“No new friends, no new friends, no new friends – no no nooo”
Drake, No New Friends
The 2013 hit song by DJ Khaled, featuring this popular Drake chorus is the perfect way to introduce my article because it focuses on the aspect of change. During this 2016 free agency period, many NBA teams have been forced to re-assimilate into something different, with players coming and going from teams like ants in a colony.
Yet, there was one team and one player who made the most significant change among them, one that completely shifted the landscape of the NBA. The Golden State Warriors have effectively assembled the most talented four player tandem in the history of the league. With a starting lineup featuring four NBA All Stars, among which are two mega stars who are arguably two of the three best players in the world, the Warriors have now added Durant to their core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, and then rounded out their starting line-up by adding former Hawk’s staple big man, Zaza Pachulia, who has recently found himself an NBA journeyman over recent years.
Many NBA fans are enamored by the historic free agent signing, and consider the Warriors destined to break their own single season wins record of 73 in the 2016-2017 season; I advise them and all other logical basketball consumers that making that assumption could prove costly to your credibility. While the Warriors are now arguably history’s most talented team to walk the face of the planet, there are several factors that could inhibit this historic team from actually making real history. Yes, I understand that they are now the favorites to win the NBA championship, and rightfully so. They might just pull it off in their first year together, and it would not surprise anyone. Yet, to jump to the conclusion that this team is somehow going to break the regular season wins record is absolutely absurd.
While the Warriors still have the core of their team intact, adding Kevin Durant forced them to almost completely disintegrate their outstanding bench. They lost Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli, Brandon Rush, and Maurice Speights: while these players never posted eye-popping numbers, their selfless team play helped the Warriors become a dominant prowess that haunted the NBA over the last two seasons. Then, there’s the key loss of Andrew Bogut, who served as the perfect big man for their offense through his screening and his passing ability. The Warriors won’t be able to replicate that same threat with Pachulia.
The Warriors were great not only because of their three outstanding all-stars, but because of the contributions of their many talented role-players who now find themselves spread across the league. The bonds that the Warriors’ players shared created a special locker-room and their team chemistry was the they experienced so much success over the last two seasons.
It takes time for players to become accustomed to each other, particularly super-star players. In your elation, or disappointment, about Durant going to Golden State, do not forget that he has primarily played in isolation, and now he is going to a system in Golden State that flows as freely as water. It will take time for Durant to adjust, and it will take time for Steph, Klay, and Draymond to adjust to KD – not to mention the adjustments the new players, like Pachulia, David West, Kevin Looney and the rookie, Damian Jones, all of whom will need to figure out their roles and learn to contribute in a multitude ways if this team is going to be successful. As of now, the Warriors only have eleven players on their roster, with only 1 million in cap space left to maneuver with. The role players will again be key to their success as a team, yet the quality of their role players have significantly diminished through this offseason. If the Warriors lose 12-17 games this season, I would not be surprised, though most casual basketball fans will be. If the Warriors organization and their fans become nervous about their team during the regular season, they will end up wishing that they’d paid attention to that Drakes Chorus during the offseason.