Many changes occurred this off season, as has normally been the case in the past. Golden State being so far ahead of the competition is forcing every team to chase them. In the not so talented of the two conferences, the East’s changes for next season includes; Derrick Rose joining the Knicks from the Bulls leaving space for Dwyane Wade to come there from Miami. Still, however, none of these changes seem big enough to change anything when it comes to the chances of overpowering Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers who for the most part left the roster untouched from the way they finished last year. With the East not really improving at all from the looks of it and the rest of the West’s improvement compared to Golden State’s looks as if they haven’t changed at all.
The expectation in the basketball community is that the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are destined to meet in the finals for a third straight time. If this is to happen it will be something for the history books because it has never been done. Although 14 teams before have managed to meet in two straight finals in consecutive seasons The significance of Golden State acquiring Durant is that last year Durant and the Thunder, besides the Cavaliers, were really the only team to truly test the Warriors. During the playoffs Golden State only lost two games in their last two series combined before playing the Thunder and giving a 3-1 game lead away. It wasn’t too much of a test that they would fail because they still won the series in seven.
The loss not only cemented their finals appearance, but created a sentiment that Durant would leave Oklahoma, especially with the dramatic form in which the loss occurred. The loss in seven games to the Cavaliers prompted Golden State to pursue Durant seeing that there was a need leading to close a 3 year/ $685,591,823 deal, and in the end a big chance to have another try at the finals to correct their mistakes made. The Warriors can dominate the west. They are expected to, considering all that has occurred within the conference. It is the origin of a dynasty. Though they may not reach 73 wins as they did last year anytime soon. Growing pains would most likely afflict the team during the first quarter of the season It will not be easy, more so on offense than defense. Steve Kerr and his coaching staff will have to develop an elaborate plan to get each player to know and accept their roles for the benefit of the team.
How fast that can happen will determine how long this “growing pain” goes. Eventually a developed more calculated approach to how talent, time, and match ups will be distributed for a championship run. If you’re a coach this is a great problem to have. No doubt there is a respected arsenal on the team that has unmatched talent that will create mismatches all throughout the league. All of this seemingly unfair advantage Golden State has on the rest of the NBA hasn’t been received well throughout the league. Some are even turning the blame squarely onto Durant for making the decision. Leaving one of the league’s smallest markets for one of the league’s largest markets. In 2011, the league instituted tougher restrictions in the collective bargaining agreement, including harsher financial penalties for team spending over the luxury tax line.
Other details such as allowing teams to take additional money from media outlets still gives teams another source of income, and then the cap raises from $70 million in 2015-16 to $94 million. With the cap raise and another source of income, one team, perhaps the Golden State Warriors would be able to afford four max players. And that’s exactly the case. They fell short of the Cavs, which showed need for improvement and that led them to chase Durant and with good front office choices landed him and managed to stay under the cap. Suddenly the league became theirs again. Now every team’s goal is to figure out the Warriors. The Western conference is still the conference to beat, secured by the signing of Kevin Durant to the Warriors. Creating a mood of certainty that Golden State would have another visit to the finals.
For their foes within the western conference, their likelihood of success is next to none comparing any other team’s improvement to that of Golden State’s over the course of the season. Yes, a 73 game winning team with three NBA All-stars in Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green have managed to improve. Creating a team that is poised to dominate the 2016-17 season, and possibly even further. Since the addition of Durant, a former MVP, to a roster with two time MVP and two All-NBA players, the Warriors are heavy favorites in the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. Great news for a team who lost last year’s championship in dramatic fashion going seven games against the Cleveland Cavaliers in June. Second place finishers, San Antonio Spurs, finished 2016 with a franchise record 67 win season.
Obviously due to the vast improvement of the Warriors, they will have to try and top that win total and disappointment of losing to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference semi-finals in six games. Which will not be easy because of the news of Tim Duncan retiring who played with San Antonio for all 19 years of his career. Hopes are that new addition Pau Gasol and second year veteran with the team, Lamarcus Aldridge, can take a larger role in the Spurs success.