Sunday, December 8, 2013

Warriors championship aspirations are not a joke anymore

By Justin Taylor
It’s been WAY too long since I’ve done what got me such a great following in the first place. When I hear “You need to write a damn blog piece already” all I can do is shake my head and agree with the statement. I’m still offering my opinions on a daily basis in the form of tweets, Facebook posts or, when I’m lucky, through appearances on the Warriors Huddle podcast. Problem is, as anybody who has read my blog posts in the past can tell you, my opinions run a hell of a lot longer than 140 characters or a few minutes of talk time. I’ve been yelling at my TV for too many years to just sum it up and get out.

All I can say to everyone who follows me on social media and especially those who have been bitching at me for “abandoning my roots” is thank you! With that, let’s talk 2013-14 Warriors basketball.

This year's Trapped in Golden State logo update is inspired by the Warriors 1975 championship team for a reason.
My 52 win guess for the Warriors season is going to be difficult to reach but who the hell makes a Golden State predictions without accounting for and baking in a couple of nasty injuries (or more)? It was easily the most optimistic outlook I’ve had during a lifetime filled with huge letdowns and three or four pleasant surprises sprinkled in every decade or two. This year was/is different. The injuries and lack of a reliable bench may derail my season forecast but it won't change my tune when I say this is the best Warriors team since the championship season of 1975.

Even with the lack of a solid bench this team has shown enough flashes and looks so good on paper that it will be big a disappointment to many fans and observers if they don’t go to the Western Conference Finals in June. When I say this is the best team since ’75 it’s not because I expect a ring or even a conference finals appearance. My stance is that this team has the best building blocks since the days of Rick Barry and Clifford Ray, season win totals and worthless power rankings be damned. Nobody can laugh laugh when we say that a championship caliber team is being built in Oakland these days and that says everything you need to know.

Had Chris Webber stuck around long enough for Tim Hardaway to come back from his knee injury this would be a different conversation but this isn’t supposed to be a depressing exercise in Warriors what-ifs. The 2013-14 Warriors are not built for this year, they’re built for the long haul. With Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala in place, the potential is there for this team to be greater than the sum of its already really good parts. 

Even with their flaws, Don Nelson would have killed for a frontcourt anchored by David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Nellie got one year out of Webber to go along with a bunch of Tom Tolbert wannabes and a couple of Manute Bol style gimmicks. Draymond Green will never be an All Star but he does have what it takes to be a role player on a contender. Bob Myers still has work to do but the days of me trying to tell the Warriors front office what they need to do are over. 

Igoudala is such a great fit in Oakland the only two players I'd take over him are Lebron and Paul George. That's high praise if I've ever heard it!
Finding players six through nine is a hell of a lot easier than securing one through five just like it's easier to jump from 20 wins to 40 than it is to go from 45 to 55. The Igoudala signing was huge because his willingness to take less to play here may be all it takes for another key piece to coming knocking on our door this offseason. 

Teams like Miami recently or Boston, LA and San Antonio in the past have never had a problem finding top notch complimentary players because their core attracted winners willing to sacrifice for the greater good. The Warriors are on that track finally but can the core get better and attract even better role players on the cheap?  We all know this core is going to get better with time but are Myers and Jerry West looking to bump up that timeline?

I took a lot of heat during the offseason for suggesting I’d trade a guy who CAN be a superstar and a guy who will NEVER be a superstar for a guy who IS a superstar and a backup point guard. In case you missed it, I said that if Harrison Barnes and David Lee for Kevin Love and a backup point guard were on the table that I wouldn’t hesitate. With Love in the fold even Lebron James has to take a second look at Golden State when he's a free agent.

Love Harrison Barnes but Love is already a superstar who leads the league in rebounds every year at 25 years old
To me, adding a 25 year old superstar power forward who just happens to lead the league in rebounding by a wide margin and makes the Warriors the best shooting team in the history of the NBA is a long term upgrade over Lee and Barnes’ potential. Also, if Kevin Love were in the fold the line of all star free agent swingmen who just want to win a championship would be around the block for the chance to play with him, Curry, Igoudala, Klay, Bogut, and the born winner Draymond. Go ahead and kill the comment section but I haven’t wavered since I got torn apart the first time.

Again, it’s not about this season, it’s about the next five. With or without a trade I believe the Warriors are accumulating the pieces to win it all. For the first time in my lifetime they are dealing from a position of strength instead of weakness or worse, desperation. The ball is finally in our court and we have a solid front office that knows what the hell they’re doing and a wealth of young talent that will only get better. The small portion of the pie we’re missing is finally within reach and I could care less if this is the year we fulfill all of our collective dreams. Rome wasn’t built overnight but its construction is progressing nicely.