Golden State may well be a super team — one that will set the bar in the NBA for the next four years or so — but they didn’t go out and buy a team like the Yankees. They drafted Stephen Curry (7th pick), Klay Thompson (11th), and Draymond Green (35th), developed those guys, put them in an innovative system where they thrived, then managed their salary cap well enough that when the opportunity came to add Kevin Durant via free agency, they had the space to do it.
The Warriors were just smart, and a little lucky.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has heard the hot take calls about breaking up the Warriors, and he told the Washington Post the better idea is to help other teams raise themselves up.
“Rather than focusing on the top of the league, we should be focusing on the rest of the league,” Silver told The Post before Game 4. “Rather than talking about how to break up or knock down a championship-caliber team, my focus should be on how we do a better job developing more great players in this league….
“And yes, an incredible free agent was added to that squad,” Silver said. “All the focus seems to be on, ‘They’re too good’ as opposed to, ‘What is it we should be doing to create more great teams in this league?’ That’s what my response is.
“My answer is, let’s create more great teams, rather than completely focus on one incredible team and whether that’s seemingly unfair to the other team. I think it’s the nature of competition…
“My answer is, let’s create more great teams.”
I like the concept, but the answer is a bit simplistic. There is a limited pool of great players and you can’t just go into Frankenstein’s lab — or John Calipari’s — and create new ones. Making guys stay in college for another year or two is not going to create more star players (it didn’t in the past), nor is there some other magic wand to wave.
Should teams work on improving their player development programs? Certainly. The Warriors, Spurs, and Celtics do it well, and notice where they sit in the standings. Cleveland drafted and developed LeBron James (although he is a once-in-a-generation anomaly), Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson. Franchises have to draft and develop talent to succeed, try to just buy a contender and you get Brooklyn.
That said, stars are going to cluster in the NBA. Always have. And the league has thrived when it happened.
Also, that CBA will eventually tear apart the Warriors. After they lock up Durant and Curry this summer it will be all good for two more seasons, but in the summer of 2019 Thompson is up for a new deal, followed by Green the following year. The Warriors could keep them all together, but the cost in salary and luxury tax penalties would be $1 billion over the next four years (according to former front office person Bobby Marks of the Vertical). Yes, billion with a “B.” I get the Warriors owners are very rich, and have a new building coming on line to pump cash into the organization, but that’s going to get too rich for their blood. The squad will break apart, role players will get paid elsewhere.
But not for a couple of years. For now, it’s the Warriors league, and Silver is going to be spouting versions of this “rising tide lifts all boats” theory through it all.