By Charlie Batten
The Golden State Warriors have been a dominant force in the NBA since the 2014-15 season, but now they find themselves with the worst record in the league. What happened?
Since Steph Curry was drafted in 2009, the San Francisco and Oakland based franchise have built themselves into being arguably the best team to ever play basketball. They’ve been in the last 5 finals and won 3 of them and almost became the first team to win three in a row since the 2002 Los Angeles Lakers. They’ve certainly been graced with some of the best talent in the league with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all being drafted into the team as well as the signings of Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Iguodala cementing them as one of the best teams to ever play basketball.
However, the team currently lies with a record of 14-49 which is their worst since the 2011-12 season and risk missing the playoffs for the first time since that same year. With the way the league works, it’s no surprise that a once great team goes through a rough period due to salary caps and the yearly draft, but never has there been a fall from grace quite like this.
The first sign that something was going wrong was with the Durant-Green fights, ever since Durant signed for the Warriors, he has had spats with Green. Many at the time claimed these were just due to the high-intensity and competitiveness of the Warriors team but early last year the two had a heated exchange of words after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers with Green calling Durant a “bitch” for not being clear on his free agency decision. This was seemingly solved a few days later but Durant would later say it was a factor that led to him leaving the Warriors in the summer.
So, how does a team deal with losing Durant, arguably the best player in the league with only LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo in competition. Well the team managed to keep Klay Thompson for another 5 years even though he won’t be back on the court till next year with a torn ACL and signed D’Angelo Russell who had a career season at the Brooklyn Nets and looked like the best young point guard in the league.
More bad news struck the Warriors however with the trading of Andre Iguodala for a first-round draft pick. This was more a symbolic loss as Iguodala didn’t have the best stats the last few years, but he had been an important member of the dressing room with his wealth of experience, helping the team in hard times and helping young players adapt to the league. Many Warrior fans like myself felt that he would be with the team forever, so his loss made it clear that the team was changing and going into a new era. He was an icon to them after being finals MVP in their 2015 championship win.
When the season eventually started, most fans thought that although the Warriors were weaker, they still had one of the best rosters in the league. This quickly changed with long term injuries to Draymond Green and Steph Curry meaning both were out for the rest of 2019 and the beginning of 2020.
Within the space of a few months the Warriors went from a team with 6 all-stars to a young team led by D’Angelo Russell. They not only lost talent but lost the spirit and energy that Curry, Thompson and Green brought to the team. Curry and Thompson are arguably the best two shooters ever and formed a formidable duo The Splash Bros. To go from that to a team filled with draft picks and G-League players caused almost a complete lack of hope in the team.
Almost instantly after Curry got injured the team seemed to start purposely losing games in hope of getting a high draft pick in next year’s draft. And when they did try, they lost narrowly by failing to keep hold of a big lead or losing it all in overtime.
As a fan of the team it’s been really difficult to watch. The last 5 years have been amazing as we were always the best and we were so enjoyable to watch. Now it feels like everyday I wake up and see that we lost by 20 points after leading at half time. The fight that we always had has gone and we’re not enjoyable to watch anymore.
The D’Angelo Russell situation was also aggravating as when we signed him, we all knew he wouldn’t stay for long as we already had two players better then him in his position who just happened to be injured. It felt like the managers tried to make the fans forget we lost Durant by showing off this new player that we didn’t need. He did ok for the Warriors but eventually left and we got Andrew Wiggins in return which will actually be useful in the long run and I’m excited to see what he does.
There is still hope though for the Warriors as in Curry’s first game back from injury we scored 22 points and if there’s anyone that can lead the Warriors to a last-ditch playoff place it’s him. Even if they don’t make it, Thompson will be back next season and although they might not win the league, they can still show everyone that the Warriors aren’t finished yet.