As the ole saying goes, all good things must come to an end. The Golden State Warriors enjoyed one of the greatest runs in NBA History. They became the first NBA Team since the 1957-1966 Boston Celtics to make at least five consecutive finals appearances. While the team will certainly have a shot at making a sixth straight appearance, it will be a lot more difficult to reach the top this time around. Lets recap what was another great season for the Dubs.
Cruising through the Regular Season
For the sixth straight season, the Warriors won 50 plus games. This season, they finished the regular season with a record of 57-25, all while winning the Pacific Division. Coming into the season, it was expected the Warriors would be in the NBA Finals again. The Warriors opened up the season 10-1 and continued to dominate throughout the season. Demarcus Cousins, who signed a one-year $5.3 million dollar deal, didn’t make his first appearance until January as he recovered from a torn ACL he suffered from the previous season. During the season, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant each recorded a 50 point scoring game each. Back in October, the trio each recorded a game of at least 41 points in the same week. Thompson torched the Chicago Bulls for 52 points on a NBA record 14 threes. Curry dropped 51 against the Washington Wizards and Durant scored 41 against the New York Knicks.
Stephen Curry (10/24): 51 PTS
Kevin Durant (10/26): 41 PTS
Klay Thompson (10/29): 52 PTS pic.twitter.com/JP6NHtL3Pc
— NBA (@NBA) October 30, 2018
The Warriors finished the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference, and third best overall.
Durant’s league altering injury
The Golden State Warriors were in the middle of the Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets and MVP candidate James Harden, when disaster struck.
With the series tied at two, Durant suffered what appeared to be an Achilles injury. Many feared it was a torn Achilles however, the Warriors downplayed the injury, and kept hope alive he would return. Without Durant, the Warriors would finish off the Rockets in six games and then sweep the Portland Trailblazers in the Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. During this six-game stretch, Curry averaged 34 points per game.
Kawhi ends another dynasty
Fueled by Kawhi Leonard, who had a postseason for the ages, the Toronto Raptors made their first ever NBA Finals appearance. The Raptors held home court advantage, and behind 32 points from Pascal Siakam, took Game 1 118-109. The Warriors took Game 2 in thrilling fashion 109-104 and many expected that the Warriors would find their stride heading back to Oracle Arena. However, it was the Raptors, whom took both games in the Bay Area. With their backs against the wall down 3-1 Durant decided to put it all on the line, and give it go. Durant came out on fire with 11 quick points, and was playing with no restrictions. Things appeared to be going well until this:
Watch KD grab his lower calf/Achilles as he goes down here. Durant had scored 11 pts in the1Q; he'd also played 12 out of the first 14 minutes of the game – counter to the "short bursts" Kerr had promised pregame, but I have to assume KD wanted to stay in.
He was a gamer tonight. pic.twitter.com/74E5FRk6Jn
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) June 11, 2019
Durant had to be helped to the locker room, and we all knew this was serious. It would be revealed that KD suffered a ruptured Achilles. Down their best player, the Warriors were able to finish off Game 5 and bring it back to Oakland. However, that’s where things would end. Game 6 would be the final NBA Game of the year, and the last ever at Oracle Arena. Thompson would go down with a torn ACL, and the Raptors seized the opportunity by winning their first NBA Title by a score of 114-110. The Warriors now had a decision to make. With KD out all of this upcoming season and Thompson expected to miss most of it how would this affect their free agency.
The Warriors offered both Durant and Thompson max contracts at the start of free agency. Thompson accepted his 5-year $164 million dollar offer.
Breaking: Klay Thompson has officially agreed to the 5-year, $190 million deal with the Warriors. First reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, confirmed by @ramonashelburne. pic.twitter.com/YOEORkpGG3
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 1, 2019
However, Durant had other plans. Not a fan of how he was treated and realizing he was in Curry’s shadow, so to speak, KD decided to take his talents to the East coast. He decided to join Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets. Durant signed a 4-year $180 million dollar deal. He will sit out this season, and will look to return to his normal form during the 2020-2021 season, and help the Nets win their first NBA Championship. In other news, the Warriors resigned Kevon Looney, who has been a key player off the bench for them, to a 3-year $15 million dollar deal. After his criticism of the medical staff, the Golden State Warriors traded away former Finals MVP, Andre Iguodala. Iggy was sent to the Memphis Grizzlies for a first-round pick to the Grizzlies that is protected through picks one through four in 2024, protected No. 1 overall in 2025 and unprotected in 2026. Finally, the Warriors were able to sign former Sacramento Kings center Willie Cauley-Stein to a two-year deal.
The newest splash brother
Since KD didn’t accept his max deal, it opened up an opportunity for the Warriors to make a move. The Nets had restricted D’Angelo Russell, but with Irving there, they had no need for Russell. The Warriors made their move executing a sign and trade sending Russell to the Bay Area on a new 4-year $117 million dollar deal.
D-Lo is a Warrior. Wow.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 1, 2019
The Warriors lineup will look like this until Klay returns
- PG: Steph Curry
- SG: D’Angelo Russell
- SF: Alfonzo McKinnie
- PF: Draymond Green
- C: Willie Cauley-Stein
Depth will be the biggest question mark for the team. The team did select Michigans Jordan Poole, 28th overall and he should provide scoring off the bench. However, in losing key veterans off the bench in Iguodala, Quinn Cook, and Jordan Bell, they will have to replace that production. There are still a lot of solid players out there. The Warriors should look into Kyler Korver, Avery Bradley, Justin Holiday or Kelly Oubre Jr who still remain on the market.
The Golden State Warriors are set to open a new arena in San Francisco called the Chase Center. It is truly the beginning of a new era for Warriors Basketball. As long as Curry is healthy, the Warriors should be able to return to the playoffs. Somewhere between a six and eight seed and 45-50 wins would be good for them while Thompson recovers. Curry and Russell should provide a very exciting backcourt. With Durant and Klay out Curry should have the opportunity to exceed 30 points per game. Last season he averaged 27.3 points and 5.2 assists per game. With Leonard, and Paul George teaming up in Los Angeles, it will truly be a toss up on who reaches the NBA Finals out of the West this season. With that should this should make for one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. Can The Golden State Warriors remain on top in the West? Only time will tell.