We all remember the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Golden State Warriors, fresh off the best regular season record in NBA history, ran into the hyper-athletic, ultra-talented Oklahoma City Thunder, and the two-headed monster of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
While the Thunder were very good, the Warriors were supposed to cruise right by them.
That didn’t happen. Oklahoma City put Golden State on the ropes, by jumping out to a 3-1 series lead. The Warriors needed to win three straight, and it required one of the best playoff performances in recent NBA history by one Klay Thompson to do so.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s when the season ended. The NBA cancelled the Finals, Durant signed with the Warriors, and things picked back up last year. That’s how it went, I’m sure of it.
Those were some of the final games in a Warriors jersey for Harrison Barnes, who struggled mightily in that series. He averaged just 8.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, while getting worked by Durant on the other end of the court.
Apparently that left quite an impression on Barnes. During a recent appearance on Richard Jefferson’s Road Trippin’ podcast, Barnes said that the Thunder were probably the best team in the league that spring.
“My opinion is that OKC was probably the best team in the playoffs that year,” Barnes said, as transcribed by Slam. “I mean they were rollin’. We didn’t have an answer for them. If Klay doesn’t have that crazy Game 6, they’re going to the Finals. That team, they way they were built - rebounding, scoring, they were doing it all.”
Can I insert the pretentious thinking emoji into this article? No? Bummer.
It’s a kind of odd statement for Barnes to make, since the Warriors were far from healthy. Stephen Curry was trying to rehab a damaged MCL on the fly, which certainly compromised the team’s ability. Also, Thompson did have that crazy Game 6, so it kind of . . . what’s the word . . . counts.
While the Thunder deserve credit for what they did, just as the Cleveland Cavaliers do, it’s a bit disingenuous to say Oklahoma City was the better team, when pretty much everything points the other way.
Barnes is, of course, entitled to his opinion. Even if it’s wrong.