Saturday, June 9, 2018
Saturday Slam: The Golden State Warriors built a dynasty the right way
On Friday, the Golden State Warriors completed their four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their third NBA championship in four years. Kevin Durant (28.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 7.5 assists) was NBA Finals MVP for a second consecutive year and the Warriors officially etched themselves into NBA history as a true dynasty. As phenomenal as LeBron James was in the NBA Finals (34.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 10.0 assists), the Warriors were the better team and it showed over the course of the series.
A lot of people like to taint the Warriors' championships by saying they are too stacked and that it's unfair they are this good. Such remarks are very shortsighted. A person who makes these remarks is only thinking of the addition of Kevin Durant, forgetting that this team won a championship and reached the NBA Finals twice before he got there. In order to attract a star of Kevin Durant's magnitude, you need to put a winning formula in place and to the Warriors' credit, they did just that, building through the draft, making smart trades, and bringing in quality free agents.
Starting with the draft, the Warriors' scouting department and front office has knocked it out of the park, drafting Stephen Curry with the 7th overall pick in 2009, Klay Thompson with the 11th overall pick in 2011, and Draymond Green with the 35th overall pick in 2012. Those three guys are the foundation of this team. They were together long before Kevin Durant got to Golden State.
If there is one moment that we can look back on that definitively marks the beginning of this new Warriors era, it would be the trade that sent Monta Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks for Andrew Bogut. Monta Ellis doesn't get enough credit for how good he was and what he did for the Warriors' organization, but at the same time he wasn't a guy who you could build a championship team around. By moving Ellis for a big man that could anchor a championship caliber defense, the Warriors' front office showed they cared more about winning championships than getting on highlight reels. That trade is what officially put the Warriors on the trajectory that they are currently on.
Before the Warriors landed Kevin Durant in free agency, they landed another quality free agent in Andre Iguodala in the summer of 2013. Iguodala had been traded to the Denver Nuggets in the previous season from the Philadelphia 76ers and decided he didn't want to stay in Denver, opting to sign with the Warriors instead. Little did the Warriors know, but Iguodala would go on to be NBA Finals MVP in 2015, playing an integral role in their first of three championships in four seasons.
To cap everything off, the Warriors landed Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016, officially establishing themselves as an NBA juggernaut. The move sparked some controversy as the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals while the Thunder had also blown a 3-1 lead to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. To make the optics look even worse, the Warriors were coming off of a 73-9 season, the best regular season record in NBA history. It just looked like the rich getting richer while also acknowledging that they didn't have enough to beat LeBron James.
While it's certainly understandable for NBA fans to be upset at how this all unfolded, one certainly cannot blame the Warriors for making the moves that they did. If you have the cap space to add Kevin Durant to a roster that already consists of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala, you should do it. It's a no brainer decision.
Regardless of how you feel about the Warriors, one thing cannot be denied: They built their team the right way. They drafted and scouted well, made good trades, added quality free agents, and put themselves in a position to attract Kevin Durant. They took no short cuts and are being handsomely rewarded as a result.
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