July 12, 2024

The reasons behind Speights’ belief that the Warriors can win one more championship…

As the Warriors watch the playoffs from afar, internalizing the rapid progressions of younger, longer and quicker teams, they’ll spend the offseason confronting many questions, only one of which will guide their decisions:

Does their established veteran core – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson – still have what it takes to win another NBA Finals?

The Warriors seem to believe they do.

And they get no argument from Marreese Speights, who spent three seasons with Golden State and was the fourth-leading scorer on the 2015 championship team.

“I 100 percent think they got one more run in them,” Speights said on NBC Sports Bay Area’s “Dubs Talk” podcast. “Those guys are dangerous, man. It’s going to take one or two more pieces they need to sign. And some of them young boys need to step up, get (Andrew) Wiggins locking in for the (entire) year. It’s not over for them.”

The Warriors have dropped in the Western Conference standings in each of the last three seasons. They finished third in 2022, peaked in the playoffs and won the NBA Finals. They finished sixth in 2023 and were ousted in the conference semifinals. They finished 10th this season before losing in the first game of the NBA Play-In Tournament.

“I was kind of surprised that they got that (No. 10) seed because everybody expects so much from them,” Speights said. “I know next year they got something under their hat. They’re going to come back and be who they are.”

That play-in loss to the Sacramento Kings, like many others in the regular season, was emphatic enough to force the Warriors to reassess their roster and their makeup. The players were disappointed, to be sure, but the primary response was fury and solemn vows to improve.

“Those guys are working right now,” Speights said. “They’re watching the playoffs and working. I know they’re working. So, whoever counts count those guys out just don’t really know basketball in my opinion.”

Speights cited a variety of factors behind Golden State’s unsatisfying season, placing much of the blame on coach Steve Kerr being forced to experiment with lineups due to absences of Green (missed 27 games), Gary Payton II (38 games) and Wiggins (11 games).

As the season progressed, the Warriors exhibited clear signs of slippage – the most alarming being their inferiority against the best of the West. They finished 4-19 against the top six teams and were swept by the Denver Nuggets and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

While there is a bit of debate about the future of the Nuggets, there is little doubt that the Oklahoma City Thunder and Timberwolves will be better next season. The same could be said of non-playoff teams like the Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs.

Which is why there is such urgency attached to Golden State’s offseason plans. It’s a lot to ask of the veteran core, which will average almost 36 years old when the 2025 playoff begin, not only to keep up with the youngsters but to surpass them.

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