The Golden State Warriors have been a team that many NBA fans love to hate. They love the Warriors because it is hard not to appreciate the level of excellence that Golden State has maintained in recent years. But they hate the Warriors at the same time because the Warriors keep beating whoever their favorite team is.
So, when the Toronto Raptors knocked the Warriors off their perch in the NBA Finals, many cheered. They assumed that the Golden State dynasty was dead; something that many feel is now confirmed with Kevin Durant headed to Brooklyn and Klay Thompson recovering from an ACL injury.
However, oddsmakers have not been as quick to say the dynasty is done. They are no longer the favorite to win the NBA championship, but they are still one of the leading contenders at +1000 (via BetOnline.ag).
Of course, contending for a title and winning one are two different things. Several teams have promising odds, but only a few are thought to be legitimate contenders. Should the Warriors be one of them?
Some would say yes just because the Warriors still have Steph Curry and while they may not be as prolific next season on the offensive end of the court as they have been in recent years, they are still going to be among the best.
As a team, they were second in the NBA in scoring (117.7 points/game) and first in field goal percentage (49.1 percent) during the regular season. Yes, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson did account for 47.5 points a game last season. They will need to account for that loss of production.
However, it is important to remember that they were a championship caliber team before they acquired Durant. Steph Curry averaged 30.1 points a game the season before the Warriors signed Durant. So, we know that his production can increase. However, the challenge will come in replacing Klay Thompson’s.
That will not be easy, but it is possible.
With Durant, there were not as many opportunities for other players to score. Durant, Curry, and Thompson did most of the heavy lifting (which is where ‘Big Threes’ go wrong). But prior to the Durant Era, the Warriors did see more guys contribute on offense.
During the 2015-16 season, four guys averaged in double digits; the year before, five did.
Going forward, they are going to need to return to a style of play that opens the door for more guys to get active on the offensive side of the court. Luckily, they have done it before, so there is no reason to think they can’t do it again.
They will need personnel capable of scoring, of course. Steph Curry will undoubtedly lead the way; it would not be shocking to see him average 30+ points a game next season. It would help if Draymond Green could average in double digits again; if he can be the triple-double machine like he was in the playoffs, even better.
But they will need at least one shooter to keep teams from throwing a blanket on Steph Curry every night. D’Angelo Russell did average over 20 points a game last season and is a decent three-point shooter, but it sounds like the Warriors may look to trade him.
However, there could be help on the way in the form of Jimmer Fredette. He was a scoring machine in college but has struggled to find his game in the NBA. However, he played exceptionally well over in China and will be playing for the Warriors in the Summer League.
If he can catch on with the Warriors and be the shooter he was in college and over in China, he could be the answer to the Warriors problems. They will not become a lock to win anything next season, but they will certainly become a team worth putting a few dollars on.