After securing their fourth NBA title in eight seasons, Warriors owner Joe Lacob believes the best is still to come.
The CEO stopped by the latest episode of The Athletic’s “The TK Show,” where he told host Tim Kawakami the defending champions can be even better during the 2022-23 season -- all they have to do is stay healthy.
“A lot of it’s dependent on health,” Lacob said. “What people don’t often realize -- it’s funny how they forget -- this last year, we only had 11 minutes, I think it was, where our core group played together during the course of the year.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Bay Area and California sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
“We were injured the entire year, whether it be Klay [Thompson], then Draymond [Green], then Steph [Curry]. So just that alone, if we could manage to stay healthier this next year, I think we would be better.”
The Warriors got off to one of the hottest starts in the NBA last season, even while missing Thompson as he worked to come back from a pair of major injuries. Then, as Lacob mentioned, injuries plagued Curry and Green, and many counted the team out without its battle-tested veterans.
Golden State repeatedly warned the league that when fully healthy, it would be a true threat. Then Thompson made his triumphant return, Curry and Green fought to come back from their own injuries and the core trio reunited on the floor just in time to help lead the Warriors to NBA Finals glory again.
Now, Lacob expects even more this coming season. He isn’t the first to say it, either, as coach Steve Kerr made the same prediction last month when he said most teams are better the season after winning a ring, based on his own experience.
Golden State Warriors
"But whether I was a player or now as a coach, you win that first one, there's a freedom that comes with it,” Kerr told reporters in late June. “There's an excitement, and that carries over into the second year."
And in Lacob’s eyes, that excitement will be accompanied by improvement.
“Klay certainly coming off the injury should be, in his second year out, more fully recovered,” Lacob told Kawakami. “I think that’s definitely a truth, and hopefully Draymond’s back -- it’s held up well during the playoffs, hopefully that continues to hold up well and he has a strong year.”
With Curry, Thompson and Green all getting older, having up-and-comers like Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman able to handle more minutes will help keep the veterans fresh while providing the youngsters with valuable experience.
“The great thing about having Kuminga and Wiseman, Moody and some of these other players kind of taking increasing minutes this next year is that hopefully, some of the guys that are getting a little older, we don’t have to overplay them during the course of the long regular season,” Lacob said. “And that they can be really ready for a strong playoff run.”
Ever the planner, it’s evident that Lacob has his sights set on another Finals appearance next season -- or, at the very least, a deep postseason run.
And while it’s tough to plan for injuries, the message heading into next season remains the same: When they’re healthy, the Warriors are a serious threat.
They’ve proven it once, and Lacob believes they can do it again.