The NBA regular season is around the corner, and here’s a prediction to clip ’n’ save: The Warriors are gonna be pretty good.
Check that — really, really good.
OK, maybe even truly great.
The Warriors had better be great. Because they owe you one, Dubs Nation.
Lately, revenge and redemption are the words we hear a lot in and around Warriors camp. Forget that, people. We should be talkin’ three-peat.
See, as otherworldly as LeBron James might have been, the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t beat the Warriors in the NBA Finals last spring. The Warriors beat the Warriors. No way should they have gagged on a 3-1 lead in the series. Not with their resources. Not with the homecourt advantage.
But when the Warriors faced adversity for the first time in what should have been a season for all time, they threw it away. You know, sort of like Stephen Curry’s behind-the-back pass late in Game 7. Nobody had the poise and know-how to pull them out of the sinkhole. Not Curry. Not coach Steve Kerr. Not Draymond Green.
Definitely not Green.
That’s where Kevin Durant comes in.
Durant has an enormous amount on the line this season. While the core group has NBA championship bling, he has none of it. That was his primary motivation to bolt the Oklahoma City Thunder and come here. He didn’t do it to fail.
While the selfless Durant will require some time to get comfortable on the court and in the locker room, the transition shouldn’t be all that difficult. When Green goes off the rails again — you know it’s going to happen — chances are Durant won’t look the other way. As drop-dead good as he is at both ends, his quiet-but-firm leadership will be as important than anything he does on the court.
Durant can opt out of his $54 million contract after the season if he doesn’t like how it turns out. The smart money says that won’t happen.
NO BALANCE ASSOCIATION: Balls can’t recall a time when the league has been so out of whack from a competitive standpoint.
Seriously, who’s going to beat the Dubs in the Western Conference? Or the Cavaliers in the East, for that matter?
The San Antonio Spurs look to be the next in line, but they took a considerable hit with the losses of Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and David West in the offseason. There are already reports that o-ver-ra-ted LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t thrilled about his role.
Remember, the Spurs failed to get past the second round with those guys last season. So how good can they be? Have Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker gotten younger since?
Don’t be surprised if Duncan comes out of retirement around the All-Star break.
The East will be a bit more level, but there’s no one to seriously challenge the Cavaliers there, either.
JUST SAYIN’: If you miss one of the 1,230 regular-season games, fuhgeddaboudit. Remember, Ayesha Curry says NBA games are fixed.
THREE FOR THE SHOW: Wait, here’s something to keep us interested the next six months: Who winds up with bragging rights in the Thompson family, Mychael or his kid, Klay?
Thompson the Elder was a member of the 1986–87 “Showtime” Lakers, who set the standard for offense in the league. That season Magic Johnson and his running mates averaged 1.156 points per possession, best in league history. Five players in the eight-man rotation sank at least half their field goal tries, Thompson among them.
Last season, the Warriors averaged 1.145 points per attempt, the 12th-highest total in the 3-ball era, and the addition of Durant can only them better. Curry (1.245) and Durant (1.216) ranked among the top six in offensive rankings last season — the other four guys didn’t count because they only dunked the ball.
Curry, Durant and Thompson probably won’t get enough fastbreak chances to eclipse the Showtimers, but it sure will be fun to watch them try.
CRYSTAL BALLS: Can’t-miss predictions for the marathon ahead …
– A member of the league champion 1950-51 Rochester Royals will brag that his team could beat the Warriors. Right now.
– As a ball distributor, Thompson will take his game to the next level. (Does the guy have a choice?)
– The Warriors will miss Andrew Bogut more than anyone. As rim protectors, Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee and Anderson Varejao aren’t in his continent, let alone ZIP code.
– Marreese Speights will be a close second, though, because really, who doesn’t like to say “Mo Buckets”?
– About every 24 seconds or so, TNT lunkhead Charles Barkley will remind us that the Warriors can’t shoot so many jump shots and win it all.
– Kerr will treat the regular season as one big lab experiment and be content to win 60-something games.
– Then, the Warriors will stick it to their critics, turn back the clock and dethrone King James and the Cavaliers in six games again.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Eric (Sleepy) Floyd?
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