Tonight starts the NBA season and the beginning of the Golden State Warriors drive to repeat. Because Bay Area sports fans are accustomed to the Giants winning titles every other year, many may assume the Warriors cannot win again in 2016. But they can and will, and here’s why.
The Warriors Have Improved
Championship teams typically do not repeat for two reasons: they are not as good as the year before and/or a rival is now better.
The Warriors were a young team in 2014-15 whose players will nearly all improve this year. Veteran Andre Iguodala will only be 32 in January. Andrew Bogut will soon turn 31. All the other key Warriors are either in their prime or still on the way up toward their best days. That is a classic recipe for a repeat.
David Lee is gone, but Jason Thompson is a superior addition. There is no making up for the loss of assistant coach Alvin Gentry to the Pelicans, but Steve Kerr will be a better coach with a year under his belt.
With the Warriors improved, only injuries and/or a team better than them stands in the way. Injuries cannot be predicted but the Warriors chief rivals have not sufficiently improved.
Last year, Warrior fans were relieved when the Clippers beat the Spurs, forestalling what many feared would be another Spurs defeat of our team. But those were the days when many felt the Spurs had a psychological edge. With the Warriors having won a championship, that edge, if it ever existed, is gone.
Adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West helps the Spurs. Aldridge was not exactly Mr. Popular among his Portland teammates and his fit into the San Antonio system may not go as easily as everyone suspects. Tony Parker looked worn out when the playoffs began last year and is a year older. Manu Ginobli is 38 and looked even more done. Tim Duncan likely had the greatest year any 39 year old basketball player has ever had; he won’t match this as he turns 40 when the 2016 playoffs begin.
The Spurs lack the backcourt speed to keep up with Curry and Klay Thompson. They will not beat the Warriors in the 2016 playoffs if the teams meet.
The Clippers are no better than last year and Chris Paul is a year older. And Thunder fans will spend another postseason bemoaning the James Harden trade, as their team lacks the depth to beat the Warriors.
A Title for Cleveland?
When the 2015 NBA Finals began, Warrior fans felt that this was their team’s turn to win and Lebron could bring that long-delayed title to Cleveland next year. But now that next year is this year, I doubt many Warriors backers see it that way. They want to win again.
If the Cavaliers have a fully healthy lineup when they face the Warriors for the 2016 NBA title, I like their chances. But Kyrie Irving has never gotten through a season without injury going back to his days at Duke. Without Irving, the Cavs lack the backcourt speed and scoring to beat the Warriors (as we saw in the 2015 Finals). Kevin Love’s addition to the Irving-less Cavs that lost to the Warriors would not have changed the outcome, nor will his presence in a future match up.
Will Lebron be as fantastic as he was in the 2015 Finals? Even he experiences a skills reduction with age. Plus his back could be a problem.
That’s why the Warriors are my choice to repeat.Filed under: Arts & Entertainment