Warriors can repeat history and boost defense after coach firing on Thursday

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Golden State Warriors' assistant Kenny Atkinson is viewed as a top candidate for the now vacant Cleveland Cavaliers coaching role following the firing of J.B. Bickerstaff on Thursday.

Despite leading the Cavaliers to back-to-back playoff appearances, their first without LeBron James since 1998, Bickerstaff has been been ousted following the franchise's second-round elimination against the Boston Celtics.

The Golden State Warriors can repeat history and help boost their defense after J.B. Bickerstaff was fired on Thursday

While they may lose Atkinson as he seeks another head coaching role, the Warriors could benefit should they hold interest in adding Bickerstaff to Steve Kerr's group ahead of next season. Known for his defensive nous, the 45-year-old led Cleveland to the fifth, first and seventh ranked defense over the last three seasons.

After ranking second in defense during their 2022 championship season, Golden State have taken a step back on that end of the floor having ranked 14th and 15th across the last two years. Some of that has been attributed to the departure of Mike Brown who became head coach of the Sacramento Kings after six years with the Warriors.

Acquiring Bickerstaff would be a case of history repeating for the Warriors -- they added Brown as an assistant coach after he was fired by the Cavaliers. Golden State's defense went from sixth to second in Brown's first year with the franchise in 2016-17.

The Warriors still have long-term assistant Ron Adams, but if they want to reinforce their defensive identity they could do worse than seeking out Bickerstaff or former Phoenix Suns head coach Frank Vogel.

The Suns ranked 13th on defense in Vogel's only season with the franchise, but he did lead the Los Angeles Lakers to the first and third ranked defense in two of his three years, which included the NBA championship in 2020.

As the Cavaliers look for a new head coach, attention will also remain on the futures of Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen. The Warriors could hold significant interest in the latter if Cleveland choose to split up the front court pairing of he and Evan Mobley.