On Monday, we saw the wrap of arguably one of the greatest NBA seasons in history, filled with triple-doubles, MVP controversy (that isn’t over yet) and a lot of offense. And as most writers (including this one) predicted; The Golden State Warriors walked away with their second title in three years, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. Kevin Durant would be named Finals MVP.
Can the Warriors be defeated?
When Durant signed with Golden State last summer, it was very tough to make a case for anyone else to beat them in the Finals, and in the end not even LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love could make a realistic case for beating them. It seems like an impossible task. How can you stop them? Their roster is too good. They have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are already being considered the two greatest shooters in NBA history. Draymond Green, a point forward who can fulfill all of your needs offensively and defensively on the court. Then there’s Durant, who is arguably the best scorer we’ve ever seen, and is making his case to dethrone James as the best player in the world. Is it possible to stop them?
Of course it is!
Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the greatness. 73-9 in 2016? Incredible. The first ever unanimous MVP? Incredible. No team in NBA history has been better in the span of three years than this Golden State team. Not the Jordan Bulls, not the Showtime Lakers. But despite all of these factors, you can’t sit there and pretend that they’re invincible.
But Craig, how do we stop them? Get better!
That’s the secret to beating them: getting better. I know it’s not as glamorous of an answer as you may have expected, but that is the reality of it. Talent in the NBA is at an all-time high. And on top of it all, that talent is so spread out, that we’re taking a lot of guys for granted. If you’re an NBA GM, this summer is way bigger than last summer. Most teams had no chance of getting Durant, so despite his decision being arguably bigger than LeBron’s back in 2010, the free agency class had nothing on this year’s. Chris Paul, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Lowry, Blake Griffin and tons of other elite players are available this summer.
If CP3 were to go to a contender like San Antonio, it could change things. The Spurs could very well have a big three that could compete with Golden State in Paul, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Hayward staying in Utah could turn them into a threat in the playoffs. If he were to go to Boston, it could continue the movement the Celtics have been creating to become a contender.
Franchises can’t settle. Don’t look at your one All-Star and think, “He’s our guy, he’s taking us to the promise land.” It takes a village in today’s NBA. Ever since James went to Miami, it changed the landscape. You have to have multiple guys who can contribute at a high level and that’s why Golden State and Cleveland have been so successful during the last three seasons. And while that 2010-14 Miami Heat team changed the league in terms of super teams, it provided a very valuable lesson that the rest of the league should pay attention to. You CAN beat super teams.
Remember the 2011 NBA Finals? The Miami Heat big three of James, Wade and Bosh vs. the Dallas Mavericks and the duo of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. Do we remember how that turned out? Dallas won. And they did it with a guy named Brian Cardinal being a legit contributor. Cardinal’s nickname was The Custodian. You could definitely argue that Cardinal should never have been in that position. Damn it I’m getting too carried away on Brian Cardinal! Anyway, it’s possible to beat super teams. Even if you don’t have four All-Stars on your roster you can beat that giant. That’s the lesson the rest of the league should take in to consideration this summer. Don’t complain about super teams, create your own that fits your scheme. Despite the incredible talent in Golden State and Cleveland, they aren’t invincible and within the next two years the fate of the NBA championship could be in the air.