The signing of Kevin Durant was huge. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and now Kevin Durant. Many speculated (and hated) the team’s future. However, unlike other teams, the Warriors didn’t have the cap space to both sign KD and keep the team intact. In fact, the Warriors front office had to let 6 players walk; Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Mareese Speights, Brandon Rush and Leonardo Barbosa. This is where cracks start to appear.
Last year, it was believed that the two best benches in the NBA were the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Maybe there’s a link, because they were also the two teams who played in the finals. Depth is important. It’s what separates good teams from great teams. The Warriors starting line-up will go down as one of the scariest of all time, and rightly so. However, it’s a big risk for the Warriors.
Now, at this point you may be waving your fists and pointing out that the Warriors have been taking steps to fill those holes back in. Yes, you’re right. The Warriors did acquire Zaza Pachulia and David West through free agency. Though we’d like to point something out.
At this time, the three centres on the team are Zaza Pachulia, Anderson Varejao and rookie Damian Jones. Let’s go back a bit though. In the finals, Andrew Bogut injured himself in game 5, and they had two options here; Varejoa or Ezeli. Instead of replacing a center with a center, the Warriors instead decided to play Draymond Green at center. This suggests that the Warriors don’t have faith in Varejao to be a starting center. This could end up being the same situation if Zaza Pachulia finds himself sidelined. Their only other center is a rookie.
Aside from the issues of rotation, the Warriors are taking a big risk when it comes to changing their team too much. When the Heat lost in 2011 finals, they didn’t make any drastic changes. When the Lakers lost the 2008 Finals, they attempted to re-sign as many players as they could. When the Warriors lost the 2016 Finals, they traded their starting center and let 5 players go in free agency. The players knew the system, how the team works and the culture. Yes it was for Durant, but letting so many players go just so you can get a Big 4 can be risky, especially if the worst happens: injuries.
I’m sorry to the Warriors if I just jinxed them but here it is. If Kevin Durant is injured, they’re a worst team than they were this year. The fact is, the Warriors were 1 win away from being a back-to-back championship team. The suspension of Draymond Green and the injury to defensive presence Andrew Bogut changed the outcome of the finals (oh and also the unbelievable performance by Lebron James). The Warriors want to win, so instead of just trying to get their team better, they completely re-invent the team. Going back to the injuries, if Kevin Durant is injured and it’s significant enough for KD to miss a long period of time, they basically gave away 6 key bench players for nothing.
If everything goes as the Warriors plan, then they’re season will be one of a kind. However, they’ve built a system so fragile that one bump or hit can shatter everything. That’s where the Warriors take the risk.