The NBA’s so called “super team”, aka the Golden State Warriors, are boasting a significantly worse record in comparison to last years record breaking squad. Despite the trade move for former MVP and current 6’11 beast Kevin Durant in the offseason, the Warriors are clearly not the squad they were last year, or a better one for that matter. Now I’m not saying that the Warriors aren’t a special team, they truly are one of the best of all time, but with the star talent they’re boasting they should be beating every team by 10-20 points. In reality though, this supposed super squad are 0-2 against the 7th seed Memphis Grizzlies, including blowing a 24 point lead to this team two weeks ago. That game was a revelation to the rest of the world, showing us that the Warriors are facing some serious chemistry issues, not to mention that clear lack of inside defenders and shot blockers in the line-up. So just what is the formula for beating the most stacked team in NBA history? And why is this team putting up such a weak season for a squad containing the best shooters in recent years?
Let’s talk about the chemistry problem. In the final minute of the Warriors – Grizzlies game Saturday two weeks ago, after holding a 19 point lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Warriors held a measly 1 point lead against a squad they’d already been blown out by only a month previously. In what was the biggest display of the super teams chemistry problem, we saw Kevin Durant take the ball from Steph Curry, who is statistically the greatest shooter of all time, and demand that he take the clutch shot to win the game. After a weak screen and 16 seconds of the shot clock wasted, Durant pulls up from outside the 3 point line with Zach Randolph in his face, clanking the rim with the ball, allowing the Grizzlies to gain possession. Not only was this clearly a bad offensive possession and shot, the Warriors refused to hustle and go after the rebound, giving the Grizzlies time to get a basket to send the game to overtime. But this wasn’t where we could most clearly see that the Warriors have an obvious chemistry issue, that came after Durant’s wasted 3. As the team walks back on defence, we see Draymond Green, one of the smarter players in the league in terms of basketball IQ, screaming at Kevin Durant for taking the ball from Steph. Green, like the rest of the world, obviously acknowledged the fact that Stephen Curry is the greatest shooter in history, we’ve already seen that a defender has no affect on his shot in his record breaking 403 three pointers last season, so he was the clear choice to take the game winning shot in that game. Durant, of all people, should know this better than anyone, considering Curry hit a half court game winning 3 pointer against his former squad, the OKC Thunder, last year. From my own experience as a basketball player, if the game is on the line, you give the ball to the best shooter on the team, you don’t even need to be a player to acknowledge that. I understand that the Warriors players, including Draymond Green, played lazily in not going for that rebound, but Green’s frustration at Durant is definitely deserved, I mean, it’s clear to see that Green is absolutely furious. There’s no denying that the Warriors are a superstar team, that’s a fact at this stage, but they need to sort this chemistry issue out soon, unless they want a repeat of last years NBA Finals, and we all know what happened then. ( Yes, they blew a 3-1 lead )
But more so than the chemistry problem, the Warriors are lacking in a shot blocker, a superstar inside defender, other than Javale McGee, but the Shaqtin a Fool MVP makes far too many mistakes in-game, causing him to be replaced by offensive minded Zaza Pachulia. Golden State have a huge defensive problem, and teams like the Grizzlies, who can boast a huge size advantage in players like Marc Gasol, are exploiting this flaw in the team, repeatedly going into the post and bodying Zaza. This is why teams like the Grizzlies are beating the Warriors, despite their superstar talent. The main reason why teams had such a hard team scoring against the Warriors last season was the presence of Andrew Bogut, a prolific shot blocker and interior defender, putting a body in the post, stopping players like Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph from abusing the paint. Bogut’s tremendous season in terms of defense last year made it even more shocking when he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in the off-season, where he’s having an awful season with the second-to-last seed in the western conference. And another thing, as outstanding a player as Curry is, he clearly lacks the defensive mindset and ability to guard other star point guards in the league, Kyrie Irving and James Harden instantly spring to mind. Although he led the league in steals over the last two seasons, Curry simply can’t stay in front of Kyrie and Harden, who exploit Curry’s poor defence rather than going inside, allowing either a free lane to the hoop, a mid-range pull-up, or a drive and kick to an open 3 point shooter, which has become a speciality of James Harden’s this season. To be fair to Curry though, he played solid defence on Kyrie in the Warriors’ 35 point blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, in one of the Cavs weakest showings since the first 2 games of last years’ NBA Finals. But the reigning champions of the NBA have obviously acknowledged that Curry is a weakness on defence on most occasions. We saw it on Christmas Day, when Kyrie Irving bullied Steph Curry all game, in the Cavs 1 point victory over Golden State. And with the Cavs recent acquisition of 3 point deadeye Kyle Korver, Curry’s defence is going to have to improve as soon as possible, or Klay Thompson will be forced to double team off Korver which will no doubt lead to numerous baskets from deep. But these two defensive problems are easily fixed for a team with enough talent to attract almost any free agent, possible Hassan Whiteside when his contract runs out at Miami. As for Curry’s defensive issues; an easily solved problem for one of the best players of all-time. ( Yes I said it. )
Look, there’s no doubt in my mind, or anyone’s mind for that matter, that the Golden State Warriors are close to being unstoppable, an acquisition of a prolific shot blocker and some time to solve the chemistry issue being the final steps in the matter, but these issues do need to be solved sooner rather than later, before other teams in the league start to follow in the Grizzlies tactics and just bully Zaza Pachulia down in the post. But the most important thing; I can proudly say my Houston Rockets are 1-0 against the stacked team of superstars, a stat I should be able to continue to say as long as James Harden keeps up his MVP-like run of a season.
*An NBA discussion like this is completely new to me, especially in a public post, but I thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing on this topic in particular. I would really appreciate some feedback on this post, just to see if others have enjoyed it as much as I have, considering I do plan to stick with posts like this for a while. Thank you!*