By Lamar Battle
What’s going on ?
The once mighty three time NBA champion Golden State Warriors may be showing signs of decline after a period that saw them losing four to five games at home by 20 points or more including a Christmas day drubbing by a Los Angeles Laker team minus star LeBron James.
Could it be the the defense ?
If you said the Warrior defense is not the same then you just won a Kenmore Washer/Dryer, ( Kidding). Nonetheless, the one thing that distinguished the Warriors aside from the incredible three point shooting was the aggressive switching help defense.
Part of the teams genius is that they changed the game with revolutionary shooting prompting teams throughout the league to copy a style that the Warriors were best suited to defend. A key part of Houston’s game seven loss in last seasons (2017-18) Western Conference Finals was that Houston had two play makers ( players able to make a play for themselves or others off the dribble). When one went down (Chris Paul) James Harden was the only one left with the rest of the team standing around looking for a pass from him..The Rockets subsequently missed 26 three point shots in a row. The Warriors are best when rotating to outside shooters and overplaying passing lanes.
During the recent lull aside from giving up an average of 55% on opponents field goals there was also with the absence of center Damian Jones a glaring lack of rim protection (The Lakers scored 58 points in the paint). Big games from Lakers 3rd string center Ivica Dubaz (18 points 11 rebounds) and Portland center Jusuf Nurkic served notice.
Boogie to the rescue
Free agent acquisition center DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins will be available for duty soon. Perennial All Star Boogie Cousins should go a long ways toward addressing the teams lack of rim protection. Team chemistry may become a concern given Boogie’s history of self control issues (i.e. Technicals, problems with coaches etc). If the Warriors can integrate Boogie into their open free flowing offensive attack the pick up will have been worth it.
Will K.D. stay? Draymond ?
Warrior forward Kevin Durrant’s impending free agency has been an issue hanging over the team all season and came to a head during the much publicized spat between Kevin Durrant and teammate Draymond Green. ( the latter who may be pressing for the Max contract he so desperately craves). During the intense exchange it was said that Durrant could be overheard saying I’m out of here.
Can the team close ranks and overcome what may be a possible team splintering occurrence ? Will Kevin Durrant stay and if he does will Draymond be there with him ?
Will the Warriors still be champions
As winners of three of the last four championships the Warriors possess an abundance of experience and if any team can overcome Poor bench scoring(29th in league), turnovers and shooting woes (Klay Thompson 44.0 FG%, 34.4 3pt%) the Warriors can.
However, on the way to a dynasty a funny thing happened, the rest of the NBA got better and the question remains did the gap between the Warriors and everybody else close.
Going forward look for challenges from Houston, L.A, Toronto and Boston.
Photo credits, Bing Photos