The Golden State Warriors are currently sitting on the best record in the league at 32-6, but it is slightly concerning how they are 0-5 against the Spurs, Rockets, Grizzlies, and Cavs. Those 4 teams are very strong this year, and it’s always troubling when a good team cannot beat other good teams. Make no mistake; the Warriors are probably still the favorites to win it all this year. But they can’t do it the way they’ve played so far.
The Warriors’ defense was pinpointed as their major weakness coming into the season, but you may have noticed that the Warriors have been a plus defensive team so far this year. So what’s the problem? The Warriors do not have the capacity to stop a either a single dominating wing player nor a traditional dominant big. They have a bunch of good defenders, but no stud defender that you can trust to contain the other team’s best guy. Without this top defender, opposing wings are able to wreak havoc on the Warriors defense. Kawhi Leonard, for example, dropped a career high 35 points on the Warriors on opening night. On Christmas Day, Kyrie Irving scored 16 points in the 4th quarter in another unstoppable scoring output against the Warriors. In the playoffs, most teams will have this type of high-impact scorer, so it’s hard to imagine Golden State dominating teams in the playoffs. While their inability to stop a talented scorer may not cost them that much in the regular season, it will certainly come back to haunt them in the playoffs.
Two time MVP Steph Curry is having trouble getting the same type of production that he was last year, or even two or three years ago. Clearly, he has taken a back seat to Kevin Durant. In fact, he is the only one of the four all-stars on Golden State that has taken significant cuts in production after Durant joined the squad. But the question remains: is Kevin Durant being the alpha dog on the Warriors actually a good thing? Even though Durant is certainly a top 5 player, are this year’s Warriors better than last year’s? I say no. History has proven that when you put two top 5 players on the same team, one of them is a top 5 player no longer (Curry in this case). But besides that, the Warriors forgot the old saying,”If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Last season, the Warriors had no weaknesses. When they acquired Durant, even though their roster became better on paper, they lost Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezili, Harrison Barnes, and Marreese Speights, who all helped them greatly on defense. Instead of sitting on their perfect roster, they tried to improve, which ended up backfiring. Championship rosters aren’t the ones that lure the most superstars, they’re the teams where everyone has a role and fits perfectly, with 1-3 stars. The 2015-16 Warriors were a championship roster. They just didn’t win.
Obviously, the Warriors can’t go back in time and unsign Durant, so they have to work with the very talented roster they do have. The Cavs have set a good example for teams who hope to contend, and filled one of their needs by signing Kyle Korver. The Warriors should follow suit.
Again, Golden State might still win a championship this year. But their front office have made decisions that will have lasting impacts, for better or worse.