The Warriors are starting to get the reputation of a franchise that people instantly give the benefit of the doubt to when judging personnel decisions.
It’s well deserved at this point. A championship and a 73 win regular season in back-to-back years are pretty good indications that a terrific roster has been built.
Most of the core pieces have been drafted by the organization. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green were handpicked by this franchise out of their respected colleges.
You look at other important players in their prolonged run of success and see a combination of shrewd draft picks, under-the-radar free agent signees, and intelligent trades.
Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli were drafted. Andrew Bogut was acquired in what was at the time a very unpopular Monta Ellis trade.
Shaun Livingston was signed by the team after spending years rehabilitating his game after that horrific knee injury. It’s not as if he was being heavily pursued by multiple teams the way a guy like Kevin Durant was this offseason.
Marreese Speights was a signing that didn’t really capture much attention at the time. He’d only averaged more than 20 minutes per game once in his previous 5 NBA seasons.
Leandro Barbosa was an aging player when they signed him, far removed from his prime with the Suns.
Brandon Rush was coming off the worst season of his career when the Warriors re-acquired him before the 2014-2015 season.
If you really look at the roster configuration of the past 2 seasons, Andre Iguodala is the only guy acquired via free agency that was considered a big splash when it occurred.
David Lee was acquired via a sign-and-trade, and that was a big deal when it happened, but the irony is that the team didn’t make that next leap towards greatness until Lee was coming off the bench.
The point is that this team’s triumphs have come largely from being extremely savvy with player personnel decisions not having to do with simply throwing money at the shiny high-priced free agent of that offseason.
It’s why the vitriol directed at the Warriors by opposing fans due to the Durant signing is really misguided. This team isn’t the Yankees. They don’t re-tool every offseason by bringing in the latest blue chip free agents.
Go up and down the roster of the 2014-2015 championship team and you’ll see a collection of players who were drafted, traded for, or simply signed to be complimentary players.
Iguodala is the only “star” player acquired through free agency, and it’s the same thing with the roster last season.
People like Adam Silver who chastise the Warriors don’t have a compelling argument. This team isn’t abusing the CBA. They built their team the “right way.”
I use quotations because I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to build a championship roster, but other people seem to think so.
I suppose it’s different in baseball because of the lack of salary cap, but in a league like the NBA where teams all play by the same rules and have the same resources in assembling a roster, no team can gripe about having the cards unfairly stacked against them.
Teams may set themselves back and decrease payroll flexibility through bad contracts handed out, but that’s their own fault.
It’s a soft cap, and some owners are more willing than others to pay luxury taxes for going over, but the way the rules are set up is that teams can go over to re-sign players they originally drafted.
Again, this rewards teams that acquire great players via the draft. Curry is going to get a huge pay raise next offseason, and the team won’t be constricted if they’re willing to pay the penalties of going over that cap, which Joe Lacob has indicated he is.
Bird Rights also come into play if a player has spent at least 3 seasons with the team they’re on.
This is a provision that allows a team to exceed the cap to re-sign one of these qualifying players. The good news for the Warriors is that Iguodala will qualify for this next offseason when his contract ends.
Concerns about this team’s ability to keep their core group together are probably overblown in regards to Curry, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala.
Durant is the one that’s more complicated. The Warriors don’t have his Bird Rights because he only signed a 2 year contract with the team.
He has a player option for 2017-2018, so he could even opt out this next offseason at the same time that Curry and Iguodala’s contracts expire.
If this team is successful this upcoming season, though, I’m not sure why Durant would opt out, given how he has seemed to prioritize winning.
Whether or not the team could feasibly re-sign him after the 2017-2018 season is a more complex matter, though.
As of now, the team is on the hook for about $38.4 million for the 2017-2018 season, with the only players on the books being Green, Klay Thompson, and Jason Thompson, who’s not even on the roster anymore.
Damian Jones and Kevon Looney have team options that if both enacted would bump up the payroll to about $40.9 million.
Let’s be as optimistic as possible and assume those two overcome their injuries and are chosen to be retained.
So while it’s not clear how much money Curry and Iguodala each get next offseason, let’s assume it’s about $40 million between the two of them, which sounds like a solid estimate.
So that’s going to be about $80.9 million on the books before tending to Durant’s contract. The estimated salary cap for the 2018-2019 season is about $108 million.
They should be able to keep him, but the fate of Livingston might end up playing a large role in that.
Livingston is a free agent at the end of this season, but the team possesses his Bird Rights, so again, if Lacob is willing to pay these contracts, the team can stay together.
However, I’m thinking that Livingston might end up being the odd man out unfortunately. It’d be hard to re-sign Durant at a competitive rate if even $6 million is added to the payroll.
Livingston makes about $5.8 million on the mid-level exception right now. Whether he’s willing to take a pay cut remains to be seen.
However, it’s certainly plausible that Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, and Iguodala remain on the roster for the foreseeable future.
They’ll mainly have to rely on either Bird Rights from their young players or veterans from other teams agreeing to join on minimum salaries to field a complementary unit.
Great franchises aren’t built by accident. This team has flourished due to talent on the court that has been assembled through brilliant front office maneuvering.
Steve Kerr and his staff mold the players that Bob Myers delivers to them, and it’s definitely a well-oiled machine.
Although he doesn’t have an official title and serves mainly as a consultant to the team, the influence of Jerry West can’t be understated.
He’s arguably the greatest NBA executive of all time, and his opinion carries with it a lot of weight.
A player endorsement from him should really alert everyone that there’s probably a gem on their hands.
Patrick McCaw had a fantastic Summer League, and West has boldly declared that people around the league are going to be sorry that they didn’t draft him when they had the chance.
Honestly, I hold West in such high esteem that those comments have got me on the McCaw bandwagon already.
He’s a 6’7’’ shooting guard with great passing skills and a commitment to playing a solid defensive game.
He attended Montrose Christian High School in Rockville, Maryland, and chose to play college ball at UNLV.
In 2016, he was named Second Team All-Mountain West and also received a spot on the Mountain West All-Defensive Team.
That season, he averaged 14.5 points per game, 5.2 rebounds per game, 3.9 assists per game, and 2.4 steals per game.
He has a 6’10’’ wingspan, which gives him the versatility to be able to guard multiple positions out on the court.
He’s only 185 LBS right now, and will have to bulk up. With the gym facilities and staff available to these players, that isn’t a daunting task.
He’s adept in the transition game, and excels as a passer in half-court settings. The concern is that he doesn’t quite have the ball handling skills yet to consistently create shots for himself.
He also isn’t strong enough to take hits inside and still be able to finish around the basket, but that could change if he adds some muscle.
Although he shows potential as an outside shooter, his mechanics will need to be tuned up a bit by the coaching staff.
His defense might be what makes him most intriguing as a prospect, though. He has quick feet and tremendous length, which can make him a suffocating perimeter defender.
He has some significant flaws, but so does every player who falls to that stage of the draft. What’s also evident, though, is that his ceiling is really high.
The Warriors could very well have another second round gem on their hands, as West alluded to in his assessment.
As the Warriors look to build around their core superstars in the next few years, it’ll make them even more formidable if they can get meaningful contributions from a guy like McCaw.
The organization has done a terrific job of utilizing the draft in recent years, and McCaw could be the next pick that gets rave reviews.