This wasn't how the season was supposed to end for the Warriors, with five rookies starting, three of the best players recovering from surgery, and the organization apologizing to fans by offering half-price concessions.

After playoff predictions from the owner and the head coach, with all the hope going into this season, this wasn't how it was supposed to end. Playing out the string. Praying for a lottery pick.

"The dream was much better than it turned out to be in the first year," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

Thursday's 107-101 loss to San Antonio's junior varsity squad -- the Spurs played without Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker or coach Gregg Popovich, and former Saint Mary's College star Patty Mills had career highs of 34 points and 12 assists -- put the 2011-12 Warriors season out of its misery. Golden State closes the lockout shortened campaign 23-43, having lost 22 of its last 27 games.

But the good news for Warriors fans isn't just that the season is over. Despite a career-high 25 points and eight rebounds for rookie forward Chris Wright, the Warriors lost and wound up tied with Toronto for the seventh-worst record in the NBA. If Golden State lands outside of the top seven in the draft lottery, its pick goes to the Utah Jazz based on a trade from 2008.

Friday, the league will hold a random drawing to break the tie. If the Warriors win the drawing, they'll be slotted No. 7 and have a 72.5 percent chance of keeping their first-round pick -- a 12.6 percent chance they move up, and a 59.9 percent chance they stay at No. 7. The only way the Warriors wouldn't keep their pick is if a team below them moved into the top three.

If the Warriors lose the drawing, they'll be slotted No. 8 and have a 12.4 percent chance of moving into the top three and keeping their pick. The draft lottery is May 30.

It's a fitting end to the season. Warriors fans begging, praying, for a loss so Golden State can keep its draft pick. That's how far this season has spiraled.

How bad is it? Thursday, Golden State started five rookies: Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins in the backcourt, and on the front line Jeremy Tyler, Mickell Gladness and Chris Wright. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that hasn't been done in the NBA since 1970-71.

This year, however, is unlike debacles of years past in that the Warriors have, on paper, set the franchise on a different course. This disaster of a finish to the season is made a bit more palatable by a few things.

The acquisition of a true NBA center, Andrew Bogut, which set the Warriors on this collision course with the draft lottery, has given management high hopes for next season. The development of their rookies, especially Thompson, has given value to this last month-plus of games.

It wasn't supposed to end this way. But it's partially OK because next year isn't going to. At least that's the hope.

"It's hard to lose," new general manager Bob Myers said. "If you like to compete and win, on that level it's been tough to lose this many games. But big picture, we made some changes that will help us going forward. So moving ahead, I like where are. But going through the process of getting there has been tough."

A large part of the blame goes to the trade for the injured Bogut, in which the Warriors gave up star guard Monta Ellis and up-and-coming big man Ekpe Udoh. The wheels fell off after that.

Since then, everything has pointed to next season -- the remainder of the 2011-12 campaign serving as the step back to take two steps forward. Since then, three starters opted for surgery with hopes of ensuring they'll be ready to go in October.

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry is recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle. He's out up to four months. Power forward David Lee, the team announced Thursday, had successful surgery to repair torn abdominal muscles and abductors. He's out up to six weeks. Bogut will undergo surgery Friday. Dr. Richard Ferkel, the same specialist who operated on Curry, will clean out debris and scar tissue from Bogut's ankle.

This is all happening now because next season just can't end like this one.

"Health has got to be key," Jackson said. "We are not fooling ourselves. We need those three guys to be healthy. Our rookies have got to come back better. As an organization, with Bob, we have to make the right decisions -- whether that be the draft, free agency or any other way to improve ourselves."

Myers said -- after watching the Warriors get pounded on the boards all season -- he's going to try to add depth this offseason, get more size in the frontcourt. He also has to find a fifth starter to add to the four already penciled in (Curry, Thompson, Lee and Bogut). He said that could be one of the small forwards on the roster -- incumbent Dorell Wright or reserves Brandon Rush and Dominic McGuire.

The Warriors don't have too much to work with. They'll be right at or over the salary cap. They might not have a lottery pick. And they don't have young players they want to give up or huge expiring contracts to swap with.

Stopping short of promising anything, Myers said the Warriors won't have any excuses. This year wasn't supposed to end this way. And next year definitely can't.

"Fans of this organization have every right to question whatever they want. They've been tremendous," Myers said. "Fans are going to question the decisions the Warriors make until we win. Until we win, they're going to keep asking questions. ... And that's fine. You should. Because if we're not winning, something's not happening correctly."