No set of injuries or free agent losses has been detrimental to the Steve Kerr-era Golden State Warriors until now. Adversity has struck a seemingly untouchable franchise, and this year will be a true test to see if they are up for the challenge.
Throughout Steve Kerr’s tenure as head coach of the Golden State Warriors, comparisons have been made with the 1990’s Michael Jordan Bulls.
But, because of what happened in their most recent run, they’re looking much more like the D-Rose Bulls and they’re going to need Steph and Draymond to step up this season to lead them back to the playoffs.
When Derrick Rose tore his ACL during the 2012 season, he was averaging 21.8 points per game (ppg) and 7.9 assists per game, per Basketball-Reference. He was the focal point of their offense on a top-rated defensive team, and he was the reigning MVP from 2011.
No highly competitive team has taken a hit that strong until now, and the Warriors face a new reality.
Without Klay Thompson who tore his ACL, and Kevin Durant, who tore his Achilles and then departed for Brooklyn, the Warriors will be missing out on 21.5 (ppg) and 26.0 ppg, respectively. Not stats that will be easily replaced.
Because the Warriors have developed so many All-Stars in Steph, Klay and Draymond, they aren’t receiving the attention they deserve for what they are about to do this coming season. One could assume that because they still have Steph, all will be fine.
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But a sixth straight run to the NBA Finals would be unheard of for one team, and it hasn’t been more difficult.
Replacing the 47.5 ppg is not going to be an easy task, and those aren’t numbers that even the great Michael Jordan could produce. D’Angelo Russell, who averaged 21.1 ppg last season, is the new acquisition who needs to come in and be even better than his career-best year last year.
Draymond Green, who has averaged as many as 14.0 ppg in the ’15-’16 season when he was an All-Star for the first time, will need to exceed that mark.
Steph Curry will need to average more points per game than he ever has, which would put him back in the MVP conversation again and mean he’d need to top his best mark of 30.1 ppg, also during the ’15-’16 season.
At the time of Derrick Rose’s injury, the Chicago Bulls were the #1 seed in the East, and they were on pace to face Lebron’s Heat in the Conference Finals. They proceeded to go 45-37 the following season without him, making the playoffs as the five seed.
If the Jimmy Butler Bulls could make the five seed without D-Rose, it isn’t too far gone for another Steph Curry-led Warriors squad to do the same. Yes, the Pacific division has gotten tougher, as the Clippers added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the Lakers added Anthony Davis.
But if Steph, D’Angelo and Draymond can all step up and make a run again, it will be one of the more difficult comebacks in recent memory.