The Golden State Warriors stood on the edge of history four times last season and earned the right to be called one of the best in history despite what happened in the NBA Finals. How can you improve on a team that has gone to back-to-back Finals, has three All-Stars, a regular season MVP, a Finals MVP, a bench with three potential starters, and a coach that has played with some of the best players in NBA history leading the way?
Oh, I forgot to mention they also happened to set the regular season NBA record with 73 wins last year. How do you improve that team?
At first thought, there is no logical answer but, if your thinking regular season then improves they did. I’ve talked about their postseason chances and what the changes will mean, but I haven’t touched on the regular season. What the Warriors did in July was fantastic, they lost the Finals but won the prize. They walked away with prized free agent Kevin Durant. Yes, the former MVP, Olympian, Finals participant, and league-leading scorer, that one from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He will now don the Gold and Blue in 2016. But what does that mean?
What it means is, a team that won 73 games with three scores, now has the chance to win 82 with four.
Seems far-fetched right? But not actually when you sit and think about the possibility.
To begin with, they have Durant, but they also lost Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights. Now, I love their games, and they will be missed but not as much during the regular season as you may think. The postseason, yes, but regular season, no. And here is why. For 82 games you mainly play different teams during the week, there is no time for a team to strategize against you like the playoffs where you will face them for at least four straight games. The regular season is, come into town, play the game then head back out for the next team. You’re so tired. There is no time for film or game planning; you’re running the same offense and defense you’ve been playing all season. That works to the Warriors advantage.
Last year teams had to account for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green as the Warriors led the league in scoring, but now you add Durant and his 24 points per game, unlimited perimeter range, and those 73 wins begin to look like Summer League results.
I know you read the title and thought, this writer is crazy, but seriously how can you not believe that they can’t go undefeated during the regular season? Defense is different during those 82 games, and this is still a team that lost only nine and most of those came towards the end as they were a little fatigued. What happens now when you have that 4th scorer that will take the pressure of the Big 3?
The Warriors were nine wins away from a perfect season, but that was before Durant came, now what’s stopping them from doing the impossible?