Last Season: 73-9, 1st Seed in West, Lost in Finals
Off-Season Gains: Not having SF Harrison Barnes anymore, Draymond Green's snapchat followers, about 25 more national reporters embedded in their lives, the vitriol and scorn of every other team and fanbase in the league, a permanent bulls-eye on their chests, crazy, unattainable expectations, media scrutiny usually reserved for top-flight European soccer clubs, C Zaza Pachulia (free agent), PF David West (free agent), C Damian Jones (draft), SG Patrick McCaw (draft), C JaVale McGee (free agent) And ... ugh, don't you hate that feeling where you know you're forgetting something but you can't for the life of you come up with it?
Off-Season Losses: Sense of dignity, fairness or shame, a second of privacy, the idea of anyone ever considering them "likable," SF Harrison Barnes (free agent/Dallas), C Andrew Bogut (trade/Dallas), C Festus Ezeli (free agent/Portland), SG Leandro Barbosa (free agent/Phoenix), PF Marreese Speights (free agent/Clippers), SG Brandon Rush (free agent/Minnesota), Luke Walton (coach/Lakers)
Off-Season Stock: Couldn't afford it before, can't afford it now
League Pass Team?: Oh we're going to hate-watch every game until they get up 35 and put the scrubs in and then we'll head upstairs to shower and cry in the tub.
Did you use to enjoy the sport of basketball? I sure did. Some of the happiest times of my life have been spent watching the Spurs and
lesser other teams play this simple, stupid game. Heck, even writing about it has provided a certain amount of satisfaction at times. I'm guessing that you also share a fondness for the sport, because here you are, on a Spurs blog.
Anyway, all that is over now because the Warriors has become Death, destroyer of worlds. They are Unicron. They are that thing Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich were fighting in The Fifth Element. LeBron James and Stephen Curry's knee injury won't be enough to defeat them this time around. We're going to need Rodimus Prime using the matrix (and I don't mean Shawn Marion) or Leeloo projectile vomiting some laser.
It's a shame, really. I was just starting to wean myself off of concussion-ball, but now I have no choice but to return to it in shame. What other choice do I have? The Giants? The Giants treat ninth innings as poorly as I treat my body. Soccer? My favorite player is a bench-warmer on a team that never scores. Basketball was all I had to look forward to and now, it's all ruined, thanks to the Warriors' blowing a 3-1 lead in the Finals (look it up, that totally happened). Both they and Kevin Durant had the hairline crack of rationalization they needed to join forces like some Axis of Evil. The momentary joy of watching their collapse, where we were dancing among ewoks after the Death Star blew up, wound up lasting just a couple of weeks and before we knew it, the empire's been built up again, still tormenting the galaxy and here's sniveling Kylo-Ren, part emo teen, part Dark Helmet, ready to stab us in the gut with a light-saber because Russell Westbrook didn't pass enough and Skip Bayless was too mean to him on Twitter.
I suppose it could be worse. Instead of watching the upcoming season we can just watch our DVDs from 2014. Or, you know, one of the other championship seasons. That's the cool thing about being a Spurs fan. Plenty of good times to look back on fondly. Why, it'll take the Warriors (the California incarnation of them, anyway) three more seasons to catch up to the Spurs in championships.
As long as they don't blow anymore 3-1 leads in the Finals, of course. Which was something that totally happened last year.
Obviously we should start with Durant, or as I call him, The Real Slim Shady. Fantastic player, annoyingly clutch against the Spurs more than anyone else, and I respect the improvement he's made defensively. When he wants to be, he's a terrific defender, but as we well know, his focus comes and goes. But as far as I'm concerned, he's cemented his legacy in a negative way by joining the Warriors, no matter how many rings he wins. To quote the late Denny Green, he is who we thought he was.
Curry remains a fascinating, wondrous talent. He was the one Warrior I genuinely felt bad for in the aftermath of the Finals. He wasn't right physically, he couldn't drive the way he normally does when pressed, and eventually I think he just kind of went haywire mentally, a bit similar to what we saw with Kawhi Leonard in Game 6 at OKC in the semis. Curry's Finals collapse was unfortunate in the sense that it detracted a bit from his otherwise ridiculous season. Not only was he fantastic in Game 7 against the Thunder, but he probably had like 15 games during the regular season where he singlehandedly won games for the Dubs when the rest of his teammates were flat. We've never seen someone do that since Michael Jordan.
The Warriors are the villains now, but honestly it will be hard for me to ever truly root for Curry to fail. For one, by all accounts he seems like a really cool dude off the floor, and for another, he's got this unique gift that's unparalleled in the history of basketball. Announcers talk about his three-point shooting often making comparisons to video games, but the reality is the only game that can capture his range realistically is "NBA Jam," which was 2-on-2 and came out when Curry was a child. The "2K" franchise programmers can't make video game Curry shoot as well in the games as he does in real life because he defies all accepted basketball logic. The coders can't make one guy shoot 35-footers like they're regular threes anymore than they can make someone like Russell Westbrook take off from the top of the arc and dunk. You can't just create a 0-100 rating system and then have one guy be at 125. It breaks the rules.
Or maybe they can. What do I know? I'm not a programmer.
Draymond Green's had an interesting summer, huh? He kicked Steven Adams in the kiwis a couple times in the conference finals, parlayed that into a suspension in Game 5 of the Finals after punching King James in his crown jewels, had a tour-de-force Game 7 in a losing cause, got arrested for assault at 2 a.m. at a bar in East Lansing, MI, gave a whole new meaning to "stretch five" on snapchat, and then went from a top-ten NBA player to Team USA 11th man in the Olympics. Whereas adding Durant will turn Curry into more of a playmaker, I have no idea how that dynamic will affect Green's game. Does he post more? I can't really see him as a catch-and-shoot guy. Will he have to play even more as the five without Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli? I'm really curious about whether the things he's gone through will affect his game, if it'll make him more subdued or more reckless than ever. Can he even play well when he's not on the edge? He seems to think he can't.
Klay Thompson remains the ultimate boom-or-bust player. When he's on, there isn't a more dangerous scorer in the league. But when he goes cold, he's practically useless. He doesn't attack the rim, he's not much of a passer, he doesn't rebound, and it even affects his defense. The conventional wisdom has it that Durant's arrival will take away from Thompson's shot attempts the most, but he was ... somewhat defiant when asked about it.
Okay that's the big four and we're already at 1,300 words. Let's run through everyone else. Zaza Pachulia is a steal at $2.9 million, someone who can give them 80 percent of what Bogut did at one-fourth the price, plus he's more durable. He's less subtle as a goon, but maybe it'll take the heat off Green a bit. Sixth-man Andre Iguodala is like the Robert Horry of small-forwards, a guy who just floats along, doesn't do much during the regular season and then wins games for you in the playoffs by being awesome at both ends. They would've won the Finals last year if he hadn't hurt his back. I think Steve Kerr treats him like a faberge egg this year. Shaun Livingston is one of the two or three best backup points in the league, but he got exposed when he had to take on too big of a role in the playoffs after Curry went down. His lack of outside shooting hampers them on offense. They signed David West, who remains thirsty for a ring and who might seem like a defensive revelation compared to Marreese Speights.
Then there are all the fringe guys. Anderson Varejao is back to flop around and play eight minutes before going on IR. Damian Jones from Vanderbilt might be their starting center someday, but he's out with a pectoral injury and will probably spend the year in the D-League. I don't usually include second-rounders in these previews but UNLV's Patrick McCaw tore up the Summer League and he's probably going to be their backup two guard right away. Kevon Looney was the guy they drafted in the first round last year to be the long-term replacement to Barnes, but he had two hip surgeries and we'll have to see if he ever recovers. Ian Clark and James McAdoo are professional basketball players.
Oh,and they also signed JaVale McGee. He ought to make camp entertaining.
we've all been there https://t.co/9fqDmDj6jO— Michael Erler (@MichaelErlerSBN) September 17, 2016
The Warriors biggest loss was Luke Walton. If Kerr suffers any more health complications, the Warriors will be forced to turn to Mike Brown, the one coach in America who might be able to hold this team to under 115 points a night.
Seriously though, they're gonna kill everyone.