A quick rematch today of the 2016 NBA finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers would easily go in favor of the Warriors, at least on paper. The addition of an MVP caliber player in Kevin Durant to Golden State presently creates the best starting-five players in any team in the NBA.
What makes the Warriors so difficult to defend is its ball movement. They spend a lot of effort making sure the ball gets to the right hands, at the right time, and they are a team filled with so many long-range shooters.
Despite the depth of their talents, they are surprisingly focused on unselfish plays, exemplified by their superstar Stephen Curry. But the addition of Kevin Durant makes them a much smaller team. It also equates to other players going out of the team to make up for Durant’s entry.
Out of the line up are Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli.
Ironically, the Warriors could probably lose more games this coming season than in 2016. Apart from the fact that molding a number of superstars in one team could spell behavioral concerns, which could affect the team’s overall outlook, the Warriors are going to be an undersized team.
The Warriors added a tremendous talent, but deprived itself of back-up talents.
The best way to beat the new Warriors would be to capitalize on the absence of a real center, unless they can find a big man to play for them for lesser pay. If they won’t be able to tempt any center with the idea of playing for less salary with a championship team, they could be in trouble.
A dominant center could get the top players in foul trouble, and then the real trouble is, the Warriors no longer has enough talent to support its first-five players. A small team also means they will struggle with offensive and defensive rebounds.
If the shooters aren’t playing well, they will struggle to converting second opportunities into points.
Another way of dealing with the NBA’s strongest first-five line up is to play them physically. Let them run more; make them take extra routes to eventually exhaust them. Tire those legs, and take out that shooting touch, which they are highly dependent on.
Unless the Warriors’ fringe players and rookies are able to step up, it’s going to be difficult to keep winning in the long run with the same players, assuming they won’t suffer injuries along the way.
Due to tremendous talent, the Warriors are now a heavy favorite to win the NBA championship more than ever, but they aren’t unbeatable as one would think.
Photo courtesy: Keith Allison/Flickr