Sports Talk With Saurav: Trust the process

by Saurav Tewari, Sports Columnist

Five finals appearances. Four championships. In the last seven seasons, the Golden State Warriors went from the laughingstock of the NBA whose distant 1972 Championship was a distant glimmer of hope in the eyes of older fans, to one of the league’s top franchises. 

No longer were they overshadowed by their “older brother” down south, the 20-time NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. But then, following the Warriors’ finals loss to the Toronto Raptors in 2019, came a flurry of devastating injuries – Klay Thompson tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), then a year later his achilles. Steph Curry broke his hand and sat out practically the entire 2019 – 2020 season. On top of all that, Kevin Durant left to join Kyrie Irving on the Brooklyn Nets. 

The Warriors were a ghost of their former team, and their record showed it: a dismal 15-50, bottom of the Western Conference, lower than teams such as the Minnesota Timberwolves and the New Orleans Pelicans – teams who haven’t won a championship and won’t for the foreseeable future. Sorry, T-Wolves and Pelicans fans, you’ll get there eventually.

I believe the Warriors can still get back to being a solid Western Conference team, but their superteam, championship-contender hopes are over for the near future. Those words sting. I wanted to say a championship contender, but the NBA is not the same league it was a few years ago. Back in 2016, the Warriors were the superteam that everyone outside of the Bay hated – they were one of a kind. They had three explosive superstars, in Steph, Klay, and Durant, but perhaps more importantly, a stacked bench with players such as Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, who played their respective roles well and could deliver at the right times. 

But now, “super-teams” have formed in Los Angeles and Brooklyn – teams that are without question more talented than the Warriors at this point from top to bottom. In Brooklyn, it’s the deadly trio of Durant, Irving, and Harden. In my eyes, the Nets were destined to win last year’s NBA Finals, but injuries came in their way. The Lakers had a similar story, with a quick first-round exit that sent shockwaves through the NBA community. However, their free agency included the signing of Russell Westbrook, further adding to their firepower. Both teams will come into the next season with a well-deserved break, which, fingers crossed, means that there won’t be so many injuries again.

Sorry if I dashed anyone’s hopes. However, looking on the bright side, the Warriors had a good off-season. The Warriors drafted Jonathan Kuminga with the seventh pick, who looks to be the guy who the Warriors wanted. He’s 6’8, 210 pounds, and teammates such as Draymond Green and Klay should help mold him into an impactful player on the offense and defense. 

However, every rookie has holes in their game – Kuminga suffered from inconsistent shooting and communication problems. There were airballed jumpers (a shot where the basketball misses the net and the backboard) in his debut and he shot below 30% from three, but Steve Kerr and the coaching staff should be able to help him develop a reliable jumper. 

The Warriors also drafted Moses Moody with the 14th pick, who fills in where Kuminga can’t, shooting nearly 37% from three point range. The Warriors are also rumored to be interested in forward Paul Millsap, who can play a reserve big man role for the team. But don’t be too excited for Millsap’s arrival. The Warriors are competing with the Nets and the Lakers, so Millsap might just be looking for one last dance, one last hurrah before retirement.

We just need to remember, Warriors fans, that we should look toward the bright future. The Durant era came to an end. Just like that, one day the Lakers and Nets “super-teams” will fall apart, and the Warriors will reach the upper echelons of the Western Conference again. Until then, let’s hope Steph can have another MVP-esque season, Klay can return by Christmas, and the youngsters can keep developing so that the Warriors can make the playoffs come March.