The Golden State Warriors are probably the most talked about NBA team in the world at the minute and they have been for quite some time now. The only other team that really comes close is the Cleveland Cavaliers who are for sure impressive. Sure you have the New York Knicks who are supposedly a ‘Superteam’ now that they’ve signed Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee just to name a few but in my opinion the Knicks have a big jump to make to live up to this hype - from no playoffs the previous season to title contenders the season after - that’s a big ask and may be one that will take the Knicks more than a year to live up to.
Anyway back to the point of this article… The Golden State Warriors. The Warriors won the 2015 NBA Championship after quite an impressive campaign - both in the regular season and the playoffs! The offseason of 2015 was a quiet one for the Warriors who went into the new season full of hope and ready to contend for back-to-back NBA Championships. The one thing though that stood in the way of the Warriors were the Cavaliers led by LeBron James.
After a 4-2 NBA Finals loss against the Warriors LeBron was surely devastated in being so close to bringing a Ring to his hometown of Cleveland but injuries to teammates prevented him from doing so as he lost Power Forward Kevin Love to injury early on in that playoffs campaign and then in Game 1 of the Finals the Cavaliers lost All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to that knee injury which seen him out for the following six months or so. LeBron was ready though for the upcoming 2015-2016 NBA season.
The Warriors ended up finishing off the Cavs 2W-0L in the season series during the 2015-2016 season but when it came to the playoffs, well that was a different story. Golden State managed to set a new regular season record last year with a 73W-9L record for the season. The Warriors got through the playoffs without too much difficulty apart from an injury to Curry early on and a Western Conference Finals comeback against the Oklahoma City Thunder - a series in which the Warriors came back to win in 7 games after being 3-1 down.
Once again though, the Warriors met the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Two of the NBA’s top teams (both healthy) faced off for the grand prize - an NBA Championship. The Warriors ended up going 3-1 up in the series before the Cavaliers came back to force it to a Game 7. At the end of the day though the Warriors just didn’t have enough and lost.
Tiredness had been a factor after a very long NBA season where the Warriors had been amazing but LeBron had fulfilled his promise to Cleveland and brought the NBA Championship home for the first time ever in the Cavaliers’ history.
Signs of change in the Bay
The offseason that followed was major for the Warriors. Former NBA MVP Kevin Durant - the biggest free agent of the Summer announced he would be signing with the Golden State Warriors. I remember seeing the news myself and I couldn’t believe it. I thought that Boston would have been the perfect destination for KD but he thought otherwise and signed with the Warriors. This meant bad news though at the same time as players like Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut (the heart of the Warriors defense the previous season) were all on the way out. Also, bench players like Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa who had provided key minutes off the bench left the Bay Area.
Players like Zaza Pachulia and David West signed and the Warriors picked up both Damian Jones and Patrick McCaw in the NBA Draft. Assistant Coach Luke Walton also left to become the Head Coach of the L.A Lakers where so far things have went well for him. What I’m trying to say here is there was a lot of changes during the offseason - the bottom line being that the team in a way now doesn’t resemble the Championship winning team of the 2014-2015 NBA season as lots of people who brought the NBA Championship to the Bay area in the first place are now gone.
The preseason was a good one for the Warriors who finished with a 6W-1L record but hey, the preseason is the preseason so we won’t dwell on it too much. The regular season then started with a home game loss against the San Antonio Spurs. A defeat by 29 points was not what the Warriors had hoped for in their first regular season game but they picked themselves up and won their next four straight until yet again they lost, this time to the young L.A Lakers.
The surprise result shocked many across the NBA World, myself included. The ‘Golden State Superteam’ beaten by the Lakers! Not something you see every day.
The Warriors went on to beat the Pelicans in a game where Curry knocked 13 three pointers down to set an NBA record for most three-point field goals in an NBA game after going scoreless from the three-point line (this snapped Curry's 157 game streak with a three-point field goal made in every game) in the previous game against the Lakers. The Warriors then beat the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets which now leaves them with a 7W-2L record to start the NBA season off and sees them lying 2nd in the Western Conference.
The Future and what it holds?
The Warriors are pitted to win the NBA Championship with ease this year but I just don’t see it happening as easily as people think. Sure, there are four Superstar players to lead the team but at the same time, that’s a major problem. For example, Curry has the ball but there’s still three other Superstars who want the ball at the same time as him.
The most superstar players we’ve ever really seen on a team is three. Think of Jordan, Pippen and Rodman or James, Wade and Bosh or even James, Irving and Love. Sure you had the 08 Boston Celtics championship winning team with Rondo, Pierce, Garnett and Allen but here at Golden State you’ve got four scorers all wanting the ball. It’s different as Rondo was a pass-first point guard. The core of the Warriors defense (Andrew Bogut) also left which leaves a big hole in the game plan for the Warriors with them having some high numbers scored against them already this season.
The squad in Golden State will need to make sure they work hard so they click with each other and so they can live up to expectations. We’ve seen Klay Thompson - considered one of the best three-point shooters in the League, already struggling from deep this season although he already seems to be fixing the problem after a solid night shooting the ball against Dallas on Wednesday.
The Warriors want another NBA title this season and bring the trophy back to the Bay and in most people’s minds nothing less is expected of the Warriors but if they can’t click and work together then they won’t be able to meet demands. It’s still only the start of what is a long NBA season so let’s hope the Warriors can work it out and be the team they have the potential to be - A dominant championship winning team.