The Golden State Warriors are still the most recent team to win back-to-back NBA championships, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and 2018. Their three-peat aspirations ultimately came up short following injuries and a red-hot Toronto Raptors team in 2019, and Kevin Durant’s departure the following summer set the team up for a significantly weaker 2019-20 season that was sunk entirely following a Steph Curry injury.
They bounced back in the strongest way possible for the 2020-21 NBA season where they not only returned to contender status but once again lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy after beating the Boston Celtics in six games. Draymond Green’s statement to Kevin Durant only a few seasons earlier, that the Warriors won without him and will do so again after he leaves, came true. Curry further cemented his legacy, and talks of going back-to-back percolated.
Those talks died quickly though, and for some before the season even started. An inordinate amount of off-the-court drama (more on this later) plagued the entire team and locker room. Their on-court performance suffered. They managed to make the playoffs but needed all seven games to eliminate the Sacramento Kings, and then were eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the next round.
It was a weak title defense, and the off-court issues were not the only reason for their failure. They had plenty of roster construction issues. The Warriors attempted to thread the needle between optimizing their championship window with Curry, Green, and Klay Thompson while growing young prospects to make their eventual rebuild quicker and easier. Like their 2021 title defense, they failed.
This is not surprising. When the Warriors first opted to try to thread the needle it made sense in theory. It is only the hindsight following their failure that makes the end result seem obvious and predictable. It was worth trying, but borderline impossible. You are either trying to win a championship or rebuilding, there is not a way to do both in one season.
This off-season, the Warriors have made a clear choice: they are trying to win the championship. They made moves to address their locker room troubles, extended veterans, brought in others, and drafted a win-now rookie. Here are five reasons the Warriors could be your 2024 NBA Champions.