All you need is love, they said. Love conquers all, they said. Well sorry to break it to you DubNation, but the Golden State Warriors apparently don’t believe in either of those notions.
Kevin Love trade rumors have been the biggest part of the 2014 offseason for the Warriors, but that has certainly not been the team’s focal point for improving their roster. The acquisitions of Shaun Livingston and Brandon Rush to replace Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford were well-received surprises, and the roster is looking to be a playoff contender once again.
Although Love is widely considered to be the premier power forward in the NBA and arguably a top-10 player in the league, the Warriors have remained patient in their pursuit as other teams continue to unsuccessfully offer an arm and a leg for the stretch big man. Golden State hasn’t budged on their stance on trading away David Lee, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, refusing to deal them for the pieces that the Minnesota Timberwolves has reportedly tried offering.
That being said, the Warriors should remain consistent with their belief that chemistry and growth as a team are much more important than an individual (super)star when it comes to a winning a championship. They should not agree to a deal that would compromise the core of their roster, even if that means losing out on a chance for Love.
In his annual media session prior to the 2014 NBA Draft, Warriors general manager Bob Myers spoke with several members of the media on topics centering around reported trade rumors. Here’s what Myers had to say on team growth in regards to acquiring Kevin Love:
“I think the best way to build an organization is through organic growth and continuity.”
“I have a strong belief, as does our organization and ownership, that the more familiar you are with each other as teammates, the more chance you have to become [better as a team] — the sum of the parts is better than each individual.”
“We believe in that. And that would lead you to think that grow organically is the best way to do it. But that doesn’t preclude the organization, myself, from exploring anything. You have to. It’s your job.”
The ownership has been explicit from the beginning and stated several times they want to win now, but Myers made a valid point: it is the job of the front office and other executives to explore all possibilities when it comes to improving the roster and ultimately winning a title. If there’s one thing has been made clear in recent months, however, it’s that the organization — split as it may be — is rightfully reluctant and unwilling to sacrifice three core members for one of the league’s best.
Looking at the roster, no one in their right mind would give up their starting power forward, starting shooting guard and a young, athletic small forward for just one superstar. No GM would butcher their roster just for the sake of adding a single stretch four. That’s just too many pieces, too steep a price to pay for just one great player.
Take a peek at the Warriors depth chart is looking like without Love next season:
|Point Guard||Shooting Guard||Small Forward||Power Forward||Center|
|Stephen Curry||Klay Thompson||Andre Iguodala||David Lee||Andrew Bogut|
|Shaun Livingston||Brandon Rush||Harrison Barnes||Draymond Green||Festus Ezeli|
|Nemanja Nedovic||N/A||N/A||Marreese Speights||Ognjen Kuzmic|
The roster is looking like a solid playoff team at the very least. Though still in need of another veteran big man to play rotational minutes, the Warriors have done well to secure their future this season by continuing to make moves and not allowing themselves to be hindered by the Love craze.
They have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA, youthful pieces able to provide immediate help, veteran leadership at every position and a star point guard leading the show. There’s no reason to doubt that Golden State’s front office has constructed an astonishingly well-rounded roster on paper, balanced on both the offensive end and defensive end barring injury. The team will definitely encounter some tough match-ups down the road, particularly at the power forward position, but this isn’t a sport that is completely defined by individual performances as many may believe.
NBA superstars are all potential game changers, each of them boasting a great deal of talent tempered by long hours practicing in the gym. When evaluating last season, however, you find that superstars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant were both unsuccessful in winning a ring last season. The same goes for Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, James Harden, Paul George and Love — all were cut short in their pursuit of a championship last year. James came the closest, but being the best basketball player in the world couldn’t have helped prepare him for what he experienced in the NBA Finals. How can that be?
The answer lies in one simple statement: LeBron James was beaten out by the San Antonio Spurs. Not Tim Duncan. Not Tony Parker. Not Kawhi Leonard. Not Matt Bonner. The San Antonio Spurs as a team, triumphed over LeBron James.
By themselves, it’s highly doubtful Duncan, Parker or anyone on the Spurs could beat James one-on-one, but that’s not what the NBA is about. NBA basketball is a team sport, and in reference to the immortal words of Gilbert Huph, a basketball organization is like an enormous clock: it only works properly when all the individual parts work in unison. The Spurs did not succeed based on the individual performances of each of their players, but by how well they worked together as a single, cohesive unit. They were led by the efforts of their most talented players, their veteran leadership and their tough-as-nails coach, but it was the ball movement, efficiency and overall execution as a team that James was unable to compete with.
New Warriors coach Steve Kerr, an alumnus of Popovich University, is best suited to bring those team concepts emphasizing ball movement and weak-side action to Golden State. He stated in his interview with David Aldridge of NBA.com that along with certain concepts of the Triangle offense, his Pop-influenced coaching philosophies will be clearly seen in the team’s execution this season.
“I learned from guys like Gregg Popovich, Phil and Lenny Wilkens,” Kerr said. “I have strong beliefs on spacing and ball movement and that will be reflected in our play.”
The Warriors have enjoyed a good deal of success the past two seasons without a true superstar at the helm. Stephen Curry is among the NBA’s elite, but his place among the NBA’s superstars is actually still widely debated despite being considered the top shooter in the NBA.
In addition, the fact of the matter is that the Dubs have already filled nearly every hole in their roster. On paper, every individual player on the team seems to complement each other fairly well. They do not need to sacrifice the core of their roster for Love — or any other superstar — to make the playoffs and put themselves in contention for a championship. It certainly would help to have an upgrade at the power forward spot considering how tough the Western Conference will be this year, but giving up three core pieces for a big man who could still suffer a long-term injury or possibly leave after his contract expires is an egregious idea.
Many fans see this deal as the Warriors overvaluing Thompson at the expense of Love, but it’s so much more than that. There’s no reason why the Warriors should feel the need to completely deconstruct what they’ve built so far. The fact that Minnesota is insisting that any potential suitor for Love must take Kevin Martin’s contract is also off-putting, and the truth is that the Warriors have no business making a move that would only put them in a deeper hole financially. The Warriors could try for Love in free agency, but such an idea is unlikely with Thompson’s agent, Bill Duffy, reportedly seeking a max deal for his client.
If they allowed to grow as a team, working on playing to their strengths and improving their weaknesses, the Warriors will continue to enjoy the most success they’ve had in several years.
And besides, the “Warriors Curse” may still be lingering in the background, which could in theory result in another bad swap between a shooting guard and big man: Jason Richardson was traded for Brandan Wright, and the Mitch Richmond-Billy Owens trade effectively cut the Run TMC era short.
Appreciate what you have now, DubNation.