Tuesday, June 20, 2017
So, for the past three years, we have watched the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. However, this past year, was the first time in a long time, I barely watched it past halftime. It just wasn't exciting as it had been in the past and I am huge basketball fan. I couldn't quite put my finger on my disinterest. I am not a die hard fan of either team, so watching the Finals should've been easy breezy. But at the core of who I am as a fan, is someone that just likes to watch good hard-nosed fundamental basketball. Quite often throughout the playoffs, what was on display was a three-point shootout.
Ever since Kevin Durant went running into his mother's arms crying, every basketball analyst has been analyzing the idea of super teams. Some writers have claimed that super teams have always existed. Boston in the 60's, the Lakers in the 80's, Chicago in the 90's. But I tend to disagree just a little bit. Maybe this current Warriors team can be compared to the Celtics of the sixties, but both those Lakers and Bulls teams had a LOT of competition in the league during their eras, and there was a LOT of drama in the Finals. Things did not play out the way they are today. I wasn't alone in my disinterest. One night on Twitter, during a Finals game, #BlackTwitter was having a debate about cultural appropriation and it was so heated, many people forgot the game was on.
Plain and simple, this model that the Warriors have created isn't just about bringing 3-4 stars together on one team, this is about how they have changed the way the game is played. Golden State plays small, sometimes having three guards on the floor with two forwards. The pace is fast, and in the midst of their transitions, you will see three after three shot. Their is very little ball movement, and interestingly enough, the shooter is often pretty predictable. Teams are getting blown out by these guys because they can't keep up with the pace. By the time a lot of opponents make it to the other end of the court, the shot has already been thrown and made. Due to this, games turn around for them very quickly. They could be down 12 points, and within six minutes, have a ten point lead. Steph, Klay and now KD all can make quick shots from beyond three point range. They place guys like Igoudala out there to defend and block, and then have Draymond Green out there to agitate and steal the ball. Green's role on the team is amusing to me. He is the hired bully, and it is quite effective against less experienced teams, whose stars get upset at his antics. Once he feels he has the other team mentally and emotionally, Golden State is making their run.
So how do you guard that? What is the defensive game plan to keep them from going. Just from my own observation, you have to pick who you want to shut out. Your best bet is going to be Steph and Draymond. If you can agitate Draymond first, get him into foul trouble, after all he is an over-reactor, then you've got him. If Steph isn't playing well, that takes a huge piece away from the team considering he is the leader. Yes, Klay Thompson is very effective and quite frankly is the reason why the Warriors won a decisive game three in the finals. But, Steph is a terrible defender and once you make him work on the defensive end, you can pull him out of his game. Kyrie Irving can be very good at this when he is consistent. But even then, your team has to be above average offensively, otherwise, you still don't stand a chance to beat them.
Defense, fundamentals, ball movement have all fallen by the wayside in this Warriors era. While efficient, it can be a bit boring, which means the league could suffer financially. All of these college players pulling a one and done makes the draft a non-issue. Most of these guys don't even make it through their rookie season healthy. A lot of them end up on teams with no future, so free agency becomes where all of the drama is, and this year is no different. Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Kristaps Porzingis have all been named as players multiple teams have a solid interest in obtaining. Cleveland, already over the luxury tax is looking to build a super team to try and get a chip. I will give them the 2017-2018 season to get it done. After that when LeBron opts out, he's gone. I can absolutely see Jerry West luring him to L.A. the following year. My Bulls look like they aren't even trying to rebuild until the Warriors cool off in about 4-5 years. So, is this what we, as fans, have to look forward to the next few years? A shootout throughout the playoffs, and the best shooters get the chip? I'm good.