Everyone from opposing fans to the mainstream sports media wants to and try to analyze, dissect and rationalize the Golden State Warriors and their dominant four year run. But it seems as if they have no concept or idea of what’s real with the team and what isn’t and that’s a problem. A problem that’s steeped in agenda serving narratives.
You have the Skip Baylesses, the Nick Wrights and the Stephen A. Smiths of the world creating and concocting their versions of NBA fan fiction every weekday from 6 AM to noon. Meanwhile, fans echo the same misguided, and sometimes insane, takes to:
- Justify their own opinions about the ‘Dubs; and
- Feel better about their favorite teams and players.
It’s understandable that some fans of opposing teams and a biased media have a problem with the truth when it comes to this Warriors squad. To them, the truth of the Warriors’ dominance being attributed to three draft picks that put the work in to be great players and All-Stars, a coach with championship influence and a front office and ownership that gives a damn is not sexy. It’s boring and painful. So, they medicate and comfort themselves with these beautiful lies that have been regurgitated ad-nauseum because, for whatever reason, the rest of the league, with the exception of Boston, OKC and Houston, can’t realistically compete.
Since we are in the heat of the offseason and there's not much going on between now and training camp, why not shake the table a bit? We have the time today so let’s examine and destroy some tired narratives.
Narrative: “Kevin Durant Joined a 73-9 Team. The Warriors didn’t need him”
Reality: When Durant signed with the Warriors two years ago, immediately mainstream media hit us with how he “joined a team that went 73-9 a year before” and how "the Warriors don't need KD.” Fans took this and ran with it and still do today. Technically, the same roster from that 73-9 season would have to have stayed intact in order for Durant to “join” it.
To make room for Durant, the Warriors had to let go of Andrew Bogut, Maurice Speights, Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes and Brandon Rush. Then, the Warriors had to sign players for vet minimum type deals to round out the team. Those deals brought in ZaZa Pachulia, David West, Matt Barnes and JaVale McGee, thus making it a different squad.
As far as the Warriors’ not needing Durant, it gave the Warriors a more than a formidable and dynamic option at the three. It is well known and understood that Durant is a walking bucket who can score 30 points at-will and efficiently at that. It just so happened that the Warriors had the opportunity to upgrade the position, so they did. Remember, Barnes wanted north of $60 million to stay in Oakland. After his poor performance in the 2016 Finals, that wouldn’t have been a great look. Getting Durant was needed to keep the team fresh and to keep them dominant.
Narrative: “ Kevin Durant was clearly the difference during the two championship runs. “
Reality: This is one of the contradictory narratives that people love to run with regarding the Warriors. Now, context here matters. By no means am I saying that Durant was a non-factor in going back-to-back. What I’m saying is that in 2016, the Warriors lost the championship in the last minute without KD. Since the 2016 run was an epic collapse, it’s almost like it felt like the Cavaliers dominated the series from wire to wire. The comeback was an outlier: Draymond Green was suspended and Stephen Curry was compromised. Curry willed himself to play on that bum MCL until it betrayed him at the worst possible time. Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut were injured as well.
As great as that comeback was, it still doesn’t change the fact that it was literally down to the last minute in game 7. As great as Durant is, it’s not to say that the same team could not win the rematch.
Speaking of the rematches, Durant obviously dominated the 2017 Finals. No debating that. However, a healthy Curry nearly averaged a triple double. It’s just that Durant was so dominant, that his performance had no choice but to rule the headlines.
Consider this. If the Warriors needed Durant to beat the Cavs so much, why complain that the league is “unfair?" Why complain that the Warriors ruined the league? Thought so!
Narrative : “Is it Stephen Curry’s Team or is it KD’s?/ “Steph is being carried by KD”/ “KD’s riding coattails and front running”
Reality: This narrative and its variations are a go-to for a wishful thinking group of media and fans hoping for any hints of friction. But the truth is that Curry isn’t carrying Durant and Durant isn’t carrying Curry. Both players are putting up the numbers together. In their first season together, the duo averaged 25.3 (Curry) and 25.1 (Durant ) points per game while getting the same shots with variable percentages. In the playoffs, it was more the same but magnified. Both Curry and Durant averaged north of 28 points per game while 1.7 rebounds separated the two. Last season, both Curry and Durant averaged 26.4 point per game in the regular season. In the playoffs, Durant had the slight edge in points per game (29 to Curry’s 25.5) and led in percentages. But the fact remains that Curry and Durant are dominant together due to unselfishness from both men.
Narrative: “Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are glorified role players that wouldn’t be all stars anywhere else.”
Reality: This is another narrative that fans use at their conveience. Somehow, Green is overrated and Thompson is just a spot up shooter and nothing more - that is until it’s time to magnify LeBron James, Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook for example. Then it’s “ The Warriors are stacked,” “They got four all stars,” etc.
The fact of the matter is both Thompson and Green developed themselves into All-Stars. Green has enough basketball sense to know that he isn’t a high volume scorer and never will be. He knows that his contribution in points are a luxury. Green carved out his niche in defense, rebounding, hustle and facilitating assists as a forward. Those are the details of the game that don’t put butts in the seats, that don’t get the glory, but that are essential for winning ball games and winning championships. If you believe that 29 other teams wouldn’t value Green’s intangibles, you would have to be out of your mind.
When it comes to Thompson, people see what they want to see with him. They see the threes. They see the 37 point quarter. They see the 60 points with 11 dribbles. But what they don't care to notice is his defense and durability.
While some opposing fans may not see these two as All-Stars until they need to, the Western Conference coaches don’t see it the same way. These two are All-Stars, whether folks like it or not, because they put the work in and the conference coaches that play against them can see that.
Narratives and lies can be more palatable than the truth. The truth can be so detested that it makes people angry. However, the truth will remain. And the truth is that the Warriors are just plain phenomenal. They are playing the game right. They have a present front office. And they have players who really love to play with each other.
Beautiful lies can only last for so long, and the so long is here.