Offseason Preview: Who Will Return to the Warriors Next Season?

The Warriors are back on top! The Dubs added another ring to their dynasty, as they defeated the Boston Celtics 103-90 in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals. While the champagne showers and championship fever across the Bay may feel great, it’s officially the NBA offseason. The Warriors have lots of work to do if they want to defend their title. On top of having three draft picks, nine Golden State players are free agents, and Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole are in need of contract extensions. The Warriors have made it clear that they want to bring the majority of their roster back for next season.

With that being said, let’s dive into what the Warriors should do when it comes to retaining their current players.

Players who are unlikely to return: Andre Iguodala, Kevon Looney, Otto Porter Jr.

Kevon Looney and Otto Porter Jr. proved their worth to the rest of the league this season with stellar performances. Kevon Looney played every game this season and established himself as an above-average center and key role player. Porter, on the other hand, found his form again as a top three-and-D wing after two seasons plagued by injuries. Both players should receive contracts well above $10 million/year. The Warriors could pay that to Looney due to the luxury tax, but with Wiseman expected to make a big return next season, it makes more sense to sign a cheaper option.

Meanwhile, I’d expect Andre Iguodala to retire. The 2015 Finals MVP is 38 years old, was in and out of the rotation this season, and battled multiple injuries throughout the season. If he were to return next season, he wouldn’t see much time on the court.

Players who could return and contribute in 2022-23: Gary Payton II, Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee

One thing I am personally interested to see is how other teams value Gary Payton II. The journeyman point guard found a home last season in Golden State, and the Warriors strongly valued his defensive abilities. But can Payton succeed outside of Golden State? The Warriors should make an effort to bring Payton back, as he provides a key boost behind Curry.

As for Bjelica and Lee, both players were in and out of the rotation frequently. Bjelica utilized his size and both offensive and defensive abilities well in the NBA Finals. However, with Patrick Baldwin Jr. now on this team and Jonathan Kuminga expected to take a big leap, maybe the Warriors think their forward room is too cluttered. Either way, Bjelica shouldn’t receive more than a veteran minimum, something the Warriors can afford if they want to. The same thing goes for Lee; if the Warriors want him, they can pay him on a veteran minimum. With 2nd-round pick Ryan Rollins fracturing his foot, bringing back Lee may help bolster the guard room even more.

The remaining free agents (Juan Toscano-Anderson (RFA), Quinndary Weatherspoon (RFA), Chris Chiozza) didn’t make much of an impact this season on the Warriors. Therefore, it shouldn’t matter whether they resign or not. The Warriors did not extend the qualifying offers for Toscano-Anderson and Chiozza, and are not expected to resign them.

How should the Warriors approach extension talks with Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins?

Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins enter the final year of their contracts next season, with Wiggins being an unrestricted free agent. Both players embraced a vital role for the Warriors championship squad, and Golden State will have a tough time adjusting if they can’t keep either of them.

In my opinion, Andrew Wiggins is more important to the Warriors, and he should be dealt with first. The all-star wing is a perfect fit for Steve Kerr’s system, and there aren’t many other players that can match his role and talent. Once the Warriors fill out their roster, their focus should turn to Wiggins and make sure he stays in the Bay.

Poole, on the other hand, plays a crucial part in the Warriors’ system but could be replaceable by another young talent. That shouldn’t make the Warriors shy away from him. Golden State should bring back Poole if it’s willing to go well into the luxury tax. On top of that, Poole is a restricted free agent, which gives the Warriors more time to make a decision.

What do the Warriors need to find entering next season?

The Warriors didn’t have many glaring needs this offseason, and that is one key reason why they won the championship. Therefore, the Warriors’ needs really depend on who’s coming back and who’s not.

With Looney and Porter unlikely to return, Golden State will need to find a center who can spread the floor and a three-and-D wing. Having players in those roles has helped the Warriors significantly throughout the dynasty, and is necessary for Steve Kerr’s system. It might even be beneficial to find two three-and-D wings with Iguodala likely to retire.

Gary Payton II and Nemanja Bjelica will also need their roles filled if they leave. Golden State should keep its eye out for a defensive-minded point guard and a stretch 4.

Final Thoughts

The Warriors offseason doesn’t need to be too eventful to keep a championship roster. However, the front office can’t slack off. Teams across the Western Conference have already made vast improvements. The Warriors need to find players who can play in and out of the rotation, have a strong bench presence, and contribute in different ways. The Warriors players had their foot on the gas pedal all season long. Now, it’s time for the front office to do the same thing.

Prospect Draft Profile: Jabari Smith Jr.

Thursday night, the Warriors knocked off the Celtics 103-90 to win the NBA Finals. With the season now officially over, the next major event on the basketball calendar is the NBA Draft. With the draft coming very soon, on June 23rd, it’s time to start taking a look at some of the top prospects. First, we have Jabari Smith Jr.

Smith was a known talent before the 2021 season, but he wasn’t a preseason candidate for the number one pick. Jabari then leaped onto the scene last season, and he’s considered by many to go to Orlando with the first pick. Smith is a tantalizing prospect physically, and his potential is through the roof. Let’s take a look at some of his strengths.

Jabari Smith’s Strengths

One of the most compelling traits that come with Smith is his shooting ability relating to his size. Smith is a big guy, standing at 6’10”. With that size, his shooting touch is remarkable. He has great form and was consistently able to knock down shots at Auburn. There is a legitimate case to be made that Smith is the best shooter in the entire draft class. If a team is looking for a big player that can space the floor, Jabari is that guy.

Jabari Smith can shoot, but he doesn’t back down in the post either. Smith is a very well-rounded player in general. He moves well off the ball as well, setting screens for his teammates and such.

Defense isn’t Jabari’s best game, but it’s impressive nonetheless. He’s able to switch onto guards when a screen is set, which is very important in the modern NBA. His size and wingspan give him an edge against any smaller offensive player, and he’s well-rounded at the very least on defense in general.

Jabaris Smith’s Weaknesses

While Smith is a wonderful shooter, he struggles a bit to find his own shot. At the height of 6’10”, it would always be hard for a player (barring Kevin Durant) to create his own shot of the dribble. Still, if Smith is looked at as the number one option it is something he must improve. Smith isn’t immune to knocking these shots down, though:

As is common for players who struggle to create their own shot, Smith’s ball-handling can be improved too. Jabari likes to push the pace, but at Auburn, he did occasionally lose control of the ball on the fast break. Fortunately, both of these issues are things that can definitely be improved at the NBA level.

Jabari Smith’s NBA Outlook

Jabari Smith is a popular candidate to go as the first overall pick, and it would make a lot of sense. The Magic’s current starting frontcourt consists of Wendell Carter Jr. and Jonathan Isaac. Neither of those two have lived up to their full potential and getting Jabari alongside Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Franz Wagner would be a great young lineup.

As for Smith, no matter what team he goes to, he could be looked at as a power forward. In some lineups, he could even see time at small forward. The NBA is a very free-flowing and positionless game nowadays, and due to Smith’s excellent catch-and-shoot skills, he could make sense in one of those positions.

Smith should develop into an all-star, and there is good reason to look at him as a franchise player as well. Jabari is a big, tall guy with very sneaky athleticism. That athleticism allows him to be a force on the defensive end, and he contributes more than enough on offense to warrant the number one selection.

Celtics beat Warriors 116-100, Lead NBA Finals 2-1

@brockhoff55 recaps Game 3 of the NBA Finals ahead of Game 4 tonight. Who will take this one home?

After two dynamic and exciting games to kick off the 2022 NBA finals, the Warriors and Celtics headed across the country to play two more in Boston. Boston took game one, and game two was even until the third quarter Warriors took over. Both of these teams looked pretty even heading into a very important game three.

Game Recap

The Celtics got off to an extremely hot and high-scoring start in this one. Boston put up 33 points in the first quarter while holding Golden State to just 22, good enough for an eleven-point lead after one. Jaylen Brown had over half of the Celtics’ first-quarter points, with 17 of his own.

The second quarter was just as high scoring, except for both teams this time. The Celtics improved off their first quarter with a whopping 35-point second quarter, and the Warriors nearly matched that with a 34-piece of their own. Boston went into halftime with a 68-56 lead.

As always, the Warriors stormed out of the gate in the third quarter, and immediately made it a game, even taking the lead late in the period. The Warriors put up 33 in the third, but the 25-point effort from the Celtics was enough to keep a four-point lead in the fourth.

A combination of a sensational defensive effort from Boston and Stephen Curry exiting early with an injury helped Boston to a 16-point win, and the series lead. The second half was much more back-and-forth than the first, but excellent games from Tatum, Brown, and Smart helped the Celtics hold on to win. Boston now leads the NBA Finals two games to one.

Stat Leaders

Speaking of those three, they collectively made NBA history. Tatum, Brown and Smart were the first three teammates with 24+ points, 5+ rebounds, and 5+ assists in an NBA finals game since 1984. Those three also combined for 77 points altogether.

Aside from scoring, Celtics’ center Robert Williams was exceptional. Williams had 10 rebounds, four blocks, and three steals. Steph led the Warriors with 31 points, and Klay Thompson had 25 of his own. Draymond Green really struggled during this game, scoring just two points and fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Neither team shot terribly well, with the Warriors shooting at a 38% clip, compared to 37% for Boston. Boston’s real advantage came on the glass, outrebounding Golden State 47-31.

Highlights

What’s Next?

The Celtics lead the NBA Finals 2-1, and they’ll look to make it 3-1 on Friday night. That game will take place at 9:00pm eastern time on Friday night, on ABC.

2022 NBA Finals Series Update

The basketball world was greatly anticipating this Warriors vs. Celtics Finals matchup, and so far the series has completely delivered. Boston took care of business in Game 1, stealing a necessary game on the road. Golden State responded accordingly with an emphatic Game 2 victory. What do the first two games tell us about what to expect from Game 3 on Wednesday? Here is your NBA Finals update ahead of Game 3.

Game 1

The key takeaways from Game 1 were that the Celtics are extremely tough mentally, and if you leave their guys open they can make shots. The Celtics weathered a shooting barrage from Stephen Curry in the first quarter in which he set an NBA Finals record for three-point shots made in a single quarter with six made 3s.

Steph doing this is 6 times in a quarter is enough to break the spirit of most teams.

Despite that, Boston found themselves down by only 4 at the end of the first quarter. They held the Warriors to only 22 points in the second quarter and entered halftime with a two-point lead.

Even the great Celtics defense couldn’t stop a vintage Golden State 3rd quarter in which they outscored Boston by 14 points. Boston showed that mental toughness again by keeping level heads. They were rewarded with a very impressive 4th quarter in which they hit nine three-point shots and outscored the Warriors by 24 points. Even though it was a quiet shooting night for Jayson Tatum, the Celtics’ run in the 4th was sparked by a couple of great plays from Jaylen Brown.

These two plays from Jaylen Brown came at a pivotal moment in Game 1 and completely swung the momentum towards the Boston Celtics.

Game 2

Game 2 showed us that the Golden State Warriors are exactly who we thought they were. They came out with the fire you would expect from former champions. They set the tone early and came away with a resounding victory.

This was a vintage Draymond Green game. His line for the night – 9 PTS, 7 AST, 5 REB, 1 STL, 1 BLK. He set the tone physically and emotionally for the Warriors as well. He picked up a technical foul after getting chippy with Grant Williams early. Some argue that he should have picked up a second after some extracurricular activity with Jaylen Brown later in the game.

The Warriors’ attitude was completely different in Game 2. In the first game, we got Steph Curry high-fiving and smiling after his brilliant first quarter, in this game it was all business. Fun and games Steph was not in the building – he was clinical and he delivered two fantastic shots in the 3rd quarter that were the death blow to the Celtics’ comeback chances in the game.

When Steph is hitting shots like this 30 footer you can probably just start warming up the bus.

Gary Payton II made his return from injury in this game as well, and he proved his value to this team yet again. Three of the top five plus/minus lineups for the Warriors in this game included Payton II according to PBP Stats.

Game 3 Prediction

Game 3 of this series will take place on Wednesday, June 8th in Boston. The Celtics have not lost two games in a row yet in this year’s playoffs. My prediction is that this streak will not be broken on Wednesday night. Boston’s role players have all played better in front of their home crowd, I expect the juice from the fans in the TD Garden will propel the Celtics to a Game 3 win. However, the Warriors have won 35 road playoff games since 2015 with this core of players (StatMuse), so history tells us not to be shocked if they head into Boston and steal Game 3 on the road.

Three Keys for the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals

Tonight, the Golden State Warriors kick off their NBA Finals battle against the Boston Celtics. The series is sure to be a battle for both teams. So let’s take a look at three keys the Warriors must keep in mind if they want to win this series.

1. Limit the turnovers.

Almost every Warriors fan has been talking about this throughout the postseason. Golden State has the second-most turnovers per game in the NBA and the most out of any playoff team. The playoffs haven’t changed anything, as the Warriors still struggle with maintaining possession of the ball.

When facing a defensive-minded team like the Celtics, turnovers can haunt a team. Especially in the finals, easy points for the opposition cannot happen. The Warriors must fix this problem if they want to take down the Celtics.

2. Put their foot on the gas as soon as the game starts.

It’s been well known for a while that the Warriors have played their best basketball in the second half. They’ve received the nickname the “3rd Quarter Warriors” due to their dominant stretches throughout the third quarter since the beginning of the dynasty.

As fun as it is to see Golden State thrive in the second half, they need to do the same thing in the first. In the first quarter, the Warriors rank 17th in points per quarter amongst NBA teams. The only quarter that they consistently fall short, is the first. Boston’s defense is prepared to bite at every missed opportunity in the first, which will probably lead to easy points for the Celtics. If the Warriors get too far behind in the first half, a comeback may be hard to come by.

3. Know where Marcus Smart is at all times.

This one may confuse people, as players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are more valuable to the Celtics. However, Marcus Smart is the best defender and most versatile player on the court. The defensive player of the year can make plays, score buckets, and lock up almost any player in the NBA.

The Celtics’ game plan could have Marcus Smart in many different roles throughout the finals: a shot creator, a playmaker, a facilitator, or all of those. Golden State must know how valuable he is to Boston, and make sure he’s not causing trouble and confusion on the court. If he does, not only will he start making plays, but his teammates will capitalize on his efforts and score at will.

The Warriors have an uphill battle in the finals. If they can capitalize on these three keys, they may be able to bring home their fourth championship in seven years.