Golden State Warriors

Is Golden State good enough to earn West’s sixth seed, avoid play-in tournament?

In the wake of Golden State’s improbable win against the Jazz on Sunday, it’s time to dream big.

Never mind that we’re not talking about an NBA championship, which has often been the case for the Warriors in recent years.

This season, goals have changed, as the team attempts to win as many games as possible without star guard Klay Thompson while preparing its young players for next year — when another championship run could be in store. This year’s playoffs are definitely still a target for coach Steve Kerr and star guard Steph Curry, however. But can the Warriors crawl into the sixth seed and avoid the new play-in portion of the postseason?

Veteran NBA reporter Zach Harper thinks so. He said as much in his weekly NBA Power Rankings released by The Athletic. He ranked Golden State No. 11 this week and had the following to say about the Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors are good enough to get into the top six in the West and stay there. They are good enough to avoid the potential chaos that is the play-in tournament, whether that means as a seventh or eighth seed or as one of the teams in No. 9 or 10 looking to kick the door off the hinges. Steph Curry’s brilliance this season and Draymond Green’s galvanizing play have reminded everybody of just how good these two are. They’re getting some learning moments from James Wiseman that give them so much when harnessed properly. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Andrew Wiggins have found good moments at times. They can capitalize on this and avoid the play-in tournament.

Zach Harper/The Athletic

Curry and Draymond Green are definitely keeping the ship afloat, and players Harper mentions are coming along for the ride, though there are still times of uncertainty, as there were after the blowout loss to the Clippers. The win against Utah on Sunday was enormous and has the potential to be a turning point for the Warriors.

But basically, I definitely agree with Harper: with Green and Curry leading the way, Golden State has the players needed to move up the rankings during the second half of the season, especially since their schedule gets easier as the campaign moves along, with a massive homestand to close the year.

Harper goes on to mention that he feels Golden State needs to make an acquisition to accomplish this, however. The argument is that the Warriors’ offense still struggles, especially when Curry leaves the floor to rest.

But Kerr already has a new player, kind of, with former first-round pick Jordan Poole playing an effective combo guard in the win against Utah, scoring 18 points in 22 minutes, including three 3-pointers in five tries. Wiseman appears to be coming into his own a bit, too, especially after spending three quarters in Kerr’s doghouse against the Clippers.

Earning the sixth seed would have been frowned upon just a few short years ago, but times have changed in Golden State. Not that it’s a terrible thing. Many NBA teams would feel fortunate to be in the position the Warriors are in: superstar talent, young players with enormous potential and a superstar in Thompson waiting to return.

Curry himself has said he’s aiming for the sixth spot. It’s important for Golden State to have a specific goal — with all the change surrounding the team this season, it can only help them focus. They’ll try to keep the ball rolling against the Lakers on national TV Monday night.

(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

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