On Friday night, The Golden State Warriors officially became a dynasty in the basketball realm as they completed the sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. Down 3-0, the Cavaliers looked spiritless toward the end of Game 4; this attitude, combined with the relentless onslaught on the Warriors–who would not back down in ravenous pursuit of back-to-back rings–deflated the Cavs to a point where it looked as if they just wanted to get off the court. The final game of this year’s Finals ended 108-85, with the Warriors up by 30 at certain points. Kevin Durant was awarded the Finals MVP award for the second straight year, largely due to his single-handed dominance over Game 3, but it also helped that he was extremely efficient in each of the four games. His series stats: 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 2.3 blocks per game, filling a completely vamped and buffed stat sheet that is deserving of all the accolades.
It’s really no surprise that the Warriors were poised to win the championship this season. Even with this season being their “worst” under head coach Steve Kerr (who just won his 8th ring–5 as a player, 3 as a coach), with many bumpy, fluctuating ups-and-downs along the way, the Warriors were still heavy favorites in almost every game they played. But this season presented different challenges that they’d never faced before, including not having home court advantage for the first time under Kerr and being down 3-2 in a series against a stacked and legitimately threatening Houston Rockets team. However, saying that these Warriors had to overcome adversity isn’t entirely accurate; this year, they were just the least dominant that they’ve been so far. But a leader at his/her weakest is still the leader until overthrown. About this year’s championship run, general manager Bob Myers said, “It wasn’t perfect this year. And the NBA doesn’t stop coming for you. It won’t stop now.”
This offseason should be interesting for the entire NBA as each team scrambles to assemble their own basketball Avengers to stop Golden State’s dynasty. But the Warriors are looking to improve, too, and are showing no signs of slowing down. Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, Steve Kerr, the entire front office, and the players themselves are too giddy and punch-drunk with championship glory to want to give this feeling up anytime soon. So how will this summer play out for the team that already has it all?
Upcoming free agents
This summer will likely present a large shift in the team’s current roster, which was mostly preserved from last year’s championship team. The contracts of JaVale McGee, David West, Zaza Pachulia, and Nick Young will all be up this summer, and it’s unlikely that the Warriors will cling onto any of these four. McGee played well in the Finals and in the Western Conference Finals in short bursts against Houston, but the Warriors are still trying to look for a two-way big man for the future, and McGee is not that. Nick Young, who was paid $5 million for a year, produced substandard results for the Warriors and probably will not return, even though he was a lighthearted and team-lifting locker room presence, building playful relationships with each team member. Pachulia played under 5 minutes per series in these playoffs, and the Warriors simply don’t need him to clog the middle and set tough picks as much as they once did.
The Warriors didn’t pick up Kevon Looney‘s contract earlier in the season, which may have been a mistake due to how well he performed in the bright lights this post season; his defense was excellent against the Rockets when switched on offensive beasts like James Harden and Chris Paul, and he worked tirelessly during each minute he was given. He’s going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so it’ll be worth monitoring what the team does if they decide to keep him.
Patrick McCaw is one of the Warriors’ youngest talents and they’ve been hoping to groom him into a player that resembles Andre Iguodala‘s successor, a smart two-way guard that plays excellent defense and can take control of the offense when need be. His shooting and scoring hasn’t developed as much as the Warriors would like, as he still remains hesitant with the ball in his hands. But he’s worth keeping around, and he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.
Who should they snag?
It should be noted that the Warriors are deep into the luxury tax and over the salary cap, so they must be extremely careful about their finances this summer. They should be picky about who they scout and the prices that these prospects are asking.
Rumors have been surfacing about the Warriors and Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets having a mutual interest in one another. This would be huge for the Warriors because Ariza has proven himself a top-level player, defending Durant and Curry raucously in the Western Conference Finals. He shoots the three well and should fit in well with a fast-paced, high-firepower team like the Warriors. Additionally, this would take away a key player from Houston, the Warriors’ direct rival in the Western Conference.
The Warriors probably won’t draft a center this year, since they’ve added one each year for the past three drafts. Jordan Bell is going to be developed and mentored to be their future starting, versatile big. The story that the Warriors are targeting Anthony Davis of the Pelicans for the not-so-near future still rings true, but that will have to wait at least until 2020.
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