Off-season NBA strength rankings: 1. Golden State Warriors

The NBA offseason is finally starting.

Until the next news bomb falls.

This is usually the slow period and it can be. The pre-drafting process, complete with her business talks and roster decisions, is over. Draft came and went, followed by the usual free agency conversion of listings, along with a healthy number of deals.

With the summer league complete and front offices generally turning to the beaches and golf courses—albeit with cell phones ready—things are generally quiet.

But Kevin Durant is still with the Brooklyn Nets, although he doesn’t prefer it. Russell Westbrook is still in Los Angeles, although the Lakers would probably prefer if he wasn’t. A jazz rush to simulate a rebuilding of Thunder and Rockets hasn’t come up with a deal to ship Donovan Mitchell, but it could, too.

For now, with enough complete, it looks like it’s time to look at the way the deals made have changed the NBA’s power structure, from changing champion Warriors players to Celtics runners-up bringing in reinforcements to the annual Lakers. Drama trying to keep up with the emerging team in the hall.

Countdown to the teams expected to play the qualifiers:

1. Golden State Warriors

2021-22 record: 53-29

Hello: G Donte DiVincenzo (free agent), G Ryan Rollins (trading), G Mac McClung (free agent), F Patrick Baldwin Jr. (first-round pick), G Lester Quinones (second-round pick), Gui Santos (second-round pick.)

welcome back: C Kevon Looney.

we will miss you: F Otto Porter Jr., Gary Payton II, F Nemanja Bjelica, G Chris Chiozza, F/F Damion Lee, F/G Andre Iguodala, F/G Juan Toscano-Anderson, F Tyrese Martin.

For a star-studded team with four championship rings, last season was probably a year away. This can’t be an encouraging idea for those on the hunt.

Stephen Curry and Draymond Green remain the kind of troops they have been throughout the Dynasty Warriors’ reign. But Klay Thompson only hinted at a return to full strength after missing two seasons with devastating injuries. Despite his effectiveness last season, he is highly likely to be back to his best in his second comeback season.

Andrew Wiggins joined them as a fourth superstar, even without the kind of strength the Timberwolves envisioned when the Cavaliers made him the first-choice of the 2014 draft and prize in Kevin Love’s trade to Cleveland.

Wiggins needed time to find the right role, but now that he had it, he excelled with the Warriors as a consistent top scorer in their system and a solid defender. At just 27 years old, he only entered his heyday with the All-Star Breakout last season.

With the return of Kevon Looney, the Warriors have a starting lineup that didn’t play together last regular season but was so effective that it dominated the competition at the playoff level, outsmarting opponents by 18.7 points per 100 ownership in 15 playoffs.

Far from the stars, the argument has been made that champions can do better with young players amassed in the two injury-ridden seasons.

The Warriors still don’t know what they have in James Wiseman but there is a possibility that he will be a center option for a team that likes to change positions based on needs. Moses Moody and Jonathan Kominga, both rookies of last season, showed all sorts of potential to get off the ground. Jordan Paul already has it.

Warriors still count on their stars. After an All-Star break last season, when Curry and Green ran out of time and Thompson was still on his way back, the Warriors went 11-12. Green was injured the day Thompson returned. Curry was injured the day Greene returned. They only played two games together after the break, one of only seven seconds long.

Depth of Warriors received a huge hit when both Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. departed as free agents. Payton assisted the Warriors’ defense greatly and was an important part of the rotation when the Warriors were shortened. Porter had a solid season and started in the finals.

The addition of Donte DiVincenzo could help fill in the departing players, although the idea is that younger players will be ready to take the next step.

There is no reason to believe that the veterans are ready to start the decline.

When they’re complete, the Warriors remain well-equipped to chase their second iteration — with their title team in the 2017-2018 season being the only repeat champion since the 2009-2010 Lakers.

About the biggest threat to the Warriors’ standing as a team to overcome could be if things go awry over contract issues. The green becomes eligible for an extension this week and is likely to seek the cap. Green has two seasons left on his contract, the second with a player option. But the Warriors usually made extensions, even for Curry, with only one season remaining.

Wiggins and Paul are both in the final seasons of their deals. Decisions may need to be made about extending one or both of them.

Any dissatisfaction with those decisions could threaten the pursuit of a fifth championship in nine seasons.

But the Warriors have brilliantly led the basketball business — despite record-breaking payrolls and fancy taxes — before. Even last season’s ordeal, going into the playoffs, didn’t matter when the Warriors saw the Larry O’Brien Trophy in hand.

Still in sight. There have been changes, but their essence remains. Warriors are still being built to win the championship.


12. Toronto Raptors
11. Dallas Mavericks
10. Memphis Grizzlies
9. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. Brooklyn Nets
7. Miami Heat
6. Philadelphia 76ers
5. Phoenix Suns
4. Los Angeles Clippers
3. Boston Celtics
2. Milwaukee Bucks

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