NBA 2019-20: The Golden State Warriors are on a break from their 5-year high
Life goes in cycles. Some highs stay longer than others, and the same way some lows do too. But eventually nothing keeps going up (or down) forever.
We are now clearly at the stage where the Golden State Warriors' high has ended. At least for now. And what a high it has been.
The last time a team went to five straight NBA finals was the Boston Celtics in the 1960s. Recency bias is to blame if you thought that what the Warriors did over the past five years was just normal success.
They won three NBA titles, and had two Finals losses which were both upsets because of injuries (Steph Curry's and Andre Iguodala's injuries in the 2016 Finals along with Green's suspension and the injuries to Durant / Thompson / Looney in the 2019 Finals).
As far as dynasties go, not even the Kobe / Shaq or LeBron / Wade ones were able to achieved such sustained success over a five-year period. To put it in numbers, the Warriors won 78% of all regular season games over this time - which is the highest of all time. That doesn't even include the 16-1 post-season in 2017.
We need another 10 pages to keep going on about the Warriors in the past five years. But let's look at where they are right now, and where they seem to be headed.
As of today, they are off to a 0-2 start to the season, having been handed two humiliating losses by the LA Clippers and OKC. These losses were so bad that Curry didn't even play in the 4th quarter of either of these games as the game was beyond hope by the third quarter.
There are various reasons for this sorry state of affairs. People will point at Durant leaving and Klay Thompson's ACL injury, but the losses of Iguodala and Shawn Livingston are showing their effects now.
There are three others who are injured at the start of the season - Looney among them. These things point to the cost of going after something as great as what the Warriors did in the past five years.
The high value contracts on the team's roll this year because of their past success does not allow them to add more depth in quality. The new bunch of sub-23-year-olds who are brand new to the team's culture and style will take many months to learn the system set in place.
The defensive rock of the team is all but gone. That shows in the 41-point deficit against an OKC team who are themselves in rebuild mode.
On the bright side, things can only get better. Curry is not going to keep shooting under 25% from threes for the rest of the season. The young contingent is going to learn how to defend better even if takes them 2-3 months. And most importantly, Thompson is going to be back in a few months.
Where does that leave the team this season? The Warriors have a 20th protected draft pick in the next draft. That seems about right as the team seems headed to be placed in the bottom half this year.
The tired bodies of Curry, Green and Thompson need resting after five years of slug-fests on a nightly basis. The new swanky Chase stadium needs some getting used to before it feels like home during home games.
It will be wise not expect this version of the Golden State Warriors to go toe to toe with the top teams in the NBA this year. They are in reset mode and on a break. But trust the brains of Bob Myers and the likes of Steve Kerr and his coaching staff to figure out how to get back to competing sooner or later.
Curry and Thompson have publicly stated that their goal is to play well into their 30s at a high level. That gives a window of another 5-6 years where the Warriors can potentially put together a solid team and go on one of their patented runs.
The game of basketball will be served well if that happens.