The Golden State Warriors have been the darlings of the NBA the past two seasons as they have made two straight appearances in the NBA Finals, losing one and winning a title along the way but a third trip may be the hardest. The roster is loaded with talent and what should seem like a cakewalk for the players could easily become a headache for HC Steve Kerr.
Kerr will have the luxury of coaching, quite possibly the NBA’s newest version of a Big 4. The Warriors will have a starting lineup that includes, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant. At first glance, it looks like the starting unit for the Western Conference All-Star team but this will be a team he throws out there 82 games during the regular season. Aren’t these the same Warriors that just won an NBA record 73 wins in 2015 without Durant?
How can this be seen as a headache for Kerr?
I feel kind of disrespected that people keep using the term sacrifice to describe me and describe us. We all want to see each other do well. But I’m not sacrificing [expletive], because my game isn’t changing. I’m still going to try to get buckets, hit shots, come off screens. I want to win and have a fun time every game we play. Klay Thompson per The Verge
That right there, while it may seem subtle and innocent, it’s truly not. Thompson has been known to add fuel to a fire and with Durant coming over it would seem that Thompson’s numbers are the ones that will take the biggest hit. He knows this and has to know that this is not the way to welcome a new teammate into the picture. The Warriors were the highest scoring team in the league last season as they put up 87 shots per game but what happens with Durant now in the picture?
This is where Kerr will have to earn his money. Curry shot 20 times, Thompson 17 and Green 10 per game in 2015. Those numbers were a bit out of whack as many believed that Green deserved more looks but his game is built around his ability to do more than the other two players. Now, Kerr must find a way to involve Durant and his 19 shots per. What is Kerr to do?
His first order of business should have been to tell his players to remain silent when/if the media tries to press them about this topic. Thompson already let the cat out the bag but in doing so did he add extra pressure on Kerr. The offense will still run through Curry and while Thompson says he will not change his game, Kerr will be the one do it for him.
To second guess or doubt Kerr might be the same as doing it to Greg Popovich or Phil Jackson. Kerr in two years of coaching has been to 2 Finals, but as a player, he has had his fair share of success as he had played and won rings with Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, played for Jackson and Pop. To put it bluntly, he knows his s***. But 2016 will be his biggest challenge.
His once mighty defense was gutted by the departures of Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. One of the top-ranked benches took a major hit when Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa left in free agency but one of the biggest hits was the result of the Durant signing. The Warriors would normally play Andre Iguodala in place of Harrison Barnes but with Durant there, where will the Iggy minutes come from?
Kerr will have his hands full as he tries to juggle all the moving parts. For the last two seasons, the Warriors were a well-oiled machine but this is not the same team that went to back-to-back Finals. The fans would like to think so but as Thompson said: ” his game isn’t changing”.
Sorry to be the one to tell you Klay, but in order to win, it has to.