That sense of stagnation was real, so Golden State has made some big changes
hammystyle (16 ♡):
It doesn't say "all in" on development. It says get better at development. Did adding Kenny Atkinson to the Clippers signal their focus on the future? No. It helped make Terrance Mann better, and he helped them advance in the playoffs.
There's plenty of teams throughout history who've had 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year players playing key roles on title teams. Rarely are they the centerpiece...but plenty of starters and key rotation players. They can't do that without talent and development.
There's also nothing more valuable then a young player who's proven out some upside. The 11th pick in the 2018 draft was worth a solid vet. A year later and Shai Gilgeous Alexander was the centerpiece of a deal for Paul George.
There's just nothing bad about a team improving their player development ability.
Suns are in the Finals. Ayton 3rd year, Bridges 3rd year, and Cam Johnson's 2nd year.
Heat made the Finals last year. Bam 3rd year. Duncan 2nd year. Herro and Nunn rookies.
Raptors beat the Warriors two years ago. Siakam and Van Vleet's 3rd year. OG's 2nd year.
Warriors first title season was Dray, Festus and Barnes 3rd year.
Celtics title around their very old core had Rondo in his 2nd year, Leon Powe in his 2nd year and Big Baby as a rookie.
Detroit won their title with Tayshaun and Mehmet Okur as 2nd year players.
It goes on and on.
Benvolio (7 ♡):
And it’s not just the super young guys. I’m pretty sure when they traded for him, they saw Wiggins as a candidate to “develop”. As in, he hadn’t unlocked parts of his game that were there to be utilized. Lo and behold he’s shown “development” as a reliable defender at a critical position and a much more efficient offensive player. Not all vets are finished products. No sense in not putting respected and talented folks on the task.
Golden State's summer block party at Thrive City @ Chase Center was a smash success, with Warriors fans getting a special treat from their past and future.
mDuo13 (7 ♡):
Hold up for a minute here. I want to examine where this idea that "players can struggle in the Kerr system" came from. Prior to this season, I don't remember hearing it much if at all; on the contrary, we often heard how guys were discounted as "system players" who couldn't perform at the same level on other teams.
The '21 season had three players who seemed to be struggling compared to expectations: Oubre, Wiseman, and Wanamaker. The previous season had quite the rotating cast, but I'll take a look at DLo and Willie Cauley-Stein for good measure. A quick glance at other guys who've rotated through the Golden State roster since Kerr's arrival shows several guys who've struggled or disappointed to some extent but I couldn't find a single one who had a break-out moment after leaving the Dubs. (The closest is Boucher, who played all of 1 minute with the big club and eventually had a big moment his third year on Toronto.)
OK, so, let's talk about individual guys.
- Wiseman - Yeah, he struggled. But he had uncommonly little basketball experience *in general* prior to playing for the Warriors, so it's entirely likely he would've struggled regardless of which team he was on, doubly so with significant time missed to COVID and injuries.
- Oubre - His stats in his one season with the Warriors are slightly down more or less across the board compared to his last season in Phoenix; but still at or above his career averages. Of course, the start of the season was much worse for whatever reason. Maybe injury is the reason there, too.
- Wanamaker - His performance with GSW was not all that different from how he did on Boston before or how he looked with Charlotte afterward, except that his 3-point shooting fell off a cliff after leaving Boston. But it got even worse on Charlotte after being traded, so I think it says more about Danny Ainge's system than Kerr's.
- D'Angelo Russell - I don't think anyone really thought he was struggling on GSW so much as the fit didn't really make sense alongside Steph and Klay. His overall stats since getting traded to Minny have been about the same as his time on the Warriors and even on the Nets.
- Willie Cauley-Stein - He's been doing more or less the same thing on the Mavericks bench as he was starting here. He remains the maddeningly inconsistent player he was on Sac before, though he's at least improved his FG% since going to Dallas.
- Nick Young - contributed meaningfully to a Warriors championship, then had a brief appearance on DEN and is now set to play in the "Big3" (3v3) league. Ultimately he did more or less the same thing for us as he did on his previous teams.
- Omri Casspi - fit in pretty well, actually, except for the part where he didn't want to shoot 3's. Waived after he had an injury and played part of the next season for the Grizz before they blew up and started rebuilding.
- Damian Jones - after many chances to be the Warriors center of the future, we gave up on him. Atlanta couldn't get much more out of him and he played spot minutes on the Lakers during a particularly rough injury stretch.
- Patrick McCaw - The strange saga of three-time champ McCaw is a fascinating one, but he hasn't struggled any less since moving to Toronto.
- Alfonzo McKinnie - Was a borderline guy who did some stuff, got displaced here and became a borderline guy on Cleveland and the Lakers.
- Jordan Bell - In terms of expectations, he was so completely completely outside of Chicago's draft board that we acquired him for "cash considerations" yet he ended up making a big splash as a rookie. After getting put in Kerr's doghouse sophomore year for immaturity, he bounced around various benches including ours since.
Upon closer inspection, this list and others are full of guys who, if anything, *overperformed* in Kerr's system. Wiggins seems to have turned his career around pretty rapidly. Chriss was looking like an incredible reclamation prospect before the injury. Bazemore and Matt Barnes did, if anything, better in their second stint on the Dubs than on the teams they bounced around between. Maybe Kevon Looney struggled in the system his first few years, but how much of that was mainly attributable to multiple hip surgeries?
Ultimately, I think "guys can struggle in the Kerr system" is either a platitude or an excuse—guys can struggle in any coach's system, especially when they're injured or new to the league. But overall the evidence is clear: Kerr's system is as good or better than the rest of the league at putting players in a position where they can thrive.
Young, explosive athlete vs older sharpshooter
Goofus (10 ♡) on the Spurs:
“All the supposed greatness…”
Let me stop you right there; there’s nothing supposed about it. Except for the year Robinson was out, they were winning 50-60 games a year for 23 years straight.
The whole point of the Spurs model is that they kept developing young guys, which took them through multiple eras (Robinson, Duncan Kawhi) and didn’t trade away young assets, be it elite picks or role players for short-term help.
There’s no way to know what would’ve happened, but they were still rolling until Kawhi got hurt then screwed them over.
I’d be thrilled to field contending teams for another decade, including beyond the Curry era. Trading all of our under-30 assets for Beal, Dame or Siakim makes that nearly impossible.
Kevin Durant's Next Chapter was awesome
SoCalJusticeWarrior (11 ♡):
My wife was pregnant most of the 2016 season, which was my first season (and last months in SF) as a really dedicated fan. Being pregnant, she would get up, I’d walk her to work in the financial district, she’d work all day (I was a full-time student), I’d walk her home, and she’d promptly pass out. I might’ve convinced her to split a pint of ice cream with me nightly — you know, for the kid. Anyway, I’d put on games and she’d watch with me until she couldn’t keep her eyes open any longer.
That was a magical, stress-free time for me. Not only because she was pregnant with our little dude, but because it was the twilight of my life with me at the center of it. Also, Trump hadn’t yet happened.
That season was truly wondrous, as was most of the postseason. I still remember where I was when I watched game six of the WCF and coined the term “Chokelahoma Shitty Blunder.” Then came the finals. I’ll never, ever get over that. I’ll think about Steph looking crushed, LeBron’s stupid crocodile tears, or some asshole chanting “THE KING” while I was on my way to get some “this is fine” ice cream. If you can’t tell already, ice cream is kind of important to me.
By the time July 4th rolled around, I had moved away from the city for good, and my wife was about to burst. I remember refreshing Google over and over and over. Then I remember the moment: Holy shit. KD is coming to the Warriors. Almost made me forget the calamitous finals. Almost.
Any time I feel mad at KD for leaving, I remind myself that he helped ensure that 3-1 came to have a new meaning, and my anger very quickly subsides. So, yeah, for me, a leftist, July 4th will always be more of a holiday because of you KD. Thanks for the good times. Cheers.
Janet (6 ♡):
I remember it like it was yesterday! Maniacally refreshing my iPhone. Landing on The Player site frustrated at having to first create an account. Googling wildly to avoid that. Seeing a reporter’s tweet. And then jumping on the bed to wake up my husband who wondered if it was real. And then the joy of the next few years. Oh my.
Klon (4 ♡):
I was sitting on my computer F5-ing. Of course around the time the article came up, I had to leave the house for some errand I do not remember. The article was up when I returned. Thankfully, I am a speed reader so I quickly read the words "Golden State Warriors" and couldn't believe it.
For me, it was so clear he'd go to Boston that I still think Danny Ainge isn't questioned enough on how he blew that pitch. They already had a playoff team and a hot talent in Jaylen Brown with more picks coming. You could've sold Durant on becoming the next Bill Russell in creating short- and long-term success. Well, we'll never know and our life as Warriors fans was better for it.
Furthermore, I can only fully agree on the whole thing about "breaking" the NBA. After all the mockery, the disappointment of fans on reddit still warms my heart to this day and crushing the postseason in 2017 will probably be amongst the best things I will ever experience as a basketball fan. If we believe KD when he says he wouldn't have joined the Ws had the Finals gone their way, the league sealed its own fate for the next three seasons with the Draymond suspension. As far as I am concerned, they deserved every bit of it. To everyone complaining about how "unfairly stacked" that team was, my response is the same today as it was back in 2016: https://meme.ucoz.net/_nw/0/63253436.jpg (if you forgive the crudeness).
It was the start of a beautiful, star-studded three-year run that shone all the more brightly for its brevity and I can only repeat myself in saying that I am glad that I got to witness it.
I know you won't be reading this, but whatever else awaits you in your career and afterwards: thank you, Kevin, for letting us enjoy all these moments.