We know injuries could haunt any team, but we have seen a bit of a stretch lately with Stephen Curry being banged up and missing some games. Of course Golden State has Kevin Durant and the rest of the crew to rely on, but Durant has had a few moments over the last few seasons with nagging injuries. One injury will not change this team drastically, but it could make taking the one seed again in doubt, and also one of these injuries in the playoffs could make it tougher against an Oklahoma City or Houston. The Western teams overall have improved, and every team is going to come after Golden State.
We have seen in sports that the torn Achilles injury can be career-ending. DeMarcus Cousins had this injury in the middle of last season, and has been rehabbing ever since. He will not be up to 100% within the first month or two, but after Cousins will be looking to get into more of a groove. This of course just adds to the Warriors potential legacy, but also we have to ask what Cousins shows up. If he is healthy, Cousins can be one of the most dynamic bigs in the game, but if he shows ill effects of the injury, we are looking at a talented career cut short or at least limited.
The Warriors got quality minutes out of names like Quinn Cook and Jordan Bell last season. Cook is a former Duke Blue Devil, while Jordan Bell was a talented big coming out of college that fell into the lap of Golden State through the Chicago Bulls. Both will be entering a second year after they made noise in their first. Injuries would have to really occur for them to get consistent minutes, but overall they will fill in for blowouts and rest nights. Bell has the clearer shot for minutes and production with not as much depth and Cousins out for a month or two.
When we look at the Western Conference, the Warriors are the clear cut number one, but Houston pushed them to a brink in the playoffs last season. Oklahoma City has the most talent and defensive presence to make some noise, but it is hard seeing anyone else in the West taking them out. When you look at the East, this is of course looking at a finals preview, Boston is the best team in the Eastern Conference. They are heavy favorites to make the finals, but may not have enough to compete with this offense. With LeBron James now in LA, the East has only one contender to knock off the Warriors.
We can probably narrow this list down to Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. Durant has averaged 25 and 26 points per game over the last two seasons in Golden State, while Curry has averaged 25 and 26 points per game. Klay Thompson has averaged over 20 points per game, but is the third option among this group. With such a balanced offense, we likely will not get a huge separation in Curry’s and Durant’s points per game. If Curry does miss time or even Durant, then you could see one lead by a few points given the usage and production skyrockets.