In the wake of Kevin Durant signing with the Golden State Warriors, much of the focus has been on how ridiculous the Warriors look on paper. And for good reason! The team now boasts four — Durant, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson — of the best 15 or so players in the league. Has any other NBA team ever been able to make that claim?
A few teams over the course of NBA history have had two or three, but never four. There have been superstar duos and trios — Shaq and Kobe; Cousy and Russell; Jordan and Pippen; Lebron, Wade, and Bosh; Bird, McHale and Parrish; Magic, Kareem, and Worthy — but I can’t recall the existence of a roster with four guys like this, all potential first team All-NBA players and/or All-Star starters. The Warriors are well on their way to building a dynasty. How many games will they win next season? Seventy-eight? It actually doesn’t seem impossible. Hell, just send the Dubs to Rio for the Olympics. They’ll bring back gold while barely breaking a sweat.
But perhaps even more noteworthy and remarkable is what Golden State has done in the course of making a record-breaking 73-win team even better by replacing Harrison Barnes with Kevin Durant: they’ve completely vanquished a budding rival that stood to pose a legitimate threat to their ability to win titles for years to come, to their ability to build the dynasty they’re obviously trying to build. After coming thisclose to taking out the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, the Thunder are effectively over. Sure, they’ll be a decent team with Russell Westbrook carrying the load this coming season, but they won’t be great. Certainly not a team capable of beating these Warriors in a playoff series. And then it’s all but certain Westbrook will walk in free agency at the end of the season. Hell, there are already rumors swirling that the Thunder front office may now attempt to trade Westbrook to try to get something for him rather than have him walk and get nothing in return. If they do so, they won’t get any current superstars in a trade. They’ll get solid players, sure. Maybe a recent draft pick or two, a solid starter, and/or future draft picks. This will leave them as a good NBA team at best — one that could maybe make the playoffs in the Western Conference but likely as a 6/7/8 seed — or a rebuilding team at worse.
Bottom line: the Thunder will not be a team that poses a remotely serious threat to a potential Warriors dynasty like they did before Durant made the decision to walk. They’ve gone from being one game away from the NBA Finals to being utterly decimated.