For the first time since their run started in 2015, the Golden State Warriors are not the favorites to win the NBA title this season.
Oddsmakers project the Warriors to still be a solid playoff team in the West, but with Kevin Durant leaving and Klay Thompson expected to miss much of the start of the season with an ACL tear, they lag behind the likes of the Clippers, Jazz, Nuggets, Rockets, and Lakers in the West in win total projections. You would be hard pressed to find folks that expect the Warriors to factor too much into the title picture this year, although once Thompson is back, they will certainly not be an easy out in the playoffs.
With the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets all creating new dynamic duos, the Jazz making marked improvements this offseason, and the Nuggets as the young team on the rise in the conference, Golden State is taking a backseat in terms of expectations in the conference. That may be quite alright with them, but don’t tell Klay that the dynasty run is over. Thompson sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Thursday and scoffed at the notion they’ll fall well off the pace in the West this season, highlighting the talent they have on the roster as well as insisting he’ll come back better than ever from his injury.
Klay Thompson on those who say the Warriors' dynasty is over: "To say the dynasty is over is a little ignorant because I'm going to come back better and even more athletic. It would not be smart to count the Dubs out." pic.twitter.com/BVshD0xzR2
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) August 1, 2019
It’s a perfectly Klay quote, and the exact thing you’d expect to hear from him (and any other member of the Warriors). Thompson is ultra-confident in himself (as are most pro athletes) and fully expects to be his normal, if not better than normal, self once he’s able to get back on the court. He notes that Steph and Draymond are still there and in their primes, and also makes sure to point out the addition of D’Angelo Russell as a “gift” and claim he’s going to grow into a superstar in this league.
Golden State, for the first time in five years, gets to play the underdog card and I fully expect them to embrace that. For the past two years we’ve heard about how hard it is to find motivation when you’re at the top of the heap, but that won’t be an issue this season. They’ll have plenty of bulletin board material and will want to remind everyone why they’ve been to five straight Finals. It’s understandable why the expectation from the outside is to see them take a step back, but it also wouldn’t be a shock to see them fighting for another Finals berth come May and June.