The Golden State Warriors don't lose seemingly meaningless Summer League games.
It just doesn't happen, whether their big league club is good or not. But there was never a level of gratification for the the players fighting, scraping and clawing for the limited amount of minutes provided by the tournament format. Though some teams don't take these exhibition-style games seriously, the Warriors have instilled a culture where the management, players, team and even fans, care about the now-legendary (maybe a stretch) July Warriors and the Santa Cruz squad in the D-League.
There isn't much player performance to take away from the game at this point, as the Warriors won 91-77 going away. Even if coaches are scouting their own players, amongst others, there isn't much chance that they'll make an impact next year. Last year's breakout star, Kent Bazemore himself, barely played a role in the Warriors' regular season or playoff run. It isn't possible to change the mind of coaches with one sterling performance, unlike your name is Ian Clark. Granted, his name was probably a part of the list of players invited to camp regardless of tonight but it's also likely that other teams might offer him more money, a larger role and certainty to make the team. Money talks, but playing time does as well.
Clark shot 12-19 from the field, nailing seven threes in 10 attempts but it wasn't a vintage Anthony Morrow performance, per se, where he stood around the arc and bombed away. He was effective on defense and got to the rim on numerous occasions just by breaking down the opposing defender. Clark won the Defensive Player of the Year in his conference (Ohio Valley Conference), like Bazemore did in college, and in today's game, there's always a place for a player who can not only shoot, but defend.
Since there isn't too much that'll tangibly impact a roster with a seemingly set depth chart, we can entertain ourselves with the trivial nature of a Warriors dynasty, inconsequential or not. The roster this summer was stacked with D-League players, two roster players (though back-end rotations players in Draymond Green and Bazemore), and a couple of undrafted rookies. There was not a single first-round pick to be found, lending credence to the thought that if players buy into a system in its continuity, we can keep celebrating trophies. Cameron Jones, Lance Goulbourne and Scott Machado are players used to what can be considered the Warriors way, and pickups like Gary McGhee (hustle player that crashes the boards), James Southerland (shooter), Ian Clark (shooter, defender) exhibit traits—unselfishness and the will to play defense—that fit right into that system.
There was nothing inherently flashy about the way the Warriors played this week. Sure, there were a couple Bazemore dunks, a Curry-esque performance from Clark and some athletic rebounding from the bigs, but ultimately, the Warriors like, and maybe even prefer, it this way. They're not reverting back to the old stigma of up-and-down basketball with a penchant for careless rotations and lack of accountability. The gambles of Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala in the past couple years, along with hard workers like Bazemore, Green, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson all help to signal that change we've all begged for in the never-ending abyss that was the Cohan era.
Perhaps Summer Leagues doesn't matter, as everyone is wont to say nowadays, but for those players out there, and the team in its construction, what happened this past weekend wasn't a referendum on the organization, but just another step in achieving the goals they've set for themselves.
And yes, that's a freakin' dynasty.