It’s that time of year again. Are the Warriors ranked too high, too low, or just right?
After a long offseason, NBA teams are getting ready for training camp as they prepare for the upcoming season. Per tradition this time of year, ESPN released their annual Top 100 NBA player rankings with the initial release revealing the players ranked from No. 100 to No. 26. Four players from the Golden State Warriors fell within that range including Jordan Poole, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Andrew Wiggins. Let’s dive deeper into each of their rankings.
Jordan Poole: Number 55
Previous Ranking: Not ranked
3 players ranked before: Robert Williams, Nikola Vucevic, Tobias Harris
3 players ranked ahead: De’Aaron Fox, Jaren Jackson Jr., Jarrett Allen
Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: Poole should make a strong campaign for Sixth Man of the Year. The hope is that Poole’s role as the Warriors’ sixth man will be more consistent (barring injuries), and that in itself will set Poole up for more success. He has shown the ability to grow his game each year in the league, and there’s no reason that should stop with the experience of a title run under his belt.
Jordan Poole followed up an impressive sophomore season with a breakout third year. His biggest development came in the scoring department where he jumped from 12.0 points per game in 2020-21 to 18.5 points per game in 2021-22.
With an increase in playing time to 30.0 minutes a night, Poole became a significant part of the Warriors’ rotation. His ability to play alongside Stephen Curry, both on-ball and off-ball, created massive problems for opposing defenses. This was especially true during the playoffs when teams were forced to pick their poison when defending the shooting prowess of Curry, Thompson, and Poole. Heading into the final year of his rookie deal, look for Poole to continue his momentum from the previous season in order to cash in on a big second contract.
Draymond Green: Number 43
Previous Rankings: No. 37 (2021), No. 44 (2020), No. 38 (2019), No. 16 (2018)
3 players ranked before: Darius Garland, CJ McCollum, Tyrese Maxey
3 players ranked ahead: Dejounte Murray, LaMelo Ball, Zion Williamson
Swing skill: Defense. It’s not at all shocking that Green will be the key to the Warriors’ defense. Before his back injury last season, Green was putting up a convincing Defensive Player of the Year campaign, and the Warriors need that from him again all season long. When he was on the court, Golden State had a 104.2 defensive rating — that number jumped to 112.0 when he was on the bench.
Draymond Green comes in at No. 43 in what might be the most controversial ranking of the Warriors players listed. Entering his eleventh NBA season at age 31, Green remains underrated as he is arguably Golden State’s second most important player. He is the team’s emotional leader and the defensive anchor that makes them special on that side of the floor.
One negative for Green has been his health. Injuries caused him to appear in only 46 regular season games last year. However, before the injuries piled up, Green was looking like a lock for defensive player of the year and was selected to his fourth All-Star appearance. If he can stay healthy, Green should outplay this ranking going into next season.
Klay Thompson: Number 37
Previous Rankings: No. 32 (2021), N/A (2020), No. 49 (2019), No. 19 (2018)
3 players ranked before: Zion Williamson, Scottie Barnes, Fred VanVleet
3 players ranked ahead: Evan Mobley, Cade Cunningham, Marcus Smart
Why he could exceed his ranking in 2022-23: For the first time in three years, Thompson has a full summer of rest and recovery — not rehab — under his belt and will be eligible to play an entire season. This alone should set up Thompson for a more consistent season that could vault him back into the group of elite two-way players.
Thompson made his NBA return after missing two consecutive seasons with an ACL tear and a torn Achilles. He started off the season slow, which was to be expected from someone returning from two catastrophic leg injuries. The Warriors also played it cautious with his return, opting to bring him along slowly while imposing minutes restrictions and resting him on back-to-backs.
Initially, the lack of consistency made it feel like Thompson couldn’t buy a bucket. However, towards the end of the season and in the playoffs, he began to look more like the Splash Brother that Dub Nation has known and loved. The grit it took to overcome his injuries was already a major accomplishment by itself, but he came back and contributed to a championship team, making his placement on these rankings well-deserved.
Andrew Wiggins: Number 32
Previous Rank: No. 77 (2021)
3 players ranked before: Cade Cunningham, Marcus Smart, Kyrie Irving
3 players ranked ahead: Khris Middleton, Pascal Siakam, Brandon Ingram
One huge question for 2022-23: Can he follow up his breakthrough All-Star season? Wiggins had such a good start to last season that he earned his first All-Star selection, and as a starter no less. This season won’t necessarily be about making the All-Star team again, but rather how he will ensure he maintains that level of play for an entire season as the Warriors chase a repeat title.
Wiggins has the highest ranking of the Warriors players listed so far. Last season, he emerged as one of the top wing players in the league thanks to his excellent play on both sides of the ball. Wiggins’ success led to his first appearance as an All-Star starter (with, of course, the help from Dub Nation and a voting boost from some very loyal K-pop fans).
Wiggins thrived in his role with the Warriors last season. The team had him focused on shutting down the opposing team’s best player while remaining a threat on offense as evidenced by his career-high 39.3% shooting from the three-point line. Most importantly, Wiggins proved his doubters wrong by consistently making the winning plays that were crucial to Golden State’s championship run in the playoffs.