Just the other day, Darren Rovell reported that Stephen Curry had finally watched Game 7 for the first time. And with that, it became clear that I should just get over it.
I was finally able to sit down and reflect on this season in a positive light over the long weekend in between binging on Narcos on Netflix (a highly recommended use of time, by the way).
So with Basketball Jonez starting up our annual Ranking the Assets series, I figured it was time to wrap up our 2015-16 season review series by compiling our community report card based on the polls on our reviews throughout the offseason.
Let’s start by looking back at a few players who are no longer with us.
A Farewell To Our “Transfers”
After decades of watching the Warriors struggle just to make the playoffs, it’s somewhat odd to think that they’ve let six players go in an offseason after making their second consecutive NBA Finals appearance.
This, of course, is the cost of adding Kevin Durant.
But, for better or worse, these guys will live on in our memories as part of the unit that brought the franchise its first championship in 40 years — for many of us, the first in our lifetime.
So I begin this look back by giving our departed heroes one final tribute before turning our attention to the holdovers. In parentheses are the grades the Golden State of Mind community gave them for the season while the names link to their season reviews.
Leandro Barbosa (A-): You’d have to be a soulless fan to forget the man who brought us “We Gonna Be Championship” during the 2014-15 season. Sam Sorkin did more to capture the impact an aging Barbosa made in 2015-16 with his season review, including an impressive performance in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
Harrison Barnes (C-): Boy, have we ever been hard on Harrison Barnes. And it’s not like going to the Olympics was exactly helpful to shut up the naysayers. I’m not going to harp on the past here because I actually think it’s possible to summarize Barnes’ year in 140 characters:
Max contract. Gold medal. Engaged. That's a helluva summer. Congrats! https://t.co/IodPpCi7SR— Andrew (@awbatchelor) August 28, 2016
But who needs perspective when it’s so easy to hate?
Andrew Bogut (B+): I thought Ronaldinho summarized Bogut’s career with Golden State so well in his season review that I’ll just quote him here: “Andrew Bogut's arrival in Golden State was heralded by a cascade of boos. He departs amid a chorus of ecstatic cheers.”
Festus Ezeli (C+): I had a 2000 word piece on Festus Ezeli complete with clips of his play during the 24-0 run all ready to go that for some reason I never bothered to publish. He really looked like The Next Big Thing during that streak and it was hard not to be excited about his future.
Then he got injured mid-season.
Then Game 7 of the NBA Finals happened.
I don’t blame Ezeli for losing the Finals. But watching him get torched in the fourth quarter of Game 7 won’t easily be forgotten.
Brandon Rush (B+): Rush ended up becoming my go-to argument against retaining Barnes, long before the Warriors ever landed Durant: if the Warriors can go 30-2 with Rush starting half the games, how valuable is Barnes? Whoops — I said I wouldn’t get back into old Barnes arguments.
Marreese Speights (B): Duby Dub Dubs sent this screenshot of the all-time highest usage percentages in Warriors history to the GSoM staff and I just can’t think of any better way to summarize Mo Speights’ game:
With that, we move on to looking at the holdovers from last year’s roster (in order of worst to best grade).
Returning Player Grades
Kevon Looney (Inc.)
I mean...you have to play to get a grade. So we didn’t run a poll for Looney. But Bram Kincheloe did a pretty good job summarizing the sentiment about this guy and his potential.
From the GSoM community: ‘Five or six years ago, a 6’9 tweaner would’ve been encouraged by coaches to transition to playing the wing full-time. But could the Warriors get Looney to become a sweet-shooting, nimble, defensively dexterous 5 for the majority of his minutes? A Draymond-lite player, who happens to just be larger, slower, and more capable of swallowing large chunks of minutes in the low post? Let’s not preclude the possibility of one day running a Curry – Thompson – Durant – Green – Looney lineup out there as an invincibly versatile war machine.’ - Derek Knight
Anderson Varejao (Inc.)
Ivan concluded his season review of Anderson Varejao by writing, “In conclusion, I do not expect the Golden State Warriors to re-sign Anderson Varejao during the 2015-2016 free agency period...I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from Game 7.” Is there any better way to sum up Varejao’s season? I’m just giving him the “Inc.” to give him a chance at showing something — anything — over the course of a full season with the team.
Also, we didn’t bother with a grading poll for that one.
From the GSoM community: “I think it's safe to say that signing him was a flop.” - NughShwark
James Michael McAdoo (C+)
I liked the way Jared Stearne ended his season review of McAdoo: “...the Finals were a brief reminder that he still appears to be headed towards being a consistent rotation player -- maybe as early as 2016-2017.” There’s still room for growth there and let’s hope the guy who has come up from the ranks of the undrafted to the D-League to a championship-caliber roster can finally realize his full potential now that the team will really need someone from the bench to step up.
From the GSoM community: “I would rather have a 12th man that has spent 2 years being coached by Ron Adams and learning from Andrew Bogut and guarding the Splash Bros in practice than a 12th man from random team X in the Euroleague.” - bradyk2
Ian Clark (B-)
Summary: As I wrote in Clark’s season review, his ongoing struggle has been the transition from college shooter to professional point guard. He might not be there quite yet and, to be honest, I’ve been wondering what he could do for a team that wasn’t a historically successful two-time finalist. But I love rooting for players the franchise has invested time in developing.
From the GSoM community: “Keep playing and learning Ian. You’ll get there. I can see a future with you being the vet on a Warriors team with McCaw, Jones, Carter and a few vets!” - Crass32
Shaun Livingston (A)
Dean Campbell summed up Livingston nicely in his season review by writing, “A look back to Shaun Livingston's second season with the Warriors reveals, again, the great luxury the Warriors have in bringing such an skilled veteran off the bench to play the point.”
There was some debate about Livingston’s value when the Warriors first signed him, but I think this year most of that talk was squashed. He was clearly more comfortable with the team this season and his ability to “invert the offense” by initiating from the low block is a change of pace that I think often goes underestimated.
From the GSoM community: “If we plan on going on a run with this core, Livingston’s probably our best backup PG chance to sustain it. He’s the guy we can give the pay-day to. He’d be part of the core 6.” - Old Faithful (but not that old)
Andre Iguodala (A)
Iguodala didn’t win Sixth Man of the Year, but he made an awfully good case for being the most impactful reserve of the season, even if his battle against LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals paled in comparison to that of his 2015 NBA Finals MVP performance.
There were questions throughout the season if Iguodala would be a casualty of the chase for Durant, but suffice it to say that I’m happy he’s sticking around. Andre Iguodala’s commitment to this franchise’s success simply cannot be questioned, as Jeff Cheal wrote in his season review, and that makes him one of my all-time favorite Warriors.
Draymond Green (A)
Green’s season has to be the toughest to summarize because if he was the type of guy you either love or hate, he might have given either side of that spectrum reason to re-consider their position this season. I think I ranted about the reactions to his arrest over a 2 p.m. “breakfast” in Vegas with some SBN bloggers, but things got so crazy there that no words ever got typed. Thankfully, Bram Kincheloe did a pretty solid job of summarizing his roller coaster season in a season review.
From the GSoM community: “Draymond is my all-time favorite basketball player ever. It's that simple. Never seen a better combination of scrappy, personable, intelligence, development, defensive effort, playmaking, leadership, etc. Just an incredible gem for however long he plays.” - TilltheBitterEnd
Klay Thompson (A)
The “Other Splash Brother” really made his mark on NBA lore with a stunningly clutch performance in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, as Kim Stubbe described at length the other day.
There will always be those who levy the “how would he do without Curry?” argument against Thompson, but it’s past time that we appreciate the gem that we have on this team on his own terms. As Jared Stearne wrote in his season review of Thompson, “...the fact is this: Klay Thompson is about as amazing a shooter the league has ever seen, aside from Curry.”
From the GSoM community: “ANDROID KLAY NEEDS TO UPGRADE 2 FILES: They2smallernie.exe and dribbledrive.exe are two files the Android Death Bot Klay needs to download.” - GoldBloodedKing
Stephen Curry (Successfully defended dissertation)
We didn’t run a grade poll for Curry and, really, what’s the point of a poll for that anyway? Are our grades really sufficient to capture what Curry did this season?
Who cares about an errant behind-the-back pass or an inability to beat Kevin Love off the dribble in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Finals? There’s a good chance we’ll never see another player do the things Curry did this season. As Bram Kincheloe said in his season review, “Stephen Curry shattered our conception of what is possible.”
There’s not much more to say than that.