Nobody knows if they'll bother changing the name of the "death lineup" now that Kevin Durant has chosen to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Technically, they don't have to change the moniker "splash brothers" just because there are three brothers now. Regardless of the glitz, glamor and gloss surrounding this new NBA super-er team — and with obvious and heartfelt apologies to fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder — the Warriors should give other NBA cities some hope.
The Warriors are not a gilded franchise known for being the NBA elite. There are four championships to their names, but only one — against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 — has occurred since I was alive. Not to be ageist, but at 37-years-old there's enough sand at the bottom of the hourglass for me to know they're not an NBA equivalent of the New York Yankees. Also, despite Joe Lacob's bragging about how advanced the Warriors are, and his competitive foretelling of the Kevin Durant signing, there has been a whole lot of luck tossed in the cauldron to make this magical roster. Signing Kevin Durant is just the latest example of capitalizing on luck and good fortune. I'm not going to take all the credit away from the Warriors, but you need luck — in addition to smart planning and work — for Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green to become the trio they have become.
http://www.scout.com/cleveland-sports/story/1676821-tom-izzo-wanted-dan-gilbert-to-draft-draymondBack to the hope for other NBA cities. Cleveland is a tough sell to other NBA cities because you can't really replicate the LeBron James hometown narrative. Without LeBron's birthplace being Akron, the Cavaliers don't get their superteam, at least not exactly like this. The Warriors, however, is more doable in pretty much any NBA city. It's not easy, but starting in 2009, the Warriors drafted Stephen Curry at No. 7. In 2011 they drafted Klay Thompson at No. 11. In 2012, they drafted a steal of all steals getting Draymond Green at No. 35. It will not be forgotten that Green wasn't only selected 35, but he was the third player taken by his own team in that draft. Draymond was drafted after Harrison Barnes at No. 7, and Festus Ezeli at No. 30. The Warriors deserve credit for taking a player of Green's pedigree and helping him go from a 250-pound player to a much more versatile 230-pound player. They deserve credit for making that bet, but winning in the second round of the NBA draft is about luck as much as it is about skill. Again, I'm not saying it's easy to do, but that's a path available to any team in any NBA city.
While Oakland is a nice part of the country, and a draw in many industries, to say it's been a preferred NBA market is false. The Warriors aren't going to be confused with the Lakers, Celtics, or Spurs in terms of history. The fans have a phenomenal reputation, but the facilities — namely Oracle Arena — do not. Over a five-year span, with their plan and a given amount of luck, they've turned their team into a destination worthy of the biggest free agent since LeBron James. Not every team can get Kevin Durant on their roster, but a concerted effort on draft day, with a good plan and some luck, and almost any franchise can be in the same spot.
It's a shame that the NBA season is down to about three-to-five teams before it even starts. It's a shame that in a year where there were unprecedented dollars to throw around that the balance of power in the standings appears not to be shifting all that much. Sports aren't much fun without hope, and hope may be hard to conjure in a given NBA city this year.
Even if this is not your year, don't give up completely. You might just be a couple years away from seeing the next Draymond Green emerge from the bottom of your roster to become a part of a big two or three that you weren't expecting. Kevin Durant, like LeBron James before him, proved that modern NBA players will make basketball decisions ahead of pure market decisions. We can parse all the similarities and differences and historical comparisons until we've spun ourselves into a dizzy stupor. The fact is that players will look to join other good groups of players. That is achievable in any city from Miami to Oakland, and from San Antonio to Cleveland.
The Warriors weren't supposed to become the Warriors. A team with that kind of success is not supposed to be able to have room to add a generational talent like Kevin Durant. This wasn't a preordained NBA birthright for Golden State the way it's felt at times for Boston or Los Angeles.
Say this out loud: The NBA runs through Oakland (and Cleveland) right now. If that doesn't give other NBA fans hope, I don't know what will.