Golden State Warriors: Klay Thompson’s injury dampens lofty expectations for 2021

Klay Thompson’s injury dampens Golden State Warriors’ offseason

The 2020-21 NBA season was supposed to be one of redemption for the Golden State Warriors.

For a good stretch of the 2010s, this franchise was indisputably the best one in the league, winning three championships in a four-year stretch that appeared to just be scratching the surface of their potential.

With a core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins, Golden State’s 2019 starting five combined for a total of 28 all-star appearances, with each member each making at least three individually.

The result, however, was much more underwhelming than most might have expected. As much as the addition of Cousins in the prior season made things appear as if the dynasty had just begun its reign on the league, the beginning of that season actually marked the very opposite.

Although they did reach the Finals that year, the Warriors would lose both Klay and Durant in a six-game series that, despite looking close on paper, was one of the most disappointing playoff series’ in recent history.

By the end of that year’s offseason, both Durant and Cousins were no longer on the team – one taking his talents to Brooklyn and the other struggling to even get a contract.  We hyped up the moves as ones that would restore parity to the league as we watched the teams’ original big three compete to see if they could get another ring despite the losses. Instead, we got a 15-win season.

If we’ve seen anything in the past year-or-so with the Warriors, it’s been a devastating trend of injuries. We keep waiting and waiting for the cycle to stop, but, time’s ticking. This year had the potential to be a fun one for Golden State, but now that the trio has to wait another year to finally get on the court together after Thompson’s unfortunate Achilles tear, we have to ask ourselves if the wait is going to be worth it.

With Curry likely reaching the final quarter of his career, Draymond noticeably declining, and Klay’s nagging injury issues, it is clear that we are not going to see that same 73-win team that many of us hoped to upon Kevin Durant’s departure.

Can the team still be good? Of course. Curry’s game isn’t the type to last only a few seasons; he’ll be launching 3-point bombs until his body physically can’t anymore. Draymond is a proven system player that could excel once that system returns, and Klay is in a similar boat as Curry in regards to the fact that he’ll never lose his shot. But all the intangibles – the energy, the defense, the core around them that fit so perfectly alongside the big three, that’s all gone.

These guys are getting old, and new players will be taking their spots as the highlights of the team. With the addition of college sensation James Wiseman and star scorer Andrew Wiggins (and the fact that the team may be able to sneak in another high lottery pick this year given Klay’s injury), there is no doubt that Golden State is in a good spot.

With that being said, the dynasty we remember them once being is now nothing but a mere memory. Perhaps we’ll see flashes of throwback Warriors basketball every now and again, and maybe we can even see them make the playoffs, but these flashes will be nothing more than just that.

When ESPN inevitably launches a documentary about the golden era of Golden State, this year will be one cut from the film completely. Things will end with the Warriors winning their 2018 championship, briefly mention their final Finals run, and end before the 2021 season can even be mentioned.

Although it sounds strange to say given how abrupt the fall was, this team has indeed fallen off and should shift their attention to rebuilding a new dynasty instead of clinging onto an old one that cannot be restored.