Monday, August 15 2022

Draymond’s NSFW assessment of Warriors as title contenders originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

After five straight trips to the NBA Finals, the Warriors learned how the other half lives over the past two seasons, missing the playoffs in back-to-back years.

Kevin Durant’s exodus, two severe leg injuries for Klay Thompson‘s, Steph Curry‘s broken hand and roster restructure all played a role in 858 days without playoff basketball in the Bay Area.

The expectation is that the Warriors will return to title contention this season. While Draymond Green sees potential in the 2021-22 Dubs, he knows they aren’t in the title conversation just yet.

“I think this team can be very good,” Green said Tuesday during shootaround ahead of the Warriors’ season-opener vs. the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center (h/t Anthony Slater). “But I think this team needs to grow. We have to put it all together. Are there aspirations to win a championship? Absolutely. But this team is nowhere near a championship team. I think we have a lot of pieces that can grow to be that. I don’t doubt that at all. But we also can’t get fooled by going 5-0 in the preseason and say, ‘Oh man, we’re a championship team.’ We got a long f–king ways to go.

“That requires a hell of a process. That requires sacrifice. That requires a different level of focus. That requires a different level of dedication in order to do that. Any team has to be willing to put that in, in order to win a championship. You don’t just win a championship because the pieces fit. You don’t just win a championship because you got good talent. You got to make that s–t work. So do I think we have a really good chance to be a really good team? Absolutely. But to say we can win a championship … we are so far away from that. As is just about every other team in this league except maybe the Milwaukee Bucks because they are coming off it.”

Two years outside the title conversation might as well be eons for competitors like Green and Curry. They are well aware that they and Thompson now are on the other side of 30. They know that while they still are in their prime, the shadows are longer than they have ever been.

And so it’s incumbent upon the Warriors to re-enter the title picture while Curry, Green and Thompson, once he returns, still are at the height of their powers.

Missing the postseason in back-to-back seasons has upped the ante for the Warriors this year, but Green is quick to point out that his only goal is hoisting another Larry O’Brien Trophy. Simply making the postseason isn’t enough.

“There better be some pressure on it,” Green said of the season outlook after back-to-back non-playoff seasons. “You can’t keep missing the playoffs, and we’ve missed them two years in a row now. I mean, I could give a damn about making it to the playoffs. That’s never my goal. That’s not going to start being my goal today. You get to the playoffs and your goal is to compete for a championship. That’s just the first layer. I would hope that’s not this organization’s goal to [just] make the playoffs. That’s for damn sure not my goal.”

RELATED: Why Steph is so excited for Klay’s return after unfair injuries

Green and Curry will be joined in the Warriors’ starting lineup Tuesday night by Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole. In the offseason, the Warriors brought back Andre Iguodala after the 2015 NBA Finals MVP spent two years away from the Bay. They also signed Otto Porter Jr. and Nemanja Bjelica.

Thompson remains out but it is expected that he will be able to make his return to the court sometime before the calendar year ends. Second-year big man James Wiseman continues to rehab from the meniscus surgery that ended his rookie season and will not be available to open the season.

The Warriors drafted young wings Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Kuminga also won’t be available at the start of the season after suffering a minor knee injury during the preseason.

This Warriors roster is much deeper and more balanced than the one that Curry single-handedly dragged to the play-in tournament last season.

Green believes the Warriors have all the pieces to be a title contender this season, but they’ll have to work to maximize their potential.

Green, Curry and the Warriors will open the season with a measuring-stick game against the Lakers, who are expected to be one of the favorites to win the Western Conference.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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