Dubs’ Dynasty Not Dead Yet


After the fallout of free agency, everyone seems to be saying how the Golden State Warriors are in trouble. Talk show hosts, analysts, pundits and fans alike are declaring the Warriors dynasty dead after losing free agent forward Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets on June 30th. But GM Bob Myers made sure Golden State didn’t lose the former two-time NBA Finals MVP without anything in return, securing a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn for All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell. In the aftermath of the deal, many have called it a desperation move by the Warriors and have been critical of Russell’s overall fit with the organization.

Some have even suggested that Golden State is just renting Russell and will look to move him at the trade deadline, trying to gain future assets. With Durant’s departure, Klay Thompson’s ACL injury and the supposed desperation move for Russell, the narrative is being painted how the Warriors’ run atop of the NBA mountain has come to an end. But I couldn’t disagree more with this sentiment and believe Golden State has re-tooled to continue their run toward a fourth championship. Russell is much more than a band-aid replacement for Klay Thompson to keep the Warriors afloat.

How Russell and Curry Fit Together

Russell has been made out to be this toxic locker room presence, who hogs the ball and can only score out of the pick and roll. Leading people to conclude that because the Warriors don’t run pick and rolls, Russell is doomed to succeed. It’s just not that simplistic and Golden State is not that foolish. Also, characterizing Russell as any of those things is an inaccurate portrayal of who he is as a person and his skill set as a player. The Warriors could’ve done a lot worse than acquiring a 23-year-old all-star, who seems to have turned the proverbial corner professionally and personally.

What the Warriors lost in Durant, Russell can’t replace as an individual talent, but what he can do is give Golden State a new lifeline to continue their dominance. Klay Thompson will probably miss much of, if not all of next season while recovering from a torn ACL he suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. But once he’s back, the Warriors will sport one of the most dynamic offensive trio’s in the league, reminiscent of the old Run TMC trifecta Golden State sported in the early 90’s. Even without Thompson, the duo of Curry and Russell is a fascinating one with tantalizing potential.

The Preservation of Steph

Russell isn’t a one-dimensional scorer only effective in pick and rolls, but even if that were the case, I don’t see coach Steve Kerr having any problems adjusting the occasional pick and roll for Russell to utilize at times. But both Curry and Russell have no issues playing off the ball, especially Curry, who can be a maestro moving through screens. The pairing with Russell could see more catch-and-shoot situations for Curry, ultimately equaling more open three’s for the two-time MVP. This could lead to a similar shooting output we saw from him during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, where he attempted 1,675 three-point shots and ridiculously made 726 of those attempts. But Russell’s creation and play-making ability will benefit the Warriors and Curry the most.

After Durant went down in Game 5 of Golden State’s second round playoff match-up with Houston, Curry became the team’s lone shot creator and primary playmaker. Obviously Klay Thompson can create his own shot, but he does most of his work moving without the ball. Draymond Green is a great playmaker in his own right, but he’s not the greatest creator off the dribble. The Warriors were left without a secondary shot creator and it was exposed in their NBA Finals defeat to the Toronto Raptors. With Curry turning 32 years old next season and coming off a postseason run that saw him play career highs in games (22) and minutes (846), preservation is more important than ever for the franchise staple. Russell provides a pathway to that for Golden State and their favorite adopted son.

Curry has played only six percent of his 23,859 career minutes at shooting guard, something I’d expect to drastically change playing alongside Russell. Obviously Curry has been no stranger to playing a less-dominant ball handling role after playing the last three seasons next to Kevin Durant. So we’ve established that Curry’s off-ball ability should mesh well with Russell, while Russell’s shot creation and playmaking should allow Curry’s workload not to be so heavy in 2019. Especially when Curry is not on the floor, Russell will be the lifeblood to keeping the Warriors’ offense pumping. But the success of the Warriors season next year will go much further than just Curry and Russell playing or fitting together.

Russell’s Impact on The Other Warriors

The potential of a Russell-Green pick-and-roll combo for Golden State should draw fear from the rest of the Western Conference. With Russell leading the league in pick-and-rolls ran last season — combined with Green’s incredible ability as a short roller — should be a new wrinkle to Kerr’s offensive system. Even Russell’s post-up abilities — something he didn’t use much in Brooklyn — could be an extremely valuable asset within the Warriors offense. Golden State loves utilizing post-up– it’s one of the staples of their offensive system. Putting Russell down on the block against smaller guards is another asset we could see Kerr look to utilize. All of this should lead to higher quality and easier looks for both Curry and Thompson.

The Warriors’ New Depth and Youth

Defensively, there’s clearly some concerns with playing Curry and Russell together. But that’s where the other offseason additions Myers made should pay off for Golden State. During their dynastic run in the late 2010’s, the Warriors haven’t been know for their depth really ever. They usually went 7-8 guys deep, with their bench being highlighted by veterans like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. Now with both of those familiar faces gone, Myers took an approach of building a more hefty bench for the 2019-20 season.

Both Alfonzo McKinnie and Jacob Evans are young wings who provide Golden State with two adequate defenders and shooters to throw at the Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and LeBron James’ of the world in the west. Then, the Warriors re-signed forward Kevon Looney and brought in center Willie Cauley-Stein through free agency. Both address Golden State’s perceived size issue, giving them two mobile big men who can defend their asses off and protect the rim. Finally, you add in scorers like veteran Alec Burks and rookies Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall. All three bring in much-needed scoring and shooting ability to the Warriors second unit. Paschall and Poole are two scorers who can get hot in a hurry.

Golden State Isn’t Dead Yet

Ultimately, the Warriors did lose a transcendent in Kevin Durant and that effect will be felt. But to paint false narratives about Russell as a player and person while saying their dynasty is over is beyond foolish. Bob Myers did all he could to help keep the championship infrastructure in The Bay as well grounded as possible. They added a 23-year-old all-star who can help the longevity of their foundational star and a bridge to the future without him.

They got younger, more athletic, bigger and kept their big three core of Curry, Thompson and Green intact. Maybe Golden State’s dynasty is over, maybe they will trade Russell in six months and all of this will be for not. But I’m not doubting a proven champion who did everything they could to stay afloat in the raging waters of the current NBA landscape.

You can sell your Golden State Warriors stock, I’ll gladly buy up all of it.

Follow us on Twitter @DubsLead for the latest Warriors news and insight.

About Evan Wheeler

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