Steph believes Warriors are title 'threat' despite losing Klay originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Steph Curry has been waiting and waiting. Waiting to return to an NBA court. Waiting for the chance to remind people of his place in the NBA hierarchy and make a statement that the Warriors' run atop the NBA isn't done yet.
It's been almost nine months since Curry suited up in an NBA game. It's been 17 months since the Warriors were last at full strength. With everyone fully healthy and motivated to return to title contention, Curry and the Warriors were expected by many to reclaim their spot atop the Western Conference alongside the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Klay Thompson's injury took the wind out of their sails momentarily. But the Warriors sprang into action, acquiring Kelly Oubre Jr. and they still plan to contend for an NBA title. The loss of Thompson was a gut punch, but Curry has no doubt the Warriors still will be a factor with the roster they have.
"Knowing what the top of the West looks like … with obviously LA winning the championship and reloading … you look at the Clippers, you look at Denver, Houston, Portland, Utah, Dallas, Phoenix, Sacramento, there’s so many talented teams that are looking to take that next step," Curry told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. "We’ve been there before, so we know what it takes, and we’re going to rely on that for sure. But we’ve got that nice, perfect balance of experience and youth. And when it comes to a playoff matchup, when we’re in there and we’re locked in, we know we’re tough to beat.
"Come playoff time, whenever that is, we know we’ll be there, we know we’ll be a force to be reckoned with on that front."
The Warriors acquired Oubre in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. They drafted James Wiseman with the No. 2 overall pick and they signed Kent Bazemore for wing depth. They have a $9.3 million disabled player exception that they can use this season, as well.
There's no doubt the Lakers got even better by adding Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol and Wesley Mathews. But the Lakers also just finished their title run a little over two months ago. It will be a quick turnaround for a 35-year-old LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers.
While James and the Lakers spent months in the NBA bubble fighting to win a championship, Curry and the Warriors have had even more time to recharge after five straight title runs.
The two-time MVP made the most of his extended time off and is more than ready to get back in the title chase.
"I definitely took advantage of the time off," Curry told Spears. "Looking forward to this new year, getting back out there, understanding that we still have a lot left in the tank. And despite the unfortunate situation with Klay, we still feel like we’re a threat to be dealt with, and we got to go out and prove it. So I’m excited about it. Watching the bubble was hard, obviously, not being able to play, but the rest was appropriate. It was good."
After taking a year to recalibrate their path forward, the Warriors are prepared to return to the NBA spotlight. Their title mission undoubtedly will be more difficult without Thompson.
But a rested and motivated Curry gives them a puncher's chance against anyone. That just might be good enough.