Golden State was a phenomenal team. Then they added Kevin Durant. The juggernaut reloaded for another finals run after a devastating loss to Lebron and his Cavaliers last year and it has become vehemently evident that this is not last year’s Warriors team. But is that really a good thing?
You’re probably thinking ‘uh.. duh, are you watching them?’ And I’d have to agree, they look close to invincible when they play well. But I’m talking about the future. This combination of players is impossible to maintain, with someone destined to leave. And don’t forget that other teams are coming for them, and looking at the impending free agents this year, there are a few teams who could add one or two players and become true contenders in the Western conference.
First lets address their current team. KD is the man, there’s no denying that. He brings the possibility of one-on-one ball to crunch time situations with his freakish athletic ability. But his presence has hurt one of his new teammates: Klay Thompson. I’ve heard all the arguments of how untrue that is, that they’re averaging three more assists per game as a team than last year, etc. They’re averaging more assists because of Durant’s penetration ability and Javale McGee. McGee is having his career best shooting percentage year (0.660), because his six points a game come mostly from lobs. He attempts just over one (1.4) free throw a game which indicates he isn’t making isolated post moves or else he’d be taking more foul shots. Those six points equal three lobs, so the three more assists. Also, when Durant drives, the defense collapses leaving both deadly and mediocre shooters more open. Mediocre shooters will hit open threes, giving you your increase in assists. This is all great, but it’s hard to imagine this dynamic being maintained past this one year. Thompson has struggled down the stretch (excluding game two of the finals) and does not touch the ball as much anymore. He’s been shooting under 40% from the field during these playoffs on not a lot of shots, but they’re winning even though he isn’t playing well. The issue is that his defensive presence on the floor is required for that success, and he may not be there for much longer. He is one of the best two guards in the league, especially defensively, and given his decreasing amount of touches, he may leave. Klay could lead his own team and be the face of a franchise. He already has a ring (maybe two after these finals) so the pressure of chasing a ring may not be as strong as the desire to be ‘the man’ since he’s played second fiddle to Steph Curry his entire career. A team like the Heat would be a great fit for Thompson, and no matter where he goes, he’ll without a doubt get paid.
Now what about the other Warriors? Iguodala, Curry, Durant, and McGee are all free agents. Golden State has been fortunate to benefit from Curry’s cheap contract, but he’s now destined for a max contract. Iguodala and McGee could easily re-sign, but for how much money? Steph’s new contract is going to limit the Warriors spending more than it has been in past years. Which then leaves Durant. Rumors suggest that he wants to stay, but it’s pointless to speculate until after the finals are over. He’s in the Bay for a ring, so what happens if he gets it? He could return to OKC, similar to Lebron’s situation, or venture to uncharted waters. He could just as easily stay to try and build a dynasty. But then what if they lose? It’s hard to imagine a team more stacked than this Warriors team, so what would he have to do to beat the consistency of any Lebron lead team? Remember this isn’t their first finals match up.
Putting that aside, lets talk about other teams. The Clippers will not be a threat and thank god we won’t have to hear that joke anymore after their star-studded yet cursed team inevitably disbands. Blake Griffin, JJ Redick, and Chris Paul are free agents and there is no way they all re-sign. The Rockets are close but need some fundamental changes in their defensive attitude. The Thunder and Jazz aren’t offensively powered enough to contend with the Warriors, leaving the Spurs as the only team anywhere close to being able to compete with Golden State. They have the base of a great team. Kawhi Leonard is emerging as a superstar, LaMarcus Aldridge has found a place there, and Gregg Popovich is still the best coach in the NBA. Plus they have the best athlete that team has ever seen in a young Jonathan Simmons who showed during the Conference Finals that he has the potential to be a star in this league. Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker may be done (or certainly close to done) but there are plenty of replacements to be found in free agency. A ring thirsty Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry in his prime top the list of new potential point guards. And how about names like Redick, Dwyane Wade, or Dion Waiters at shooting guard? It’s all hypothetical at this point, but the names needed to make the Spurs competitive against the Warriors are available. Remember game one of the Conference Finals this year? They were up 24 without their point guard before Leonard got hurt. They’re closer than many people would care to admit.
Overall the Warriors are the best team in the league right now, without a doubt. But there are numerous incoming roadblocks that could jeopardize their future as one of the league’s best ever dynasties.