The Golden State Warriors have won the Western Conference in 2014 and 2015 but will they win it again in 2016? No, and it’s rather simple to answer. While they feel they may have gotten better with the signing of Kevin Durant they actually have taken a step backward, while other teams in the West have taken a few steps forward.
The Durant signing is great for the fans but not so great for the team. They will be competitive and might make it to the Conference Finals but there will be no back-to-back-to-back trips for the kids from the Bay. Anything is possible with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green now Durant but there are holes that weren’t there the last two seasons. Maybe come trade deadline they will fill those but for now, the team that many picked to represent the West and possibly face the Cleveland Cavaliers for a third straight year will be home watching another team rep their conference.
Here are my 3 reasons why the Golden State Warriors won’t win the West.
The 2015 Playoffs Showed A Weakness
The Golden State Warriors are a perimeter team and while they have won that way for the past two seasons, 2015 was an awaking for them. To beat the Warriors you either have to outscore them or get in their face. It started with the Oklahoma City Thunder in round 2 as Durant and Westbrook built a 3-1 series but they lost it due to their lack of focus. The Thunder are long and quick as was able to get a hand in their shooters face, plus being physical with their big 3 was a good reason they got out to a big lead. In the Cavs series, it was more of the same as different players took turns harassing Curry from midcourt. His shot was off most of the series and you could clearly see the frustration on his face. If teams can mimic what the Thunder and Cavs were able to do in the playoffs next season there will be no return to the Finals for the Warriors.
For something that sounds so simple, it may turn out to be the biggest problem for the Warriors. This team has spent a few years together, learned each other, where they like the ball, how to push buttons, when and how to turn it on, but now you bring in 2 starters from different teams that you must learn. Both Durant and ZaZa Pachulia are professionals and will have training camp and preseason to get their timing down with their new teammates and schemes but what happens with the game gets tight, the offense or defense breaks down and those new players don’t know the eye contacts are hand gestures of the older players? Durant has had Westbrook guiding the offense, now he must look to Curry for placement, Curry is not the best when it comes to that. He will get his assist but the majority of those are from double-teaming kick outs. What happens when you have 4 players all standing on the perimeter waiting for direction? And the big question, who will take that last pressure shot?
Where Is The defense?
The Warriors, in my opinion, lost the Cavs series when Andrew Bogut went down. He was their defensive ace, while Green is good he does not provide the rim protection that Bogut did. But the defense took more hits with the loss of Speights and Ezile. Those were the backups to Bogut, while Durant will help you score more (already the #1 scoring team in 2015) his presence will hurt them on the defensive end. What will the Warriors do if they were to face the Spurs in the West Finals with Gasol, Aldridge and Leonard and their great perimeter defenders? This is their weakness. Why improve on the offensive end when you were already the top offensive team?
I’m not saying it’s impossible for the Golden State Warriors to make it out of the West but it will be hard. The 2016 Warriors will be like the USA Basketball or All-Star team. They will look good on paper and regular season but if a tight contest hits them there will be panic. It may not seem like it with the veterans and playoff experience on their roster but this is still the same team that lets a 3-1 Finals lead slip away, then added a player who did the same for this team. To add one more concern to this list. The Warriors averaged 15 turnovers per game in 2015, playing fancy and loose ball, what will happen now as they look to run more and find open spots on the floor for either Curry, Thompson or Durant? Kerr has one heck of a training camp ahead of him.