The Golden State Warriors have won three of the last four titles and are far ahead of the rest of the field, but that does not mean they have ruined the NBA.
If you frequent #WarriorsTwitter (and if you read this blog, I assume you do), then you must be aware of the nature of it. That is — how arrogant, flaunting and overconfident Warriors fans can be.
It’s so easy, and fun, too. The Warriors are light years ahead. Steph is always better. As long as this dominance continues, there’s no holding back, and absolutely zero reason to.
But there was a point just a few weeks ago when a lot of boisterous Warriors folks started to worry about their overconfident tweets. When the Rockets went up 3-2 on the Warriors in the conference finals, this superteam, this budding dynasty, was suddenly on the ropes. And being eliminated by these Rockets would have been UGLY.
Sure, the Rockets were technically the best team in the NBA in the regular season. They blitzed opponents to 65 wins and earned home court advantage throughout the playoffs. But nobody really took them seriously, because how could you — the Warriors took like half the regular season off and still slid in easily to the second seed with 58 wins. There probably will never be a better No. 2 seed in the NBA postseason again, ever.
Still, this was a dynasty that was about to be ended prematurely by the Rockets, which seemed like a cruel joke. James Harden, whose playing style almost makes you dislike the sport of basketball, was going to end the Warriors? Chris Paul, who performs better in State Farm commercials than he does in the playoffs, was going to take down Golden State? Bruh.
They came close. Real close. Too close for comfort. If the Rockets hit a few more threes, if Paul doesn’t get injured or if the they don’t choke away the double-digit leads they had in both Games 6 and 7, we’re talking about the Warriors’ epic choke job and not about how they ruined the NBA.
But now, after surviving Houston and sweeping Cleveland to win their third championship in four seasons, that’s all the discussion has been: have the Warriors ruined the NBA?
I can’t address that question without pointing out how preposterous its basis is. At a fundamental level, the Warriors operate under the same terms and conditions, under the same salary cap as the other 29 teams in the league. And somehow, they put together a roster that is much better than your team’s. So people are mad. That’s it. That’s all.
Nobody colluded to put all the best players on the Warriors. Commissioner Adam Silver didn’t conspire for the Warriors to have four All-Stars. The NBA didn’t suddenly decide that it was time for the Bay Area to have a superteam.
Let’s set the record straight. The Warriors are a superteam solely because they drafted well. Six picks were made before Stephen Curry in 2009, and 10 picks made before Klay Thompson in 2011. Literally the ENTIRE NBA had a chance to select Draymond Green in 2012 before he went to the Warriors in the second round. If even one team had selected any of these players before the Warriors had a chance to grab them, this dynasty does not happen.
The Warriors don’t win a championship in 2015 without all three of these players reaching their potential. They don’t come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals in 2016 against Oklahoma City if Thompson doesn’t save them in Game 6. And if that doesn’t happen, they definitely don’t sign Kevin Durant the ensuing summer.
Did luck play a role in the drafts? Perhaps. The Timberwolves had TWO selections before the Warriors in 2008, and selected Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio, with Curry on the board. Jimmer Fredette went to the Kings one pick before Thompson in 2011. And not even the Warriors could have predicted that Green would have this big an impact.
So yes, you can call it luck (or, a better way to put it, blame the other GMs for their incompetence). But also call it development. Call it fostering an environment conducive to each players’ strengths, giving Steph and Klay room to grow into incredible shooters and Draymond to become an emotional bulldog and the heart and soul of the team. Call it smart, savvy moves to surround this core with strong role players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Call it teamwork to the nth degree, with superstars being unselfish to a level we rarely see in sports.
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Durant could have signed with so many other NBA teams, who could’ve offered the same amount of money as the Warriors, or even more. He chose the Warriors, and chose to put his reputation on the line because of the aforementioned qualities that stemmed from the team that had grown around Steph, Klay and Draymond.
The counterargument states that the Durant signing ruined competitive balance. And true, Durant going to the Warriors gave this team more star power than we’ve ever seen on a single team in the NBA. I also agree with this take: no casual NBA fan wants to watch a 4-0 sweep in the Finals. We want drama, competition, intensity. Instead, we got the Warriors beating up on a vastly undermanned Cavaliers team that never really came close to having a chance once JR Smith forgot the score in Game 1.
Still, that is not Kevin Durant’s fault. It is not the Warriors’ fault. The NBA is not ruined just because the Warriors appear to be far ahead of the field. No, it is in a better place because of it.
The Warriors showed that it is possible to create a dynasty through the draft, that a franchise mired in decades of mediocrity can explode onto the scene and shake up the league. But people are mad because it’s not their team that did it.
So bring it on. If the NBA is “ruined,” then let’s “un-ruin” it, huh? Tell the other 29 teams to draft better, to sign better players, to make smarter decisions. Just be better. Do better.
I’m tired of hearing the “Warriors ruined the NBA” argument. It’s lazy and untrue, a pathetic means to discredit the completely legitimate development of a juggernaut. By the way, this juggernaut was a couple of PJ Tucker 3-pointers away from being taken down by the Rockets. But y’all won’t mention that the next time you claim the Warriors have destroyed the sport of basketball.