Overtime: Warriors, Come out to Tank …


The Golden State Warriors find themselves in unfamiliar territory early on this season. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Author Krishna Udayasankar once said, “No empire lasts forever, no dynasty continues unbroken.” In the last five years, the Golden State Warriors omnipotently held the rest of the NBA in a collective vice grip. They were in the NBA Finals in all five years, capturing the Larry O’Brien Trophy three times. However, the departure of Kevin Durant in free agency paired with injuries to Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, has irreparably ended that five-year empire.

Now, the dynasty that once broke the record for regular seasons win with 73 back in 2015-16 find itself a broken team moving forward into this season. But, not all is lost in the Bay area. In fact, I believe losing this season only benefits the Warriors if they want to put the pieces back together for another potential dynastic run.

Over the weekend, head coach Steve Kerr had no choice but to trot out a starting lineup against the Charlotte Hornets that included three rookies. It was the first time in the Steve Kerr era that the Warriors started multiple rookies. 

Take into account the team’s starting lineup around this time last year: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and Damian Jones. Other than Jones, the quartet of Curry, Thompson, Durant, and Green will all likely be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in the future. Fast forward to this year, the only recognizable name in the Warriors current starting lineup is Eric Paschall, who Fordham Men’s Basketball fans will recognize from his one year at Rose Hill when he won 2015 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. 

Paschall, along with the other unproven young players on this team, will be given the task of trying to keep the Warriors afloat until the likes of Green and Curry return. Surprisingly, Paschall dropped 34 points on his 23rd birthday Monday night as the injury-depleted Warriors were able to get a huge win against the Portland Trail Blazers at home.

While the win gives Warriors fans temporary pollyanna and optimism, the truth is: winning games this season makes absolutely no sense for a team that is unlikely to contend in the western conference. Even if Curry and Green return to 100%, no NBA fan would put them up there to contend with the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers come postseason time.

At best, Golden State sneaks into the playoffs as an 8th seed and perhaps, Klay Thompson could be ready to suit up in the first round. But, there is still no guarantee that Thompson will automatically come back into superstar form after sustaining a torn ACL in the NBA Finals last June. A chance at another Finals trophy this season is unrealistic, so that leaves the Warriors with one other option: taking the year off and embracing a losing season.

The trio of Green, Curry and Thompson have played into June for five straight years. Adding up the five postseason runs, the three have essentially played an extra season’s worth of games and minutes. With the bad breaks suffered via injuries, now may be the best time for Kerr and the organization to wave the white flag on the season. 

On the bright side, this may just be a blessing in disguise for Golden State. If they were to shut down Curry, Green, and Thompson for the rest of the regular season, the Warriors would undoubtedly find themselves with a potential top-10 pick. Considering how weak the roster is, it is plausible that the Warriors could ultimately find themselves with potentially the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Now, imagine if the Warriors come back next season with a fully-healthy team and a top young player like LaMelo Ball or Anthony Edwards. Golden State’s dynasty is far from dead should that happen. They won’t be an automatic lock for the NBA Finals as they were when Kevin Durant joined the team, but could the Warriors come away with one or two more titles and sustain excellence like the San Antonio Spurs? Absolutely.

There will be no parades going through San Francisco this upcoming summer in celebration for another Warriors title. But fortunately, should the Warriors take this year to retool and revamp the team, we may be seeing the beginning of another dynastic run for Golden State starting next season.