Is this the beginning of the end of an era? Is it just a bad shooting slump? Or is it a team struggling to define itself?
After losing only 9 games in the 2015-2016 season, the Golden State Warriors have dropped 3 of their last 5 after losing Kevin Durant to injury against the Washington Wizards.
Obviously a team losing a superstar would be a huge blow, but the Warriors have Steph Curry, a two-time MVP, Klay Thompson, one of the greatest spot-up shooters of all time, and Draymond Green, one the league’s premier “do-it-all” players. How did they fail to score 90 points against the Celtics and the Bulls with these superstars?
One of the main issues is poor 3-point shooting, something the Warriors are known for and something they rely on. Against the Boston Celtics, they shot 6 of 30 from downtown and were outscored 27-12 in the 4th quarter.
However, this is only a stem from the root of the issue. Durant’s absence is bigger than just his 3-point shot, his defensive and driving presence is second only to LeBron James in the NBA.
Durant is athletic enough to defend any guard in the league but big enough to defend any forward or center in the league. This creates matchup problems with Golden State’s opponents, both on offense and defensive. Put a guard on him, he shoots over the top; put a forward on him, he drives around them and gets an easy basket.
The 6’9″ Durant and his 7’5″ wingspan also allows the Warriors to play its small ball lineup, or as it has been called, the death lineup. Curry, Thompson, Andre Igoudala, Green, and Durant all on the floor at the same time is a nightmare for any opponent in the NBA as all have been voted All-Stars at some point in their career.
Without Durant, the Warriors cannot win a championship, despite the other superstars on the team. They lack the supporting cast and depth that many questioned when they picked up Durant in free agency.
The Warriors will be fine in the long run, as Durant is expected to be back in time for playoffs, and they will learn to patch the leak until Durant comes back and fixes the leak. So don’t panic Golden State, your era isn’t over yet.