Fool’s Gold: Why the Warriors will Likely Miss the 2019-2020 NBA Playoffs
What comes to your mind when you hear the word: ‘’Warriors?’’ Is it The Splash Bros? Championships? How about annual dominance? This past five-year stretch that the Golden State Warriors showcased in the league has been nothing short of spectacular; you can’t make up five straight finals appearances, three rings, and the greatest regular season record of all time at 73-9, especially being in the Western Conference. The Warriors have consistently been the Vegas favorite to win it all before seasons even start and have dominated the league by sticking to their brand of basketball – except this season. The Warriors, for the first time in what seems like an eternity, are not the favorites to win it all.
Or the second. Or the third… fourth… fifth…
… but the SIXTH favorite to win a ‘chip with Vegas currently having their odds as +1200. (A $100 bet would return $1,200). The odds may look nice, but if there’s anything that time has proven, it’s never smart to bet against Vegas.
Vegas makes the bet so appealing, because they’re masters of the numbers and understand that it likely won’t happen. In fact, according to Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook, it’s much more likely that the Warriors miss the playoffs at +200. What was originally a +400 bet just a couple days ago, has now shrunk to +200 with a line that keeps on awkwardly decreasing; The shorter the payout, the more likely it is to happen.
But forget Vegas, there’s still a realistic chance the Warriors come shy of making the playoffs this year. Many signs, (some more discreet than others), tend to point in the direction that team has likely hit an impasse for the time being. Let’s look at them.
D’Angelo’s Role in Golden State is a Question Mark
Lets begin with the team’s most surprising offseason acquisition: D’Angelo Russel.
This past free agency, the Warriors signed DeAngelo Russel to a 4-year $117 million max contract in a shocking – though [possibly brilliant?] move as the Warriors looked to ‘beef up’ after losing Kevin Durant. Russel played all but one game last year and was an All-Star for the Eastern Conference averaging 21 points and 7 assists. Russel is one of the craftier 1 on 1 isolation players in the league, and can undoubtedly do great things with the rock in his hand, but his role now seems to be a murky question mark as he is no longer the number-one scoring option or primary ball handler on a team. Many assumed that Russel will attempt to play a similar role that of Klay Thompson prior to his ACL injury – becoming the team’s marquee ‘’catch-and-shoot’’ player. In reality, that’s not really who DeAngelo is. Throughout his time in both the Nets and the Lakers, we can see that Russel is the best version of himself when he’s primary ball handler and shot-creator. He’s not the career 42% 3-point shooter that Klay is, and likely won’t be at his full potential, essentially being Curry’s sidekick still trying to figure out his superpowers. The unknown role D’Angelo possesses may ultimately blossom and shape a streaky Warriors squad, or unveil to be an incoherent mashup on both sides of the floor.
Blink once and lose three all-time franchise players.
The Warriors will begin the 2019-20 NBA Season without three cornerstone franchise players: Kevin Durant, Andre Iguadola, and Klay Thompson. (All will eventually get their jerseys retired when it’s all said and done)
Kevin Durant, now a member of D’Angelo’s former team, is one of the greatest offensive players of all time. Now a member of the Brooklyn Nets, KD averaged 26 points in his last season for the Warriors, and is a back-to-back finals MVP. It’s simple: give him the ball, magic happens. Well, scratch him off the list; he wanted to be a woke brother with Kyrie in Brooklyn.
Andre Iguadola, though he doesn’t have the offensive skill-set that competes with Durant’s, is still one of the most important players in Warriors’ franchise history. Even if he was the victim in likely the greatest block in NBA history, we could take a step back, (and laugh), and call Iggy for what he is: a hall of famer and a finals MVP. His veteran leadership, defensive awareness, and underrated knack for hitting clutch shots will certainly be missed by this young Warriors group. There’s nothing much more that I can say about Klay that hasn’t already been said; he’s one of the greatest catch and shoot players we’ve had in this league. His role alongside Steph can’t be replicated by any other current NBA player, let alone D’Angelo. Steve Kerr, head coach of the Warriors stated in a recent press conference that Klay is ‘’unlikely to play’’ this season as he continues to recover from an ACL injury that took place in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Raptors. Without having the day-in & day-out threats of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, along with losing Iguadola’s veteran leadership, the Warriors are forced to not only find completely new scoring options, but also attempt to hold their own on the defensive end in the West; It sounds like the beginning of something that just won’t hold up well.
Lack of Defense/Unknown Identity
Along with losing KD, Andre, and Klay for the season, they’ve also lost a handful of role players. Some of the names include Quin Cook, Jonas Jerebko, Jordan Bell, and Shawn Livingston. It can be argued that Livingston deserves more credit than he’s given, but that’s neither here nor there; many true basketball fans recognize his positive impact to Golden State (And may even have jersey-retirement consideration). On paper, they look different to say the least. I’m wondering how to explain this… how about we take a closer look and read their official 2019-20 depth chart together:
Glenn Robinson III
Okay, now read it again but slower.
Don’t be ashamed: I don’t know who some of these cats are either. Most of this team is under 23 (9) and are on minimum or rookie contracts.
We have a good understanding on what Curry and Draymond can do, but we don’t exactly know what version of Russel the Warriors have. We also don’t have a sufficient grasp of knowledge on the recent young additions and how they will mesh on this team. This team, on paper, seems to lack both a sustainable defensive and true understanding of who they are. The lack of identity and depth this team possesses is a red flag and will remain a recurring theme throughout their season; I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Warriors begin to make a couple shifts to the roster as soon as December and/or prior to the All-Star break in February.
Chase Center ≠ ROARacle Arena
It’s the small things that sometimes kind of matter a lot. Oracle Arena has been home to the Golden State Warriors since the 1971-72 season. In one of the great arena nicknames in all of sports, ‘’Roaracle,’’ Oracle Arena in downtown Oakland has arguably created the league’s most hostile environment to play in – especially come playoff time. No matter it being potentially the loudest arena in the league, and no matter the incalculable impact the home crowd brought upon opposing teams each and every night, it would never be enough to outlast the power of a dollar; The Warriors organization will say goodbye to what they knew as home in Oakland and say hello to the rich stockholders of San Francisco (and the Chase Center). The Chase Center just recently finished construction and will be home to the Golden State Warriors for the foreseeable future as it transitions from its Oakland roots to now the second most expensive city to live in in the country according to Yahoo finance. It has a maximum capacity of 18,064, roughly 1,500 seats less than Oracle, purposefully designed to provide a ‘’more intimate viewing experience.’’ True Warriors fans aren’t buying it. Although geographically, the new arena is only around half an hour to an hour away from Oakland, many feel as though they have been ‘’outbid’’ as ticket prices at the Chase Center have reached a ridiculous inflation, spiking up already one of the most expensive tickets on the market to a point of no return. Most individuals and families can no longer afford the face ticket price to cheer for their favorite team. They won’t be able to bring that homegrown energy, or even be provided a chance to live up to the standard that was set by their fanbase in Oakland!
This won’t necessarily be a problem, so to speak, but definitely will make the Warriors realize how much greater they once had it. Just as this current roster lacks an identity, so does this 1.4 Billion dollar arena infested with millionaires. Consider the great ‘’Roaracle’’ as the one that got away…