After the Richmond Tigers’ second premiership in three years, coach Damien Hardwick said he had used US sports teams the San Antonio Spurs and the Detroit Red Wings as examples to live by.
The Golden State Warriors have been the powerhouse of the NBA for the past three years.
In that span, they have made three finals appearances, won two championships, acquired arguably the best player in the NBA whose name is not LeBron in Kevin Durant, and have built a super team with four all-stars, that is capable of being a dynasty if they are not one already.
And yet, for a team with so much talent and so much success, including two former MVPs, the simple fact is that they will not win the NBA championship this year. They will not even make it out of the Western Conference.
While the Warriors are a very talented team, and were the favourite to win the championship at the start of the season, the 2017-18 season has been the statistically worst season in the Steve Kerr era of the franchise.
They are currently sitting at a pretty decent record of 54-19, but by Warriors standard that record is not the best. In fact, while the record is solid and the season is not complete, it is already the worst record they have recorded in the Steve Kerr era, showing how dominant they have been in the past, and also how steep the competition is this year.
The Warriors face many concerns and challenges, which makes seeing a return to the finals for a fourth straight year seem a lot less likely than it seemed at the beginning of the season.
Currently injuries are a major concern for the Warriors, with all of their All Stars currently out with injury. Steve Kerr recently told the media that Steph Curry is likely to miss the entirety of the first round of the playoffs, which is a major blow for the team.
The starting line-up they put out in their most recent outing against the Utah Jazz shows how hard the Warriors have been hit with injuries. The starting line-up they played on the night consisted of McCaw, Looney, Young, McGee and Cook, which is a far cry from the super team line-up they usually play with on a night to night basis.
While the band, Curry excluded, should all realistically be back together come the first round of the playoffs, injuries are not the only concern facing the Warriors. The last three years there has not seemed to be a team that could challenge the Warriors.
This season, however, is a different story. Every team currently within the Western conference playoff seeding, besides the New Orleans Pelicans, have defeated the Warriors on at least one occasion, some of the victories being very comfortable wins for the opposition.
The Houston Rockets are the biggest threat, and ultimately are more likely to win the West and play in the NBA Finals. They have broken franchise records, have two All Star players in James Harden, who is basically a lock for the MVP award, and Chris Paul, along with a frightening offensive punch, and terrific bench depth. For once, the Warriors are not the team to beat this season, the Rockets are.
Other teams in the West have been on stellar runs coming up to the playoffs as well, with the Portland Trailblazers and Oklahoma City Thunder being prime examples. Both teams could give the Warriors a serious fight, and could ultimately push the Warriors to their limit. Damien Lillard has been exceptional, averaging MVP numbers in 2018, and Westbrook has been consistently in ‘beast mode’, nearly averaging a triple double.
Both teams have great supporting casts, with the Thunder having something the Warriors do not have: a reliable and efficient big man in Steven Adams, who is also having a breakout year.
The Warriors face some tough competition this season, and while they are will likely not be eliminated early in the playoffs, injuries and wear and tear will play a factor, and they will be pushed this season, more so than any other year in the Steve Kerr era.
They are not the favourites to win, and ultimately the Rockets have been absolutely superb, as have other teams, and they may prove far too much of a challenge for the Warriors to take down this season.
What do you all think? Do you agree with the article and believe the Warriors will be taken down this year? Or do you think they make it out of the West, and potentially win it all?