Anchor Staff Writer
In the past month, the NBA started its regular season games back up. Many teams spent their summer playing overseas. The Golden State Warriors, who are the defending champions, were living it up in Japan.
On their first game back, the Warriors were presented with their 2021-22 season title rings. During their ring ceremony, the current Warriors briefly reunited with former teammate Juan Toscano-Anderson. There were a few former Warrior members missing in attendance, however.
In their first game, Golden State defeated the Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors would go on to lose their next game, a home game, by just five points. They won their third match, but it was soon followed by an away loss in the fourth game. They won their fifth, which was a home game, and also happened to be their last win as of Nov. 3. After that victory, the Warriors proceeded to lose their next four games, which all happened to be on the road. That puts the Warriors at a current status of 3-6, with every away game they’ve played resulting in a loss.
It’s been noted before that the Warriors aren’t a “regular season” team. So there is typically no worry around this time of year. Head Coach Steve Kerr tries out his roster and looks to see what fits. However, if Kerr and the Warriors aren’t careful, this losing streak could stretch far longer than they hope. So what exactly is the cause of the Warriors’ struggle to win?
If you look at last year’s team compared to this year’s, several things have changed. For one, lockdown defender Gary Payton II was traded away. Payton had a 45% field goal percentage in the 2022 NBA finals. Also leaving the Warriors was Toscano-Anderson, who had an unbelievable amount of hustle. Both players were key in one aspect or another.
Beyond that, there’s a lot of pressure on both the Warriors and some players for different reasons. Klay Thompson, star shooting guard, is fully recovered from his previous season injuries. And after hearing that he “isn’t as good as he once was” from Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, it seems that he’s been pressed to prove that statement wrong. Over on the younger side of their team, Jordan Poole recently received a four year, $140 million extension that many believe is way too much. If Poole has a bad night, angry fans and blatant haters don’t hesitate to complain about his contract online. There’s no doubt that Poole feels obligated to push himself. As for the rest of the Warriors, they’re dealing with the weight of being defending champions. Every team is out to get them.
Another reason goes beyond the team itself. As the Warriors are losing players, other teams are forming strong rosters. The Western conference is stacked. For starters, the Lakers have a big three in LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis. Then there are teams that have something to prove such as a hungry, Ja Morant-led Memphis Grizzlies, who fell short to the Warriors in the semifinals last season. And there are teams that still have good starting players such as the duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker on the Phoenix Suns.
On the eastern end, say the Warriors make it past the dominance in the west, there’s strong teams such as a Kevin Durant-led Brooklyn Nets, and a Joel Embid and James Harden duo on the 76ers. Then you have individual spotlight talents such as Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat. The competition is at its peak this year.
The season is still in its early stages, so the Warriors turning things in a positive direction is very possible. However, it most certainly won’t be easy given the fact that they’re no longer a power house amongst their conference. On top of that, the idea of being defending champions is clearly still buzzing, hence Thompson’s verbal altercation with Booker about the Warriors having four rings in comparison to the Suns’ zero during the Suns’ Oct. 25 win over them.
Golden State needs to let go of the cockiness before it aids in a downfall. They also need to start playing as one instead of for themselves individually. Smarter shots need to be made, more communication needs to transpire and the chemistry could be a whole lot better.