Golden State’s Championship Window is Closed
The Golden State Warriors‘ season was somewhat of an odd one. Basketball fans had quite a bit of expectation for the Warriors after a surprising season last year. After acquiring Andre Igoudala, people saw this team as a possible championship contending team. Whether it’s fair or not, that’s how people thought of this team.
Unfortunately, the Warriors got bounced in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers. Five days later, they filed for divorce from their coach Mark Jackson. It wasn’t just Jackson who got fired, it was the whole coaching staff. Even the video guy got a pink slip. Now the Warriors are looking for a new coach and they are expected to contact candidates like Steve Kerr, Stan Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau, Mike D’Antoni and many more. But the question is, are they talented enough to win even with the best coach they can get? My answer is no.
When the Warriors gave up two first-round picks and two second-round picks to get Andre Igoudala, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited. The thought of Igoudala handling the ball during crunch time and letting Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get open using off-ball screens excited me a lot. I also liked the fact that the team could be more dynamic and multi-dimensional by not letting Curry handle the ball all the time. Jarrett Jack did a lot of ball handling last year, but the idea of a bigger player being able to see over the defenders and attack off the dribble intrigued me.
Well, Igoudala didn’t exactly play like many fans and I expected him to. In the first round of the playoffs, he was constantly being disrespected as an offensive player by Doc Rivers and the Clippers. Why? Because J.J Redick or Jamal Crawford guarded him most of the time. If you look at the stats, you could say Igoudala had some success because he averaged four more points than he did in the regular season. But Rivers put his worst defender on Igoudala for a reason. He was begging Igoudala to get the ball more frequently and not let Curry or Thompson catch the ball more. So if you look at it that way, averaging 13.1 points wasn’t enough to bust the Clippers’ scheme. As a ball handler, Igoudala was more disappointing. He committed way too many crucial turnovers that turned into Clippers players scoring transition layups at the crucial time.
You might argue that this is just one player’s problems. But you’re wrong. Igoudala not playing like the Warriors envisioned him to is not the only issue here. The acquisition of Igoudala has made the Warriors “cap-strapped,” which means that they are financially locked up. The Warriors owe Igoudala, Andrew Bogut, David Lee and Curry about $51 million next year. What’s more troubling is that they will need to extend Thompson’s contract after next season and Harrison Barnes‘ contract in a couple years. This means that it’ll be extremely difficult for the Warriors to shake up their roster if things don’t work out. They are who they are; no roster changes will be made.
It is unfair to say the Warriors won’t win the championship any time soon, because their two best players are still really young. But I would be absolutely shocked if they make a run to the finals in the next few years. There are too many things that need to happen in order for them to take the next step and get to the NBA Finals. Thompson needs to be a reliable scorer that consistently scores over 20 points per game. Barnes has to lead the second unit and become a good playmaker. Bogut and Lee cannot miss games. Igoudala cannot be a one-way player; he has to give them something offensively as well. These are not impossible things to accomplish, but it’ll be extremely difficult.
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