When talking about this season, a word that comes up a lot around the Warriors is "productive."
During the first half of a season derailed by injuries and defections, the Warriors (9-32) shifted internal expectations to focus on setting themselves up for championship runs in the future. It's not quite a rebuild, because their foundation is strong, but the next 41 games are important in determining how the Warriors will return to contention.
Here are the ways the Warriors can make the most of the second half of the season.
Last week had plenty of encouraging signs for those wondering if Stephen Curry can return at some point this season. On Friday, he traveled with the team for the first time since breaking his hand on Oct. 30 and participated in shooting drills after Golden State's shootaround in Los Angeles. It was the fourth straight day Curry went through an extended workout.
Head coach Steve Kerr said Curry should play again this season, with a return expected around March. Curry will be re-evaluated on Feb. 1, but he may already be ahead of schedule in regards to his initial timetable.
That timetable had Curry beginning strength-training for his left hand in February, but he's been using the left hand during his shooting drills, showing that he's already begun the strength-training portion of his rehab.
Meanwhile, Kaly Thompson will be re-evaluated during the All-Star break, between Feb. 14 and 16. He's been seen practicing and taking jump shots, but less frequently than Curry. His left ACL tear is also considered more serious than Curry's broken hand.
It usually takes two years for players to recover fully from an ACL tear, but playing even a few games could help Thompson gain confidence in his knee as he heads into a pivotal off-season.
The Warriors are on track to finish 18-64, which should be bad enough to secure one of the worst three records in the league. That's important because each of the bottom three teams have equal chances of landing a top-four pick in May's draft lottery.
A March return would give Curry around 20 games to knock off some rust, but it could also lead to the Warriors putting their lottery odds at risk. The Warriors are winning 22% of their games this season, but could Curry help them win another four or five games?