A week later and it still stings. The Warriors just completed one of the biggest choke jobs in sports history, and somehow we as Warriors fans have to recover from this.
Don’t let anybody fool you, that was a choke job by the Warriors. After game 2, everybody thought the series was over. The Warriors had one both games by a combined 48 points despite quiet games from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Fast forward through games 3 and 4 and the Warriors had a 3-1 lead and all the momentum. Warriors fans were so confident that the series would end in 5 that there were conversations in Warriors Twitter about the championship parade, that I may or may not have participated in.
Then Draymond gets suspended, Lebron and Kyrie play magical basketball, and the rest becomes history. Life comes at you fast, doesn’t it?
The Cavs comeback exposed every minuscule hole the Warriors had as a team. During the regular season, Golden State was often bailed out by Curry and Thompson 3-point explosions. With a hobbled Curry and Thompson, likely exhausted from chasing around some of the best Point Guards in the league while carrying the offensive load through the bulk of the playoffs, buckets didn’t come as easily as they had during some parts of the season. The Warriors lacked a third option they could dump the ball in the post to or a wing who could create his own shot.
The obvious fix for that would be Kevin Durant. Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic option at this point. He’s going to stay in Oklahoma City for at least one more season.
How about a little Nicolas Batum? Batum is a much better ball handler and passer than Harrison Barnes, but he is projected to command $28 million when he hits the market this July. That may be a little pricey for the 28 year old who is not as good of a post defender as Barnes. Since Barnes is a key cognate in the Warriors small ball lineup, his (potential) replacement would ideally be able to bang down low with 4s in the post.
Other potential replacements: Chandler Parsons, Allen Crabbe, and Evan Turner, among others, all come with questions and concerns of their own.
The Warriors could always pay one of the lower tier guys like Crabbe less money than they’d have to pay Barnes, plug Andre Iguodala back into the starting lineup and go from there, but Iguodala probably best serves the Warriors coming off of the bench at this stage of his career. Iguodala has been the calming force off of the bench the last couple of seasons, and the bench, spearheaded by he and Shaun Livingston, continues to rank at the top of the Association.
Along with a reliable wing, the Warriors need for a big man who can grab timely rebounds is also a necessity. OKC and Cleveland terribly exposed the Warriors undermanned frontline. The best rebounder on the team may very well be a 6’7” Draymond Green. The hypothetical big would also be able to get buckets when Curry and Klay’s shots aren’t falling. Who can help?
Joakim Noah, an aging big who can rebound and pass just as well as Andrew Bogut. Not the preferred scorer the Warriors would want down low. His rivalry with new found Warriors’ rival Lebron goes way back, so he’d fit right in.
Hassan Whiteside could also be an option. He’s a bit of a head case, but he’s athletic. He catches lobs in traffic and can score. But then there’s the question of how his personal attitude would mesh with the Warriors locker room.
And then there’s Al Horford, my preferred non Kevin Durant big splash free agent signing. Horford would fit in great with the locker room. Above average passer and versatile. Can protect the rim. May not be the best option as far as rebounding (the Hawks ranked near the bottom in many rebounding statistics the last two seasons), but he would space the floor even more for the Warriors, and his ability to score would greatly benefit Golden State.
The Warriors were not the indestructible team that we all thought they were before the finals. Joe Lacob vowed to be aggressive this offseason, and there are some obvious holes he will try to fix through free agency. The Front Office has proved themselves to be great talent evaluators and move makers, so we as Warriors fans should 100% put our trust in them.
The Warriors have some moves to make if they want to regain their position at the top of the mountain. All we can do is wait for the first of July and hope for the best.