The Warriors dynasty redefined the NBA and they have been the powerhouse of the game’s modern era. But could their reign be coming to an end?
Bob Myers has just stepped down as the General Manager of the Golden State Warriors after 11 years. And we can’t help but wonder if this is already the first domino to fall, so to speak.
Even before the Warriors got eliminated by the Lakers, there have been rumblings here and there that suggest that the end is near for this proud franchise as we know it. There’s already a ton of content out there that offers speculation as to this matter. This is not one of those.
Rather, this is written for us to look back and appreciate what the Warriors have built over the years.
The Golden State Dynasty
Dynasties end. Human history has told us this story over and over again. But before a dynasty falls, first comes its rise and its reign.
Their rise is often associated with the discovery and mastery of a new knowledge or technique which they have somehow found a way to harness as a tool for military advancement. While their reign is often characterized by how they directly (sometimes even indirectly) influence and impact both the overall landscape of their general environment and also the time period wherein they ruled.
The same applies to sports history. By the standards we have set above, we can say that over the last decade, in the NBA, there has been one such dynasty that has risen and reigned – The Golden State Warriors.
This organization took the NBA by storm with its all-new brand of basketball. Much like how the expansion of Genghis Khan’s empire is owed to the invention of the bow and arrow, the rise of the Warriors’ dynasty was also built on the back of a long-range weapon — the three-point shot.
And while the three-point shot was not exactly new as it was introduced to the league as early as the 1979-1980 season, it was how the Warriors weaponized and utilized it that really sparked their rise to the top of the NBA.
As we’ve said, the three-point line has been in the league for more than four decades now. And while the league has seen many great shooters in the past who have built entire careers off of it (Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Peja Stojakovic, and JJ Redick, among many others), none of them were able to do damage from deep in the way that Steph Curry has. It’s not even close.
But to have just one player who can shoot the lights out wasn’t going to be enough to dominate a league as competitive as the NBA. Sure, you can win games and maybe even a playoff series or two with an incredible talent like Steph. But coaches, scouts, and the complete make-up of a fully staffed NBA organization would be able to gather intelligence and devise a game plan to contain one person.
Enter, the Splash Brother, Klay Thompson.
Any team who has the best shooter in the NBA would always pose a threat to opposing teams. But when that same team also has a very close second-best shooter in the league on their roster, then you have something special.
And special it was indeed. As soon as Klay Thompson joined the team back in 2011, things started coming together quickly. To say that the Splash Brothers had good chemistry with one another would be a massive understatement. Their era was best characterized by their high-octane and highly exciting brand of basketball that took the league by storm. Not only was it exciting, but more importantly, it was also highly effective.
- 2012: 23W-43L
- 2013: 47W-35L
- 2014: 51W-31L
- 2015: won the championship
- 2016: made the finals, lost to Cleveland
- 2017: won the championship
- 2018: won the championship
- 2019: made the finals, lost to the Raptors
We’d also be remiss to not mention that Klay brought more than just his sweet shooting to the team as at one point, he was not only one of the league’s best two-way players but also one of the NBA’s most efficient.
The Motivator and the Motor
Evidence is plenty when it comes to proving that having an abundance of talent on one team does not guarantee success. You see, while the Splash Brothers and co. were making all the shots, Steve Kerr was the one calling all of them from the sidelines.
A winner through and through from his playing days with the Bulls and the Spurs, Coach Steve Kerr has been adding to his legend since taking the reins to steer the Warrior franchise back in 2014. He’s known around the league for his highly effective approach to communicating with his players and of course for running arguably the most potent offense that the league has seen.
He’s also known for his quick-witted and sharp-tongued humor mostly directed at inciting reactions from opposing teams.
As for Draymond Green, he’s not everyone’s cup of tea (myself included). But no one can deny that there would even be discussions of a Warriors dynasty without Dray. He was the motor that made everything work, you see. While all the bits and pieces were already there given their entire roster, and while Steve Kerr has gotten the core to buy into his system, there still needed to be the engine to drive the machine. That’s where the genius of Draymond Green is.
Competition is the fuel that powers Green’s motor, one that has earned him the respect of not only his teammates and Warrior fans, but more impressively, his opponents. His never-back-down attitude coupled with his “outspoken” nature really makes him a force to be reckoned with.
With all of these core elements coming together, The Golden State Warriors were a tsunami. Opposing teams knew they were coming, but couldn’t do anything about it.
4 championships in 8 years.
At the height of their powers, the Warriors made a total of five trips to the finals. They won the 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022 championships. And it easily could’ve been five had it not been for the historic heroics of Lebron James and Kyrie Irving’s Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
Take some time to really think about that and absorb what that means. Had a couple of things gone differently, they would’ve had a four-year stretch as NBA champions. That level of team dominance is unheard of in the current ultra-competitive NBA era.
Once upon a time, one of the records that was believed by most to be unlikely to ever be broken was the 72-10 record of the Chicago Bulls. That was before Steph’s 2015-16 season which saw him as the league’s first-ever unanimous MVP as he led the Warriors all the way to the best regular season record in NBA history.
If that’s not a reign, I don’t know what is.
Crazy as this might sound, this wasn’t even the Warriors at their scariest — that came a season later when Kevin Durant infamously decided to join forces with this already-stacked powerhouse of a team.
Changed the Game
Seeing this chart should only further prove that the Warriors changed the game and changed the way basketball is played. Some, like former NBA star Iman Shumpert, would even go as far as saying that they “broke the game” because the way the game of basketball is now played is completely unrecognizable from what he grew up and fell in love with.
Mind you, this is just one of the many visible ways that they’ve influenced the entire league. It’s anything and everything from people shooting from the logo not just in the NBA but in rec-leagues and pick-up games, to 7-foot-5 top draft prospect Victor Wembanyama hoisting step-back threes in his highlight reel. Like it or not, basketball has changed and the Warriors played a big hand in that.
So, is it over?
While Steve Kerr said in a recent interview that his team has “maxed out”, I believe that he was only referring to the team’s roster for the season and not the core players and the system’s full potential.
Golden State is one of the teams in the league that have no problems attracting talent. The culture, the camaraderie, and the “lifestyle” of the home city even make it a dream destination for some.
Let’s not forget that Klay still led the league in 3-points made this season and that Steph, while possibly already in decline would still give problems to the opposing team’s best point guards — just ask De’Aaron Fox. Draymond also still made the NBA All-Defense team and Coach Kerr is still expected to call the shots.
As far as the present day is concerned, the core that drove the Warriors to the heights that they’ve achieved is still pretty much intact — with the exception of GM Bob Myers.
So, the answer really depends on what the management of the GSW organization decides in the next couple of weeks. Ultimately, they have the option to keep the core team together but it would come with a very steep price (in the form of salaries far exceeding the cap, luxury taxes, and so on). It all comes down to whether they think it would be worth it or not.
Whatever the case may be, we, the fans, are fortunate to see the rise and reign of this team in our lifetime.
Banner image from Golden State Warriors on Facebook.