The Golden State Warriors have had a disappointing start to the 2023-24 campaign. Still, general manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic that he still believes in the roster he helped build this year.
“Yeah, I do; I do believe this whole roster does, as the way it was designed,” Dunleavy said when asked if he thinks the roster has championship pedigree. “We certainly believed that, whatever it was, eight weeks ago, when we started the season. Some things haven’t broken our way. But these things change quickly. We get everybody rowing in the right direction, I think it’s doable. But hey, six weeks from now, the (Feb. 8) trade deadline, maybe something comes up that makes more sense and we do something. But this is a group that the core guys have been there are capable of doing it.”
Golden State Warriors Rumors: General Manager Mike Dunleavy Jr. Believes Dubs Roster Has Championship Pedigree, But Says Things Can Change
Golden State is in 10th place in the Western Conference with a 12-14 as they start a three-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics. The Warriors, who have won two straight, are two games behind 10th-place Phoenix Suns (14-12). They are also 3.5 games out of the sixth spot.
Injuries have hampered Golden State’s start to the season, and, of course, two Draymond Green suspensions. Green is expected to miss at least the next three weeks as part of his indefinite leave of absence. Meanwhile, Gary Payton II has been out since Nov. 29 due to a calf injury. Payton could be back shortly as he has been cleared to begin some light on-court individual work and will be re-evaluated in another week.
As a result of the injuries and suspensions, the Warriors have used 10 different starting lineups. The Warriors’ most used first unit consists of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, and Kevon Looney. But those five have started just 11 games together and own a 5-6 record. Wiggins has been moved to the second unit, and Green is MIA.
Golden State’s starters have been one of the worst in the league on both ends of the floor. Their most-used starting five has gotten outscored by eight points per 100 possessions. Overall, the Warriors’ first unit is 27th in offensive efficiency and has a +/- rating of -1.9.
Curry is the only one of the five players playing close to his usual level, though he has struggled at times. Thompson is on pace for his most minor productive season since the second year of his career, though he is shooting well from deep. Meanwhile, Wiggins is having, by far and away, the worst season of his career.
Here is a look at some of the Warriors’ issues.
Golden State has been one of the best shooting teams over the last decade. So, it is surprising that the Warriors are struggling in that department. The Warriors are 25th in the league in field goal percentage at 46.5%, as Wiggins, Thompson, and Chris Paul are all shooting well below their career average.
As usual, the Warriors love to launch from deep. The Dubs are fourth in the league in 3-point attempts and makes (14,8-40.0). But they are making them at just a 37.1% clip, 15th in the league, and is 1.5% lower than last season.
The bigger problem is that the Warriors are connecting on only 52.4% (27th) of their 2-point attempts, while their nearly 50 shots from inside the arc are up 6.2% from a season ago. However, they are shooting over 4% worse from inside the arc than they did a season ago.
Part of the reason for Golden State’s offensive struggles, they average 115.3 points a game which is 3.5 points fewer than a season ago, is that they have been more stagnant offensively. The Warriors rank seventh in the league with 27.6 assists, down 1.5 dimes from a season ago.
There is hope, though, as Thompson and Paul shoot over 45% from the field for their careers. Curry is also shooting slightly worse than his career average numbers.
As has been the case the past several seasons, turnovers are an issue for the Warriors. The Warriors have cut their turnovers by fewer than one per game. Granted, the Dubs play at the fastest pace in their league, but committing turnovers at a 15.8% rate is unacceptable. Particularly when Paul is your main ball handle when in the game.
Curry averages 3.6 turnovers a game compared to 4.7 assists, the worst assist-to-turnover ratio of his career. Just as significant, seven regulars average at least one assist a game.
Like with their shooting, there is hope that the players on the roster can semi-fix the problem. While Curry likely won’t cut his turnovers down, he should be able to increase his assists. There is a chance that Wiggins could cut down his turnovers slightly, as could Brandin Podziemski, who could get a better feel of the NBA game as the season progresses. But the biggest hope to change the turnover narrative is when Payton returns and if Cory Joseph can show he is capable of more minutes.
Despite being 20th in points allowed at nearly 116 a game, Golden State is okay on defense. The Warriors are 16th in defensive rating, 13th in opponent field goal percentage, and seventh in 3-point defense percentage. However, given the Warriors’ advanced age and lack of overall athleticism, that end of the floor may be their downfall.
Golden State doesn’t have a rim protector. Fouling is also an issue, as well as transition defense. The Dubs’ opponents have the third-best FTA/FGA in the league at a rate of. 231.
What Does Golden State Need
There is good news. Golden State is extremely deep with the additions of the veterans they brought in this offseason — Payton, Dario Saric, and Paul. Also, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are continuing to develop. Meanwhile, rookies Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis have gotten valuable minutes in the early going.
Golden State has done an excellent job defending overall. The Warriors have to shore up a few things on that end. The Dubs are a fantastic rebounding team on both ends. Additionally, they have a positive point differential despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the league, as 22 of their first 26 opponents have a .500 or better record. Eight of Golden State’s first 26 games have been decided by three or fewer points, although they are just 2-6 in those contests.
If Dunleavy does decide to upgrade the roster, the wish list will likely include a top-flight big man. The Warriors also may look to add a wing who can score if Paul, Wiggins, and Thompson can’t pull out of their funk.
Kuminga, Moody, and perhaps Podziemski and Wiggins are trade chips Dunleavy could use. The Warriors also have several draft picks for trades from 2025-2030, including five first-rounders (except for 2024 and 2030).