Warriors New Faces: Nick Young. Omri Casspi. Jordan Bell (R).
Warriors 2016-17 Weaknesses: 24th: Bench Points, Center Scoring. 22nd: 2-Point Attempts.
Warriors 2016-17 Strengths: 1st: Field Goal Percentage, 2-Point Percentage, Assists, Blocks, Points, Field Goal Percentage Defense, Three Point Defense,
Starters Points, Fast Break Points. Offensive Rating. 2nd: Defensive Rating, Backcourt Points, Non-Paint Points, Point Guard Points. 3rd: Three-Point Attempts, Defensive Rebounding. 4th: Pace. 5th: Three Point Attempts, Power Forward Scoring. 7th: Total Rebounding, Shooting Guard Points.
Warriors 2016-17 Leading Scorer: Steph Curry, 25.3
Warriors 2016-17 Best Defensive Rating: Draymond Green, 99.0.
The heartbreak of the Kyrie Irving game winner, which put a ring on the collapse of the 2016 Golden State Warriors, became the heartbeat of the 2017 NBA champions. The addition or gift of Kevin Durant paid dividends. He was the difference maker and the heir apparent to the league’s best player title. By himself, he was the antidote to the LeBron James virus.
The Warriors ran roughshod through the Western Conference en route to a title, the first Western Conference team to win two titles in three years since the 2007-10 Lakers. It was pretty easy to predict the Warriors would clean the Cavaliers clock. They were the best at nearly every NBA measurement. They have no peer.
And so with a new season just around the corner, the Warriors are expected to continue their dominance. And why not? The band is back in town. It was an off season of very little adjustments with the exception of Swaggy bringing his show to the Bay.
The Warriors are a team of two time champions but the one thing they have not done is repeat. Really, that is the only challenge that is in front of them.
Repeating is hard. The last team to repeat was the 2012-13 Miami Heat.
The Warriors were a brilliant offensive team in 2016-17, in the top five of almost every offensive category, and even though they bristled at being called a three point shooting team, the numbers spoke for themselves. They were dominant on the perimeter with three extraordinary shotmakers. Exceptional efficiency made the Warriors tough to guard and nothing changed in the Finals.
Despite the Warriors perfection, a lot could go wrong to repeat as champions.
A.) Injuries. Fluke and random things happen when you least expect it. The Warriors can’t sustain an injury to Curry or Klay Thompson or Draymond Green or Durant for any stretch of time. Curry injured in the 2016 Finals cost them a ring.
B.) Ego. We know their owner thinks they are light years ahead of everyone else but do the players? Are they snobbish about where they are in the ecosystem? Has their hunger dissipated? This past season was about redemption. When the Warriors have something to prove they are motivated but what happens when they have nothing to prove? Will they have willfulness and tenacity?
C.) Leadership. There is still a lot we don’t know about the young Warriors. What kind of leaders are they over the long haul? Are they front runners, built to sustain the pressure? Or are they best when unexpected results catch everyone by surprise? How will they fare under pressure?
D.) Defense. The Warriors brilliance was what they did defensively. They have everyone taking and making threes and then they inflict pain and stop everyone who tries to make threes.
All summer, NBA coaches were mad scientists trying to design game plans to stop the Warriors perimeter attack. But the facts are the facts. The Warriors are just better than almost everyone they are playing against. The year they had something to prove, they were historic in the playoffs. Now with the roster back after their annihilation of the Cavs, the real work begins at keeping everyone happy, bringing them back and working on that dynasty. To be the best of all time, repeat is first. Then three-peat.
photo via llananba