Golden State Warriors – Offseason moves:
- Re-signed Kevin Durant to a 2-year, $61.5 million contract (player option on the second year).
- Re-signed Kevon Looney to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract.
- Signed DeMarcus Cousins to a 1-year, $5.3 million contract.
- Signed Jonas Jerebko to a 1-year, $2.2 million contract.
- Drafted Jacob Evans (Cincinnati) with the 28th overall pick.
- Signed Damion Lee to a two-way contract.
- Signed Kendrick Nunn, Danuel House, Marcus Derrickson, and Alfonzo McKinnie to training camp deals.
When the Golden State Warriors signed Kevin Durant to form a super-team that would easily win back-to-back titles, I thought there was no way for them to add new pieces that would make the roster even scarier.
Well … I was wrong.
The signing of DeMarcus Cousins potentially brings the Warriors what they basically lacked in order to turn their starting lineup from monstrous to illegal. A lineup that would now be made up of five members of last year’s Western All-Stars squad. Cousins would join two-time MVP Stephen Curry, Three-Point champion Klay Thompson, two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant, and 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green on a lineup that – if healthy – can be considered as the greatest starting five of all time.
Of course, the fact that Cousins is still recovering from a serious injury is something that should not be overlooked. The center tore his Achilles before last season’s All-Star break and there’s still a question mark regarding when he’ll return to the court and if he’ll be actually able to compete at the same level as he did before he suffered the injury.
Despite these doubts about his return, this is still an intriguing low-risk, high-reward bet for both sides. On one hand, the Golden State Warriors spent just $5.3 million to get a player who – if healthy – is one of the top three centers in the entire league. Before suffering the Achilles injury, the former Kentucky Wildcat averaged 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.7 steals, and 1.6 blocks per game for the New Orleans Pelicans.
On the other hand, Cousins is basically betting on himself as he will be motivated to fully recover and make the most of this opportunity with the Warriors so he can secure a much bigger contract next summer.
Also, this cheap bet made by the Warriors didn’t even force them to give up relevant pieces of last season’s roster. Not only is the “big four” still there and approaching its prime, but the Warriors have kept their mix of veterans and youngsters on the bench with the additions of Jonas Jerebko, a stretch-four who shot 41% from three with the Utah Jazz last season, and a solid rookie wing in Cincinnati product Jacob Evans.
With Cousins being probably unavailable for about half of the season, it will be the right time for young bigs like Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, and Damian Jones to step up and prove they can help the team by playing significant minutes at the center position alongside elite talents such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green.
With all of that being said, the first thought about the Warriors is that they’re set and ready for the three-peat. The amount of talent on that roster is huge and we already saw that over the past two seasons, when the Warriors were actually forced to play just one real series, which is the one against the Houston Rockets in the last Western Conference Finals, whereas the rest of the last two postseasons for Golden State was basically a walk in the park.
Another significant factor is that, while the Warriors strengthened their roster with the addition of “Boogie” Cousins, the other contenders of the Western Conference haven’t really added significant assets to try to fill the gap. Yes, the Los Angeles Lakers did get LeBron James and they’re finally a playoff-caliber team after years of rebuilding, but the team overall is not a real contender as of now. The Oklahoma City Thunder are basically the same team as last year and the Houston Rockets, the only threat for Golden State in last year’s playoffs, lost an important defensive piece of the starting lineup in Trevor Ariza.
However, one aspect that might make things a little bit tougher for the Warriors will be the huge amount of energy they will have to spend in order to take another trip to the NBA Finals for their fifth consecutive year. This kind of issue had already emerged this past season. It happened in the middle of the regular season, when head coach Steve Kerr said the guys were ‘mentally fried’ and ‘dying to get to the All-Star break,’ as well as during the playoff series against the Rockets. In this regard, the depth of the roster will be key for them, with veterans and youngsters ready to come off the bench and bring some more energy, while Steve Kerr will have to help his players to not let the mental pressure take over the team chemistry.
Therefore, it seems like the real threat for the Golden State Warriors is actually the Golden State Warriors themselves. If they’ll beat themselves, then it’s likely going to be a championship. Again.