The dynasty isn’t dead. Or really even in peril (this season). So anyone actually worried about the Warriors and their goal of a three-peat come June needs to dial back the hot takes. We’re only 18 games into the season and the Warriors are 12-6, second place in the Western Conference.
I get that Golden State haters are relishing the recent turmoil involving Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, coupled with the team losing four of their last five games. It’s made for easy proclamations that the NBA’s best are on the verge of imploding. When one star allegedly calls another star a “bitch” and stirs up the locker room, that’s going to have consequences—short and long term. The popular assumption is KD is as good as gone in free agency this summer and that’s wearing on the Warriors. And Green, who earned a controversial fine and one-game suspension for berating Durant, hypothetically speaking, could just as easily find himself shipped somewhere else in the very near future in the wake of the organization siding with KD over their home-grown talent. You’re telling me if the Warriors can get an Anthony Davis-type to play alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson that they wouldn’t make Green expendable in a heartbeat?
Yeah, wild speculation like that is going to hover over the Warriors all season long because roster moves and free agency talk have become the most dominant forms of banter among NBA fans. It’s way more fun to speculate about who may go where than to really dive into why things (temporarily) aren’t working for the Warriors. Losing three in a row during their Texas Triangle trip is noteworthy for such a talented and revered squad, but it really ain’t that big of a deal for numerous reasons, starting with the injury situation.
Not having Curry on the court for the past six games (and probably for several more) means the Warriors haven’t been operating at peak capacity and obviously won’t be until he returns. Durant might be the second-best player in the world, behind LeBron James, but the Warriors will forever be Curry’s team, and he’s the little engine that truly makes them go. His absence during this recent stretch hasn’t just been notable, it’s been deafening. That’s what happens when you extract a top 10 player in the game from the lineup. He’s missed. Badly. So is Green, when he’s not in the lineup, as was the case Sunday in San Antonio. Only having two superstars instead of three to four makes a big difference for the Warriors, who, in my opinion, don’t possess as potent of a bench as we’ve seen in years past.
The bad gets magnified with the Warriors because they’re the most fascinating squad since the Shaq and Kobe days in L.A. Bad makes for great headlines and fun discussions. Good gets boring real quick.
The speed bump the Warriors hit recently can be traced back to the Clippers game a week ago, when coach Steve Kerr didn’t call a timeout at the end of regulation. He later regretted it. But imagine if he did. Or imagine if the Warriors had Steph playing that night and Draymond found Curry after grabbing that rebound, and KD didn’t mouth off to Draymond for not passing the ball to him. The narrative would be completely different around the Warriors today if Curry hadn’t tweaked his groin two weeks ago or Kerr opted for structure instead of controlled chaos in a late-game situation.
Let’s also never lose sight of the fact that there are ebbs and flows to NBA seasons. There are also things called schedule losses. Teams look at their schedule before the season begins and can accurately pinpoint nights and cities where they know they’re going to lose. Energy’s dragging. The travel to get there’s going to suck. It’s just a tough place to play. Every team struggles, dealing with distractions, and a ton of other bullshit. It’s not unique to the Warriors, who have gone through periods of malaise in previous regular seasons. Playing Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio consecutively would have been difficult for the full-strength Warriors. After the Spurs’ loss Sunday, Kerr said, “This is the toughest stretch we've been in” during his magical tenure with the club.
He added, “This is the real NBA. We haven’t been in the real NBA the last few years. We've been in this dream. And so now we’re faced [with] real adversity and we got to get out of it ourselves.”
Real adversity, I’d argue, is being down double digits on the road in a Game 7. Sometimes the lows feels way worse than the highs, and the Warriors and their coach have every right to feel a certain way about how things have recently been going. But we all know, logically, Golden State is just too talented and too good not to get going and put a tough stretch and an embarrassing episode in the rear-view mirror. The bad gets magnified with the Warriors because they’re the most fascinating squad since the Shaq and Kobe days in L.A. Bad makes for great headlines and fun discussions. Good gets boring real quick.
So declare the Warriors dynasty dead at your own foolish discretion. I only ask that you keep that same energy when the squad is back to full strength and making another breathtaking run through the playoffs, because that’s coming.