Much like his "NBA on TNT" peer, ESPN's Jay Williams predicted earlier this week that the Warriors would miss the playoffs. In a segment on the league's most intriguing duos that aired Wednesday on "NBA Countdown," Williams said that D'Angelo Russell and Stephen Curry fit the bill ... because Golden State won't be playing in the postseason?
"The Golden State Warriors -- mark down the day -- they are not going to make the playoffs," Williams said Wednesday. "The Golden State Warriors are not going to make the playoffs, and this is why I say D-Lo and Stephen Curry are the most intriguing duo.
"Now, D-Lo played extremely well last year. He got the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs. He made the All-Star Game. He wasn't the guy at first, Caris LaVert was the guy. Then D-Lo started to find his swagger. I wonder how D-Lo will do in a system that he cannot dominate the ball."
Curry and Russell's chemistry is still a work in progress. Russell posted the highest usage rate of his career (31.9 percent) last season, and only once in the Steve Kerr era has one of Curry's teammates had a usage rate greater than 30 percent (Kevin Durant in 2017-18).
Williams pointed to Klay Thompson's rehab from a torn ACL as well as Curry and Russell's defensive deficiencies as cause for concern, incorrectly claiming that the team lost defensive guru Ron Adams. Adams remains with the team, but Jarron Collins now runs the Warriors' defense. Williams doesn't think Russell is a fit for Golden State's system, either.
The Warriors will have to discover a new identity on both ends of the floor this season, given what they lost this summer. The Western Conference pecking order has also re-organized, now that Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis are in Utah. Golden State has far more concerns heading into 2019-20 than it has at any point under Kerr.
But with all of that said, are there really eight teams in the West better than the Warriors? The Los Angeles Lakers likely will bump out a playoff team from a year ago, but no other team in the conference is guaranteed to do the same. Sure, the Kings and Dallas Mavericks could make the leap, and the New Orleans Pelicans are loaded with young talent after trading Davs to the Lakers and drafting Zion Williamson straight out of
a video game Duke. But each of those teams have significant question marks beyond their lack of experience.
The Warriors likely not reach the heights of title contention this season, but that doesn't mean they're destined for the depths of the draft lottery, either.