Warriors Big Three, Who's First to be Departed?
The Golden State Warriors have developed one of the NBA’s greatest, most successful trios in recent history.
Unconventional to today’s era of superstars commonly leaving organizations sporadically, the Warriors have kept Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green in the bay area for over a decade.
Nevertheless, Golden State looked like a shell of itself in the second round of the playoffs against the seventh seed Los Angeles Lakers, losing in six games. This marked the first time the Warriors had been eliminated outside of the Finals under Steve Kerr.
A matchup the Warriors wouldn’t have happened if not for Curry’s miraculous 50-point performance to outlast the Sacramento Kings in Game 7.
Then again, the offensive production became nearly a rogue operation for Curry against the Lakers.
In the final three games of the Lakers series, Thompson cominded for 27 points on a miserable 9-42 shooting; a complete 180 from the first three games where Thompson averaged 23.3 points per game on 44.2% shooting percentage.
Meanwhile, Green has been a novelty his whole career.
Rumors flared instantly once the footage leaked of Green punching teammate Jordan Poole in October 2022. Many thought that Green would be traded for his theatrics, but Golden State never pulled the trigger.
Green is 33 years old and has been on a steady decline in recent years; his role in the offense is an odd one.
In six games Green only attempted more than ten shots twice against the Lakers. Nevertheless, Green made his presence felt in rebounds, assists, and defensive stops, playing more of a ‘utility man’ role.
But the Warriors needed offense to keep up with the Lakers.
The Warriors had the tenth-best offensive rating in the regular season, meanwhile, the Lakers held the 19th spot. The defensive rating for the Lakers was 12th and Golden State was 14th.
On paper, the Warriors seem like the superior squad.
However, in the playoffs the Warriors ranked ninth in offensive rating, one spot behind the Lakers. Once again, Los Angeles edged the Warriors for the fourth best defense, one ahead of the Warriors.
In the final three games of the series, it became obvious that Curry was forcing shots in hopes of rejuvenating the Warriors’ scoring.
In the regular season Curry averaged 20.2 shots per game; in Games 4-6 Curry attempted 27.3 attempts. It simply wasn’t enough.
Thompson shied away from shooting in the latter half of the series. One of the Warriors’ spark plugs, Poole, had started in the Kings series but shot a poor 34.5% against the Lakers and even went scoreless in game 4.
Lastly, Andrew Wiggins, an All-Star last season only averaged 15 points per game against the Lakers. Despite shooting 45.2% from the field, Wiggins also passively attempted less than 11 shots in three games.
All in all, the Warriors’ front office could consider shaking things up in the bay area soo.
Green’s contract is over after the 2023-24 season and is yet to sign an extension. Thompson has only played 91 games in the last three seasons and is also approaching an expiring contract that’ll be up after the 2023-24 season too.
Obviously, Golden State has been largely successful with their dynasty spanning nearly a decade. A lot of attention, pressure, and expectation is placed on the franchise.
In my opinion, I believe the Warriors will move on from Green first because he’s 33 years old and simply doesn’t have much upside left in the tank. Although Green has been recognized as the heart of Golden State, he has also brought negative attention at times.
This season Green recorded the most technical fouls and is tied at second all time in ejections.
Thompson is beloved by Golden State fans, and I imagine the Warriors front office has a harder time deciding to let him go. However, Thompson is a replaceable player.
According to Bleacher Report, Thompson was ranked 43 in the NBA’s top 100 players prior to the 2022-23 season, ahead of talents such as De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Jaren Jackson Jr. so take that as you will.
Lastly, the centerpiece of the dynasty, Curry is 35 years old. If he wanted to, he could play until he was 40 years old but I don’t know if that’s a desire of his.
There’s nothing else Curry could prove, he finally earned that illustrious Finals MVP trophy last season, four championships, and back-to-back MVPs, more than solidifying his placement into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
One thing that is certain is that Golden State will compete. After an injury ridden 2019-2020 season that saw the Warriors fall to 15-50 some speculated the end of their dynasty run, but that was evidently untrue.
The Warriors always have a shot at greatness with the greatest shooter of all time at the helm.