Demarcus Cousins ruined the NBA. Before that Kevin Durant ruined the NBA. Before that LeBron James ruined the NBA. Before that Shaquille O’Neal ruined the NBA. Get the point?
We have been down this rabbit hole before and have come out with the National Basketball Association more popular and illustrious each time. No team is unbeatable.
The ‘Dream Team’ lost their first scrimmage together against college amateurs (although the coach [Chuck Daly], reportedly, set them up to fail). The point being, these Golden State Warriors can be defeated. But God are they good.
Steph Curry, the staple of the Warriors’ franchise, is joined by 4 other All-Stars, to create arguably the best starting lineup, on paper, ever. Each of their strengths line-up well against any other historical team and play in an unselfish system that yields championships.
Kevin Durant is on a mission to match LeBron James’ greatness. And he isn’t too far off.
Curry is the most talented shooter in the NBA, and a case is to be made for the greatest shooter of all-time.
Klay Thompson is the underrated other half of the Splash Brothers, plus is a great two-way player.
Draymond Green displays incredible hustle, defense, and his knack for getting in the heads of opposing teams.
To round out the starting 5, Demarcus “Boogie” Cousins, joined the team on a 1 year-$5.3 million contract. Cousins is coming off of a torn Achilles, suffered last January. But the dominance displayed before the injury was enough to get him selected into the All-Star game (which he couldn’t participate in because of the torn Achilles). He can rebound well, defend the rim, handle himself in the post, and shoot mid-range shots. This complete center was the final piece missing from the star-studded 2017-2018 Warriors.
Golden State is not devoid of weaknesses, however. Their franchise cornerstone has some glaring issues of his own.
Steph Curry is a bit undersized, standing at 6’3” 190 LBS, leaving him exposed on defense. The point guard position is evolving from the true point archetype, into one similar of Magic Johnson. Ben Simmons and LeBron James are metamorphizing the point guard into the point forward. The offensive excellence of Curry is handcuffed to being a liability on defense. His ankle injuries, lack of size in a growing position, and age not on his side, all add up to his heightened proclivity to get beat on the defensive end.
Thompson and Green, although All-Stars, should not be counted on to carry the team. Injuries can and do happen. If KD and Curry go down again this year, at the wrong times, it opens up opportunities for other top contenders.
Kevin Durant likes to play the disappearing game. Some weeks he plays like the most dominant player in the league, and some weeks the lights seem too bright for him.
And finally, Boogie Cousins will not return until December/January, rendering useful for only half of the season. Issues with clicking in the locker room already follow him, and now he will hop on board midway through the season, potentially disfiguring the Warriors’ chemistry.
Now that we have identified the Warriors’ strengths and weaknesses, which teams can take them down? Currently, no squads are built to take down this juggernaut, in a 7-game series. Yours truly will take it upon himself to fix the NBA. You’re welcome, in advance.
Through free agency transactions, and trades—all through a realistic realm—teams will be built in order to craft a worthy challenger to Golden State. In order to officially guarantee these teams will actually beat the Warriors, I will use NBA 2K18 as a running simulation. Each squad will take on The Bay in a best of 7 series.
Bean town is where we should begin because, in my opinion, they have the best chance to win a title next year, not named the Warriors.
To begin, they have the best coach in the NBA. Sorry Pop, Stevens has taken the title. He’s a dynamic play creator and excellent at breeding talent. The Stevens’ system has led to the rise of Terry Rozier and the selection of an aging Al Horford to the All-Star game. This was a team that finished 2nd in the East, and was one game away from the NBA Finals, without either of their top two stars—Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward.
Going into 2018, the C’s will have both of them back at full health. Add to it Jayson Tatum, who has proved he has superstar potential. This roster already has talent and direction. But, they’re one or two pieces away from beating Golden State.
Trading for Kawhi Leonard makes the most sense in this scenario. I know, Leonard just got traded. But, some reports have come out about Kawhi not wanting to play in Toronto, even threatening to sit out, the entire year. It had been reported that the Celtics were reaching out to San Antonio, before. It wouldn’t be illogical for the C’s to continue that conversation with the Raptors.
This is how Boston can bring in ‘The Claw’: The Celtics give SG Jaylen Brown, F Guerschon Yabusele, Philadelphia/Sacramento Protected Top-1 2019 1st Round Pick, Memphis Grizzlies Protected Top-8 2019 1st Round Pick, and a 2020 2nd Round Pick; making the Raptors relinquish F Kawhi Leonard. This way the Celtics keep pushing for a championship, while Toronto can successfully complete a soft rebuild.
To add the cherry on top, Boston resigns C Greg Monroe—a rebounding, post technician to come off the bench and match the height and strength of Cousins.
The starting lineup is:
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Jayson Tatum
SF Gordon Hayward
PF Kawhi Leonard
C Al Horford
Off the bench are PG Terry Rozier, G Marcus Smart, C Aron Baynes, C Greg Monroe, F Robert Williams, F Semi Ojeleye and others.
Los Angeles Lakers
For fear not, the King has come to LA. The greatest opposition to the Warriors has been LeBron James. He was an integral part of the only team to win a series against Golden State of the last 16 playoff best-of-seven’s.
James may not have upgraded his team by moving from Cleveland to LA, but the Lakers have a lot of movable capital. This team has a great ability to mold into a contender.
The first move would be to acquire F Kawhi Leonard from the Raptors. Leonard’s interest in Los Angeles has already been well documented, and his stubbornness may get him there. A trade is very possible and here is how they can pull it off. The Lakers swap F Kyle Kuzma, G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, 2019 1st Round Pick, 2020 1st Round Pick, 2019 2nd Round Pick for Toronto’s F Kawhi Leonard and 2020 2nd Round Pick.
Although a LeBron/Kawhi duo is fantastic, it may not be enough to take down the Warriors. Midway through the upcoming season, the Lakers will finish their squad with two more trades. Kyrie Irving has one year left on his contract and reports have him wanting to go to NY. It would not be surprising to see Danny Ainge get value back before Irving can leave. We saw this when he traded Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Jason Terry. Irving’s trade value may take a hit because of his unwillingness to sign a new contract and if Boston somehow isn’t competing like a championship contender.
The Lakers secure G Kyrie Irving for G Lonzo Ball, F Luol Deng, 2019 2nd Round Pick, 2024 1st Round Pick.
This fantastic team is missing a star at only one position—center. Look to the Raptors and Jonas Valanciunas, a scoring center with only one year (plus a player option) left on his contract. This is a perfect target to finish this Hollywood A-List roster.
The Lakers give up a 2022 1st Round Pick, G Josh Hart for C Jonas Valanciunas.
The Los Angeles Lakers final starting lineup is:
PG Kyrie Irving
SG Brandon Ingram
SF LeBron James
PF Kawhi Leonard
C Jonas Valanciunas
Coming off the bench are C Jevale McGee, PG Rajon Rondo, SG Lance Stephenson, G Malik Newman, F Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, F Moritz Wagner and others.
The Rockets were one game away from beating the Warriors, last year in the Conference Finals. This Houston team finished first in the league with 65 wins and star guard, James Harden, took home MVP.
Mike D’Antoni’s led squad beat Golden State twice in the regular season and three times in the playoffs but were still unable to the crack the code in Game 7 of the Conference Finals. The ‘run and gun’ offense, donned by the Rockets, had foiled the majority of the NBA, last season.
Chris Paul, James Harden, and Clint Capela were nearly unbeatable when all three were on the court. The first move is to re-sign Clint Capela to long-term extension deal. His presence, down low, opens up opportunities for the success of the run and gun.
Next, it’s up to GM Daryl Morey to pull off a blockbuster trade. The superstar that makes the most sense, especially in a D’Antoni system, is Jimmy Butler. A great two-way player, who’s jumper is as strong as his ability to attack the basket.
Jimmy Butler has also turned down a 4-year max contract from the Timberwolves—making him trade bait. The Rockets give up G Eric Gordon, 2019 1st Round Pick, for SG Jimmy Butler. At 6 feet 7 inches, Jimmy Butler is one of the taller guards in the NBA, allowing him to shift to SF or a wing position.
The Rockets can also sign SF Carmelo Anthony to help secure the Forward position. Anthony is expected to be waived by the Hawks, after the trade. Financially it shouldn’t be too hard to sign a washed-up Melo. Plus, Houston being such a strong contender, could draw interest from a ringless Anthony.
The Rockets final roster outlook would be:
PG Chris Paul
SG James Harden
SF Jimmy Butler
PF Ryan Anderson
C Clint Capela
Playing off of the bench are F Carmelo Anthony, SF PJ Tucker, SG Gerald Green, C Zhou Qi, C Nene and others.
Does anyone view the Raptors as true contenders? I didn’t, last year. They were swept, very unceremoniously, by the Cleveland Cavaliers. It seemed like Toronto had played to the peak of their ability, all year. The results were a 1st place finish in the East, but a far cry from the championship.
This offseason, their front office made the surprising decision to fire Dwayne Casey, their head coach. Casey received the 2017-2018 NBA Coach of the Year Award, post-firing. Although this may seem like a bad move, I take it differently. The Raptors are sick of not winning. This is not synonymous with sick of losing, because that does not apply to the Raptors. Being sick of ‘not winning’ means you have the capabilities to win but seem so far away from actually getting it done. Toronto has been ‘not winning’ for a few years, and it doesn’t seem like it will get better. The Washington Wizards are also in this purgatorial stage. The Raptors want to strike a different chord, and firing Casey was their way of doing it.
Trading for a player with league-renowned status would also do the trick; something the Raptors did by acquiring F Kawhi Leonard. This has me believing one of two things: Toronto is going all in on a championship, or they’re looking to flip Leonard for more favorable returns (to make it a 3-way deal). If the front office is serious about contending for a title, then they’ll need one more piece. Former 1st overall pick and former partner of Kim Kardashian, Blake Griffin, fits that bill. He hasn’t fit well with the Pistons, and they want to get out of his contract.
The Raptors give up SF OG Anunoby, PG Delon Wright, SF Norman Powell for PF Blake Griffin from the Detroit Pistons.
The addition of superstars Kawhi Leonard and Blake Griffin could go a long way but adding another strong player to replace DeRozan, would finish the job. Toronto can attempt to bring in a veteran presence in G Dwayne Wade. Wade showed that he has some left in the tank, in his second stint with Miami.
The Raptors can compete well with Golden State if they’re starting lineup is:
PG Kyle Lowry
SG Dwayne Wade
SF Kawhi Leonard
PF Blake Griffin
C Jonas Valanciunas
Performing off of the bench are F Serge Ibaka, SF CJ Miles, C Jakob Poetl, PG Fred VanVleet, G Malachi Richardson and others.
Oklahoma City Thunder
General Manager, Sam Presti, thought he had done enough to defeat Golden State when he traded for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Instead, the Thunder were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. This was a complete backfire by the Thunder, and now they are trying to dish Carmelo’s contract onto another team.
This does not mean, however, that those trades can’t help OKC win it all this year. Russell Westbrook is a dynamic talent, that can put up monster numbers. He just needs to be coached down and allow other players to work as primary ballhandlers, such as Paul George. George is a superstar who could not take his old team, the Indiana Pacers, over the hump. The combination of those two, with Steven Adams, is a good trio to build around.
First, is to acquire a great defending guard, but has a competent jumper (unlike Andre Roberson). Jimmy Butler fits this bill very well. Butler has succeeded in the past with a ball-dominant point guard (Derrick Rose).
The Thunder trade away SG Andre Roberson, SF Jerami Grant, 2020 2nd Round Pick and a 2019 1st Round Pick for Minnesota Timberwolves’ SG Jimmy Butler.
Last addition to the Thunder will be Kevin Love. The Cavaliers are in full rebuild mode since LeBron left. Love is the last star in ‘The Land’, making it logical for him to be moved.
Oklahoma City swipes PF Kevin Love for 2021 1st Round Pick, F Terrance Ferguson, and 2019 2nd Round Pick.
This creates the Warrior defeating roster, consisting of:
PG Russell Westbrook
SG Jimmy Butler
SF Paul George
PF Kevin Love
C Steven Adams
Coming off of the bench are F Kyle Singler, F Patrick Patterson, C Nerlens Noel, PG Raymond Felton, SG Alex Abrines and others.
There you go. I fixed it. Boogie ruined the NBA, and here are how the top contenders can reshape their roster, to beat him. The Warriors are the far and above the rest of the NBA, at the moment, but it doesn’t mean it will stay that way.
If you are worried this season is a wash, I plead to you to watch anyways. There are so many possibilities for it to go differently than expected; it is very difficult to be great, so there is no guarantee Golden State will dominate. The season is full of surprises, meaning the NBA may, very well, just fix itself. And shout out to Andrew Hafemeister, when we brainstormed the different ways we could fix the NBA, prefacing the article.
In the comments below, tell me which current teams have the best opportunity to beat the Warriors. Also let me know, which team built above is the best, which is the worst, and which is the most likely to happen. Stay tuned for more articles around the NBA and NFL. #RideTheWave