Don’t Complain About How Lucky the Warriors Are If You’re Going to Be Stupid
There are a few things about the current NBA landscape that are undeniable:
- The Warriors have a huge disparity in talent over the rest of the league.
- This talent disparity makes the league — specifically the playoffs — pretty boring.
- The Warriors were able to achieve this talent disparity through a string of good decisions and good process, but also through a great deal of luck.
It sucks that it is so obvious the Warriors are going to win the title next year. And I know, “3–1 lead,” “LeBron,” “Anything can happen.” I get it. It’s all technically true. But it isn’t fun that the result of every year will either be the one, inevitable result we all see coming, or a massive, world-changing upset. It would be nice to have some degrees to this stuff.
I’m a Warriors fan, but I don’t reject the idea that this current Golden State regime is bad for the league. Personally, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of watching Suns-Magic no matter what is going on in the rest of the league. But it definitely damages the overall conversation surrounding the league, which is really what makes the NBA the best league in sports.
I had a realization about last night though, when I saw this tweet from Shams Charania, new king-god of The Vertical:
The deal is reportedly for two years, $14 million.
Instead of complaining about how lucky the Warriors are, we should spend some time complaining about how fucking dumb the rest of the league can be.
Things are about to get pretty heated on The Rebuild in about two paragraphs here, so let’s start with some reason first. I don’t think there is anything any team could have done to make themselves better than the Warriors right now. If the Spurs or Cavs had added Chris Paul, they would still be worse. If the Cavs or the Rockets had added Paul George: still worse. “But! Mr. Rebuild,” you say, “what if the Celtics had pulled off trades for Jimmy Butler AND PAUL GEORGE?” As my favorite Warrior says: nope.
But there are plenty of things teams could have done to get within Luck Range. Get yourself close enough to the Warriors to get lucky. The Cavs were in Luck Range in 2016, and look what happened. They got very lucky. Luck Range is further away now that the Warriors have KD. But still… look at this shit.
Dewayne Dedmon, the EXACT type of center you want against the Warriors— no matter what Gregg Popovich thinks — went to a non-playoff team for NOTHING! The Cavaliers literally don’t have a center on their roster right now and they would rather sign Jeff Green, Jose Calderon, and Kyle Korver!? That’s like a joke-list of players that would be useless against the Warriors.
While the Warriors wiped the floor with the Cavs on the way to the 2017 NBA Championship, everyone knew the solution: the Cavs needed more two-way players around LeBron. They needed more guys that can actually stay on the floor against the Warriors by playing plus-defense and contributing on offense, hopefully by making threes. “But it isn’t easy to just go and get two-way players!” you yelled, and I agreed.
But that excuse is officially off-limits for the Cavs. They signed Calderon, Green, and Korver while Dedmon, C.J. Miles, and Justin Holiday just sat there.
Miles and former Warrior Holiday are the two-way players everyone is so desperate for. C.J. is a vet who will give you quality defense and has shot 35 percent or better from three every season for five years running (he shot 41.3 percent last year). Holiday plays great defense and was able to shoot 35.5 percent from deep even though he was playing with Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony on the fucking Knicks.
Miles ended up getting good money from Toronto (congrats Toronto), but Holiday took two years, $9 million from Chicago. The Cavs’ mid-level exception is $5.3 million. Holiday wouldn’t have taken an extra $800,000 to be able to play in the Finals? Dedmon wouldn’t have taken a pay cut to play with LeBron?
How hard is it to text this link to free agents and say, “Delly got paid. You’ll get paid too if you come and play with LeBron.” I guess it’s a little more difficult when you don’t have a GM and your scumbag owner is really busy hanging out with fascists for no reason and making bad jokes on Twitter. At least they got Jeff Green though!
The Rockets, on the other hand, did very well to get themselves closer to the Luck Range, not just by adding Chris Paul, but P.J. Tucker as well. Now to top off their incredible offseason, they’re trying to add...Carmelo Anthony? What could Carmelo Anthony possibly do for you against the Warriors, or the Spurs, or the Thunder for that matter? What’s complicated about this?
The Spurs are the Spurs. They poked around on some stuff and tried to get rid of LaMarcus Aldridge. Dedmon is the only player from that frontcourt that can actually help against the Warriors, but they let him walk. Maybe they feel like if Kawhi was healthy, they would have beaten the Warriors in Game 1 of the WCF and had a chance in the series. They’re wrong and they will find that out in May, but I’m not allowed to say that because they have five rings. That’s okay.
The Thunder got much closer to Luck Range than I thought they could. They did pretty much all they could by making arguably the two best deals of the summer, trading for Paul George and getting Patrick Patterson at an unbelievable price. Unfortunately, it won’t get them much because Steph Curry owns Russell Westbrook’s soul.
The Warriors seem like they are almost impossible to beat for the next two years. But they are built on Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green, three guys who a lot of teams passed on — some of them twice. The draft is a crapshoot, and the Warriors lucked out in a major way three times — I know. But still. Instead of sending vitriol out West, maybe teams should look internally at what they’re doing and what they’re not doing. Perhaps the answer is more obvious than they think.