The Golden State Warriors took the league by storm 2 years ago. Stephen Curry emerged as one of the premier players of the generation, Klay Thompson came into his own and Draymond Green caught fire as a star on both sides of the ball once injuries brought him off the bench. This paired with an outstanding bench and amazing coaching led to the Warriors setting fire to the league and playing a style of their own.
The fast paced, shoot the lights out then defend just as hard equation led to the birth of the dreaded “small-ball” lineup featuring 3 forwards and no true center. This followed by the addition of Durant led to a team that is just too good for most other teams to even dream of beating. This dominance left a blueprint that many teams now are chasing now. A roster full of fast paced, versatile players who share the ball, shoot a good 3 % and defend is what NBA front offices all over the league are chasing. The trend is in and everybody is following suit. But what’s next?
Many people have told me that a superstar surrounded by shooters and defenders is the next trend but teams like Houston and Cleveland have their own issues, and if that star wasn’t Lebron those Cavs wouldn’t share the dominance of their west coast counterparts. So what do the Warriors have that other teams don’t? Multiple unselfish, versatile, bonafide stars.
So if the Warriors truly are “light-years” ahead of the rest of the NBA, what comes next? What would it take to take this to the next level? First let imagine the Warriors starting 5 Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green and Pachulia. Next imagine that Zaza was the best defender on the team and yet still an offensive force in the paint who could stretch the floor reliably and even put the ball on the ground when he need. On top of the imagine Steph Curry was 6’10. Now I get that this seems unfair but bear with me, what team has a big young facilitator, size, shooting, defensive potential with the highest ceiling in recent memory, along with a star center who fits in the modern NBA mold? The Philadelphia 76er’s.
As it stands now the Sixers have the 3rd pick in the 2017 Draft, with the assumption Fultz and Ball go first and second respectively it stands the 76ers could, and many believe will, take De’aaron Fox. This could leave the team with a starting 5 composed of, Simmons (granted Brown sticks with his plan for the point-forward), Fox, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Embiid. This line up consists of a 6’10 Point- forward who’s immensely talented with driving then finding open shooters, a 6’4 blazing fast and athletic scorer who can get open every time down the floor and score effortlessly, a 6’9 solid defender who doubles as a capable role scorer. This backcourt paired with one of the best young talents in the league in Joel Embiid,7’0’, and a good all-around young player who tough to find a ceiling on in Saric, 6,10. This leave the average height of this at 6’9 in a lineup full of shooters, playmaker and defenders. Not to mention names like Staskus and Okafor off the bench and plenty of assets to trade for seasoned vets and more capable bench players. Then what happens if the Sixer bring in a let’s say Kyle Lowry? A star veteran with playoff experience to guide a young Simmons and Fox can’t you see the picture coming together?
Now obviously Ben Simmons has a ways to go before he’s Curry and De’aaron and Dario are no Klay and Green but it’s about the structure, style and potential here. The warriors feast off of transition, spacing, ball movement and defense. The young core has the potential to not only meet these but excel in them. I get that there will never be another shooter like Steph and it hard to match the caliber of a player like KD but if Simmons is firing a pinpoint down court pass, off of an Embiid swat, to a speeding Fox for a wide open transition 3, things could get complicated for the opposition. This is all obviously a dream at this point, seeing as the 76ers first need to rid themselves of the injury bug. Then assuming all pieces can stay on the court there would still need to be tremendous strides made by Simmons, Embiid and Fox in not only chemistry but personal development.
Simmons has yet to see an NBA court, Embiid has yet to stay on one upwards of 40 times in a season and Fox has yet to prove he can live up to all that athletic and offensive potential. But 3 top 3 picks are 3 top 3 picks, a lot of development and planning, along with a little luck could be exactly what the Sixers need to repeat the path the Warriors walked the last 3 years. Let’s not forget the early injuries to Curry before his emergence along with the hidden gems found in Klay and even more so in Green. This all leads to the perfect storm of talent, it could be easy to see the way luck contributed to the Warriors construct considering how it fell together. So would injuries and “the Process” allowing them to gather 3 top 3 picks with more coming down the line fall under the same category? Who knows how it will play out, what ceilings will be reached and floors realized, this could go all down in flames plagued by injuries and busts for all we know. Yet still the thought of a faster, taller, younger Warriors is enough to keep even the most seasoned fan up at night