The Warriors expected to contain the Big 3 led by Stephen Curry in free agency

The struggling days of the Golden State Warriors with Stephen Curry taking over may be gone as we know it. The Dubs missed the playoffs altogether in 2024 after falling short of the 9/10 play-in tournament game, and there remain many lingering questions about what’s next for a consummate veteran team in decline. With Klay Thompson set to enter free agency, 2024 could truly mark the end of an era for the Warriors’ dynasty.

However, the Warriors seem intent on riding it out and making the good times last as long as possible with their core players nearing the end of their Hall of Fame careers. Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report wrote that “Golden State will eventually cave and keep the core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Thompson together” through the 2026-27 campaign. Curry will be 38, Green 36 and Thompson 36, so this will most likely mean their historic trio will retire together.

Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed in the NBA. Klay Thompson appears to be looking for one last big payday; despite his decline, he still offers top-notch traits beyond the arc that will always have a prominent place in an NBA rotation. Pincus brought up the Philadelphia 76ers as a team that could lure Thompson away from the Warriors, but he noted that the 76ers “might prefer” Paul George, who is a better quarterback right now of their career.

As frustrating as Thompson has been to watch for a good chunk of the 2023-24 season, he’s still part of the Warriors’ DNA through and through. Another jersey will just look wrong on Thompson. But anything can happen in the NBA, especially given the other roster-building issues facing the Warriors.

Warriors, stuck in the middle?

2022 was the perfect storm for the Warriors. Stephen Curry was at the top of his game, as always, but the Warriors surrounded him with two-way players and enough shot makers/shot takers that they ended up winning it all. The plan was there for the Dubs to continue fighting in a post-Curry world; Jordan Poole looked like he was going to take up the mantle of goalkeeper sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately, the Warriors quickly realized that straddling two timelines was a most difficult undertaking. The Warriors latched on to Poole not long after winning the championship, admitted that picking up James Wiseman in 2020 was a mistake, while Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody weren’t quite ready to fill the shoes of a declining Klay Thompson.

Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins’ play has declined over the past two seasons as he looks like a shell of the version of himself that was the best both-way during their run to the 2022 championship.

Right now, it looks like the Warriors’ upside is limited. As long as Stephen Curry plays at an All-NBA level, the Dubs will be an over .500 team. But it will be interesting to see if there are moves available for the Warriors to make them a championship-caliber team again in the final few years of Curry’s career.

Klay Thompson and Draymond Green struggled last season

One of the main reasons the Warriors missed the playoffs in 2023-24 was the poor play of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green by their established standards. Thompson’s decline was particularly hard to watch. He’s always been a jump-first shooter, but his decline in athleticism has made him more inconsistent than ever.

It got to the point where the Warriors decided bringing Thompson off the bench was the best move they could make after how damaging his off nights had become. Thompson is resilient as he bounced back to finish the year strong, but in the play-in game, he continued to have the worst game of his career, going scoreless on 10 shot attempts in 32 minutes of play.

Meanwhile, Draymond Green was his usual self on the basketball court. He averaged 9-7-6 while anchoring the Warriors’ defense and also shot threes with more confidence, finishing the season with a career-best 39.5 three-point percentage. However, his antics made him a huge distraction throughout the season — costing the Warriors in the process.

Green couldn’t control his emotions and it led to some questionable actions on the court that literally hurt his opponents. The league had no choice but to suspend Green because of his history. The Warriors went 13-14 without Green in the lineup, compared to 33-22 with him — a drop of about 12 percentage points in their win rate.

Quite simply, the Warriors will need these two Hall of Famers to turn back the clock in order to contend next season, and that’s if they can bring back Klay Thompson in free agency.