They were two wins from a third consecutive NBA title in June. Today, the Golden State Warriors are the worst of the thirty teams in the North American Basketball League. With just three wins for thirteen losses since the start of the season, Steve Kerr's men are at odds with their standards in recent seasons.
❌ 3 wins in 15 games for @DubNationFr for the moment. They had not started a season of this kind of … https://t.co/z5JXUNLb1j
This catastrophic start to the season has its origins in the choices made in recent years. "The rotations and the bench had been sacrificed with the arrival of Kevin Durant"says Jacques Monclar, former player and coach, now consultant for BeIn Sports.
In 2016 Golden State had managed to attract Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the world, to complete a squad that came out of an NBA title and a narrow final.
But, despite a tinsel starting five, Golden State has evolved with a limited workforce for reasons of salary cap, these past three seasons. "All teams have about the same amount of money for salaries each season, recalls George Eddy, who comments on the NBA on Canal + Africa. It's not like football, where it's always the richest who accumulate the best players. "
"As if PSG were playing with a B or C team"
This summer, the Californian franchise has seen three of its key men leave: Kevin Durant (best player in the finals in 2017 and 2018) has taken the direction of Brooklyn, Andre Iguodala (best player in the finals in 2015) was sent to Memphis and Shaun Livingston has retired.
Added to these starts was the injury to Klay Thompson, who broke the cruciate ligaments of the left knee in the finals last season, and was announced missing for a very large part of the season.
Still, some wondered if the Warriors would fail to snatch the play-offs. A disastrous defense in the first few games, combined with a fracture of Stephen Curry's hand in the fourth meeting, reduced those hopes to nothing.
«Draymond Green (Three-time All-Star and Defender of the Year in 2017) is totally isolated and needs high level players around him to be effectivesays Jacques Monclar. Golden State had a bench that today became the starting five. It's as if the PSG was evolving with a team B or C. So we can expect a butchery. "
?️? #Overtime with @JMonclar
? The fifth of the week with a Draymond Green and Paul George
? LeBron James who "did not … https://t.co/VqDl04AY9U
The temptation to let slip away
The sports channel ESPN evokes, among the reasons for this fall, a possible general exhaustion after five years to run after the title with seasons to more than 100 matches each. "In many ways, the Warriors are paying for their last five seasons", writes the American site.
So what of such a season, when advanced statistical models ensure, after these first sixteen games, that the Warriors will end up with the worst record of the league? Forget it and move on to something else?
The NBA is a closed league where relegations are impossible. In addition, the worst teams are usually allowed to recruit the best young players in the draft. The temptation can be great to lose voluntarily to better bounce. In NBA language, it's called "tanking" and some teams have made it an art.
"It goes against everything we are, But Joe Lacob, owner of the Warriors, after Stephen Curry's injury. We will fight like dogs. We will help our young people progress. We do not learn to be better when we try to lose. Our entire organization is built around victory. And we will win. There may be some obstacles in our path. But we will never accept losing. "
The problem is that the Warriors are not really going to have a choice, as Golden State coach Steve Kerr said after a fifth straight defeat on November 14. "The goal is to win every game. The reality is that we are not good enough for that right now. Our goal is to do our best every night. "
(? VIDEO SUMMARY VF) ? #NBA
? The Warriors totally humiliated by Dallas!
? A 142-94 victory for the Mavs, with a … https://t.co/9CJSD3Yyg8
Especially since Golden State has a new room to make profitable. The Warriors left Oakland for San Francisco, where they have just moved to the 18,000-seat Chase Center cost $ 1.4 billion. Their president said in March that they have already generated $ 2 billion in revenue from sales of seats, lodges and sponsorship contracts.
Officially, the room is always packed. "I'm not sure the room is 100% full. People have bought, but do not come, notes Jacques Monclar, who points out the consequences on the revenues associated with the presence of supporters. "A room also works by its merchandising, with the sale of equipment, goodies, with drinks at restaurants and bars. The sporting reality often joins the financial reality. It is a temporary industrial accident. "
Future title contender?
Provisory, because if Klay Thompson risks being dismissed all season, for Stephen Curry, the situation is different. The goalkeeper has another goal in mind for this summer with the Olympics, says Jacques Monclar: "He wants to be. He is double world champion, but he has never participated in the Olympics. This is missing from his record, but he can not decently make a blank season and apply for a spot on the American team. "
That could put a damper on Golden State, which will need its All Star leader to win a few games. All before potentially starting again on a season where the Warriors could, perhaps, again aim for the title.
At least that's what George Eddy suggests: "They know that they are going to get some great players and that everything can start again. We saw that even without Kevin Durant, Green, Thompson and Curry were the key elements of the NBA's best team and they hold the record of victories in a regular season. They have a hard core of the highest level, to which they can add young players who are going to show themselves this year, and they are likely to draft high. It does a lot of good things to rebuild. "
Go from title contender to worst team before becoming a contender … In memory of George Eddy, the NBA has never seen that before.