With former two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry likely to miss some time with a broken left hand, the Golden State Warriors are now missing the player who was arguably the most instrumental in helping the team win three championships this decade. At this point, many feel it’s too early to give up on the Warriors despite their injury woes and their 1-3 record to start out the 2019-20 campaign. However, a recent report suggested otherwise, hinting that this season might be the best time for Golden State to temporarily employ a “tanking” strategy in order to resume its domination of the league in the coming years.
As pointed out by Bleacher Report‘s Andy Bailey, the competitive nature of the Western Conference could spell trouble for the Warriors, even if Curry only has to sit for a few weeks and doesn’t need to undergo surgery on his hand. While he cited a statement from Warriors owner Joe Lacob that emphasized the team’s plans to “fight like hell” despite the injuries to Curry and Klay Thompson, the Bleacher Report writer added that Golden State’s roster “isn’t very good” at the present. This, he wrote, makes it plausible to follow the example of the 1996-97 San Antonio Spurs.
Explaining what happened to the Spurs in the 1996-97 campaign, Bailey wrote that the team’s then-franchise player, David Robinson, was enjoying a run as one of the NBA’s best centers when he played in only six games due to a left foot fracture. The Spurs, who were then a playoff mainstay, finished with a 20-62 record that season, allowing them to land the No. 1 pick in the 1997 draft lottery, which they then used on Tim Duncan. With Duncan eventually taking over from Robinson as the Spurs’ go-to guy, San Antonio went on to win five championships during his 19 years with the team, as shown on his Basketball-Reference page.
Considering Curry’s injury and the ACL tear that is expected to keep Thompson out for most, if not all, of the 2019-20 season, Bailey believes that the Warriors should aim for a losing record like the Spurs supposedly did over two decades ago.
“An abundance of caution with Curry’s recovery timeline could help the Warriors add a lottery talent for the twilight of his career,” Bailey suggested. “In turn, that could make this a one-season hiccup.”
Talking about the Warriors’ prospects in the 2020 NBA Draft if they choose to tank this season, Bailey recommended Israeli small forward Deni Avdija and Memphis Tigers center James Wiseman as two highly-touted players who could fill the team’s biggest needs. He also suggested the possibility of Golden State trading their other top stars — newly acquired guard D’Angelo Russell and veteran forward Draymond Green — in order to land more first-round draft picks that could blossom into future standouts.
Given how early it is in the 2019-20 regular season, a lot of things can happen to the Warriors, with or without Curry and Thompson lighting it up in the backcourt. But as Bailey concluded, another “jump” might be due for Golden State if they turn this into a tanking year and play their cards right in the coming offseason.