The Warriors’ plan to win now AND later appears to be working.
Up 2-0 in its first-round series against the Nuggets, Golden State is feeling good about its present with veterans Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Clay Thompson. Jordan Poole (22) is already thriving in a big role. Recent lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga (nineteen), Moses Moody (19) and James Wiseman (21) remain on the roster and offer hope for sustained winning.
When things are going well for his team, Warriors owner Joe Lacob will tell you about it.
Lacob, via Tim Kawakami of The Athletic:
I don’t see it as a two-timeline thing. I view it as what we need to do to be the best team we can be now and for the future. We have to think of both. I really believe in that.
“There are a couple teams, I’m not going to say who, there’s some other teams that went all-in on older players. And older players do get injured. That’s the thing you have to remember. Suppose we had made a trade, traded away all our youth, for I don’t know, you name the guy, and they’re injured, out for the year. Anytime you’re over 30, 32, 35, these people get injured. It’s data.
“Having a Jordan Poole emerge at 22 and a Kuminga, who obviously is incredibly talented, isn’t playing so much so far yet in this series, but I think he will have his role … and (James) Wiseman coming back next year, (Moses) Moody … I just think we’re set up for the future. And yet we’re really good now.”
There’s no way to read this other than a thinly veiled shot at the Lakers, who built an old roster, suffered through injury issues (among other problems) and missed even the play-in tournament.
Lacob is right. Injuries become more common as players get older. The Lakers might have caught some bad breaks, but they exposed themselves to greater injury risk.
The problem with Lacob’s thinking: Kuminga and Moody aren’t playing rotation minutes in the playoffs. James Wiseman isn’t playing at all. Maybe the veteran Golden State could’ve traded for would’ve gotten hurt. But he couldn’t be contributing less on the court to winning this postseason.
The Warriors could get away with this plan – win the 2022 title and still have those youngsters in place. It’s also very possible Golden State narrowly loses in a later round and appears to have come up one veteran short.
We can never know how the Warriors would’ve fared with a win-now trade. But by keeping three players glued to the bench rather than trading them for someone more likely to help now, Golden State didn’t maximize its 2022 championship odds.