The Golden State Warriors have undoubtedly been the class of the NBA for the past few years. They’ve won three of the past four championships. All the while, assembling arguably the greatest collection of top-end talent there is. And then acquiring Kevin Durant via free agency. They’ve done everything right.
The Warriors have built a dynasty in Oakland, but at what cost?
It may seem almost insane to suggest that a team with their pedigree of a starting lineup may be facing problems in the future. But it’s truly a realistic scenario. They’ve continuously lost talent year after year. Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, are just some of the integral second unit contributors Golden State has lost over the years. Granted those players may not be elite, but they haven’t exactly been replaced with great talent themselves. Quin Cook, Jonas Jerebko, and Alfonzo Mckinnie are their leading bench scorers, and none of them are elite role players.
Golden State relies almost entirely on their big three for scoring. Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry all average at least 22 points per game. But they’re the only players averaging double digits on the entire roster. Their fourth-leading scorer is the aforementioned Cook, who is currently putting up 8.7 points per game.
Andre Iguodala will turn 35 in January and Shaun Livingston is 33. The Warriors are a remarkably unbalanced scoring team with a shaky and aging bench. They do not have a single legitimate scorer on their roster outside of their big three. (We’re not including Demarcus Cousins at the moment.) But they can get away with it because of how the team is currently set up.
The problem is, it may not be like this for much longer.
Durant will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Now that he’s won two championships, he may not be inclined to take a pay cut to stay with Golden State for a third season. Thompson will be a free agent as well, although all indications are that he’ll be staying with the team. Draymond Green is also up for an extension this offseason, but that situation may end up being more complicated than originally thought. He has reportedly expressed his desire to sign a max contract instead of taking a pay cut — as he did a few years ago to allow the team to sign Durant.
In other words, it would be virtually impossible for the Warriors to pay all three of those players the money they deserve over the next couple of years. Their current contracts have already prevented the team from acquiring a lot of secondary talent as it is.
Assuming Durant and Cousins leave this summer, the Warriors will have a problem on their hands. Outside of Curry and Thompson, they would be left without any real scoring options. They’ll also be shelling out three max or near-max contracts if they decide to keep the Curry, Thompson and Green core together. That would severely limit their ability to add talent to a bench that is already lacking in that area to begin with.
The Warriors are the most talented team in the NBA, but their time might be coming to an end.