The 2017 NBA Championship seems like a two-team race between the last two winners of the championship trophy, the reigning Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. But, neither team looks like the same squads that appeared in the Finals last season. The reigning champion Cavaliers have become more of a finesse team this year, however their stars have played better basketball than they did last season. And, the Warriors made the acquisition of the year by signing the second best pure basketball player in the world to play with the reigning MVP. They have one of the best teams in NBA history on paper, but they still have to win a championship to solidify their spot in history. Below are the reasons why the Warriors will fulfill their championship destiny and why they may not.
Why They Will Win It All
No National Basketball Association franchise has ever assembled the amount of talent that the Golden State Warriors have put together this year. The Warriors field two NBA MVPs with three total MVP awards, six All-Stars with a total of 20 All-Star appearances, and a roster full of players who would start for most other teams in the league. The Warriors could start two decent NBA teams with their current roster. They have three elite shooters, four 20 point per game scorers, two elite defenders, a plethora of basketball players who understand ball movement and spacing, and they are composed almost entirely of athletes who are skilled basketball players. Very few teams in history can match Golden State player for player.
The Warriors play basketball differently from all their NBA peers. Most teams stress ball movement and trusting teammates to execute, however the Golden State offensive philosophy was built on those principles. The Warriors play a style that fits their personnel perfectly. Their offense is a read-react offense that relies on motion, hard picks, and crisp passes. They have better spacing, better shooting, and better athleticism than any other team in the NBA. They play in a manner that allows basketball players to make decisions in rhythm with the offensive strategy. They take and make more threes than any team other than Cleveland because those shots come organically. Their offense was tailor-made to accentuate their strengths.
The Speed of Play and Skill Level
The Golden State Warriors can play at a pace on the basketball court that has not been witnessed since the Phoenix Suns of the early 2000s. And, before the Suns, that type of free flowing basketball had not been seen since the 80s. The team runs a structured yet unconstrained offense that highlights their athleticism and high level skill set. They are overwhelming with their barrages of threes and sharp cuts to the rim. By signing Durant, Golden State added a player who can create shots in isolation, but still fits into their offensive scheme. The Warriors may be the most talented team ever assembled. They can play small ball with two seven-footers on the floor. They can be physical under the rim or play finesse ball. Every player on the squad except their two traditional center can knock down three pointers. The Warriors have an offensive barrage waiting for their opponents every game. And, they have a tough defense too. Their big men are strong and rangy, and their smaller athletes can body up and move their feet. Golden State has a complete and versatile team.
Why They Will Not Win It All
The Warriors broke the National Basketball Association regular season record for wins with a record of 73-9 during the 2015-16 season. And, they fought themselves to within one game of winning their second consecutive championship title. Then, in last year’s off season, they added the best pure scorer in the world, Kevin Durant. Golden State has built what could be the most talented squad ever assembled, and unfortunately the team sometimes plays like their talent is enough to carry them. Having the most talented players in a series is not enough to win a championship. They proved that last year. Though the Cleveland Cavaliers fielded the best basketball player in the world, as a team, the Warriors were more talented. However, the loss of Draymond Green in Game 5 due to suspension turned the series around, and the Cavs rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. Now, the Warriors have even more talent and have destroyed a lot of good teams in the regular season. Their attitude will decide if they fulfill their goals at the end of season.
With a fairly healthy Steve Kerr, Golden State blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Mike Brown has taken over the helm in the wake of Kerr’s illness this year. And, though Mike Brown is a former head in the National Basketball Association who has taken a team to the NBA Finals, he has also been outclassed against some of the better coaches in the league. The Spurs nearly upset the Warriors in the first game of the Western Conference Finals this year while Brown was coaching. And, Tyronn Lue has proven himself with key adjustments and good offensive sets during last year’s Finals at key moments (specifically in Game 7). Golden State may be outmatched at head coach.
The Cleveland Cavaliers still field the best player on the planet in LeBron James. They will put basically the same team that won the NBA championship last year on the floor again this year. This is the team that rallied from an NBA death sentence of 3-1 in a seven game series and beat the best team in the history of the regular season. And, when the jump shots are not falling, the Cavaliers can hand the basketball to the consensus best basketball player on the planet and allow him to make plays.