In the Golden State Warriors’ home match against the Portland Trail Blazers, the two-time MVP and 3-pointer extraordinaire Steph Curry, delivered exactly what the doctor ordered by scoring 35 points with five 3-pointers, given his previous below-par performances. Kevin Durant was his exemplary self again with a 30 point contribution.
Despite the Warriors’ incredible defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies, where they blew a 24-point lead, they have a stellar league record, with 31 wins and 6 losses.
For the past two years, the Golden State Warriors have won an incredible 72 games each. That’s dazzling by any yard of measurement.
Which begs the question – did the Golden State Warriors really need Kevin Durant? Of course, Durant is a four-time Scoring Champion and is considered one of the top three players in the sport alongside LeBron James and Steph Curry. No team would have said no to Durant, right? The Boston Celtics, the Chicago Bulls, the Washington Wizards, they all chased Durant. While most suspected that he would resign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, very few in the basketball world thought that he would join a team that had just beaten his Thunder in the Western Conference Finals after being down 1-3.
Then the scenario repeated itself in the NBA Finals, and LeBron James’ block on Andre Iguodala and Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer in the last few seconds after either team just could not find a bucket, sealed the deal for the Cavaliers, and in more ways than one opened the window for Durant to join the Warriors. Because if the Warriors had been able to defend their title, one doubts that Steve Kerr would have sought out the services of Durant.
While the Golden State Warriors look almost as good as they were anticipated to be, there seems to be something amiss. And it’s not the fact that the team is not gelling well, they are! It’s not that Klay Thompson and Steph Curry have had to give up shots to Kevin Durant – they’re taking as many as they were last season , and it’s pretty evenly distributed among the three of them. While Klay Thompson was thought to be the one to lose out and rumours of transfer surfaced early on in the season, all that has gone to the wayside now, after some consistent performances and that incredible 60-points in three quarters.
It is Steph Curry who seems to have lost something, though. And that something is a lower shooting percentage and a drop in the number of 3-pointers made.
According to Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports, while Curry doesn’t seem to be that concerned about it, even though he’s only averaging about 22.5 points per game, (he averaged 30 points per game last season), Under Armor, his shoe brand, is not happy about it. Because, all of a sudden, he no longer seems to be the face of the league the way he has been over the past two seasons.
LeBron James grabbed that mantle again, and in 2016-17, it seems to be a Russell Westbrook and James Harden saga with the mind-boggling stats that they put up on a daily basis. It’s still early in the season, but the tone and race for MVP have already been set.
Will the relative fall of Steph Curry’s brand affect him in the long run? What if the Warriors don’t manage to win the Championship? Will Durant stay on? He has signed a one year contract with an option for another year extension. Will Curry feel that the Warriors prefer Durant to him, and cause him to rethink his future? Curry is due for a huge contract if he stays on with the Warriors because of the latest rounds of contract negotiations and bargaining options. There is a 30 percent share for a marquee player who has stayed with one team for an extended period of time.
But if they win, then all these possibilities should not matter, right? One would think so, but the stigma of a “super team” winning a Championship is greater now than it has ever been. The Golden State Warriors have become the villains of the league, and Kevin Durant the face of it. What if he decides that on winning a Championship, his ultimate goal would have finally been realised and he seeks different pastures?
What if Klay Thompson doesn’t want to be the third best player on a team anymore? He’s easily one of the best players in the league.
These questions and doubts are arising now, because one gets the impression that the Golden State Warriors team is not big enough for all three superstars. Something’s got to give.