by Yusuf Gadlin
When professional basketball teams finally break through and win a championship, usually those teams go through the motions during the following regular season. Defending champions sometime lack the fire and intensity to once again reach the mountain top. Players that performed their ass off during the championship run often receive huge contracts, only to respond the following year with a lazy work ethic and a sense of entitlement.
There will be none of that with the Golden State Warriors.
There is plenty of motivation next season for the Warriors to hang their hat on, and it starts with every member of their starting unit. First up, Stephen Curry. Curry was sensational last year during the playoffs, but he struggled for the first couple of games during the NBA finals. Ultimately, it cost him the finals MVP (which you know he wanted badly) and a chance to solidify himself as the best Warrior when it mattered most. That most valuable player honor went to his beloved teammate Andre Iguodala, which he most definitely deserved for his lock down defense on Lebron James. You can also Factor in that Curry ducked super star point guards like Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and Tony Parker. Without Curry going through two of the those three point guards, fans will always raise a eyebrow when you talk about the Warriors Championship run.
Warriors fans should expect a hungrier version of Stephen Curry this year. SCARY.
Let’s look at Curry’s back court mate known as Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson had a break out year this past season. He scored a NBA record 37 points in one quarter, he also became a first time All-star while popping up in discussions as the best shooting guard in the game today. But when you look at his performance in the NBA finals, my goodness was he horrible by his own standards. The reasons for Thompson lack luster showing can be attributed to foul trouble and poor shooting through six games of the finals. Yes, Thompson was ecstatic winning his first championship, but if you looked closely at his face you could briefly see the disappointment at his embarrassing performance in the finals. Golden state fans should get a consistently great Thompson next year. He owes his teammates that consistency for that lame performance, and he owes himself because he is so much better than that pathetic showing.
Perhaps the most important key to the Golden State possible dynasty lies within Harrison Barnes. Barnes has the potential to be a franchise player, however he too struggles with consistency. This season , Barnes is eligible to sign a extension with the Warriors, so you know Harrison is going to ball out like crazy. With the salary cap rising, Golden state should have no problem locking up the super athletic small forward for the next couple of years. Harrison Barnes is a big time player that produces in big time game situations. The expectation for Barnes should be to show the world that he is a franchise player next season, I mean a max contact is on the line right?
The Glue to the Golden State Warriors is Draymond Green. Big, nasty, physical, is a small microcosm of what defines this dude. Green just signed a five year 85 million dollar deal, so his presence will be felt every night on the hardwood. Draymond wasn’t expected to achieve much in his NBA career. He has put the work in, he has sacrifice, he finally belongs. Golden State fans should expect Draymond to be Draymond but times ten. As the emotional leader of this ball club, Green’s emotions will be on a whole new level next season as he has emerged as a captain for Golden State. Of all the Warriors that will be targeted this season by multiple opponents, Green by far will have the biggest target on his back. He won’t be intimidated at all, hell be right there flexing his biceps and flapping his gums as he should.
Finally, the Warriors center Andrew Bogut. Like many other big men in the game today, Andrew Bogut watched from the sidelines as his coach opted for a smaller and quicker line up. The center position is almost extinct in the NBA. It is up to Bogut and other centers like him to fight like hell this season to keep that from happening. Bogut lost his starting job in the finals because he was just too slow and ineffective. Warriors fans should expect a much thinner Bogut who is expected to make 12 million this year. Nothing hurts more than losing the coaches trust, Bogut will be fighting like hell to earn every bit of it back this season.
So you see, the Warriors have more than enough motivation for next year. Even their Coach Steve Kerr has something to prove. Kerr has yet to face great basketball minds like Gregg Popovich and Doc Rivers in the playoffs. Kerr guided his warriors to its first championship since 1975 as a rookie head coach. Next year is all about validation for Steve Kerr. Can he make the necessary adjustments facing a Chris Paul or Kevin Durant? Can he slow down a Russell Westbrook or Lamarcus Aldridge? Is he finally ready to beat the master Gregg Popovich in a game of Chess, seeing how last year Kerr mostly played Checkers.
Another NBA season is around the corner, get ready for a battle in the Western Conference the likes the NBA has never seen.