The NBA overall is not one of our favorite entities, for we have seen too much off- and on-court shenanigans there for decades. That being said, the league’s most recent “dynasty” started its 2019-2020 regular season last night, and it was ugly. U-G-L-Y.
The Warriors christened their new arena in San Francisco with a 141-122 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, and it’s telling to analyze the box score to see just why a team that has won five-straight Western Conference championships with relative ease is going to be in for a rough year.
First, this should have been an emotional night for the Warriors, returning to the city after decades in Oakland. That alone should have gotten the team itself more fired up for this game. However, the team was down 11 points at halftime and never really got it going.
Second, we know the Warriors are without a key piece of their recent success: Klay Thompson is hurt. However, truly good teams are able to overcome the loss of a star player with their quality depth, and it’s clear the Golden State has little of that on its current roster.
Third, this team is gassed. When you play in the Finals for five straight seasons, that’s adds up to a lot of extra games. Ask LeBron James how nice it may have been for him to miss the Finals last year for the first time in nine seasons! Fatigue is real, even if the Warriors only have a few players on the roster still who played in all those postseasons.
Fourth, defense matters. One of the reasons Golden State was so good from 2014 on, even before the team won it all in 2015, was because of the defense. For four seasons, starting with the 2013-2014 season under Head Coach Mark Jackson, the Warriors were the best defensive team in the NBA. That slipped starting with the 2017-2018 season, which is why things have become more difficult for Golden State. They became merely above average.
Finally, the roster this year is young and suspiciously lacking talent, for salary-cap and draft-position reasons. Current Head Coach Steve Kerr is going to watch his reputation suffer as he tries to get something out of mediocre players like Jordan Poole. The rookie guard launched 13 shots in almost 21 minutes of play, but he made just two of them while making just 1-of-7 from three-point range. Ouch!
In the end, these Warriors are paying the price for sustained success, whether due to fatigue, attrition, salary-cap woes, and/or simple cyclical reality. They dominated the league for awhile thanks to three-point marksmanship and good defense, and now both those dynamics are pretty much gone from the organization.