As a kid playing video games, I quickly learned that it’s not as fun to create a team with all max-level players. I need the suspense of not knowing that I’ll win every game.
Well, this is the NBA; hell, in any professional sport it’s supposed to be hard every single year.
Zaza Pachulia is fired up in that clip because sports are about overcoming adversity. No one would watch Rocky if it was just about a dominant fighter beating the crap out of hopeless opponents.
It was never going to be easy. And the Golden State Warriors have just hit a rough patch.
The struggle is real
Ok, let’s get the unpleasantness out of the way first: the Warriors were pretty awful last night against the Chicago Bulls. They were mostly awful in the prior game against the Washington Wizards.
Kevin Durant is out hurt and in all likelihood won’t play another regular season game.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both in shooting slumps.
In short, while our chief competitors got stronger at the trade deadline, we ended up losing an all-star and picking up Matt Barnes instead.
Whew. Feels bad. But let’s pick at this a little bit.
Curry has been bad, according to Ethan Sherwood Strauss — it’s real bad lately.
On 3s, Curry is now 4-of-his-last-30— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) March 3, 2017
Or is it?
Let’s put some perspective on this. Although Steph is indeed shooting a career low, he’s still hitting 40% of his shots from outside, on a very high volume. His TS% (a measure of how effective he is at turning shot attempts into points) is a robust .620, 4 points over his career average.
Ok, so what are we going to do about this?
Well, first of all, let’s all agree that Steph is not by any means having a “bad” year. He leads the league in made three pointers, steals, and free throw percentage. If it wasn’t for his absolute dominance over the past two seasons, everyone would be crowing about how great he is. It’s still elite. And given his history, it’s reasonable to assume that he will pick his percentage back up before the end of the year. So when we see Curry going 1-of-16 on "wide open" 3s over these last 3 games, it’s ok to be concerned. But understand that this is unusual for him and even more so because Klay Thompson appears to be joining him in this slump.
This process is going to make the team tougher. As Nelson Mandela said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Without Durant, I’m a little afraid, we didn’t have that before now.
We have the San Antonio Spurs pushing us for the top seed, and if we lose it, we are facing a much tougher path to the Finals. The Warriors aren’t fools, all of the players know exactly where we stand, and what it’s going to take to stay on top. The last time the Warriors lost back to back games was in April of 2015, just a few months before that team went on to win the NBA championship.
We are going to need more from our players if we want to hang on to that first seed. Thankfully, we have players that can do exactly that, as described by Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN.
"All of a sudden, you have to change a little bit. It's kind of like 'Westworld,' you know, when they change some of the folks up a little bit. 'Westworld?' You watch that? They alter their characteristics a little bit. You amp up this, you take this down. Well, he and I will have to change things a little bit, but being a smart player, it's not as hard."
The first place seeding is incredibly important and something that we are going to want to fight for. Well, we have that fight on our hands now. It was a little too easy with Durant, but now that luxury is gone. You, as a fan, can choose how much to fret over this fight. Just try and remember that this fight is what we need if you want them to be ready to fight through the playoffs again. Remember Draymond Green’s infamous halftime explosion? The one where he shouted “I’M NOT A ROBOT” at Steve Kerr? These players aren’t just emotional, but they run on those emotions — it keeps them dynamic.
We lost one of our best players, but trust this roster to step up and respond with more wins and to come out of the process better for the experience.
The outlook for clipboards during this time may be a bit more dire.