Alpe d'Huez wrote:
I don't much follow the NBA that close. Can someone explain to me how the Warriors can afford Durant and only lose maybe one (lesser) player in the process?
They in fact have lost six players so far, including two starters (Bogut and Barnes), and four bench players. Durant is obviously an upgrade on Barnes, but the Warriors haven't really gotten a full replacement for Bogut. They signed ZaZa Pachulia at a bargain price, and he may be better offensively than Bogut, but not on defense. That means more will be asked of Draymond Green, who hasn't helped matters by just getting arrested for assault.
The bottom line: the Warriors' starting five should be even better offensively next year, but with some defensive vulnerabilities, and their bench probably not as good. That matters a lot in the regular season. The bench played a big role in the 73 wins, not only by out-playing most of their counterparts, but playing nearly as well as and sometimes better than the starters of many teams, allowing the GS starters to rest much of the fourth quarter when the team had a decent lead. In the playoffs, though, the starters play a little more, and the bench deficits should not be as important.
There are other advantages of Durant. With four great players, the team can afford to lose one to injury. Curry's injury might have doomed the Warriors if they had had to play the Clippers instead of the Blazers in the second round, and it might have cost them the series against Cleveland, as he apparently was not quite 100%. A team with any three of Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green would probably still be stronger than any of its opponents.
Durant's presence also allows the team to stagger the starters. They might not play all four of the stars together all the time, but have one or two of them usually playing with the bench, to strengthen the second team. That also makes sense because there may be diminishing returns with all four, i.e., when all four are on the floor at the same time, the team may not be able to maximize the contributions of each. Kerr will have to figure that out. I expect to see a lot of experimenting with different lineups.
When they did the last CBA the one thing I remember hearing Stern and others talk about how this new contract would level the playing field and allow more teams to compete overall. But as I see it, even at the start of the season this year people said there were maybe 5 teams with a chance to win the title. Now, everyone is saying almost for certain we'll see Golden State vs. Cleveland for the third year in a row.
There's a good chance of that. By adding Durant, the Warriors not only improved, they basically torpedoed OKC as a contender, and with Duncan retiring and Parker and Ginobili in decline, the Spurs really could have used Durant. So it's hard to see any team challenging GS in the west--I'd imagine the Clippers and the Blazers will be among the next-best teams--and Cleveland should be favored in the east. But LeBron is aging, and any decline in his performance (actually, it's already started) could be critical.