Nick Wright: The Kevin Durant deal made the Warriors a worse team
The Golden State Warriors matched their 2015-16 season on Monday night — and not in a good way.
Golden State’s surprising loss to the Denver Nuggets was the Warriors’ ninth defeat of the season; as you’ll likely recall, Stephen Curry & Co. lost all of nine games last season on their way to an NBA record 73 wins. And while a step back was to be expected as Golden State integrates Kevin Durant into the rotation, Nick Wright doesn’t believe the addition of Durant necessarily made this superteam any better.
In fact, on Tuesday’s episode of Undisputed on FS1, Wright argued last year’s Warriors were clearly the better team, as backed up by the math.
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Wright: “It is amazing to me that it is considered a hot take or a controversial opinion to say, ‘The team that was 73-9 is better than the team that’s 46-9.’
Of course last year’s team is better. All last year, all I heard — and you know what, I’ll admit it, what I believed throughout the regular season — was I was watching a team that had broken basketball. They had broken the math. The ‘3 being greater than 2,’ no team had ever exploited it as much as that team. No team had ever had a player have as good of an offensive season from beyond the arc as Steph Curry was having.
It was the perfect blend of basketball before they ran into the thermonuclear weapon of LeBron James in the Finals. Last year’s team was the best team I’ve ever seen. This year’s team is really good, but it’s not better than last year’s team — even though their starting lineup with Kevin Durant appears to be better. Last year’s team was 24-0. They were 36-2. They were 48-4.
This year’s team is 46-9 and it’s a controversial opinion that last year was better? I don’t follow. I don’t get it.”
As Wright acknowledges, the Golden State starters are better than last year, sure, but the Warriors aren’t nearly as deep this season as they were in 2015-16. The question is how big of an impact that will have on the team’s championship dreams.
On the one hand, most NBA titles are decided by the top six or seven players on elite teams. In the postseason, rotations shrink as coaches trust their very best players — and since there’s no tomorrow in the playoffs, stars can play more minutes without worrying about whether they’ll have enough left in the tank two months down the road. The Warriors are fine on that front; they should have plenty of firepower in May and June.
On the other, Golden State might be running on fumes come the NBA Finals if they can’t find some consistent help off the bench, especially if Wright is right.