The 2016-17 Season was always a consolation for CLE v GSW Pt. III, the heir to the Finals throne, the tie-breaker, the three-match. After what seemed like years of waiting, Game 1 of the NBA Finals was a letdown. (Not for me, I am one of the few that was riveted every minute, I thought it was entirely fascinating/exciting/historic)
Now, while Lebron James is the best basketball player on the planet and it’s impossible to count such a player out of a series… No one is going to beat the Warriors as long as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant are sharing a locker room. It could happen, the Warriors led Game 1 of the 2016 Finals by 20 at one point as well. Then, of course, the Cavs famously came back and won the final three games including Game 7 in the Warriors building. The Warriors could lose the series, but right now it’s hard to imagine how they could lose a single game.
Either way, the Warriors dominance against arguably the second best team in basketball should have the entire league’s attention.
It’s not original to say, “The Warriors are incredible.” How many articles, podcasts, and talking heads have said that? What’s intriguing about these Warriors is their impact on the league. All through NBA History, there have been stories of the teams that just wouldn’t let anyone else get past them. Bill Russell’s Celtics, Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics. Russell famously won 11 out of 13 titles from 1957 – 1969. Between 1980 – 1989 at least one of those teams were in the Finals every year and they won eight out of the ten. Then, between 1991 – 1998 Michael Jordan won every Finals he participated in. If your team didn’t have one of those players then the 60s, 80s, and 90s were a frustrating era.
(By the way, who’s whining about the NBA not having parity NOW?!?)
Will the same be said of this era?
The Golden State Warriors have assembled an incredible core group of players. The likes of which have literally never been seen before. As the rest of the League looks on in either amazement or horror decisions have to be made. Do teams decide to wait around and hope to pounce like the 1994-96 Houston Rockets? Or aim for a future that doesn’t include Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green all in the prime of their careers? Peppered into every generation there are teams that have broken through: Wilt’s ’67 76ers, Hayes ’78 Bullets, Dr. J’s ’83 76ers and Hakeem’s ’94-96 Rockets.
This is where the 2016-17 Dallas Mavericks come into play. (Or not play, depends on who you talk to)
The conversation all season was, “Should the Mavericks tank?” The answer depends on who you asked. It seemed like MFFLs were split right down the middle. Eventually, as confirmed by Mark Cuban himself, the Mavericks chose to sit whatever was left of this season out. The Warriors proved that decision to be correct.
If the Warriors played the remaining Western Conference All-Stars who would win?
That’s at least something to think about.
The concept of fit completely abandons the fictional Warrior-less Western Conference All-Stars but whether or not the Warriors would win the question can still be asked.
Contractually the Warriors should be screwed after this season. Durant has a $27 million Player Option that he should decline with a rising salary cap, Curry is an Unrestricted Free Agent that just finished a minuscule four-year $44 million contract, and Iguodala, Livingston, Pachulia, Clark, McGee, and West are all set to be Unrestricted Free Agents. There is no Free Market scenario where all of those players should be able to reside under one $106 million Salary Cap (Which is one projection)
But they probably will.
After reports surfaced that Durant is willing to take less than Max-Money to stay with the Warriors, the entire Western Conference (And maybe even the entire League) got screwed.
A study done by a since deleted Redditor[note]Reddit has helpful stuff too[/note] showed that an NBA player is in his (Ok, or her, I’ll say it in good faith that someday it’ll happen) most productive season at age 27 and peak production for lasts for around 5 years, on average. That doesn’t mean it starts at age 27 but 5 years around that peak season.
Curry is 28 years old, if his peak production started his first MVP season (2014-15) then he still has two more years of peak production before he gradually starts to fall off.
Durant is also 28, his MVP season was in 2013-14 and after an injury plagued 14-15 season he has arguably gotten better. If the study is true then he also has two more years left of peak performance.
The formula continues. Thompson and Green are both 26, so they have not even hit their peak yet. (Javale McGee is older than all of these guys by the way… crazy)
All things considered: age, peak, style of play, wear and tear, injuries, etc. If this Warriors team stays together they have another 2-4 years of absolute peak performance.
All that being said, the Warriors have a stranglehold on the West and the Mavericks should build for a future that has more breathing room.