July 20, 2024
The Warriors are all-in on one timeline, and it's ending fast

SAN FRANCISCO — Last season, the Warriors tried to double down on “two timelines” — a group of experienced, title-winning veterans playing alongside young players, learning how to win on the fly.

Needless to say, things didn’t work out. The season started with a punch and ended with a dud performance in the playoffs, with the Warriors exiting in the second round.

So this season, the Dubs are all in on one timeline: the here and now.

The old guys won.

“It’s going to be fun to fight Father Time for as long as we can,” Steph Curry said Monday at the Warriors media day. “But not talk about it too much because we still feel young.”

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Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and — the newcomer — Chris Paul are not young. It’s nice that they feel that way, but these guys are ancient by NBA standards. The four have a combined 53 seasons of experience.

And this season, they’ve come together like the Basketball Expendables to win a title.

For Curry, Green, and Thompson, it would be championship No. 5.

For Paul, his first.

The Warriors have a shot at it. They go into the season with the sixth-best odds to win the 2024 title, per FanDuel.

Put those four players in a seven-game playoff series — where all that experience can really make a difference — and you might have something special.

And while all that hard-earned experience is invaluable in the quest for a championship, it’s, well, hard-earned. That kind of longevity comes with plenty of wear and tear.

That wear and tear could make the Warriors’ task of making the playoffs quite difficult.

It’s exceptionally hard to impact the game while wearing jeans at the end of the bench.

So, can the Warriors keep Father Time at bay? Can they add another trophy to the case?

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The Warriors are already dealing with a significant injury: Green rolled his ankle in a pickup game and is out for at least two weeks, perhaps as many as six.

But listening to the Dubs’ veterans on Monday, it sounds as if winning the battle with the front office to build a veteran-heavy team and the inclusion of Paul, one of the Warriors’ greatest rivals, but also one of the best point guards in the history of the game, has them energized.

It also makes them feel like this team can jell after last season’s disorder and disconnect.

“I think having veterans definitely helps because there’s just more of an understanding,” Green said. “I think anything that you do, when you’re mixing this amount of experience with this amount of experience, there is a disconnect. You try to do all that you can to lessen that disconnect.

I think for us, you bring in more veterans, guess what, you lessen the disconnect.”

“When you have as many veterans as we do, it makes it easy for everyone to get on the same page,” Thompson said.

That’s the optimistic perspective.

The other way of looking at it is that the mix of Paul and Green — on delay is back on the court — is eminently combustible.

“Neither one of them is not going to stop talking,” Curry said. “That’s a good thing as long as it’s channeled in the right direction.”

If that comes to pass, and the Warriors can receive a full season shift from their key players, including forward Andrew Wiggins, the Dubs can surprise. The Celtics and Bucks, after acquiring Jrue Holiday and Damian Lillard, respectively, in the past week, are the top two teams in the league heading into the season. But they’re in the East.

The Western Conference competition is the Nuggets and Lakers — both teams saw serious talent leave this offseason — and the new-look Suns, who traded Paul for Bradley Beal early in the offseason.

The Warriors can beat any of the three, if conditions are just right. These old dogs can still have their day.

But it’ll undoubtedly take a massive effort for the Dubs to sit atop the mountain again. Green and Paul need to unify and play like they’re five years younger; Thompson needs a vintage, pre-leg-injuries season; and Curry must remain immortal.

All need to play 65-plus games.

That’s a big ask, but it’s possible this season.

The campaign could also be an unmitigated disaster.

Either way, we know this: it’s going to be interesting.

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