- Russell's strong suit -- into Golden State's motion offense, even opting against the vaunted Durant-Curry pick and roll until the most crucial moments. Kerr's reasoning is that he wants everyone on the floor to touch the ball to keep the whole team engaged. With Russell, one of the best pick and roll players in the league, Golden State will have to alter its offense around Russell -- at least until Thompson returns. 

At the end of the day, a backcourt featuring Russell and Curry will be among the best in the league and should be able to carry the Warriors throughout the onset of the season. 

Steph Curry: MVP?

With Durant gone and Thompson out for much of the season, is it fair to pick Steph Curry as an early MVP contender? 

Easy answer: Yes

The last time Curry was on a roster without Durant, he put together one of the best offensive seasons in NBA history, winning the league's first unanimous MVP.

While Curry will have backcourt help in Russell, his offensive burden will be the biggest of his career. A 30-point average is not out of the question for Curry. 

However, the key to Curry's season will be his health. Over his last two seasons, Curry has missed a combined 44 games due to injury, including 31 during the 2017-18 season. If he's healthy, Curry should lead the MVP conversation and the Warriors should cruise to a playoff berth. 

What will the Warriors defense look like?

Kevin Durant's sign and trade forced the Warriors to part ways with Andre Iguodala, one of the team's best defenders. With Durant and Iguodala gone and Thompson out extended time, the Warriors will be without three of their best defenders from last season. 

The onus will fall to defensive anchor Draymond Green to carry the Warriors. Over the last two regular seasons, Green -- who dealt with a variety of injuries -- has admitted conserving energy for deep playoff runs. This season he'll have to return to his output from 2017, when he won his first Defensive Player of the Year. 

[RELATED: Warriors reveal new jerseys ahead of first Chase Center season]

Will the Warriors make the playoffs?

About an hour after Golden State lost the NBA Finals in June, Green promised his team wouldn't miss a beat. 

"I think everybody thinks it's kind of the end of us," Green said. "But that's just not smart. We're not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn't our year, but that's how the cookie crumbles sometimes. But, yeah, I hear a lot of that noise, it's the end of a run and all that jazz. I don't see it happening though." 

My prediction? Absolutely. The Warriors have both the talent and infrastructure to make another playoff berth and if Klay Thompson comes back at full strength, another Finals run isn't out of the question. 

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