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Stephen Curry (Getty Images)

Stephen Curry (Getty Images)

By Conor Langs, Mount Carmel 

Last season, the Golden State Warriors nearly personified perfection.  After capping off an incredible 73-9 regular season record, they fell just short in the postseason, ultimately falling to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.  While the loss stung, the negativity didn’t last long in the Bay Area.  Just 16 days after their Game 7 loss, Kevin Durant announced that he would team up with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green and join the Golden State squad.  Shortly after KD’s decision was made, a shockwave of terror was sent around the NBA.  Many believed the Warriors’ path to another championship was clearer than ever.  With four all-stars (two of them being MVPs) all on the floor at the same time, this “super team” looks nearly unstoppable on paper.  But can this team live up to its hype?  Are the 2016-17 Warriors contenders or pretenders?  You can let out a sigh of relief, basketball fans.  While this team will certainly be very good, the rest of the NBA will be more competitive with them than most think.  

Before Golden State acquired Durant, they had to make some adjustments.  The team parted ways with Harrison Barnes, Mareese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, and Andrew Bogut to create cap room to sign Durant.  Due to the inexpensive contracts of Curry, Thompson, and Green, the dream of forming a “super team” was kept alive in Oakland.  Although some of these losses seem to have minimal effect, these players were crucial pieces to the record-setting team last season.  Golden State was the most complete group, with each player contributing.  Losing these role players shortens the depth of the team, which leaves the rest of the players to step up even more.

The Warriors also have lack of rim protection heading into this season.  While they did bring in big man Zaza Pachulia from Dallas, losing Speights, Barnes, and Bogut puts them at a disadvantage.  The team struggled with rebounding in the playoffs last season, and the issues could carry into the 2016-17 campaign.

Chemistry is the most important factor that determines basketball success.  Knowing each player’s strengths, weaknesses, and how they work with their teammates is what got Golden State so far in 2015-16, but they face uncharted waters this season.  Adding a superstar like Durant into the mix could disrupt the chemistry that the Warriors already possessed.  KD has been the primary player on his teams for his entire basketball life, but joining the Warriors will force him to make sacrifices.  He has to share the ball with three other stars (Curry, Thompson, Green), which will cause him to take less shots, leading to a decline in his stats.  While Durant stated this summer that he doesn’t have a problem with making basketball sacrifices, it’s easier said than done.  Durant has never been in any situation like this in his career, so even he does not truly know how it will work out.  When a team usually has this much star-power, players tend to get upset at the limited shots they are forced to take.  This could lead to locker room tension and lack of effort, which ultimately hurts a team.  This may not happen to the Warriors, but similar situations have followed a negative pattern.  

While the fate of the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors remains unknown, based on past situations and loss of depth, it is unlikely that they surpass 73 wins.    

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