As long as Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson are all wearing the same jersey together, you can never count the Golden State Warriors out
Photo from NBA | Graphics by Tricia Guevara
With Kevin Durant off to play in Brooklyn with Kyrie Irving, it’s easy to say that the Golden State Warriors dynasty has come to an end. It only took about a number of season-ending injuries, Kawhi Leonard living up to his potential, and the most surprising championship run in NBA history to put a close to the Golden State chapter.
Plus, with the dynamic moves that escalated this off-season, it’s safe to assume that the Warriors are no longer on top for the first time in five years.
Since the Lakers, Clippers, and Rockets upgraded their corresponding rosters, the Western Conference has never been more competitive. At this point, the only way we can tell which team is better (not on paper at least) is to count how many days and hours are left till the regular season officially kicks off.
To recap, the Warriors lost veterans Andre Iguodala, DeMarcus Cousins, and Shaun Livingston; Klay Thompson tore his ACL in the finals and will not come back until at least the remainder of the regular season and as mentioned above, the team parted ways with Durant (who is now on his third team).
As soon as Durant announced he was heading east, it didn’t take long for the Dubs to recover another All-Star. The Warriors then acquired last year’s Most Improved Player candidate D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal for Durant. Suddenly, you wonder: How is Russell (another lead guard who demands the ball) going to fit in with Steph Curry? Is he just another chess pawn that will eventually be traded?
The answer is no. Russell’s arrival saved the team from wasting a year of Curry’s prime and what could have turned into a tanking season.
Plus one splash brother
With Durant gone, the main offense will rotate around Curry once again. We saw that in Game Three of the finals when he put up 47 points. Boy, was that fun to watch. Next season, Curry is expected to shoot more 30-footers and transform back to how he was in the 2014-2015 season—where he also won his first league MVP.
Unlike in Brooklyn, Russell is no longer the center of the team’s offense. This will give him the opportunity to work under Curry’s mentorship and the chance to polish his game while still significantly contributing to the team. Last year, Russell averaged a career high 51.2 field goal percentage and attacked the rim way more than he ever had. This season, he can continue doing that while also depending on Curry. This will allow him to take better shots and remove the pressure of having to score.
Don’t count Draymond out
Draymond Green has made it clear that he isn’t going anywhere and his $100 million extension proved just that. This season, the Warriors will be relying on Green more than ever to spark both the team’s offense and defense. And they couldn’t have asked for a better player to take on this role. The Warriors will have to count on the last two pillars of their golden dynasty in order to at least put up a challenge in the west.
Green needs to also take charge of finding cutters all over the floor, which will give way for Curry and Russell to lose the defense while moving the ball. During the playoffs, the Dubs were number one on offense when Green was on the floor (116.2 rating in 850 minutes) and number nine on defense (115.6 rating). This goes to show how valuable he is to the team and why he is expected to lead the Warriors on the defensive side next season. He will no longer fade into the background because this year, it’s his turn to save what is left of the Warriors.
For the past few years, the Warriors were always the overwhelming favorites to win the title. This year, they’re transitioning from one of the most talented and experienced teams in the NBA to one that’s rebuilding their dynasty while embracing fresh talents.
You won’t see them win almost every game in the regular season but I’ll tell you this: For as long as Curry, Green, and Thompson are all wearing the Warriors jersey, you can never sleep on Golden State.