OPINION: The end of the Golden State Warriors dynasty is fast approaching


OPINION: The end of the Golden State Warriors dynasty is fast approaching

Are the Warriors' magic trio nearing the end?
Are the Warriors' magic trio nearing the end?Profimedia
Dominant over the last ten years, the Golden State Warriors appear to be on the wane. Although they will undoubtedly take part in the post-season, the Californians do not appear to be in a position to compete for the title.

The Rockets had just racked up 11 consecutive wins and were looking like they could sneak into the Play-In Tournament. But the Golden State Warriors stepped up, winning five in a row to close in on a top-ten finish.

A swansong? You'd think so because it hasn't been a great season for the Warriors. Back in October, everyone knew it was going to be a pivotal one, with Klay Thompson's contract set to expire and, of course, the general ageing of the squad. Hence the surprise earlier in the off-season when they brought in 38-year-old Chris Paul.

A trade that raised its share of questions. Of course, sacrificing Jordan Poole wasn't the worst idea - the current season has proved that - but when your main backup is a player who will be 39 next month, isn't that an admission of weakness?

But it was the way he was used that was going to be closely scrutinised. Spoiler: he's not been a great success. His averages are the lowest in his career, and you wonder what he's doing there.

Admittedly, an injury delayed his integration, but we imagined him as a starter to form a small backcourt with Stephen Curry. The Warriors made Small Ball popular in the NBA, so why not try Ultra Small Ball? A five of Paul - Curry - Thompson - Andrew Wiggins - Draymond Green seemed like an opportunity for the Warriors to die with their ideas. But everyone still had to play at their highest level.

But that wasn't to be the case. One man of course symbolises this state of affairs is Draymond Green. There was a lot of speculation about his possible departure in the off-season, even though he is one of those players who it's hard to imagine wearing a shirt other than that of the franchise that drafted him.

Did the Warriors re-sign him out of respect for his career, or was it in the hope that he will still be as fundamental as he was in the past?

It's an unanswered question, even if his importance is real in certain games. Except for him, the season boils down to one number: 17.

That's the number of games he's been suspended for - first for strangling Rudy Gobert, and then for his punching Jusuf Nurkic

While players in their final year are often keen to re-sign for a big contract, Klay Thompson is in the midst of his worst season in ten years. So much so, in fact, that at times he lost his spot to rookie Brandin Podziemski, despite not being the most impressive of his crop.

Kevon Looney, a key figure in the 2022 title run, has been completely sidelined. As for Andrew Wiggins, his importance has diminished, as have his playing time and stats.

So what can we take away from the Warriors' season? Once again, Stephen Curry has been the backbone, scoring 26.4 points at over 40% from beyond the arc.

But that's no longer enough, and despite the 'Chief's' prowess, the fact that the team depends on him so much is no longer a good sign, unlike ten years ago. They have a 16-8 record when he scores at least 30 points, but have five defeats in six games without him.

The most glaring example is the two-time MVP's best game of the season. On February 4th, Curry scored no fewer than 60 points against the Hawks, just to prove that he at least wasn't finished. The result was an overtime defeat that included an outrageous 4/19 shooting performance from Klay Thompson. And to illustrate the Warriors' lack of depth, the team's second-highest scorer was none other than Lester Quinones.

It's a sobering thought ahead of the Play-In Tournament, which Golden State will have to get through. And if the standings stay where they are, we'll have to deal with the Lakers in their own arena in a game of life and death.

A game that the Warriors are capable of winning, but just looking at the squads, the individual seasons and the depth and the defence, it's safe to say that the Californians won't be NBA champions this season. There is, of course, the glorious uncertainty of sport. But that is no longer enough, and we are undoubtedly witnessing the end of a dynasty.

The Warriors revolutionised basketball in the mid-2010s, going big on Small Ball, which is now widely practised. But although they won their last title in 2022, they are now lagging behind.

The rings won by Milwaukee and then Denver point towards the patient and intelligent construction of a team around a generational player. And the NBA has no shortage of generational players. While the future belongs to Luka Doncic, Victor Wembanyama and others, the Warriors are slowly slipping towards the end of their era.



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