After signing Kevin Durant and winning last year’s NBA Finals in five games, the Golden State Warriors didn’t have anything left to prove. The only real question left was just how many championships they could get away with. After sweeping LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the answer was “plenty.”
Golden State coasted through most of the regular season, dealt with injuries to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green (at different times) and played Nick Young on purpose. And with that, they still managed to win 58 games, finish in the top 10 in offensive and defensive efficiency, and fell slightly behind the Houston Rockets for the league lead in net rating.
In the playoffs, the Warriors mostly took care of business when they needed to. They made relatively quick work of the Kawhi-less San Antonio Spurs in round one. The surging New Orleans Pelicans gave a tougher challenge, but ultimately couldn’t put a dent in Golden State’s armor.
In the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors were finally challenged. The Houston Rockets, equipped with the likely MVP, a hungry star point guard, and versatile defenders, gave the Warriors a legitimate run for their money. Houston victories in Game 4 and Game 5 pushed the Warriors to the brink of elimination, but then a flip was switched and a hamstring was pulled. The Warriors were able to escape in seven games, then proceeded to curb-stomp the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals.
So, here we are again. The Warriors are on top of the world and the fans are chirping. One side is debating their legacy — where they stack up among other dynasties. The other side is lamenting their dominance — not just the dominance, but the level of inevitability that they provide. Sure, their run won’t last forever, but it might not end any time soon at this rate.
7. What do you say to people that feel like the Warriors have ruined the NBA?
I think the people who feel like the Warriors have ruined the NBA are being hypocritical and envious. They are hypocritical because you haven’t really heard that with any other dynasty but this one. I didn’t hear it with the Shaq and Kobe Lakers or Magic Johnson’s Showtime teams. There wasn’t this much hate for those stacked Celtics teams, MJ’s Bulls, or the Big Three Heat — at least not to this degree. They are just envious because it’s not their team.
6. Kevin Durant the player is phenomenal, but how do you feel about Kevin Durant, the person? Does he irk you at all?
I think Kevin Durant off the court is a man who is misunderstood and still trying to find himself. What many don’t realize is basketball is literally this guy’s life but he is self-aware enough to know it shouldn’t be. KD is an ordinary dude (with extraordinary talent) trying to find himself while navigating his NBA stardom. He doesn’t irk me at all. But I tell you what does irk me: the fact that sometimes the fan base argues over the dynamic between him and Steph Curry. I wrote a piece on it for Golden State of Mind early in the season and sadly, my point still stands.
5. Are you worried about Draymond Green breaking down at all?
I’m not too worried about Draymond’s durability because he’s worked hard to transform his body. When he was drafted, he was a bit overweight as well as undersized. Over time, he lost the extra weight, which helped him increase mobility and his ability to defend multiple positions on the floor and initiate the fast breaks.
Draymond Green is disciplined enough to do whatever he can to stay and remain healthy. When push comes to shove, he’s also tough enough to play through some stuff. He injured his shoulder in October vs Detroit and continued to play on it throughout the season. I expect nothing less from him. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Kerr starts resting him more throughout the regular season to save him.
4. Is there any scenario in which you’d be okay with trading Green?
There are people out there who tend to minimize Draymond’s impact on the game either by convenience or by pure hate but this is a guy who knows the game. He knows his role — he doesn’t look to score a bunch of points, but rather uses his ability to see the floor to create opportunities for others on offense. We all know he’s the most versatile defender in the league. He’s created his own niche in the league thanks to his unique skill set; and the Warriors are better as a team for Dray and his contributions. Obviously, the Warriors are always looking for ways to get better but I don’t believe they would do so at the expense of Draymond and what he brings to the table. Draymond Green is the heart, soul, and edge of this team.
3. How should the Warriors handle Kevon Looney’s free agency?
I think the Warriors made a mistake in not picking up his option. Kevon has solid upside and proved his worth in the Rockets series. The Rockets attempted to expose him in space, but Kevon more than held his own out there. Since the Warriors can only offer him but so much, Bob Myers should sell him on the possibility of more rings and how he’d play a big role in it in the future.
2. Who are some players you’d like to see the Warriors target with the 28th pick?
I believe the Warriors need to get a solid wing. If one isn’t available, they should look for a guard to solidify the backcourt depth. Guys like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala are getting older, so it’d be nice to have a young guy in the wings. I wouldn’t mind the Dubs drafting Villanova guard Donte Divincezo if he’s available.
1. Who are some affordable free agents you’d like to see the Warriors go after?
As I mentioned earlier, the Warriors need to bolster their perimeter depth. I wouldn’t mind them poaching Trevor Ariza out of Houston, or maybe going after Avery Bradley if he doesn’t command much on the open market. On the big man front, Dwayne Dedmon would be a great addition if Kevon leaves in free agency.