This could have been the year. Having had a season to gel together with Kevin Durant, this year could have been the year they beat their own regular season record of 73-9. Instead, they have been riddled by injury, KD has been ejected five times (the third most ejections in a single season in the past 25 years (Rasheed Wallace was ejected 7 times. Twice!)), and their record has dropped from 67-15 down to 58-23. Bad enough that Steve Kerr blasted the team in the locker room after a 126 – 106 loss to the Indiana Pacers and told media that is was both “Pathetic” and “Embarrassing”, ouch.
However, this is the Golden State Warriors, they have been to the past three consecutive Finals, they feature two MVP’s, a Defensive Player of the Year, a Coach of the Year and two time All-NBA Klay Thompson. You can’t get more stacked than this squad, a real life 2K cheat code who have had an off year but can take it all back in the playoffs. They will be back to full strength, maybe not for the first round, but when it comes to the Conference Finals they should be back together and even without Steph they are better than pretty much 75% of the league. For a little more on the Warriors, especially their injury worries, make sure you have a check on episode 247 of the podcast.
That depth that I mentioned above, that’s their number one strength, if they can get guys back from injury and ready to play at a competitive level in time for Conference Finals/Finals they should compete for yet another NBA Championship. Quinn Cook has been a great addition in his 32 games so far, even Nick Young, Jordan Bell and JaVale McGee have been sparks at certain points through the season. When you have three guys who score over 20 points per game and when you pass the way the Warriors do, it’s extremely hard for an opponent to slow you down. On top of this their defense is legit, top ten in Defensive Rating – not bad when you factor in injuries and Kevin Durant is playing good enough D to be considered for Defensive Player of the Year.
At times this season the Warriors have been straight trash. I mean, they lost in their third game of the season, with a full strength squad, to the Memphis Grizzlies. They have lost against the Kings not once, but twice! I understand injuries, but this squad is good even without Steph and KD. They have been ripped to shreds by their coach on numerous occasions for what he perceives as a lack of effort, Durant has been getting thrown out of games and, as a squad, they complain to the referees. A lot. This hasn’t helped them much in the past, remember when he threw a mouthpiece at the ref?. The Warriors have been different this season, they aren’t their usual fine-tuned selves, but hopefully they can refocus for this postseason.
Durant is on a player option this season, and whist reports suggest he will decline this in order to restructure his contract, I think there is no way on this earth that he goes elsewhere. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to keep this squad together long-term and they have already had guys take discounts to win championships. Klay Thompson has another season left on his contract and, considering that he could be a star in his own right, rather than a third option. Even if he is content as the third wheel, Philadelphia, LA and other teams could potentially throw a ton of money at this guy and I’m not sure if the Warriors can keep it all together long term.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER?
Returning from injury and getting back to the level of play that’s needed in the playoffs will be vital for Steph Curry, the catalyst of this franchise. He dictates the pace on offense, he stretches the floor in the half-court because of his range – despite with the emergence Quinn Cook – it’s a different level of shooting when you have to guard Steph, Klay and Durant when they spot up. I understand Durant was the finals MVP last season, but over the course of the year and in these playoffs, peak Curry is needed.
THE ONE TO WATCH?
Quinn Cook helped Duke to an NCAA Championship and earned his spot on an NBA roster. With Stephen Curry down for now, the play of Cook has been more valuable than at any other point in his career and he’s stepped up to the plate. In March, he put up 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists and then bumped that even more in April, while shooting 50, 51.7 and 87.5 percent – resulting in a true shooting percentage of 63.7. If anyone can help them survive a couple of games without Curry, maybe Quinn is the one.
Written by Sam Chadwick – Copyright © 2018 Double Clutch. Double Clutch is not affiliated with the NBA and does not claim ownership over any NBA audio or images used. All rights are those of the NBA/NBA UK and respected parties e.g. Getty images.