The Golden State Warriors were crowned NBA champions last season after a Finals victory over the Boston Celtics, but can they retain their crown in 2022/23?
Steph Curry led the Warriors to the championship – his fourth with the franchise. However, the all-time three-point leader claimed the latest victory was the sweetest – especially as it came after Kevin Durant’s departure in 2019 ended their super team.
The Warriors return to defend the title with a younger roster built around an expensive core. Despite their success, their future is up in the air, making this a decisive season for the Warriors.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||October 18th 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||ABC, ESPN, TNT, NBA TV|
|Odds||BOS Celtics +525, GS Warriors +600, LA Clippers +700, MIL Bucks +750, BKN Nets +800|
Last season was the Warriors' fourth championship in eight years and their sixth visit to the NBA Finals in that spell. After two difficult seasons between 2019 and 2021 Golden State returned to the top, but was that their last dance or the beginning of a new dynasty?
The coming season will go some way to defining that and setting the future course for the Warriors. They already have one of the highest wage bills in the league and that's set to get bigger in the not-too-distant future, with Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson all up for new deals next summer.
This year could be the final one with the current Warriors core, as the team is unlikely to resign all four. A choice between present and future is hurtling towards the front office and this season's performance could make that decision for them.
Klay Thompson's return to action last year was a huge lift for the Warriors – they've now reached the NBA Finals in the last six seasons in which he's featured. However, he wasn't able to reach the heights seen before his two-year injury lay-off.
The Warriors didn't need him to reach his splash brothers hey-day with Curry, with Poole's influence making up for it. While Thompson and Curry dominated the league as the best backcourt in the business for years, Poole has emerged as another stellar guard option for the Warriors.
However, a full pre-season should see Klay the clear starting option, changing the way the Warriors play. Poole is more likely to be a versatile bench option – which has seen him made the +400 favourite for 6th Man of the Year. If the splash brothers return to their best with Poole as another perimeter threat, the Warriors will be an offensive terror this season.
Winning the championship hasn't brought continuity for the Warriors, as they've made a few off-season moves.
Title-winners Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damion Lee, Otto Porter Jr, Gary Payton II and Nemanja Bjelica have all moved on. In their place, they are looking to start developing for the future.
While the additions of Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green help the Warriors, their future prospects will need to become solid role players.
Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody – the seventh and 14th picks in last year's draft – will get more minutes for Steve Kerr this season. The return from injury of 2020 third-pick James Wiseman is another boost. Expect that trio to get out on the court early this season as Kerr looks to prepare them for next year’s Play-offs.
How the season starts
The Warriors collect their rings on opening night, hosting LeBron and the LA Lakers. Their opening five games are shaping up to be a real test, as they host MVP Nikola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets in their second game.
The improving Sacramento Kings are their third visitors of the season before they head out on the road to meet last season’s top regular season side in the Phoenix Suns. Their difficult start wraps up at the Chase Center, with Miami Heat the visitors.
With Curry and Klay in the backcourt, the expectation for the Warriors is likely to be another Finals run. With their development issues considered they might not feature among the Conference leaders in the regular season.
At the same time, they have an expensively assembled rival to worry about this season in the LA Clippers.
Just getting out of the Conference will be tougher this time, but it's hard to bet against a Warriors side with so much championship experience.