The 2019-20 NBA season has been a rough one for the Golden State Warriors. Not only was their season cut short prematurely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but the Warriors ended this season in last place in the NBA overall standings and without their star players for the bulk of the season.
Golden State, however, isn’t in the rebuilding stage yet and isn’t looking to make big roster moves. For the Bay Area, the Warriors need to hoist Larry O’Brien gold next season.
After three championships, it is the need to build a legacy in which Golden State stares down next season. If the Warriors can scrape through the 2021 NBA playoff gauntlet, any more doubts about that legacy would be laid to rest.
The Golden State Warriors, in a broader sense, mean a great deal to the Bay Area. Stephen Curry is comparable to what Kobe Bryant is for Los Angeles, but how does another championship affect his basketball career?
Curry has won three NBA titles but has yet to secure his first finals MVP. This is one of the only awards he doesn’t have on an already stunning resume, but if he can capture one, it will go a long way toward silencing any remaining critics.
For Stephen Curry, another NBA title will give him another opportunity to put himself in even more elite company. For players like Draymond Green, assurance that the Warriors will not trade him is likely the outcome of another ring.
Green has been labeled by the media plenty of times as the heart and soul of the Warriors and has also had disagreements with former teammate Kevin Durant.
Green has earned the defensive player of the year award, but the 2020 campaign proved to be flawed without the presence of Curry and Klay Thompson. Green, who is under contract for four more years, needs to prove he’s worth $100 million dollars, which he can do by leading the Warriors defense to another title.
The wild card is Thompson, who doesn’t need to prove much in 2021, especially if the Warriors win another championship. Thompson has been reliable and, before his torn ACL in last year’s finals, healthy.
For Thompson, another trip to the finals dramatically increases his legacy regardless if it ends in a loss. Possibly the second-greatest shooter ever, behind his very own teammate, Thompson could likely be known as the greatest second option ever to grace a basketball court since Scottie Pippen.
It seems there hasn’t been drama with Thompson, or a falling-out of who the team belongs to. He’s gladly slid into a secondary role behind Curry. For Thompson, another ring is simply more evidence of his stellar career, and more validation that he’s not only one of the best shooting guards ever, but one of the greatest number two options to play the game.
We can thank Bob Myers for turning these underrated draft prospects into NBA phenoms, but Myers isn’t off the hook yet either. If another championship is to be won on the basketball court, then Myers’ intuition in the front office will need to return.
Golden State’s original formula consisted of acquiring capable players to fit into a run and gun speed on both ends of the ball. Myers however, traded in this idea in favor of a stacked starting lineup, which included the acquisition of star forward Kevin Durant.
Myers will need to go back to the same format he instilled in the organization if he wants his legacy to outlast Durant’s heroics. The Warriors’ original strategy, which so many admired, was the well-oiled machine that was raised in the Bay Area.
If the Warriors organization wants the respect of their peers across the league and the attention of the larger NBA fanbase, they’ll have to revisit the concepts and ideas that led them to a 73-9 season.
If next season, the Dubs can turn their boredom of winning into fuel for another Larry O’Brien trophy, the conversation will transform their entire organization’s dynasty. Despite gaining a reputation as the team which was too good or created a competitive imbalance in the NBA, the Warriors have consistently caught a few breaks en route to a few of their championships.
In the 2015 Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers sustained injuries to multiple star starters. In 2017 and 2018 with the assistance of Durant, the Warriors beat the Cavaliers twice to win back-to-back titles. Cleveland over the span of those two series won 1 game total.
What’s clear is that the Warriors have had some luck over the course of their historic championship seasons. Luck, however, doesn’t always translate to respect, and if the Dubs desire to be commended as one of greatest teams to play in the modern era of basketball, they’ll need to extend their dynasty or possibly conclude their story with a happily ever after in 2021.
Lucas Perkins-Brown covers lacrosse. Contact him at [email protected].