Brian Scalabrine believes LeBron James, Cavs prepared for Spurs instead of Warriors in 2014-15 season
Not a lot of people expected the Golden State Warriors to break out as championship contenders prior to the 2014-15 season. According to former NBA player and fan-favorite Brian Scalabrine, he believes that even LeBron James never expected a title contender to come from the Bay Area squad.
In an interview with HoopsHype, Scalabrine suggested that James and the 2014-15 Cleveland Cavaliers were instead preparing for a Finals showdown with the then-defending champions, the San Antonio Spurs.
I think LeBron James got it wrong; he should’ve been watching that game [2013 NBA playoffs between Warriors and Spurs] because I think he was gearing up to beat the Spurs when he left Miami, when he should’ve been thinking of the Warriors. That [Cavaliers] team could’ve been built differently and he could’ve said, “I’ll be the point-forward or point-center type on this team, so we don’t need all of these bigs.” But he was thinking that he needed to beat Tim Duncan and guys like that, so he figured he needed a lot of bigs. He’s obviously such a versatile player that he could’ve built the Cavs differently at that time [to match-up against the Warriors], but he was so focused on the Spurs that he thought, “I have to get a guy like Kevin Love.” They really could’ve done a lot with that No. 1 pick and built the team to challenge the Warriors.
James and the Miami Heat had just been romped by the San Antonio Spurs in the previous year’s Finals, so it’s fair to say that they were the team to beat at the point.
However, the 2014-15 Dubs took the league by storm with their revamped offense under new head coach Steve Kerr and finished with the best record in the league. They capped off their magnificent breakout season by winning their first NBA championship in four decades at the expense of James’ Cavs.
As Scalabrine said, Cleveland also had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, which they used to select Andrew Wiggins. At the time, there was a lot of hype surrounding Wiggins. The Cavaliers, which signed James that same off-season, eventually traded the highly-anticipated rookie to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for All-Star big man Kevin Love.
Had Cleveland known that the Warriors would eventually become the Warriors with their small-ball offense dominating the league, perhaps, as Scalabrine suggested, they would have went a different direction with their prized rookie.