By Eric Vallen
As of December 9, 2021, the Golden State Warriors have the best record in the NBA, sitting at 21-4 on the season. Star Warriors guard Stephen Curry currently leads the MVP ladder, averaging 27.5 points per game and 1.8 steals per game, a total unmatched since his unanimous MVP year in 2016. Previously a role player, shooting guard Jordan Poole has stepped into a starting role, averaging 18 points per game on the best shooting efficiency of his career. Furthermore, although some may consider him a bust, forward Andrew Wiggins has been shooting three balls at a 42 percent clip, creating vital floor spacing whenever he enters the game. Almost every single player on the roster has significantly raised their output since last season, and if trends are to continue, the Warriors may steamroll the league.
However, the warriors do have some weaknesses. Looking at their losses this season, they have primarily failed to perform against fast paced and defensive minded teams. Against the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies many of the Warriors defenders were simply too slow. Forwards Nemanja Bjelica and Andre Iguodala are 33 and 37 years old respectively, and simply don’t have the lateral quickness to keep up with the younger guards of the league anymore. Others like Kevon Looney and Draymond Green are interior defenders, but again lack the vital speed to guard the perimeter. Furthermore, although the aforementioned players are skilled in interior defense, their lack of height allows opposing centers to operate with essentially free will in the paint, which was seen in the teams losses to the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs. Although currently the warriors are undersized and generally unskilled defensively, the solution to their woes may be on the horizon.
Since mid-April of this year, now-sophomore center James Wiseman has been injured with a torn meniscus, but will likely be due for return in early 2022. Furthermore, Star shooting guard Klay Thompson, known for his shooting and defensive capabilities, is likely to suit up within the next 2 to 4 weeks, as of December 9. With these two players back in the lineup, there truly wouldn’t be many teams that could even come close to beating the Warriors, either on offense or defense. With an already league-best rated perimeter defense and ninth rated offense, the return of these two would put the warriors on another level, and likely have them as one of the teams with the highest chances of winning the championship in recent years.