What is going on with the Warriors?

They’re 4-7 and the only defending champion to ever open the season with an 0-6 record on the road. Stephen Curry looks as brilliant as ever, but the pieces around him are crumbling. 

Here’s why the Warriors have come out so slow — and whether it’s time for Golden State to panic.

MORE: How much blame does Doc Rivers deserve for 76ers’ struggles?

Klay Thompson hasn’t been the same player

Thompson had ups and downs during the Warriors’ title defense last year. His shooting was solid, but he wasn’t the same defender or all-around offensive player as his pre-injury self.

That has continued into this season. All of his stats are way down since his injuries.

Klay Thompson stats Points FG% 3PT% eFG%
2012-2019 (pre-injuries) 19.5 45.9% 41.9% 55.1%
2021-2023 (post-injuries) 19.2 41.6% 37.2% 51.5%

Charles Barkley brought up the decline on a recent TNT broadcast, noting that his play was slipping. Thompson didn’t disagree, but he urged patience. 

“It’s like, no duh, man,” Thompson said in response to Barkley’s criticism. “I tore my ACL and my Achilles in consecutive years and still helped a team win a championship. I mean, it hurt hearing that. Because it’s like, man, I put in so much freaking effort to get back to this point.

“Like, it’s hard to even put into words what I had to do to be the player I am today.”

New players don’t understand the Warriors’ motion offense

Most teams around the league run heavy doses of 5-out offense with spread pick-and-rolls. The Warriors have a lot more motion and cutting built into their sets, and it can be an adjustment for players unfamiliar with the system.

There have been plenty of screwups to start the season. Here’s Curry getting upset at second-year player Moses Moody for blowing up the spacing in their transition attack:

New addition Anthony Lamb, who is on a two-way contract, had no idea that he was supposed to go into the post for the play that has perhaps defined this Warriors dynasty, a post split with Kevon Looney screening for Curry.

The other most commonly run action by the Warriors has been their thumb out series, which Lamb looked lost running.

The Warriors have had problems with talented players that couldn’t figure out their system before (I’m looking at you, Kelly Oubre). It relies on timing, high feel and knowing how to play alongside Curry.

These young players just don’t get it yet.

James Wiseman has been the most damaging player in the NBA

Wiseman has been a particularly special brand of bad. He doesn’t deserve the bust label yet, but he has looked completely clueless in his minutes thus far.

It probably wasn’t fair to expect Wiseman to come in and help the Warriors this season. He played in only three college games and 39 games as a rookie. He has looked better than in that first year, but he’s been among the most damaging players in the NBA by many all-in-one metrics, including FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR.

Kerr seems to have realized that the Warriors can’t expect to win with Wiseman as of right now. He earned his first DNP of the season on Nov. 7, when the Warriors defeated the Kings to snap a five-game losing streak.

“I think it’s been a tough couple of games for James, but I’m a believer,” Kerr said after a Nov. 3 loss to the Magic in which Wiseman had more fouls than points. “I love his talent, his attitude, but there’s no shortcut for all this.

“You’ve got to go through your lumps as an extremely young player with little to no experience. It takes time.”

Simply put, the Warriors have major roster problems

Wiseman, Moody and Jonathan Kuminga are all still talented players. But it’s tough to win with youth, and the Warriors are in win-now mode.

“We’re looking at James and JK and Moses in a big-picture way,” Kerr added on Nov. 3. “So, you don’t get these guys who basically play three college games in James’ case, or 12 G League games in JK’s case, it doesn’t happen overnight.”

The dependence on youth underscores the team’s biggest issue. The players that the Warriors lost in free agency — Gary Payton II, Nemanja Bjelica and Otto Porter Jr. — were all excellent in their roles. The players who have replaced those minutes have been much worse.

Along with the struggles of the young guys, the veterans that the Warriors brought in haven’t performed well. Veteran forward JaMychal Green has looked unplayable. And Donte DiVincenzo has only played in three games thus far because of a hamstring injury.

This just isn’t a good roster. Andrew Wiggins seems to be going through another one of his funks, Draymond Green has continued to decline and Jordan Poole has been awful since he signed his extension.

Poole and Wiggins will eventually play better. But the other problems on the roster aren’t going away anytime soon. If the Warriors want to defend their title, they need to shake it up and add some more depth like they had last season. 

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