SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — For the first time since a COVID outbreak brought the NBA season to halt in March, the Golden State Warriors will take the court Tuesday to begin preparation for the 2020-2021 season.
While there is great hopes and new faces, there is also a touch of deja vu. Here are five quick takes on the upcoming season.
1.) Where will the Warriors play? While they are still allowed to practice and play in San Francisco’s Chase Center, a surge in local new COVID cases may force San Francisco health officials to once again halt those plans. San Francisco moved into the state’s most restrictive Purple Tier on Saturday and nearby Santa Clara County put into place a ban on contact sports for at least 3 week forcing the 49ers to move their next two home games to Arizona.
2.) Klay Thompson. The Warriors will be without the sharp-shooting Thompson for a second straight season after he tore his Achilles tendon during a pick-up game on Nov. 18th in Southern California. He is expected to make a full recovery, but will sidelined for the season. Golden State will have to find a way to replace his career 19.5 points per game and 40 percent shooting from the 3-point line. Thompson also is a threat to score 30-40 points in any given game and the spacing his range presents allows for open shots for Steph Curry and others.
3.) Steph Curry’s durability. Without Thompson, Curry will be called on to carry a larger load in terms of scoring and ball handling. Last year with Thompson recovering from ACL surgery, Curry missed much of the 2019-2020 season with a broken hand that required surgery and months of rehabilitation. He came back on March 5 against the Toronto Raptors, scoring 23 points, pulling down six rebounds and dishing off seven assists in a 121–113 Warriors’ loss. During his career, Curry has been prone to injury when he has been forced to play long minutes and carry the weight of the offense on his shoulders.
4.) Kevon Looney’s health. While much has been written about injuries to Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, the team has not talked much about Looney’s health and playing status. Although undersized at 6-9, Looney opened the 2019-2020 season as the team’s starting center, but was soon sidelined by neuropathy that caused tightness in his hamstrings. He underwent surgery on May 19 and is expected to be ready for the start of the season. When healthy, Looney is an impact player. But the question heading into the preseason is just how healthy is Looney and will he be able to handle the pounding of an entire NBA season.
5.) New Faces. Like other NBA teams, Golden State has done some significant shuffling of its roster in the shortened off-season. Andrew Wiggins was picked up in a late-season trade last year with Minnesota and head coach Steve Kerr liked what he saw of the former top draft pick in limited action. Kelly Oubre Jr. was picked up in a pre-season trade. The gifted, young forward averaged a career-high 18.7 points per game with the Phoenix Suns last season. His 6.7 rebounds per game and 35.2 shooting percentage from 3-point range also were the best in his five-year career. Meanwhile, James Wiseman was selected with the No.2 pick in the NBA draft and has the inside talent to be the Warriors big man for years to come. All three and the continued development of second-year forward Eric Paschall and guard Jordon Poole will be key for the team’s success.