Warriors of the West
Regardless of how long they are here, the Warriors are good for the league.
The small things can make a big difference in sports. Small changes and minor adjustments can change the trajectory of history. NBA fans have experienced this first hand over the past few years and it has resulted in the Warriors winning three of four titles. Dynasties contrary to the angry fans that oppose them are good for sports.
If you are over 25 then you can recall the last real dynasty in the NBA. The 2000-2003 Lakers dominated the league and went on one of the greatest playoffs runs in the associations history. A time in the league where hero ball was on its way out and low post dominance still held some sort of significance. Shaquille O’Neal was shouting expletives at his owner during training camp in Hawaii and Kobe had a taper fade. Ah, the good ol’ days. Well those days are long gone and there is a new sheriff in town. The Golden State Warriors locked up their third NBA title in four years last season without much resistance from Lebron’s Cleveland side stamping a new era in basketball. The champs sent Lebron packing, literally to a new city. They did so in the form of long range bombs and swagger on their way to solidifying their dynasty. A dynasty that given the probability of new league money and a front office with a hole burning in their pocket looks to be here for at least a few more years.
Dynasties happen when you combine a smart front office, some luck, and the dominoes falling in the right place at the right time. Golden State is a glaring example of this. The smarts to draft Steph Curry and the luck of Minnesota picking before them. The smarts to draft Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and the luck of the salary cap exploding just as Kevin Durant becomes a free agent. Just think, if Draymond does not nut punch Lebron in the Finals, the Warriors probably win that series and Kevin Durant probably never signs there. Yet, and still thanks to Draymond’s lack of self-control, here we are.
This installment of the Golden State Warriors is more than impressive. They have truly embraced the new NBA and its’ international influence. Playing positionless basketball, spreading the floor with shooters has worked and the rest of the league is now playing catch up. Their willingness to do whatever it takes to keep this thing rolling means the rest of the league is in for a long haul.
To put this team in a historical context, they rest near the top with the greats when you consider their Hamptons five lineup. All five have been all-star performers at some point in their careers. All five can shoot from the perimeter and put the ball on the floor to make plays. Oh, and they added Boogie who can do all the above. How they matchup against the teams of the 80s and further past is unfair. There were less teams in those days meaning the rosters were more stacked across the board. Yet and still this is the best team we have seen since the Lakers of the early 2000s including the Heatles and all of their stars are 30 or below.
The question with any great dynastic run is where does the rest of the league go from here? In the short term, back to Oakland for the Finals next year. Beyond that you must outspend them. Warriors GM Bob Meyers recently was quoted as saying that Kevin could get “whatever he wants” in terms of a contract with the team. A statement that should signify the commitment the Warriors organization is ready to make long term.
Despite that, the Warriors do have real decisions to make moving forward. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are next in line to get big money which will push the franchise over the salary cap and into the luxury after next season. Green is up for the super max given he makes an All-NBA team or wins defensive player of the year. Should they bring all four guys back after next season the price will be sky high. This qualifies as one of those “good problems” I suppose.
As with any great dynasty, the trick is keeping them together. Egos and money usually being the culprits. What this Warriors team has in their favor is they do not have any major ego guys at their core. Boogie could potentially present some opposition but given his contract situation I suspect he will be on his best behavior. They seem to be willing to sacrifice to keep the winning going. Money is a different story. Draymond has already stated that he will not be taking less money when his contract is up. A player that should he depart for greener pastures, would be detrimental to the teams hopes of winning a title moving forward.
The life span of any great team gets complicated when you add money to the equation. The 2000s Lakers broke up over both money and ego. Shaq was screaming for a new deal and Kobe wanted him to take basketball more seriously. An aging center who had already won three rings was ready to get paid by a franchise that had found what would turn out to be the best player in the league for a decade in Kobe. That team was a recipe for disaster. Add a failed Finals trip against the Pistons (a team that had no business competing with them and would have lost if Karl Malone didn’t get hurt) and you have the end of an era. This Warriors team cannot escape what every great team of the past has ultimately faced, the end. The Bulls in 1998 had arguably the greatest player, on ball defender, and the greatest coach in the history of team sports and still could not figure out the math. Judging by history, there is reason to believe that we are more than halfway beyond the Warriors dynasty. Regardless of how long this run lasts, the Warriors have already accomplished what many before could not on their way to changing the way the game is played.