Post Durant Warriors Still a Dangerous Team
With the dust finally settling in the NBA’s free agency period for the summer of 2019, teams are finally starting to get a clear picture as to what they and their competition will look like. And with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers coming out as the clear winners of this portion of the year, the Golden State Warriors are finally in a position where they are not the favorites to win the title. The question now is if the Warriors are a good bet to come out on top of the Pacific division.
The competitive landscape
Unlike in previous seasons, there are teams that should actually be competitors to the Warriors at the top of the Western Conference playing in Golden State’s own division. Those teams are, of course, the Lakers and Clippers. And the Clippers may be considered the favorites to win the entire championship this year, with the surprising additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. With both players being elite two-way players, they could quickly make the Clippers the best team in the league.
As for the Lakers, they traded for Anthony Davis this offseason, and are adding additional pieces who could further bolster their roster. The addition of DeMarcus Cousins to go along with Davis and LeBron James makes for a fearsome trio that is fit to go toe to toe with both the Clippers and Warriors. The question for handicappers will be if those teams can hold off the Warriors to earn a division title.
Still the team to beat
Before the start of the season, the Warriors might still be the team to beat in the Pacific. The biggest reason for this is something that all NBA picks should take into account: continuity. The Lakers and Clippers may well endure growing pains this season, as several star players get used to playing together on some of the biggest stages in the NBA. The Warriors may not be in perfect health, but they know how to work together within the system of head coach Steve Kerr.
In addition to the edge that their continuity gives them, they are also still an incredible basketball team. Despite losing Kevin Durant in free agency and Klay Thompson to injury, they will still boast former unanimous MVP Steph Curry and one of the most versatile players in the league in Draymond Green. Expect Kerr to do an incredible job of finding new wrinkles in their offense to get Curry open, which will keep the Warriors at or near the top of the conference even before Thompson’s eventual return.
Not only are the Clippers and Lakers favored to win the Pacific over the Warriors, but they are also favored to win the NBA Finals over them as well. For the first time in a long time, the Golden State Warriors will be underdogs to finish at the top of their division. If the rest of the league should expect anything from them during the Kerr and Curry era, it is that being an underdog won’t be enough to stop the Warriors from accomplishing what they want to.