The Golden State Warriors shouldn’t expect to lose more than maybe 20 times in the 2018-19 season. They could and should go win another title as come playoff time they will have a starting five that will be hard to top in the future.
A starting unit consisting of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins is mind boggling. That is a combined 25 All-Star appearances among them.
Contrary to belief, the Dubs biggest challenge won’t be against the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, or even the Boston Celtics. Instead, it will come in the offseason of 2019 if they don’t pay the most important Warrior (MIW) in Thompson.
Now, you are probably wondering why I refer to Thompson as the MIW. Let’s take it back to Game 6 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder who had Durant at the time. The Thunder were up 83-75 heading into the fourth quarter with a 3-2 lead in the series.
Then, Klay happened.
Thompson was not ready to head back to the Bay Area with the season over as he picked his team up by dropping 19 points in the final period to help force a Game 7. He finished the game with 41 points to lead the Dubs. Ultimately, we know what happened as GSW ended up heading to the NBA Finals.
Game 6 against the Rockets in this past season’s WCF Thompson did it again. After trailing to the Rockets by 10 at halftime, Thompson scored 21 of his team-leading 35 points in the second half to force yet another Game 7.
Thompson might be the third scoring option and might get lost in the shuffle with more marketable guys around him in Curry, Durant, and Green, but when he is locked in he makes them unbeatable. When he is disengaged, or Curry and Durant start to hoard the rock, the Dubs are vulnerable.
What makes Golden State mortal? Its when Thompson is not getting his touches.
During the 2016 Finals when the Warriors lost in seven to the Cavs, Thompson struggled with limited touches and possibly being worn down by having to chase Kyrie Irving or being drained by the physically imposing James. KT averaged 19.5 points while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 35 percent from deep. During the regular season he averaged 22.1 points, nailing 47 percent of his attempts, and drained 42.5 percent of his looks from deep.
Need more proof?
Remember Game 1 of the Finals when the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers nearly upset the Warriors? LBJ was certainly in his bag that evening as he was torching the Dubs. On the contrary, during the final nine minutes in the fourth quarter, Thompson had zero shot attempts. That is when they needed him most, but the plays went elsewhere and the Cavs nearly won.
In overtime of Game 1, Thompson nailed two three-pointers and all was well as the Warriors won en route to a sweep for their third title in four years.
Curry and Durant just got paid with Thompson and Green as the other two returning stars that are poised for a big payday. The sharpshooting Warrior could very well take a pay cut and continue to buy into the greater good that the trio of Joe Lacob, Bob Myers, and Steve Kerr are selling.
But a video and some photos with Luke Walton in Qatar had NBA Twitter going crazy.
Yes, Thompson and Walton have history together as Walton was a coach on the Warriors staff from 2014-2016 in which they won a title in 2015.
Can we completely ignore the idea that Thompson could very well end up in Los Angeles next summer? Maybe not. Especially, considering the fact that the Lakers will have the financial wherewithal to lure him in along with the ultimate recruiters in LeBron, Magic Johnson, and Rob Pelinka.
The writing could very well be on the wall for the former Wazzu standout.
Sometimes Thompson gets lost in the shuffle in Golden State. Sometimes he looks disengaged with Curry and Durant taking more shots. Now, since that video leaked with him and Walton, sometimes I get the feeling that Thompson could very well end up in Los Angeles.
The Warriors will do all they can to lock up their lockdown defender. If Thompson makes it past All-Star weekend without a new deal, one of the league’s best dynasties ever will certain be in jeopardy.