Golden State Warriors lost the NBA Finals to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday. With Kevin Durant sidelined, Klay Thompson suffered a knee injury in the third quarter that was later revealed to be a torn ACL and will rule him out for most of the 2019/20 campaign.
The Warriors were set for an uncertain summer with Durant, Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins all free agents. Their situation now is worse than uncertain.
The previous best-case scenario of resigning Durant and Thompson may well still be the most positive outcome, but it will leave them in unfamiliar territory next season.
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green will be left to hold the fort. The duo put up a fight in the NBA Finals, but with a subpar supporting cast, they were unable to compete with the Raptors in Game Three and the end of Game Six when Thompson was absent.
Andre Iguodala cannot play big regular season minutes and Sean Livingston is expected to retire. Curry and Green are both heading to the Hall of Fame, and Curry is one of the greatest to play the game, but the 2019/20 season will be something the Warriors haven’t experienced in a long time.
They will not be title favourites. Finishing in the top four in the Western Conference will be a big ask.
The Splash Brothers are set for their longest period apart since Thompson was drafted in 2011. Green’s free agency at the end of 2019/20 looms larger than ever. Who knows what the Achilles injury means for Durant.
As we witnessed in Game Five, the Warriors without Durant can still be that team. Thompson, Curry and Green with playoff Iguodala is still a unit to be feared. With no Durant or Thompson, though, Golden State are too easy to halt.
Durant’s Achilles was a blow. Thompson’s knee was another level. It was in the balance whether Durant would stay, while Thompson was as good as nailed on. Golden State, even without Durant, were still favourites to win the 2019/20 NBA title.
Since winning their first title in 2015, Steve Kerr’s team have been favourites each season, even adding one of the all-time greats in Durant along the way. It hasn’t all been easy, and there have been obstacles to overcome, but nothing comes close to this.
An NBA Finals loss in these circumstances doesn’t count as the end of a dynasty. The injuries to Durant and Thompson, however, mean this period of Warriors dominance has come to an end for next season at least.
Should they both stay in The Bay, the big four will be reunited in 2020/21 and, of course, will be feared once again. For now, though, the Warriors are back with the mere mortals with one true superstar and will face a challenges in 2019/20 unlike anything in their recent memory.