The Golden State Warriors are sinking fast, and the franchise’s dynasty suddenly appears to be on its last legs. Golden State lost to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday after blowing an 18-point lead in the final seven minutes, capped by an absolutely incredible Nikola Jokic three-point heave at the buzzer. The loss drops the Warriors to 16-18 overall. If the season ended today, Golden State wouldn’t even make the play-in tournament in the Western Conference, let alone the playoffs.
It’s been a frustrating year for the Warriors from the very start. Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney all look washed. Draymond Green can’t stay in the lineup after multiple suspensions for choking Rudy Gobert and whacking Jusuf Nurkic in the head. Chris Paul has been serviceable in a small role, but at age-38 he’s no savior. Stephen Curry is still great, but even he’s slipped a little bit: this might be the first year Steph doesn’t feel like a top-5 overall player, and he didn’t even make the top-10 of our MVP rankings despite having what would be an excellent year for basically anyone else.
The collapse against the Nuggets seems to be pushing the Warriors over the edge. After the game, reports circulated that Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody — the team’s two lottery picks in 2021 — are unhappy with their role and seeking more clarity moving forward.
Source: Warriors GM, Mike Dunleavy Jr. has been directly asked about the organization’s plan for Moses Moody with the intention of finding him a more consistent role.
The third year wing has fallen out of the rotation and has two straight DNP-CDs.
— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) January 4, 2024
Shams Charania and Anthony Slater’s report in The Athletic says Kuminga “has lost faith in coach Steve Kerr, and the 2021 lottery pick no longer believes Kerr will allow him to reach his full potential.” Kuminga had a strong showing against the Nuggets — 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists in 19 minutes — but didn’t play in the fourth quarter. The Warriors built their huge lead without Kuminga on the floor in the fourth quarter … and then they blew it while Kuminga remained on the bench.
Moody did not play against Denver. The wing is shooting only 33 percent from deep this year, but has shown some overall improvement when he’s gotten consistent minutes.
The Warriors had a golden opportunity to extend their championship window when they landed three lottery picks across the 2020 and 2021 draft. James Wiseman was an all-time bust as the No. 2 overall pick in 2020. The Warriors passed on Franz Wagner to take Kuminga at No. 7 the next year. Wiseman is now long gone after being traded at last year’s deadline. Are Kuminga and Moody next?
Kerr has received the brunt of the criticism here for his failure to develop Wiseman, Kuminga, and Moody. To me, that falls more on the front office than the coach with four championship rings: Wiseman was a terrible pick, Kuminga is still No. 13 on the team in all-in-one metric BPM this year even with his improved play, and while I’ve always been a fan of Moody’s game, he’s a high-floor complementary player even at his best.
Kerr has had no issue trusting the better young players on his roster. If there’s been a silver lining for the Warriors this year, it’s been the play of rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis. Both look like draft day steals for new Warriors GM Mike Dunleavy Jr. so far, and they played well in a combined 50 minutes in the loss to Denver.
Does Kerr not trust Kuminga and Moody because he’s lost his touch? Or does he not trust them because they aren’t good enough? The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but in reality Wiggins, Thompson, and Looney all look so diminished right now that it can’t hurt to give Kuminga and Moody more chances.
The versions of Wiggins and Looney that helped carry the Warriors to the 2022 title don’t appear to be coming back. Thompson is obviously past his prime, too, though he can still provide spacing and shooting on the right night. If the Warriors want to save the last great years of Curry’s career, they need a trade in the worst way. Could Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso be the answer for Golden State? Both seem like wonderful fits. Pascal Siakam is another name on the trade block who could be a big help for Golden State to make one more push in the West.
It’s been evident for years now that the Warriors’ “Two Timelines” plan was a spectacular failure — they admitted as much by trading Wiseman. Kuminga and Moody will now be up for extensions in the offseason, and the team still doesn’t really know how good they are. The pressure is on Kerr and Dunleavy to right the ship. At this point, a bold trade is probably the only answer, because status quo has only gotten Golden State a sub-.500 team.
Source : SBNation