With Steph Curry and Klay Thompson back, Warriors should be 2020-21 NBA title favorites, not LeBron's Lakers

With Steph and Klay back, Warriors should be NBA favorites that originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Los Angeles Lakers have just won what could be considered one of the most memorable championships in NBA history. It occurred in a bubble in Disney World amid a global pandemic, occurred in the year of Kobe Bryant's untimely death, and earned LeBron James his fourth ring.
Even so, the Lakers shouldn't be preferred to repeat and win the 2020-21 NBA Championship. No, that distinction should be made to the warriors.
According to PointsBet futures odds, the Lakers are the 2020-21 betting favorites, with the bucks in second place and the Golden State in third place. But have we all forgotten so quickly how good the warriors were not long ago?
They were playing in their fifth straight NBA final 16 months ago and could have won their fourth title in five years if Kevin Durant hadn't broken his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore up his ACL. Durant has now left for the Nets, but Thompson will be back and Stephen Curry will be back. The two will reunite with Draymond Green to re-assemble one of the best trios in NBA history.
Green and Thompson are only 30 years old and although Curry is 32 years old, his game doesn't depend on athleticism. As long as he gets his shot, it will be one of the most dangerous offensive weapons the league has ever seen.
If you're not in the picture, that's sure to change. But don't forget that the Warriors absolutely didn't need him when he signed there in the summer of 2016. They had had a season in which they had won 73 games, the most in NBA history, and were 3-1 in the NBA finals. They didn't win the series, but they did get a ring the year before, with Curry, Thompson and Green taking the lead.
Now they'll be back with a first-team all-rookie to run with in Eric Paschall and whatever number 2 overall pick is. It could be another young blue chip player with all-star potential, like James Wiseman or Anthony Edwards. Or they could flip it for a more established star.
Either way, the Warriors are able to come back loaded and with more talent than the Lakers or any other team in the NBA. And they have one of the best front office operations in the sport to move the parts as well as a very good trainer in Steve Kerr.
The biggest question for Golden State isn't the Lakers or the Clippers or any challenger. It's Thompson's injury as his (a torn ACL) was much more severe than the one that Curry kept out for most of this season (broken hand). Thompson was arguably a top 10 player in the league when he went down, but now his mobility could be compromised. Given its best qualities, which are shooting down screens and smothering wings in defense, it is definitely worth monitoring.
But Thompson will end up having at least three extra months to recover as the league calendar has been pushed back. By the start of the NBA season, possibly in January, he will be more than a year and a half away from the injury, which typically takes 9 to 12 months to rehab.
There is also reason to believe that the Curry-Thompson-Green Triumvirate will be more motivated than ever. You can see the hype the Lakers and other teams have received this year. And they can also see the criticism the two titles they won with Durant have received.
Durant was back just last week, defending his decision to sign with the Warriors. He said he didn't take the easy way out. The perception that these two championships weren't as hard-earned as the others affects Curry, Thompson, and Green.
When you add it all up, the Warriors are set to be back in the mix as NBA title contenders. And in all honesty, the way they do next year could change the way we look at the entire 2019-20 season.
What if they seamlessly reinstall themselves as the definite kings of the NBA? It could change the context of what has been accomplished this season, much like when Michael Jordan returned to win another three-peat with the Bulls after his brief retirement to play baseball.
The Houston Rockets, with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, have won two championships, but to this day fans and the media are wondering aloud what would have happened if Jordan had never left. The same could happen with the Warriors, who with Curry, Green and Thompson have already proven themselves to be one of the greatest teams in NBA history.
That's no reason to take anything away from what the Lakers or other teams have done this year. But let's all just spot the sleeping giant that's likely waiting for the NBA. There's a clear chance the best team in the NBA wasn't in the bubble.

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