5 reasons why the Warriors will repeat as champs
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) celebrates with teammates after the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113 in Game 3 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
Safe to say, this was probably the most exciting, transaction-filled NBA offseason we’ve seen in a long while. Unlike 2011, which was highlighted by The Decision, or last year, when KD decided to break up with Russ to join the Bay Area superfriends and bag his first-ever championship, this offseason wasn’t just about one blockbuster transfer. This offseason was filled with a lot of player movement, and most of them involving marquee names, All-NBA-ers even.
From Hayward and Kyrie to Boston, IT and Crowder to Cleveland, Chris Paul to Houston, Melo and PG to OKC, Butler to Minnesota, and then DRose and DWade also to the Land, and many more, make no mistake about it, the underlying purpose for all of these moves was to improve their odds at becoming competitive enough to challenge the Golden State Warriors, and prevent them from building a dynasty.
Sadly though, for all the jockeying and player movement among the top contenders in both conferences, those moves will probably not be enough to dethrone the Warriors and prevent them from repeating as champs, much less, make it to their fourth straight NBA Finals come June. As such, here are five reasons, in no particular order, why the Warriors will likely repeat as NBA Champions:
#1 The 2016-2017 championship squad remains intact
After a successful Championship run last June, the first order of business was to keep their team intact. When the Warriors won 73 games the previous season, it took an other-worldly performance by the best player on the planet over the course of seven games to come back from a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals to defeat the Dubs, who then had three All-NBA team players in Curry, Thompson and Green. With the addition of former MVP and now Finals MVP Kevin Durant this season, Cleveland’s best performance hardly made a dent on that 16-1 postseason run.
Now with four All-NBA superstars in the prime of their careers locked up for at least another season (Steph signed a five-year max deal, Durant signed for $25M, with a player option for another year, Thompson becomes free agent in 2018-2019) and key veterans Iguodala, Livingston, Pachulia, West, McGee, also returning, plus the addition of a couple good pieces in Nick Young and Omri Casspi, no other NBA team comes close to having as much firepower. True, one or two teams may sneak in a win on a terrible off-night, but over a seven-game series, no one stands a chance.
#2 Still way ahead of everyone else
While it’s true that many teams have reloaded and added some All-NBA talent on their roster, it’s still far-fetched to say that they have closed the gap with Golden State. Take a look at the top 2 challengers in both conferences for example, Cleveland and Boston in the East, and Houston and San Antonio in the West. The Cavs added IT, Jae Crowder, DWade and DRose, but lost Kyrie in the process. If they had a 100 percent healthy Isaiah Thomas, Miami Heat-DWade and 2011-DRose, then I would be willing to bet they can go the full seven games against the Warriors. But this is 2017 DWade, and as much as I hate to say it, DRose has yet to prove that he can still finish an entire season playing All-Star level basketball.
As for the Celtics, their triumvirate of Hayward, Kyrie and Horford would probably be enough to take them to the Eastern Finals (unless John Wall has other plans), but Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are far from their full potential, and with no Avery Bradley to pester the Warriors backcourt, I highly doubt they’d take the Warriors to six games. And that can pretty much be said for every other Eastern Conference Playoffs contender, including the Bucks.
That leaves us with the two Texas teams, Houston and San Antonio. With the addition of another top-10 point guard in CP3, Houston is an interesting opponent, because their pace and space offense, anchored on their three-point shooting and the playmaking of Harden, and now Paul, can probably match up offensively against the Warriors. But over seven games, where you’ll have to make crucial stops in the end game, they’d still be a far cry from the Warriors, owners of second-best defense in the league last season. The Spurs meanwhile, were able to add former All-Star Rudy Gay, and kept aging veterans Gasol and Ginobili. With their system and the coaching of Pop, the Spurs pose another big threat to GSW’s stranglehold on the West. Be that as it may, without any other All-NBA talent (LaMarcus Aldridge has fallen off considerably) on the roster, the Spurs will still only go so far as Kawhi Leonard takes them.
#3 Kerr is back
After missing the majority of the Playoffs (11 games) due to health concerns, Steve Kerr looks to be back on the sidelines for this 2017-2018 season. News articles have reported that he may yet to be 100 percent, but he fully expects to be at all games this season. While Mike Brown proved to be a great pinch-heater last postseason, having the architect of their 73-win season – and arguably the second-best coach in the league next to Pop – on the bench for an entire season only makes their already-supremely talented roster even more unbeatable.
#4 A more comfortable NBA season
This 2017-2018 season, the NBA decided to lessen the number of preseason games and start the season a week earlier. This means there will be fewer back-to-back games and instances where teams would have to play four games in five nights. With more rest in-between, the league expects less injuries throughout the season, and especially come Playoffs, even after an 82-game regular season. While this helps playoff contenders with grizzled veterans on their roster (Cleveland, and San Antonio, to name a few), this benefits the Warriors even more, as their All-NBA core (all four of them 29 years old or below) and their key veteran supporting cast will be a lot fresher come the postseason.
#5 The Warriors are still hungry and motivated
The Warriors are 2-1 in the last three Finals appearances against the Cavaliers. Funny thing is, that one loss in the Finals series was during their historic 73-win season, leaving them with still some things to prove if they want to be regarded as a historically great team, much less, a dynasty in this modern NBA. What’s more, their core of All-NBA-ers are each doubly invested in making this season another triumphant one.
Draymond Green, as always, plays with a chip on his shoulder, and will be out to prove that he can guard LeBron one-on-one and that they are the greatest team out there, bar none. Steph just signed a five-year max extension, and will be out to prove that he’s worth every penny. Klay Thompson has one more season before he enters a contract year, and will look to maximize his value, and show that he is just as important as Steph or KD by doing everything Steve Kerr asks of him. KD took a discount in order to give the Warriors flexibility to bring back guys like Iguodala and Livingston. This is his chance to assert that this is his team as much as anyone else’s, and of course, there’s no shortage of motivation when his former teammate and reigning MVP plays in the same conference and has a retooled Thunder squad out to challenge GSW’s reign.