Can the Spurs Compete With the Warriors?
*Photo via NBA.com
This summer has been one of the most unusual ones in the basketball world. We witnessed some moves that we never thought would happen, like Kevin Durant joining the Golden State Warriors to form the “Splash Family” super team. So the question that everybody is curious about, “are the Warriors unstoppable?”
The Warriors sure seemed like an unstoppable team last season, with a history-making 73-win regular season record, and another NBA Finals appearance, where they were defeated by the Cavaliers in 7 games. So now, with Durant joining on board, it seems likely that this team will be a title favorite for the foreseeable future. Yet, will that be the case?
Let us compare the Warriors to the San Antonio Spurs. People tend to do that, comparing a new team that has a seemingly terrifying lineup to a more experienced, more stable team with good chemistry and consistency. It seems like this has become a way of “testing” new teams, just like after LeBron James joined D-Wade and Bosh to form the 2010 Miami Heat, most people asked the same question, “is this team unstoppable?”, and also, “can they beat the Spurs?”
What would be the outcome of a Spurs-Warriors series?
*Photo via Star Tribune
First, let’s take a look at their matchups last season. They faced each other 4 times, three of which Golden State walked away with the W, and that was when the Spurs’ roster still had one of the best power forwards of all-time, Tim Duncan. And now with Manu Ginobili facing near the end of his career, on the first glance, the Spurs will seem even more unlikely to compete against such a superteam.
But let’s take a closer look at the Warriors’ lineup, they no longer have Andrew Bogut as their big man, their tallest starters will be Kevin Durant, who is 6 foot 11, and Zaza Pachulia, who is 6 foot 11. But Kevin Durant, as we know, is more of an outside player, he attempted to shoot from outside the arc 481 times last season, highest on the Thunder team. Unless Kevin changes his game to be more active in the paint, which may cause him to play more power forward than usual. The Spurs will have an absolute advantage on the inside game because they will have both LaMarcus Aldridge, and the just-signed big man Pau Gasol dominating inside, both of whom are almost seven feet tall and have great consistency from both under the basket and mid-range -- even from the three-point line sometimes.
Another advantage that the Spurs have over Golden State is their bench, they may even have the most underrated bench in the entire NBA. First, they have their veteran Manu Ginobili, who has so much experience in big games and crunch times. Even though he is close to his retirement, he is still averaging about 10 points per game with steady percentages. Similar to Manu’s numbers is their rock-solid bench point guard Patty Mills, averaging almost 9 points and 3 assists with 20 minutes of playing time, he also has a stable jump shot that is pretty valuable in today’s games. In adding Andre Miller, the Spurs added an experienced veteran to help groom their younger players. This roster is built around Kawhi Leonard, he is the kind of player that can be an MVP candidate in the near future, and also is going to create a dream matchup versus Kevin Durant in any future playoff series.
However, it is not like the Dub Nation doesn’t have it’s soul-crushing, dream-killing, outside shooting. I am not going to bore you with numbers, we all know how incredible these players can be.
Only time will tell what the future holds for these two teams. My guessing is Kevin Durant will likely be more active inside, and look to facilitate more in Golden State than his time in Oklahoma City. We are talking about two teams that have great team chemistry and ways of keeping players together and focused. Two teams that have experiences in the NBA Finals and even winning rings, and it is almost certain that they will be the two competing for a spot in the NBA Finals next season, so buckle up, and enjoy this competition brought by these two completely different basketball teams because believe it or not, every game will feel like the Finals.