Two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry has praised LeBron James for his longevity and pushing him to sustain his prime for as long as he can.

Curry and James are set to face off on the opening night of the 2021-22 NBA season when the Golden State Warriors meet the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

Four-time NBA MVP and four-time NBA champion James enters his 18th NBA season with the Lakers among the favourites for the title.

Despite being 36-years-old, James remains a key part for the Lakers, who won the NBA in 2020, before bowing out in the first round of the 2021 play-offs.

Curry praised 17-time All-Star James for maintaining his high levels throughout an extended period, when the pair have arguably been the league's best players.

"He set the standard for that," Curry told reporters on Friday. "Let's keep it real – in his 18th year, nine straight Finals, all the things that he's accomplished.

"You have a vision of sustaining your prime for as long as you can, kind of re-imagining what that looks like. The work that goes into it, the intentionality, especially in the off-seasons, especially how you take care of your body, your mind. Balance on court, off court."

The Lakers forward had an injury-interrupted 2020-21 season, averaging 25.0 points,7.7 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, having boasted a career-best 10.2 assists per game in the side's title-winning 2019-20 season. He has averaged 25.0 points per game or more since his debut season in 2003-04 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James is four years Curry's senior, with the 2003 NBA Draft first pick having claimed one more NBA title across his career than the Warriors point guard who debuted in 2009.

"For me, it's a weird perspective just because I still remember my college days and he was just coming into his prime in the league," Curry said.

"And my sophomore year, [NCAA] tournament run he came to a game, then came to a game my junior year. I still have a jersey that he signed back in '08 in my parents' house back in Charlotte. So it's kind of weird to think about what's happened in the last 13, 14 years.

"Hopefully there's more chapters of that, playing at that prime. Re-imagining and extending your prime and playing at a high level for a long time looks like."

Curry, who only played five games in the 2019-20 season due to injury, topped the NBA last season for points per game, at 32.0.

The 33-year-old's 32.0 points per game was a career-best return, while he also averaged 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

"I love exactly where I'm at," Curry said ahead of the new season. "I'm planning to be ready for opening night.

"Body feels good, mind feels good, shot feels strong. I'm not pacing myself but I'm being smart about how I approach preseason games."

Golden State Warriors star point guard Stephen Curry says Anthony Wiggins handled his responsibilities in deciding to get vaccinated ahead of the new NBA season.

Wiggins faced missing all of the Warriors' home games this season, 41 games, due to San Francisco's vaccine mandate having previously refused to get the shot, citing religious reasons.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr confirmed on Sunday that Wiggins had since been vaccinated, opening up his availability.

"Obviously I think it’s great he’s available,” Curry said on Monday after Warriors shootaround. "Whatever process he went through to get to that decision, he’ll be able to speak on that.

"We’re excited to have him. It’s a good sign he’s handling his responsibilities as a part of the team. Whatever the process was is for him to explain."

Wiggins, who was the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft before joining the Warriors from the Minnesota Timberwolves last year, averaged 18.6 points, 2.4 assists and 1.0 blocks per game in his first season with the franchise.

Curry has previously been outspoken about public health during the COVID-19 pandemic but insisted he would not have held any hard feelings towards Wiggins if he opted against the shot.

"I wouldn’t think badly of him had it not turned out that way," Curry said. "I hate that part of the conversation. The fact is, we can have a conversation about it and be respectful.

"There’s no way I would let that affect how I see him as a human being, as far as before this pandemic started versus now. I’m glad he’s available and he’s able to be with us today."

Wiggins and Green both started Monday's preseason game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Andrew Wiggins will be available for all Golden State Warriors games this season having been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Wiggins' vaccination status had been a subject of much controversy in recent days, the former first overall pick facing the prospect of being unable to play in home games for Golden State.

San Francisco is among the major cities that have laws restricting unvaccinated persons from entering sports arenas, restaurants and other public spaces.

That would have meant Wiggins being prevented from featuring in games at the Warriors' Chase Center and forfeiting salary as a result.

The NBA confirmed on Wednesday that players would not be paid should they miss games for a failure to comply with local vaccine mandates.

Wiggins, therefore, risked missing out on a substantial portion of a salary worth over $30million for the 2021-22 season.

But head coach Steve Kerr confirmed on Sunday that Wiggins had elected to get the vaccine.

Wiggins had previously applied for an exemption on religious grounds but saw that request rejected by the NBA.

The Golden State Warriors remain reluctant to put a timeframe on Klay Thompson's return from injury, but head coach Steve Kerr said the shooting guard is showing positive signs.

Thompson, who has not played in the NBA since June 2019, participated in team practice on Tuesday for the first time since tearing his Achilles in November last year.

The three-time champion tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, before sustaining an Achilles injury during his comeback.

Last week, Golden State put out an injury update, vaguely stating he was making "good progress", but his return to training is a significant step in the right direction.

The five-time NBA All-Star remains months away from a competitive return, however, Kerr was upbeat about his recovery on Tuesday.

"Everyone's excited that Klay is out on the floor," Kerr told reporters. "He basically did every single thing in practice today.

"We didn't scrimmage, we didn't have any live contact, but Klay is just so happy to be playing and we're all so happy to see him part of it. So just a really good first day, first couple of days, and good energy as we start to get rolling."

He added: "Klay looked great. Shooting the lights out. His team won the daily shooting competition. And he was smiling, laughing, joking around, it was really fun to see the old Klay back."

Thompson said on Monday that he was around "75 or 80 percentile of what I need to do" in terms of his Achilles injury rehabilitation, while Warriors general manager Bob Myers indicated December or January may be a likely return timeframe.

Kerr added the Warriors playing group were boosted by Thompson's return to training as the franchise seek a return to the playoffs after missing out the past two seasons.

"Part of it is his spirit, his energy, his joy," Kerr said. "A big part of it too is, 'Yeah, we got Klay.' The confidence level as a group -- we're getting Klay back.

"It makes us all feel better. And that's the sense that I have from our guys."

Kent Bazemore and Kelly Oubre Jr. have left the Warriors this off-season, with veteran Andre Iguodala re-joining along with Serbian power forward Nemanja Bjelica as free agents.

Golden State – who are reportedly among the teams interested in disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons – added teenagers Jonathan Kuminga (pick 7) and Moses Moody (pick 14) in the NBA Draft.

The thought of playing more than half of their games without Andrew Wiggins is "not ideal" for the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry said Monday. 

The NBA announced Friday it had denied Wiggins' request for an exemption from COVID-19 vaccination requirements, and the forward's status was the prime topic of discussion at the team's pre-season media day. 

Beginning October 13, San Francisco will require vaccinations for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events unless an exemption is granted for medical or religious reasons. 

Wiggins had sought one on medical grounds, but the NBA's denial means he will not be eligible to play in home games at Chase Center. 

Golden State star Curry, who has been an outspoken advocate of vaccinations, was asked whether he believes Wiggins' decision is acceptable as a member of a team. 

"Acceptable is a strong word," he said. "It's not ideal. ... We hope we have a full team for the entire year and understand that, on all accounts and what the research says and things like that, that [the vaccines are] safe and we're all in the same boat.

"So we hope he's available, and if not, we'll adjust accordingly. But we hope not."

Wiggins deflected numerous questions about the topic during his session with reporters Monday, repeatedly saying he was going to keep his thoughts on the matter "private". 

One reporter noted that Wiggins said last year he would get vaccinated if he had to in order to play and asked him if he felt like his back was against the wall in having to choose between his personal beliefs and being able to play. 

"Back is definitely against the wall," he said. "But just going to keep fighting for what I believe, whether it's one thing or another, get the vaccination or not get the vaccination, who knows.

"I'm just going to keep fighting for what I believe and what I believe is right. What's right to one person isn't right to the other." 

While controversy swirls around Wiggins, the men at the top of the organisation expressed the hope that the situation would be resolved by the time the regular season begins on October 19.

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said he has not reached the point of trying to figure out how to account for regular absences by unvaccinated players. 

"I haven't spent any time thinking about that, nor will I. We'll just see how everything plays out. We're hopeful that it is all resolved in the next couple of weeks but we are going into camp [Tuesday] with a plan to have everybody out on the floor and ready to roll."

General manager Bob Myers echoed that sentiment, saying he was not interested in discussing hypotheticals and is preparing to start the season with the full team available. 

"I get why people have to wonder," he said. "But we're going to deal in reality now and that's what we're doing each day."

Wiggins played 71 games last NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will be unable to play home games until he meets San Francisco's vaccination requirement after the NBA denied his request for an exemption.

The NBA put out a statement on Friday confirming its decision after Wiggins had sought an exemption for religious reasons to play at the Warriors' Chase Center.

Under local COVID-19 regulations in San Francisco, Warriors players are required to be vaccinated to play in their home arena, unless an exemption is granted for medical or religious reasons.

"The NBA has reviewed and denied Andrew Wiggins' request for religious exemption from the San Francisco Department of Public Health's order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all participants age 12 and older at large indoor events," the league statement said.

"Wiggins will not be able to play in Warriors' home games until he fulfils the city's vaccination requirements."

Unvaccinated players are permitted to play in the NBA this season with regular testing but there are stricter rules for teams based in San Francisco along with New York.

The announcement comes shortly after the New York Knicks announced all of their roster are vaccinated. The rules also apply to the star-studded Brooklyn Nets.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health's decree may have overridden any NBA exemption granted to Wiggins.

"At large and mega indoor events, all patrons 12 and older must be vaccinated at this time," the San Francisco Department of Public Health statement said.

"Under the current order, if unvaccinated, they cannot enter indoor areas regardless of the reason they are unvaccinated and cannot test out of this requirement even if they have a medical or religious exemption.

"This same rule applies to performers and players employed by the host at large and mega indoor events who are covered by the vaccination requirements of the Health Order."

The Warriors are due to commence their 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19. The San Francisco mandate does not take effect until October 13.

Wiggins played 71 games last NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

The NBA fined Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob $50,000 for violating the team's anti-tampering rule following his comments about Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons.

Simmons' future is dominating headlines after 76ers head coach Doc Rivers confirmed on Wednesday that the three-time All-Star wants to leave Philadelphia.

The Warriors have emerged as a possible destination for Simmons since his forgettable 2020-21 playoff campaign with the 76ers.

But Lacob cast doubt over a Simmons trade during an interview, prompting a sanction from the NBA.

"In some ways, it doesn't really fit what we're doing," Lacob told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don't know. He's very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond [Green].

"Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the playmaking. That's one issue. The salary structure is another."

 

Rivers, midweek, told ESPN the 76ers will try to convince Simmons to stay with the franchise amid trade talk.

Simmons and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers.

Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star.

Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It is the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Klay Thompson is making "good progress" to return in the new NBA season while James Wiseman will miss pre-season according to the Golden State Warriors.

The franchise provided an injury update on the pair on Monday, ahead of the new season due to commence on October 19.

Five-time NBA All-Star Thompson has missed the past two seasons due to a torn left anterior cruciate ligament and a torn right Achilles.

Wiseman, who went pick two in last year's NBA Draft, underwent surgery on a meniscus tear in April.

"Thompson… has made good progress during his rehabilitation over the course of the summer and is on pace to return for the 2021-22 season," the Warriors update said.

"The exact time for his return this season will be based on his continued progress.

"Thompson, who underwent surgery on his right Achilles on November 25, 2020, is expected to participate in various controlled drills during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date."

The Warriors did not put a return date on Wiseman either, but confirmed he would begin full jumping six months after surgery, being October 15, only four days before the new season starts.

Wiseman will join the team in their training camp, but the timeframe means he has been effectively ruled out of playing in pre-season.

"The exact time for his return this season will be based on his continued progress," the update said. "He was expected—and is still expected—to begin full jumping six (6) months from the date of surgery, which would be October 15.

"Wiseman is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during training camp. His return to full practices will be determined at a later date (after October 15)."

The Warriors are scheduled to start the 2021-22 NBA season against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 19.

Golden State last season lost to the Lakers in the Western Conference play-in tournament, failing to reach the playoffs for the second straight campaign in Thompson's absence.

The Warriors stormed back into playoffs contention with a strong second half in 2020-21, finishing 39-33, after ending the 2019-20 season last with a 15-50 record.

Kevin Durant and Draymond Green blamed Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and the franchise's management for mishandling the pair's infamous on-court spat, which led to the former leaving the team.

Durant and Green were involved in a heated verbal exchange against the Los Angeles Clippers in November 2018, with the argument reportedly continuing in the locker room post-game.

Green was suspended for one game by the Warriors as a result.

Durant eventually departed the Warriors via free agency at the end of the season, joining the Brooklyn Nets.

Warriors team-mates from 2016 to 2019 – winning two NBA championships, Durant and Green spoke about the incident.

"It wasn't the argument," Durant said on Bleacher Report show 'Chips' when asked how much the argument contributed in his decision to leave Golden State.

"It was the way that everybody -- Steve Kerr -- acted like it didn't happen. [General manager] Bob Myers tried to just discipline you [Green] and think that would put the mask over everything."

Green recalled: "'Y'all are about to f*** this up. I said, 'The only person that can make this right is me and K [Durant]. And there is nothing that y'all can do, and y'all are going to f*** this up.' And in my opinion, they f***** it up."

"I think so too," responded Durant, who averaged 26.0 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists with the Warriors in 2018-19 before suffering an Achilles injury in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Durant added: "I remember watching 'The Last Dance,' and when Scottie [Pippen] didn't go into the game, the whole team in the locker room said, 'Scottie, that was f***** up that you did that.'

"We needed that. We just needed to throw all of that s*** on the table and say, 'Yo Dray, K, that was f***** up that we even had to go through that.'

"Let's just wipe our hands with that and go finish the task. ... I didn't think we did that. We just tried to dance around it. I just didn't like, just the vibe between all of that, it just made s*** weird to me."

Stephen Curry's Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr says the Olympics is the last thing on the two-time NBA MVP's list to achieve after the player hinted he has an "itch" to play again for Team USA.

Kerr helped Team USA to the gold medal at Tokyo 2020 as the side's assistant coach under Gregg Popovich earlier this month, while Curry sat out the tournament.

The 33-year-old Warriors point guard cited the short break between NBA seasons for opting out of Tokyo 2020.

Curry was part of gold medal-winning US sides at the 2010 FIBA World Championship and 2014 FIBA World Cup but has never participated at an Olympics.

"I don't think I even need to advise Steph on any of that because he's been through the World Cup experience at least once, I think twice, if I'm not mistaken," Kerr told The Athletic.

"He's competed at the highest level internationally. The Olympics is probably the only thing left on his list of basketball accomplishments.

"He's achieved everything else. I think that would be great if he was interested in '24. I think that'd be a great thing for him to pursue if he wanted to do it."

Curry will be 36 years-old by the time the 2024 Olympics in Paris are held.

The seven-time All Star returned to top form in the 2020-21 NBA season as the Warriors stormed into the play-in tournament.

Curry averaged 32.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game in the 2020-21 season.

The three-time NBA champion told reporters last month: "No regrets at all [in not competing at Tokyo 2020], but there's always that itch to play and play on the biggest stage, like the Olympics. But it just wasn't the right thing for me and the right time."

Andre Iguodala has confirmed he will return to the Golden State Warriors on a one-year deal and plans to end his career with the franchise he helped to three NBA titles.

Iguodala was a pivotal part of the Warriors' dynasty, which saw them reach five successive NBA Finals between 2015 and 2019 and win championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

Having accepted the role of sixth man in the 2014-15 season, Iguodala moved into a more prominent position for the 2015 Finals, with his defense of LeBron James crucial to Golden State's 4-2 victory.

Iguodala was named 2015 Finals MVP and continued to have a significant influence on the Warriors' success thereafter.

The swingman shot 49.4 per cent from the field and 37.8 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs in 2018 when Golden State won their most recent title.

He produced the same field goal percentage in the 2019 postseason as the Warriors lost in the Finals to the Toronto Raptors, before then moving on to the Miami Heat and helping them reach the Finals in the NBA Bubble.

Iguodala's field goal percentage of 38.3 for the Heat last season was the worst of his time in the NBA, but while he admitted to pondering retirement this offseason, he is relishing the chance to bring the curtain down at the place where his career reached its zenith.

"Who would have thought I'd have the opportunity to go back to the place where I was able to have, whatever you want to call it, legacy years, in terms of the accomplishments, winning multiple championships, the relationships that I was able to build with some of my closest friends and teammates?" the 37-year-old told The New York Times. 

"The relationship with the fans, the relationship with the Bay, the opportunity to end it here, was just something special."

Iguodala will likely play a key role in mentoring the younger members of the Warriors' roster.

Golden State did not pull off the blockbuster draft-night trade many were anticipating, instead using picks 7 and 14 on two teenagers in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. The Warriors used the second overall pick in 2020 on a center with just three games of college experience in James Wiseman, who showed flashes of his potential before a meniscus injury ended his rookie year.

While that trio will look to call on Iguodala's experience, he is hopeful he can still make an impact on the court perhaps even beyond the 2021-22 season.

"I think I've got some more time left," Iguodala said. "Where I'm comfortable at is I can decide when I'm ready to go.

"I think I want to leave with just a little bit left. I don't want to go out on one leg. I know I've got a few more years. It's just my decision whether it's one or two or three or whatever it may be. I shouldn't even say three. One or two."

The Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry agreed to a max contract extension, paying the two-time league MVP $215.4million over four years.

Added to his previous deal of $201m, signed in 2017, Curry becomes the first player in NBA history to ink multiple deals worth at least $200 million, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday.

Curry will be 38 at the end of his new contract but has shown no signs of slowing down after averaging a career-high 32.0 points during the regular season to become the oldest NBA scoring champion since a 35-year-old Michael Jordan accomplished the feat in 1997-98.

The move comes during a crucial offseason for the Warriors after two straight injury-riddled campaigns have seen them fall short of a postseason berth.

Curry carried the Warriors in 2020-21 with Klay Thompson and 2020 second overall pick James Wiseman both suffering season-ending injuries.

Golden State general manager Bob Myers admitted he is not sure if Thompson will be healthy by the start of next season. The five-time All-Star tore his right Achilles before last season's training camp.

That came after Thompson missed the 2019-20 season with a torn ACL suffered in a Game 6 NBA Finals loss in June 2019 that gave the Toronto Raptors their first NBA title.

“I don't know that it'll be the start of the year,” Myers said. "We'll see more as camp gets closer. When I say start of the year, I mean Game 1. I don't know if that's realistic or not.

“What we're focused on is when do we expect Klay to be Klay, and I don't know if that'll be January, February, March. It's too early to say."

 

With Curry at 33 years old and Thompson and Draymond Green both 31, the Warriors have been connected to rumors of a win-now move that would add veteran talent, but Myers has yet to pull off such a blockbuster.

Wiseman, whose college career at Memphis was cut short due to eligibility issues, has played just 42 games since leaving high school and remains a raw prospect.

Myers has insisted that the club does not intend to trade Wiseman, however, saying he can be an asset in both the short and long term.

The Warriors left many pundits puzzled after last Thursday's NBA Draft, where they used the seventh overall pick on unpolished forward Jonathan Kuminga and the 14th overall selection on guard Moses Moody, leading to even more trade speculation.

There appears to be much left to accomplish this offseason for Myers and the Warriors, but a new contract extension ensures Curry will be the centrepiece of it all, just as he was for three NBA titles and five straight NBA Finals appearances from 2015-19.  

The term "positionless" has been all the buzz in the NBA the last few years, and the first round of the 2021 draft followed that trend as the Detroit Pistons took Cade Cunningham with the first overall pick and players with similar skill sets went off the board soon after. 

Longstanding positional terms like guard, forward and center have gone out the window as athletic players like NBA MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets have taken over the league, and Cunningham leads the latest crop of versatile options. 

Checking in at 6-foot-8, Cunningham often plays like a point guard, leading his team down the floor – exactly the kind of headache-inducing matchup teams are seeking these days. 

After the Houston Rockets took guard Jalen Green second overall and the Cleveland Cavaliers used the third pick on big man Evan Mobley, the Toronto Raptors surprised many prognosticators by taking another of those positionless players at number four with Scottie Barnes. 

At 6-foot-9, his role at Florida State was similar to Cunningham's at Oklahoma State, running the offence while defending across multiple positions. 

"He's a multi-faceted, multi-positional two-way player," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters. "We like guys that can handle, pass, score, defend, rebound a little bit and just kind of come at you in waves with that." 

Most had expected Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs to be Toronto's pick after US fans fell in love with him during the NCAA Tournament, but he fell to the Orlando Magic at number five. 

The Okahoma City Thunder then took yet another 6-8 talent in Australia's Josh Giddey at number six in a move that caught many off guard. 

It was more of the same with the following pick as the Golden State Warriors took Jonathan Kuminga, a player who can defend anyone and is unafraid to launch from three-point range. 

It was that kind of night as NBA teams added young talent while trading players and picks in this and future drafts.

Because most transactions cannot become official until August 6, teams selected players they know they will not keep due to deals made ahead of and during the draft. 

Those types of moves prevailed in the latter half of the first round, with numerous reported trades on the cards. 

Among them, yet another versatile big man in Turkey's Alperen Sengun, who was drafted at number 16 by the Oklahoma City Thunder but reportedly will play for Houston. 

The 6-foot-10 Sengun told reporters he believes his passing abilities will help him excel as other European imports have done before him. 

"With my new team, Houston, I will bring something different on the court," he said. "I will do whatever it takes and whatever is needed." 

As the lines between positions and roles continue to blur in the NBA, that approach has increasingly become the default setting across the board. 

 

2021 NBA Draft first-round picks

1. Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
2. Houston Rockets – Jalen Green, USA
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Evan Mobley, USC
4. Toronto Raptors – Scottie Barnes, Florida State
5. Orlando Magic – Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
6. Oklahoma City Thunder – Josh Giddey, Australia
7. Golden State Warriors – Jonathan Kuminga, Congo
8. Orlando Magic – Franz Wagner, Michigan
9. Sacramento Kings – Davion Mitchell, Baylor
10. New Orleans Pelicans – Ziaire Williams, Stanford (traded to Grizzlies)
11. Charlotte Hornets – James Bouknight, Connecticut
12. San Antonio Spurs – Josh Primo, Alabama
13. Indiana Pacers – Chris Duarte, Oregon
14. Golden State Warriors – Moses Moody, Arkansas 
15. Washington Wizards – Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
16. Oklahoma City Thunder – Alperen Sengun, Turkey (reportedly traded to Rockets)
17. Memphis Grizzlies – Trey Murphy III, Virginia (traded to Pelicans)
18. Oklahoma City Thunder – Tre Mann, Florida
19. New York Knicks – Kai Jones, Texas (reportedly traded to Hornets)
20. Atlanta Hawks –Jalen Johnson, Duke
21. New York Knicks – Keon Johnson, Tennessee
22. Los Angeles Lakers – Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky (traded to Pacers via Wizards)
23. Houston Rockets – Usman Garuba, Spain
24. Houston Rockets – Josh Christopher, Arizona State
25. Los Angeles Clippers – Quentin Grimes, Houston (reportedly traded to Knicks)
26. Denver Nuggets – Nah'Shon Hyland, VCU
27. Brooklyn Nets – Cam Thomas, LSU
28. Philadelphia 76ers – Jaden Springer, Tennessee
29. Phoenix Suns – Day'Ron Sharpe, North Carolina (reportedly traded to Nets)
30. Utah Jazz – Santi Aldama, Loyola (reportedly traded to Grizzlies)

The Golden State Warriors' 2020-21 season ended in heartbreaking fashion, but you might not know that reading head coach Steve Kerr's most recent comments.

Golden State rode an MVP calibre season from Stephen Curry to eighth spot in the Western Conference and a place in the play-in tournament.

Yet that was where it all fell apart.

They missed out on the seventh seed as a miracle LeBron James three-pointer helped the Los Angeles Lakers to a dramatic victory, and the Warriors were then outplayed by the Memphis Grizzlies in the final play-in game to ensure they would be watching the postseason from home.

Despite that bitter end, Kerr was left extremely encouraged after seeing his team win 16 of their last 22 regular-season games despite playing a second successive season without Curry's backcourt running mate Klay Thompson, who suffered a torn Achilles before the campaign.

"I'm really excited. I feel like we got our mojo back at the end of the year," Kerr told The Athletic. 

"The offseason has been productive in terms of Klay now breaking through. He's on the court, he's running, he's feeling really good. I talked to him last week. He's just in a completely different mindset. The light's at the end of the tunnel.

"Steph and Draymond [Green] are both in a great place after that close to the season, feeling like they are on top of their games. Andrew [Wiggins] had a really good season for us. Jordan Poole emerged. Juan [Toscano-Anderson] has turned himself into a rotation player, perfect for our style.

"Now we get a training camp with James [Wiseman], a whole season of development, plus [picks] seven and 14 in a deep draft."

However, Kerr's excitement for the new season being vindicated hinges on what they do with those picks and how they stack the roster to help the core of Curry, Thompson and Green contend for at least one more championship.

Use those prime draft selections and continue to develop Wiseman with a view to building sustainable long-term success, or trade the picks and young assets for another star? It's truly a case of evolution or revolution for the Warriors this offseason and, with Kerr in Japan with Team USA, he won't be in the building to influence the final call.

Curry cooks up a storm

Curry's was a season that merited more than the five first-place votes he received in the MVP race.

His points per game average of 32 was the highest of his career, topping the 30.1 ppg he produced in 2015-16 when Curry was named unanimous MVP and the Warriors broke the single-season wins record by going 73-9.

Per 100 possessions, Curry's ppg of 32.1 was second only to Joel Embiid (32.9) as he continued to embellish his resume as the greatest shooter of all time.

Curry's 5.3 three-pointers made per game was a league record, the 2020-21 season his third in which he averaged at least 5.0. He remains the only player to achieve the feat even once.

He had seven games with 40 plus points and at least 10 threes last season. No other player has registered more than three such performances in their career.

Becoming the first player to post three 50-point games in a season aged 32 or older and producing a scoring average that was the highest by a player of that age in league history, Curry is clearly showing no signs of slowing down.

Still, his usage rate of 34.8 per cent is probably not sustainable for the long term, but if the Warriors are to allow Curry more rest in 2021-22, they must solve the problem of what happens when he comes off the floor.

A damaging drop-off

The most dramatic illustration of the Warriors' struggles without Curry came back in April. With Curry and Green each on the sideline, they were thrashed 130-77 by the Toronto Raptors.

The 53-point reverse was the second-largest defeat in franchise history, though it can be argued it was a necessary low point for Golden State. The Warriors subsequently lost to the Atlanta Hawks before embarking on that 16-6 surge.

And the numbers from across the season paint a telling picture of Curry's importance to the Warriors' cause.

With him on the court, the Warriors scored 112.8 points per 100 possessions, compared to 101.9 when he was off the floor, while their effective field goal percentage dropped from 57.1 to 51.6.

The Warriors effectively lost 8.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry was absent. Their point differential was plus-4.3 with him on the court compared to minus-4.5 when he played the role of spectator.

 

Ensuring that disparity is not as severe in 2021-22 will be a key focus of the Warriors' offseason, yet there were still some encouraging performances from those not named Curry to build hope that Golden State can contend to go deep into the postseason again.

Andrew Wiggins set career-highs in field goal percentage (47.7) and three-point shooting (38 per cent) while Jordan Poole established himself as a productive option off the bench, shooting 42.2 per cent over those final 22 games.

Perhaps the best find of the season was Bay Area native Juan Toscano-Anderson who, having been signed to a two-way contract in December, saw that converted to a full-time deal in May.

Toscano-Anderson was seventh in effective field goal percentage (66.7) and eighth in true shooting percentage (67.6), deservedly earning a spot in the frontcourt rotation. Yet, for all the positives that emerged as the Warriors got hot late in the campaign, their ability to take a step towards vying for the title may be contingent on what they decide to do with last year's most high-profile addition.

The Wiseman conundrum

The Warriors have the capital to stack the deck in Curry's favour with the addition of either seasoned pros or promising prospects. They were one of the winners of the NBA lottery as the top-three protected pick the Minnesota Timberwolves sent them in the Wiggins-D'Angelo Russell trade became the seventh selection in this year's draft.

That gives them the flexibility to pursue a trade for more experienced help, but whether they go down that avenue depends on what the Warriors elect to do with Wiseman, whom they took second overall in 2020 despite him having only three games of collegiate experience.

And they were not granted a full season's evidence to aid their decision about the 20-year-old center as a meniscus injury brought his rookie campaign to a premature end.

There were signs that Wiseman could blossom into the athletic big man who can make a difference at both ends, with center long since a position of concern for the Warriors even at the height of their dynasty.

He posted double figures in points in 24 of his 39 games but a net rating of minus 10.1 spoke to a player who still needs time to acclimatise to the challenge of playing at the highest level.

That is no surprise given Wiseman's inexperience, and Kerr is hopeful he will make strides with the chance to get a full offseason under his belt, however, with the front office reportedly exploring trade options, will the Warriors have the patience to stick with him with potentially more immediate contributors available?

Golden State would surely have to include Wiseman in any potential blockbuster trade, with the Warriors mentioned as a potential destination for Oakland native Damian Lillard, the increasingly maligned Ben Simmons and Raptors star Pascal Siakam

Bradley Beal, whom Curry beat to the scoring title, is reportedly viewed as the Warriors' top option in a trade, but there have as yet been no signs that any deal is on the horizon.

After another year with no postseason play, Golden State's big three will want the talent around them to improve in a hurry but, if the Warriors do not identify a player whom they deem worthy of a price that includes Wiseman, they may need to be patient in awaiting the dividends a player of his obvious physical gifts can deliver.

Verdict: Evolution

The Warriors are the team to watch in the draft as reports of trade discussions continue to swirl.

Despite being flush with capital, it is appearing more and more likely that if they do send some of their resources to a rival, it will not be as part of a trade that changes the complexion of the league.

Instead, the more feasible outcome is that the Warriors do a deal to supplement the core that initially shook up the NBA in 2015 by jump-shooting their way to the title, rather than reshaping it with the addition of another star.

Myles Turner is said to have been the subject between the talks between the Warriors and the Indiana Pacers, and his arrival would give the Warriors a difference-making big on both ends of the floor.

Turner missed the final 18 games of last season with a sprained toe but still led the NBA with a block percentage of 8.8 and was seventh among centers that played a minimum of 25 games with an average of 1.5 made threes.

In the draft, the reported urging from Curry, Thompson and Green for the organisation to get players who can help them now may force the Warriors to target more experienced rookies having gone young with Wiseman last year.

Oregon guard Chris Duarte is 24 and was named to the Pac-12's All-Defensive Team last season while finishing third in the conference with a field goal percentage of 53.2.

 

Davion Mitchell turns 23 in September and led the Big 12 in three-point shooting, converting on 44.7 per cent of his efforts from beyond the arc, and James Bouknight of UConn is thought to be in the mix as a younger shot-creator who was second in the Big East in 2020-21 with 23.7 points per 40 minutes.

The Warriors' front office is seemingly facing external and internal pressure to utilise their draft capital to land a premier player who can propel them back to the top of the Western Conference and firmly open the window for Curry, Thompson and Green to polish their resumes further.

Yet a team led by a player who has spent his Hall of Fame career redefining limits with his remarkable shooting range may find their trade possibilities restricted, and Curry and Warriors fans alike might have to reconcile themselves with an offseason that only slightly improves Golden State's odds of winning now but sets them up to stay relevant once his days of carrying their hopes are in the past.

The New Orleans Pelicans have appointed former Phoenix Suns assistant Willie Green as their new head coach.

Green's appointment was delayed due to his commitments with Phoenix, who made it to the NBA Finals before Giannis Antetokounmpo ended their hopes to claim Milwaukee Bucks' first title since 1971.

Before joining the 2021 Western Conference champions, Green enjoyed a three-year spell at the Golden State Warriors, where he worked as an assistant coach under Steve Kerr as they won back-to-back NBA Championships in 2017 and 2018.

Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin praised Green for his "tireless work ethic and authenticity of character" as he announced the new head coach on Thursday.

"He brings a vast amount of basketball knowledge and experience to our team as both a coach and former player, along with exceptional leadership qualities and an innate ability to connect with players, staff and fans alike," Griffin said.

"We could not be more excited to welcome Willie and his family to New Orleans."

Green spent 12 years as a player in the NBA and appeared in 731 regular season games between 2003-15, reaching the playoffs seven times.

In his previous role with Phoenix, the Suns' defensive coordinator oversaw the NBA's sixth-best defensive rating, while he worked as head coach for the NBA Summer League in 2019, where he managed a 3-1 record in Las Vegas.

"I want to thank Mrs. Benson [Pelicans governor], David Griffin and the entire Pelicans organisation for having faith in me to lead this talented group of players moving forward," Green added.

"It's a blessing and an honour to get this opportunity in a special place like New Orleans. I look forward to getting to work and immersing myself and my family into the local community."

Green takes over from Stan Van Gundy, who mutually agreed to leave the Pelicans despite spending just the one year in charge.

Van Gundy's side disappointed last campaign as they went 31-41 to quash any playoffs hopes they may have had at the start of the year.

Green, who becomes the third-youngest coach in the NBA, may now look to build his team around first-round NBA 2019 Draft pick Zion Williamson, who has endured a tumultuous start to life in New Orleans.

 

Page 1 of 11
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.