The Golden State Warriors clearly have the highest ceiling of any NBA team. Of course much of that is contingent on the health of their star, Stephen Curry. Dealing with recurring ankle issues, Curry is currently missing time with his most recent injury.
Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver of the Open Floor podcast asked if we should be worried about Curry's ankles and considered what the Warriors' postseason would look like without him fully healthy.
Check out the full episode here and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. (The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity).
Andrew Sharp: It’s true that Golden State has basically been going through the motions for the last four or five months. Steph Curry has missed extended time. For them to be right there with the Rockets does sort of speak volumes about what they really have and what the gap could look like when Golden State actually turns it on.
Ben Golliver: Well, I think we’ve always said Golden State has the highest ceiling of any team, right? And we would definitely agree that Golden State in sixth gear is significantly better than Houston in sixth gear. I’m not sure people are missing that, though. Has there been somebody out there who’s really been concern trolling the Warriors lately? I don’t know if that voice is there.
Sharp: I think the main point, though, is it should be terrifying to everyone that the Warriors can half-ass it for an entire year and still be on pace to win 65 or 67 games.
Golliver: I agree with that. How concerned are you about these Steph ankle injuries? It’s a real situation at this point. There’s been enough separate incidents here over the course of the season where I think you have to wonder can he make it through an entire postseason—even if they’re sweeping consistently in some of those rounds—without something flaring up.
Sharp: If I ran the Warriors or were involved in the brain trust out there I just would keep him bubble wrapped until the first week in April. Just keep him on the sidelines, you don’t really have anything to play for, I don’t think they’re going to end up catching the Houston for the one seed, and it probably doesn’t matter anyway. I’m just not sure what the incentive is to have him out there.
And I’m sure they’re going to be super cautious regardless, but I am concerned about the ankle injuries. I don’t know how you would describe him, but Steph has been the most successful individual player over the last four years of the NBA, and I think you just have to be super, super cautious going forward because take him off the floor and suddenly the whole playoff picture starts to shift a little bit.
Golliver: You can tell Steph is starting to get frustrated too. The last one he just had this look on his face of like, ‘Oh, no, not again.’
Sharp: And I wonder whether part of that is because he knows that the Warriors are going to be extremely cautious. So he tweaks an ankle and he’s like, ‘Well s--t, now I’m going to be out for another month; Kerr is not going to let me play. Because I’m sure he feels like he could play like this week.
Golliver: Possibly, or he’s just thinking, ‘This is really annoying, I can’t get right, I can’t get a full month straight where I can just dominate the league’ and get back to that 2015-type prime that he was at consistently for a full season. I think the question about Golden State’s ceiling isn’t as important as the question about Steph’s health. If Steph can’t stay completely healthy throughout an entire postseason—and he did basically last year—that’s why they went 16-1 and they almost swept the entire playoffs.
If he’s not able to do that they’re going to be in for more choppy waters than last season, and I think that’s going to mean a tougher series against the Rockets, it’s probably going to mean a loss or two more in the early rounds than we might expect.
I think they’re going to go into the playoffs still as overwhelming favorites, and I think Vegas still views them that way. So I’m not sure I agree with this idea that, ‘Oh, everyone’s sleeping on the Warriors.’ I don’t think that’s happening. I think if anything it should be the opposite. We should be focusing in on Curry’s impact when he’s on the court, Curry’s central role in helping them play to their full capabilities and the questions around his health.
Sharp: I think we are sleeping on them to some extent. We’re sleeping on just how much better they are than the rest of the league.