The last time a team in the NBA had a starting fivecomprising of all stars was the Boston Celtics in 75-76. The Warriors can nowboast of the same accomplishment.
Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Draymond Green were thedarlings of the NBA when they put The Golden State Warriors, a team that haslong been the runt of the NBA to the elite when they won the Finals for thefirst time on 40 years in the 14-15 season.
When they broke the record of most wins in a regularseason in 15-16 with 73 wins and 9 losses many expected the then MVP StephCurry and his cohorts to repeat their heroics and that too with an ease andswagger that would’ve been hard to imagine.
But fate is a cruel mistress, blowing a 3-1 lead the73-9 warriors lost to the Cavaliers allowing LeBron James to bring to his homeCleveland, the coveted trophy.
After such an astonishing performance many would juststay together and not rock the boat too much and give it another try the nextseason, but the warriors didn’t and the result is 3 championships in 4 years. The Warriors constructed their core of all stars witha No. 7 pick, a No. 11 pick, and a No. 35 pick. With the fortunate additions ofKevin Durant and now Demarcus Cousins the Warriors look to rule the NBA in thecoming years
But fortune alone does not winchampionships, and the Warriors had to nurture their young core, be braveenough to buy into them and keen enough to never waver even when enticing offerscame their way. Jerry West famously talked the organization out of tradingThompson for Kevin Love, Kerr famously handed the keys to Green over proven all-starDavid Lee in 2014, and Green rewarded him by developing into a Defensive Playerof the Year.
If the Warriors were “lucky,”there are a dozen other teams who could have followed the same path. Five teamspassed on Curry in the 2009 draft, including the Timberwolves twice. Nine teamspassed on Thompson, including his future Finals foe the Cavaliers twice, andevery team passed on Green, including the Cavaliers twice again. Iguodala wasan unrestricted free agent, as was Livingston, and of course Durant. Newadditions Jordan Bell should have been a Chicago Bull and Quinn Cook spent timewith two other teams and in the G League. Even their head coach Steve Kerrcould have been the New York Knicks head coach.
If the Warriors were lucky, theirFinals opponents the Cavaliers were practically blessed. They won three draftlotteries in four years, and one No. 1 pick was even the result of a completelyinnocuous, salary dumping trade months before. The Cavaliers were lucky when hebest player in the world decided to play for them, again. The Cavaliers werelucky Kevin Love was ready to leave town and they had just the asset to acquirea third all-star to christen LeBron’s homecoming.
The Warriors aren’t an overnightsuccess, they’re a championship franchise a decade in the making, with plentyof time to add to their trophy case. They didn’t cheat their way to the top,and they didn’t ruin anything. They should serve as inspiration for franchiseson their heels, inspiration for what due diligence, development and cunninginnovation can do.
Many have tried to follow them andmany are trying to do as well, the Western Conference is fast turning into an all-starcul de sac as more and more players are being lured into competing against theWarriors. James Harden who is the reigning MVP and his Rockets nearlyeliminated the Warriors the previous season and have built upon their roster byadding Carmelo Anthony to it. OKC resigned Paul George, Spurs now have a primeDerozan teaming with Aldridge, The Trail Blazers already have a big three inLillard, TJ and Nurkic, Utah has a rising star in Donovan Mitchell, many thinkThe Timberwolves will have a breakout year with Anthony Davis and Jrue Holidayleading the charge from New Orleans. And let’s not forget that King James isnow with the Lakers and their outstanding young core.
But what most resembles a team togive the Warriors a tough fight is the Celtics where they have followed ablueprint close to being the perfect. Coach Brad Stevens although initiallybeing termed a risk has already shown that he can bring the best out of bothold players and new. Their team has already had a rebuild job that otherfranchises wish for and have picks in the future that could help them get evenbetter and they reached the Eastern Conference Finals with both Gordon Haywardand Kyrie injured but still almost eliminated the Cavaliers. So the futurelooks bright for them.
So looks like after all the Warriorsdo have some competition.
The Warriors aren’t the destructionof the NBA, they’re the blueprint.