By: Aiden Holczer
We’re not even a week into the 2019-2020 NBA season, so you know what that means. It’s time to overreact to the most minute of details. That’s what I would usually say, but not this time, especially when that minute detail is winning games. This may be one of those few occasions where overreacting might be the right course of action. If you haven’t guessed what I’m talking about by now, I’m talking about how abysmal the Golden State Warriors have looked so far this season.
To reiterate, at the time of writing, we are a grand total of six days into the NBA regular season, which means the sample size for every metric is incredibly small, and is subject to drastic change. For example, through three games, Russell Westbrook is shooting 36% from three, which is 21% higher than his teammate and former MVP, James Harden. You should be drug tested if you believe that this will continue throughout the first month of the season, let alone the seventy-nine games that remain.
However, there is something to be said about how teams perform as a whole. Regardless of how superstar-oriented it is, basketball is still a team sport. And to put it simply, the Warriors have no depth. There is a fair argument to be made that the Warriors lost more talent this offseason than we have ever seen before.
They lost an all-time great in Kevin Durant. A player who might be the most talented scorer the league has ever seen, nearly 7ft tall with a prolific three-point stroke. Andre Iguodala, a former Finals MVP, was traded in order to make room for their one and only significant offseason acquisition, D’Angelo Russell (I’ll get to this later). Demarcus Cousins, who, even after coming off a potentially catastrophic knee injury two seasons ago, still went on to average 16pts|8reb|1.5blk, until he went down again in the playoffs and eventually took his talents to Lebron and the Lakers. Jordan Bell and Quin Cook, both role players on the already anemic Warriors bench last season, left in free agency. One of the Dubs centers left to play in Australia. Oh, and Klay Thompson, who just so happens to be the greatest catch-and-shoot player ever, is most likely out for the entire season.
The Warriors have also been historically bad on defense throughout their first three games as well, and, not surprising to anyone that has actually watched basketball, or even played 2k for that matter, D’Angelo Russell and Steph Curry aren’t meshing well together. Why am I not surprised by this? Because I have spent my sixteen years on this earth rooting for laughingstock of the 2010s: the Brooklyn Nets.
D’Angelo Russell is a one-dimensional player. There is nothing wrong with being a one-dimensional player if you’re an all-time great at it, but Russell simply isn’t. He NEEDS the ball in his hands to do ANYTHING on offense. He is not a catch and shoot player—he hits most of his threes off of isolation plays—he is average to below average at finishing near the rim, and he’s a defensive liability. None of those things fit within coach, Steve Kerr’s system. It is not a question of IF he will get traded for assets, but WHEN he will get traded.
Now, I thought the Warriors were going to still be able to clinch the 6th to 7th seed in the Western Conference based almost entirely on Steph Curry, who I predicted to go on to have an MVP-caliber season. This may be an effort by the sports gods to tell me to stop predicting MVPs, because, so far, Steph Curry and my pick for NFL MVP, Baker Mayfield, have looked absolutely terrible, but I digress.
What does matter is that there seem to be six teams that are already a lock to make the Western Conference playoffs: the Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Blazers, Jazz, and Rockets. There are four teams that will be in contention all season for the remaining two spots: Spurs, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, and Mavericks. The Warriors find themselves in neither group. For the first time, since they burst onto the scene nearly five years ago, and changed the way the league would play basketball forever, the Warriors might not sniff the postseason.
It appears as though the basketball gods have finally chosen to receive their comeuppance for the Warrior’s domination the past five seasons, the likes of which the league hasn’t seen Micheal Jordan and his Bulls. Things are about to get ugly in the Bay Area if something doesn’t change and change fast.
Update: In Wednesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns, Steph Curry went down with a hand injury and was forced to leave the game. It was later confirmed that Curry broke his hand, most likely spelling the end for the Warriors season…is it time to tank for LaMelo Ball?