For the first time in a long time, it won’t be the Warriors against the world. Free agency delivered a very balanced league with half the teams thinking “why not us?”, and a lot of them have a legitimate case. KD left and Klay is recovering from an ACL, so they are down to Steph and Draymond with a question mark above the fit with D’Angelo Russell.
They are not a lock to get to the Finals, but in a league of duos, the Warriors are still at 2.5 and will get Klay back during the season. After a long time, they will not have the expectation of winning every game by 20 and can go back to playing their ball moving style brand of basketball.
Klay talked about the upcoming season with Cari Champion and was confident the Warriors will come back stronger than expected. He did say the injuries to KD and him were heartbreaking, coming so close to the 4th title, but he is confident he will come back strong – even stronger than he was before (via ESPN):
“I think that’s a little premature to say there’s no more dynasty. I mean, we still have Stephen Curry, two time MVP, Draymond Green, defensive player of the year. Adding D’Angelo Russell was an incredible get for us, I mean, the kid’s gonna blossom into a superstar in this league. That gave me, and my teammates, a breath of fresh air, to see him come on board. Losing Andre and Shaun, that veteran presence, that’s gonna be tough cause they’ve been so crucial in our development as a team the last few years.“
Klay stressed how important it was for them to bring Looney back, especially after his great performance in the playoffs. And compared to last season, they added Cauley-Stein as a backup, who is a young player they can develop and has much more athleticism than the backups of the last few years. This team got a lot younger and now it’s time for Steph, Draymond, and Klay to be the veteran leaders Iguodala and Livingston were. When does Klay see himself back on the court?
“To say the dynasty is over is a little ignorant because I’m going to come back 100%, I think I’m gonna come back better and even more athletic. It would not be smart to count the Dubs out. That’s all I tell people. Especially with the chemistry we have“
All this movement got us in a transactional state of mind, and there is no doubt the Warriors are significantly weakened compared to last season. But a team that was so ahead of everybody is now just back in the top half of the Western Conference. Any time you start a season with a two time MVP, a defensive player of the year, a young up and coming star and a really good defensive big man, you are in a good position.
And they’ll get the scaffolding guy back as well. Don’t count the Dubs out.