“The path of Warriors is lifelong, and mastery is often simply staying on the path.”
For the past five years, the rest of the NBA has patiently waited for the Golden State Warriors’ demise. A long wait for the unbeatable giants to fall off the mountaintop.
Over Durant’s three years in the Bay, we witnessed the cracks building in the Warriors foundation. While things melted down in the locker room, Golden State continued to dominate the NBA. You can overcome infighting when you’re that much damn better than everyone else.
2018-2019 brought a frustrating regular season. It was a season filled with locker room drama and uncertainty of Durant’s impending free agency. Despite the walls caving in around them, the Warriors willed their way to the NBA Finals.
Everything that could go wrong, went wrong in the NBA Finals. A fourth title in five years was fingertips away from Golden State. Durant missed the first four games with a “Calf Strain”. Durant returned to action in Game 5, only to tear his Achilles in the first half. After a spirited Game 5 comeback to extend the series, a Klay Thompson ACL tear in Game 6 put the final nail in the Warriors’ coffin.
The Warriors seemed like they would sit atop the mountain top forever. In life, the only thing that’s permanent is impermanence and the Warriors learned it the hard way.
Golden State showed something many thought they would never see from the Dubs so soon: Vulnerability.
Thompson won’t be available until December at the earliest. Durant left for the Brooklyn Nets before Curry’s flight could even land to convince him to stay.
Championship-winning players have an unmatched ability to respond to adversary and championship-winning front offices are no different.
All seemed lost to the Warriors fan base and the rest of the NBA world but not Bob Myers. In the late hours of the first night of free agency, the Warriors turned the tides and made a shocking move. Golden State acquired All-Star D’Angelo Russell from Brooklyn in a sign-and-trade for Durant.
Willie Cauley-Stein was also brought in on the veteran’s minimum. Cauley-Stein is still a player that possesses a boatload of potential. He’s an impact defender, and an elite rim runner which is a major factor in the Warriors’ offense. Cauley-Stein is better than any center the Warriors had during their run of dominance. Yes, better than injured DeMarcus Cousins and over-the-hill Andrew Bogut. He’ll combine with recently re-signed Kevon Looney to form one of the better tandems in the league.
Russell’s addition is important for many reasons. Russell adds a second scoring option next to Curry while Thompson rehabs.
From an asset standpoint, a 23-year-old All-Star with four years of team control is one hell of a trade piece to bring to the table. Bob Myers claims Russell wasn’t signed for future trade purposes but we will see about that.
Russell and Cauley-Stein’s contracts amount to about $36 million on the Warriors cap. At 23 and 25-years-old, the two are an intriguing trade package for teams around the league. Golden State’s package puts them at the front of the line for the next disgruntled star on the trade block.
Bradley Beal anyone?
“The end of a dynasty.”
“Other NBA contenders have passed the Warriors by.”
“Golden State’s not a playoff team in the Western Conference this season.”
We’ve all read your scorching hot Warriors takes, and best believe they have too. Do you think Golden State is going to sit around and allow this whole thing they’ve built die?
The NBA is going to see something we haven’t seen from the Warriors in a very long time. We’re going to see a Warriors team with their back against the wall. A Warriors team that isn’t the favorite to win the title and a team that teams no longer fear. The Warriors are the underdogs.
Defying expectations and relentless grit laid the groundwork of the Warriors dynasty. In the early years of the big three, they took the heart and spirit away from the “Lob City” Los Angeles Clippers.
Curry and Green’s drive developed through the doubters. They turned that doubt into motivation, and the motivation into hall of fame careers.
Do you think Draymond Green of all people is going to allow this thing to end? The guy who prides himself on proving that every player drafted before him was a mistake.
The Warriors suffered long lapses of complacency over the past three seasons. They showed a lack of attention to the small details, and ignored team chemistry aspects. Guess what? They still won two out of three titles.
The NBA isn’t ready for a Warriors team that has to play hard every night to win games.
Imagine being a top seed in the Western Conference and you have to play a healthy Warriors team in the first round. No, thank you.
Golden State is going to need to weather the storm early in the year. With Thompson out until at least Christmas, they’re going to have to make things work until he returns. With the addition of D’Angelo Russell, that shouldn’t be a problem offensively. The defensive end is where the Warriors are going to miss Thompson most.
Thompson’s one of the rare players that can take away the opponents best player any given night.
Things are going to be pretty ugly on defensive with Curry and Russell in the back court together. Draymond Green is Draymond Green and Willie Cauley-Stein is an above average rim protector. With Kevon Looney also getting heavy minutes, the front court should level things out a bit. With that said, the Warriors are going to have to score a lot of points to win some early season match-ups.
When Thompson returns, Golden State is going to have a dynamic, dangerous offense. They will have three guys who can shoot the lights out of the gym in Curry, Thompson and Russell. They also will have two guys who can impact the game off the ball in a plethora of different ways in Green and Cauley-Stein. The balance in the offense is going to be a sight to see.
Thompson will have to transition to playing the three when he returns, which shouldn’t be a huge issue. He’s got the size and defensive versatility to slide right into being an NBA small forward. There’s a chance he’s a step slower upon returning especially early on. The league is so position-less that it shouldn’t matter.
It doesn’t seem possible, but Curry will have to take a larger role in the offense this season. He’ll need to play a ton off the ball with Russell being the other primary ball handler. Curry’s capable of making the transition. Without Durant in the offense and Thompson out early, Curry’s going to get a lot more shots.
Expect a return to MVP form for the two-time winner.
On the Green front, he’s going to need to pick up the slack defensively for his back court. An in-shape, paid Draymond Green should be back to his old ways. People forget how damn good Green was in the NBA Finals this past year. Steve Kerr should have some fun with Draymond/Willie pick-and-rolls.
He is the voice and heart of this team. They go where he goes from an intensity standpoint. A return to a “Me vs the World” attitude from Green will be a huge help to the team.
The presumed demise of the Warriors might be the best thing that could’ve happened to the team. A team that lost its fight, now has a new fire lit under their asses. Good luck to the rest of the NBA, the Warriors have something to fight for.
The return of parity to the NBA is going to be so much fun this season. We’re entering a new era in the NBA. The superstar duo plus solid role players era. The Warriors have a place in this new NBA. When they get healthy, Curry and Thompson are a top-3 duo in the NBA. It’ll be hard to find a supporting cast better than Green, Russell and Cauley-Stein.
Their are so many stories to follow this NBA season. The underdog status of the Golden State Warriors should be at the top of the list. Sorry to inform you folks, but Golden State is here to stay. The Warriors aren’t dead yet. The Dynasty still has some life.
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My Name is a David Barr, I am a social media manager for the site. I was born in Massachusetts in the mid-90’s so I’ve had the pleasure of being a fan of winning teams for much of my life. I’ve been spoiled by greatness all these years but yet I’m a miserable cynic about my favorite teams. I was originally brought on the site as a Celtics writer, and I’ll continue to produce NBA pieces despite my social media responsibilities. So look out for my work on the site, and on our various social media accounts.