The Golden State Warriors will no longer be lovable up and comers headed towards their first title in 40 years. The Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green combination along with one of the more dominant champions we’ve seen in quite a while, guided by Steve Kerr from the sidelines, is carrying attitude, and like any other champion, no longer has that underdog allure it had in the past.
Besides playing in the preseason, it seemed like the Warriors were mostly busy trying to defend their righteousness of their championship run. Easily offended, any word of lucky or other phrases suggesting it wasn’t all about the Warriors being the greatest thing put on this earth seems to rattle the young players who are slowly building an us against the world attitude. Anything to get them going and not let one championship slow them down from winning again.
Fact: The Warriors were simply excellent last season, in the playoffs (with just five losses) and in the regular season, which was one of the best of all-time by any team. Another fact is that none of their key players were injured along the way, in the regular season or the playoffs. Another fact is that their Finals opponents, the Cavaliers, were playing without two of their best players: Kevin Love the entire series, and Kyrie Irving missing all but the first game.
While Kerr has his own health problems right now (nothing too serious, but an issue for him to be on the sidelines), his players remain the same more or less. If it’s not broken, why fix it? Without a lot of contracts to renew and extend, the only thing the Warriors did was give Draymond Green the expected max extension. Under normal circumstances it would have been difficult keeping all these players together under the salary cap, but the luxury tax is going to be a one-year punishment, with the huge salary cap surge the owners and the league are still trying to prevent from happening next summer.
Jason Thompson of the Sacramento Kings is the only addition one can describe as meaningful, giving the Warriors another athletic player to help out from the bench, as if that was an issue needing attending. But not changing at all is never a good idea. Making at least the appearance of trying to get better works well at showing the players that are coming off a historically dominant season + playoff run that there is room for improvement. David Lee left, but Steve Kerr never really wanted him on his side anyway.
Repeating is always more difficult, although the regular season might not show it. The Warriors will see more and more teams trying to emulate last season’s success through small ball and the same kind of ball movement, although during the regular season Andrew Bogut played a big part. Not having Alvin Gentry might have an effect, as he is off to New Orleans to try and bring his offensive philosophy to a less talented team.
What stands in their way? The Houston Rockets, although they might not be as good as last season. The San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers, both with a reloaded and improved package, the two teams everyone said would beat the Warriors in a series and were knocked out before they met. The Oklahoma City Thunder with Kevin Durant back on his feet. The Western conference is loaded, and the Warriors might be favorites just because they’re the defending champions and no other reason.
Stephen Curry will try to show just how special he is once again, only with a bit more attitude this time. Klay Thompson will keep on repaying Steve Kerr for not signing off on a trade to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Draymond Green will be playing in a post-contract universe, which might have an effect on him, Harrison Barnes will be playing for an extension and Andre Iguodala will be the gel and glue off the bench, with a Finals MVP to his name this time.
Champions again? Too difficult to tell in the West, but with the Warriors basically staying the same team and maybe even slightly improved through player progression and a minor addition, right now it’s only fair to put them on top of the Western conference power rankings until we know more about how these teams are going to play.