Now that Golden State has reclaimed their spot on the NBA’s iron throne, sending Cleveland to their whiny grave in five games (just as Justin predicted it, don’t think I didn’t hear about that one) we can turn our attention to the NBA off-season and the start of the Warriors’ title defense. There are a bunch of different storylines swirling already, with the big question on everyone’s mind being: Can anyone dethrone a team that for all intents and purposes is unstoppable?
The short answer, for me at least, is no. As long as that core four in Golden State, along with key bench players like Livingston and Iguodala return, the Warriors are and should be heavy favorites to repeat next year, cementing their dynasty status. If their players start to lobby for more money elsewhere or stop buying into the “team” dynamic that has garnered them their championships so far, that is when they will falter. In terms of outside factors though, I don’t think anyone can beat the Warriors unless they beat themselves.
So if everyone is chasing the champs, that would make player acquisition a key to the offseason, as we have seen that currently constituted rosters have no shot. Sure, you’re not going to find a fit, both in talent and temperament, that the Warriors found in Durant last summer, which means that everyone will still be a step behind, but there are deals out there to be made. Yes, there will be bottom-feeding teams that will look to add a free agent by paying them way too much money, and there will be a free agent that takes that bait, only to languish away as the bright light on a dark team in Sacramento or New York, or somewhere like that. Guys like Gordon Hayward, Chris Paul and even Blake Griffin will be up for finding new homes this offseason if the price is right with the usual suspects of Paul George, Kevin Love and Jimmy Butler bandied about as possible trade candidates. Will the inclusion of any of these players on a current non-Warriors team be enough to challenge Golden State’s supremacy? It remains to be seen. Maybe if one of them goes to Cleveland with LeBron and Kyrie…but at that point, would there be enough shots to go around?
The other option for player acquisition is the draft. Luckily for many teams at the top, this year seems to be loaded with “can’t miss” type prospects in the early part of the first round. That could turn a team like Boston, who has the first pick, into a team that could legitimately challenge Cleveland next year, or a team like the Lakers (number two pick) into a playoff team with a bright future. Don’t sleep on the later picks in the draft as well (Draymond Green was a late second round pick for the Warriors after all), and if the reigning champs have taught us anything, it’s that home-grown talent can blossom under the right leadership.
As the offseason marches on we’ll be covering a bevy of different topics here at Just Average Sports Guys such as where each team stacks up going into next season, who has positioned themselves as the key challengers to Golden State, and whether the LeBron James Retirement Home for Players That Were Once Pretty Good (aka the Cavs) have run their course. Stay tuned!