Take cover, 29 NBA teams. The Golden State Warriors are inching ever so closely back to full strength. After a tumultuous month that head coach Steve Kerr described as “the real NBA” for his two-time reigning NBA champs, the Warriors will get Draymond Green back in their lineup and have their four All-Stars together for the first time in more than a month when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night.
The scary part is the Warriors’ dysfunction, which saw them go 8-8 since the injuries to Steph Curry and Green began, didn’t remove them from atop the Western Conference standings.
At 18-9 they’re a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which have won 16 of 20, and the Denver Nuggets, who just ripped off a seven-game winning streak. Yes, even the Warriors’ worst is better than the competition’s best.
Healthy Warriors a Healthy Favorite to Win Title
Oddsmakers and NBA betting fans weren’t scared off by the Warriors’ lulls, which at its lowest point saw them drop six of eight and four straight for the first time in the Kerr era.
With Curry and Green, the respective most important offensive and defensive players on the team, out of the lineup, the Warriors’ -200 NBA title odds on 888Sport never budged, something those who enjoy NBA Finals betting took note of.
While the reported animosity between Green and Kevin Durant signaled to some the potential end of a dynasty, the reality was the group was going to rebound and, if for no other reason, continue to win on talent alone.
Now they’re all healthy, and if it stays that way they’ll be popping champagne during the third week of June. As Green put it following his public feud with Durant, the Warriors aren’t going to beat themselves when it matters.
Plus, they could be getting a fifth All-Star back in the coming weeks, as DeMarcus Cousins will begin practicing with Golden State’s G-League team this week; he was assigned to the team Monday. He’s nearing the end of his Achilles rehab and will add another dynamic scorer to this already dominant bunch.
Green Still Eyeing Defensive Player of the Year
Despite missing 14 games Draymond Green says he is still pursuing a second Defensive Player of the Year award. It’s something he’s been public about all season long, and " target="_blank"> now that he’s healthy he wants to “lock the league up.”
There’s no denying Green is one of the NBA’s top defenders. He was an All-NBA Defensive Team member from 2015 to 2017 and won Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.
He was on the All-NBA Defensive Second Team in 2018 and, prior to his injury, had been back to his older ways in 2019; Green is averaging 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks per game, joining Robert Covington, Paul George and Jimmy Butler in that selective category.
His impact has been seen by the Warriors’ defensive play, too. His last really healthy game came on Nov. 2 against the Timberwolves. At that time the Warriors ranked No. 9 in defensive efficiency; since then the Warriors have ranked No. 23 in defensive efficiency and limped to a 9-8 record.
Kerr recently called Green the NBA’s best defensive player, and the numbers back it up. So despite him missing three weeks, his +1000 odds on 888Sport look like great value, especially with all the campaigning he’s been doing (remember, the media votes on this award).
Green Should Make Immediate Impact
Let’s not forget: The Warriors were showing signs of turning things around even before Green’s return. They won three straight to finish a five-game road trip, including one in Milwaukee, and now head back home where they’re 11-2 inside Oracle.
They’ll square off against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that has played exceptionally well since the Jimmy Butler trade, but it still just 2-9 on the road. Monday night feels like a game where Golden State could come out with a ton of energy behind Green and overwhelm a Minnesota team in the middle of a West Coast trip.
Green may be on a minutes limit in his first game back, but the minutes he does play will be impacted greatly by his return. We like the Warriors to cover -10 in Golden State..