Most NBA basketball observers seemed fully prepared to hand the league title over to the Golden State Warriors when they made the free agent deal to bring Kevin Durant aboard. And indeed, his arrival brought together a combination that has rarely been seen in NBA history – a convergence of two winners of the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award who are still very much in their prime. Considering that the team had so much success with that “Lineup of Death” that skewed small with Draymond Green playing the center position, the addition of Durant in what was more or less a trade-off for Harrison Barnes, who went and signed with the Dallas Mavericks, was a major upgrade.
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But as VietBet customers must know, when you make a deal for one of these superstars, there is a price to pay on two different fronts. Not only are you shelling out the maximum salary allowable by the NBA, but in order to fit that player under the salary cap, you have to let other players go. And those people, in this case, are key “role players” who are so essential to the fabric of a championship roster.
Aside from Barnes, who was an high-percentage shooter and often gave up his offensive game and concentrated on defense for the overall good of the team, the Warriors have had to say goodbye to Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights, a couple of big men who did a lot of dirty work. Speights in particular also had the ability to contribute a big game on the offensive end every once in a while. Leandro Barbosa, the former Sixth Man of the Year, went back to the Phoenix Suns.
And then there is Andrew Bogut. NBA basketball bettors know that he does not have as much in his arsenal as he did when he came out of college as the #1 overall draft pick and experienced some very productive years with the Milwaukee Bucks. But he was a very good role player at the center spot because he had excellent passing ability and was good enough as a defender to make the NBA All-Defensive Team. He wasn’t always healthy, and he had some dead spots in last season’s playoffs, but when the Warriors wanted to go “big,” he was the guy they would call upon. Zaza Pachulia, who they acquired to take his place, isn’t going to fulfill that role in the same way.
As VietBet patrons might imagine, the loss of people like this from a team that played the game like they did is going to have some effect in the flow of the rotation and on team chemistry. And when it comes to “chemistry,” well, that is one of the things that indeed has to be stressed. When you put together two giants of the game like Durant and two-time MVP Stephen Curry, along with other stars like Green and Klay Thompson, they have to learn to play together. Durant can do a lot of things, but he is used to having the ball in his hands and getting the opportunity to score. Yes, he had a “sidekick” in Russell Westbrook, who wanted the ball more than he did, but there was not as much of an “ensemble” approach to winning in Oklahoma City. When you come to Golden State, you are coming into a culture as well.
And all of this is okay because it’s a long season. The Miami Heat got started rather slowly when they first put together their “Big Three,” and the same thing happened to LeBron James when he initially came back to Cleveland. So just as silly as suggesting the Warriors were going to win 80 games is the notion that they are somehow “doomed” as a result of the embarrassing 129-100 loss in the season opener to the San Antonio Spurs. They might have a tendency to be overpriced early in the season, so it may be a time to look the other way, especially if they are laying double digits or close to it in some of these games.
But give them time. They’ll get there by the time the playoffs roll around.
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By Charles Jay