The Golden State Warriors aren’t defending champions anymore. They brought in Kevin Durant to help Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson fix that, while making life easier for Steve Kerr. Or perhaps his arrival makes things more difficult?
It’s quite funny how three games completely change the perception of a team, of a season, or of a player like Curry. The same can be said for Durant. Leading 3-1 in the finals over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors didn’t make much of Draymond Green getting suspended. They were busy in the days between games 4 & 5 trashing LeBron James and making fun of his toughness. Teammates will defend each other in front of the media; they have to. But Green has been trying to hurt players since the playoffs began. The Warriors seemed more ridiculous by painting him as the victim. They seemed even more ridiculous when they lost the finals, collapsing in the final three games. Especially Klay Thompson.
Durant had a “loser” kind of playoffs too. The Thunder had a 3-1 lead over the Warriors in the conference final. They were going to knockout the team made out to be the greatest of all-time, leaning on their 73 regular season wins. But along with Russell Westbrook, Durant choked offensively in the final three games, and in the time he had to think about his free agency, he made up his mind to join the Warriors, who were no longer so likable after the season. Not even Stephen Curry.
After not making any changes (none that lasted anyway) after winning the title, the Warriors were a bit more active in the offseason, some of these moves in order to free up room for Durant. Besides the 2014 MVP, Zaza Pachulia and David West were brought over to fill in the “ring chasers” column which every contender needs, and mostly help fill up some frontcourt spots after Andrew Bogut was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, while both Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights left in free agency. Leandro Barbosa also left, and so did Brandon Rush. The Warriors made Harrison Barnes a free agent by rescinding their qualifying offer, and he went over and signed a max deal with the Dallas Mavericks. His finals performance, especially once Green was suspended for one game, helped make that decision about keeping him or not.
The questions regarding the Warriors are all about how they’ll make Durant fit in, offensively and defensively. How many shots he’ll take, and who is going to sacrifice his own shots and numbers in order to make Durant happy. The Warriors keep talking about how Durant loves to share the ball, and how much of a team player he is, but he’s used to being the #1 guy on a team since entering the league, even if Westbrook was trying to steal the spotlight for the last four or five years.
Acquisitions: Patrick McCaw, Kevin Durant, David West, Zaza Pachulia, Damian Jones (draft).
Departures: Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Brandon Rush, Leandro Barbosa, Marreese Speights.
Best Case Scenario
Championship. Obviously. Anything less will lead to the same kind of flak the Warriors got through the traditional and social media, only multiplied by some. Super Teams are something people love to tear down, especially when they already have a failure in their past, while having a villain (actually two, Durant-Green) for everyone to hate. But if Durant fits in like a glove (even if early on it takes some time to make it work), everyone stays happy with their playing time and usage ratings, while the additions of West and Pachulia prove helpful, all the hate won’t matter. They won’t be just good, they’ll be just as good as last season, which is scary to think about.
Worst Case Scenario
Not winning a title. Obviously, this whole thing can implode and the season is a disaster which means not even making the finals or something like that, but the Warriors will get torn down to shreds by critics and fans (and some of their players care about that, especially Durant) if they fail to win a championship again. It will make Durant re-think his next move, because he can hit free agency again, and the feeling of being a step or two ahead of everyone else might change very quickly into something very different, even ominous.