August 24, 2017, 5:18 pm
Hoop-Ball’s Post-Mortem series takes a look at the 2016-17 season and what went right and wrong for every team. From coaching analysis to fantasy impact, we dive in to the year that was and make sense of it all. If you’ve missed any, you can find them here.
The 2016-2017 season was one of the most important seasons in recent history for the Warriors. Their previous season had been stained by the fact that they gave up a 3-1 lead in the Finals. They went through the offseason dealing with countless memes and jokes, constantly reminding them that their 73-9 season had been ruined by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the offseason wasn’t all bad for them. They changed the entire landscape of the NBA by signing All-Star and former MVP Kevin Durant and they knew they had something to prove. Not only to the world, but to themselves. The Warriors set out to win their second NBA Championship in three years and they did just that. Hoop-Ball’s Post Mortem series takes a closer look at just how dominant the Warriors were this year.
The goal for Golden State this year was simple: Avenge last year’s NBA Finals loss. Every move they made this year was done to make sure they could beat LeBron and the Cavs in June. The first, and most impactful, move they made came before the season even began and they had been planning it since before their 2015-16 ended. On July 4th, 2016 the Golden State Warriors made a move that would effect the NBA for years to come when they signed Kevin Durant.
The signing of Durant wasn’t just any regular signing, because Kevin Durant isn’t just any regular player. He’s a former MVP, four-time scoring champion, eight-time All-Star and is regarded by some to be the best scorer to ever play in the NBA. However, with the addition of Kevin Durant came the loss of some key players that helped accomplish the Warriors’ record breaking 73-9 season just a year ago. Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, Andrew Bogut, Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa all left the Warriors heading into this season, but they managed to pick up the slack.
They drafted Patrick McCaw with the 38th overall pick in the draft, managed to re-sign Ian Clark and steal Zaza Pachulia and David West away from the Mavericks and Spurs while taking a chance on one of the most ridiculed players in the league, JaVale McGee.
The season was a success for the Warriors, but it didn’t come without some bumps in the road. Finishing 67-15, they managed to notch the NBA’s best record for the third straight year. However, the fell six wins shy of their 73-9 record last season, which can be contributed to many things. Injuries, slow starts, poor bench play and chemistry all played a role in their inability to reach the 70-win mark. However, they had an even better statistical season than a year ago. They outscored teams by 11.6 points per game this season, which is an improvement over the 10.8 they had last season. Their net rating as a team improved from 11.6 to 12.1 and they still managed to keep the same defensive ferocity they had last season finishing with a defensive rating of 101.1, second to only the Spurs.
The Durant experiment worked though he missed 19 games with a knee injury that occurred late in the season. They proved to be dominant with and without him, notching a 51-11 record and 117.2 offensive rating when KD played, and rattling off 14 straight wins while he was injured. They made sure the rest of the league feared them regardless of whether or not Durant suited up.
The Warriors ended their regular season winning 15 of their last 16 games and finishing as the first seed in the Western Conference, setting them up to face Portland in the first round. They breezed through the first three rounds, sweeping the Blazers, Jazz and Spurs and moving into the NBA Finals with a record of 12-0. The only thing standing in their way was once again LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers. They took a 3-0 lead, and things looked eerily similar to last year with the Cavs winning Game 4 to make it a 3-1 lead.
After a year of being the mockery of the NBA, the Dubs finished off the Cavs in Game 5 and once again became NBA Champions, putting an end to one of the most dominant postseasons in NBA history. They managed to rattle off 15 straight playoff wins and finished 16-1 in the postseason, better than both the 2000-01 Lakers and 1982-83 76ers. Not only did they prove themselves as a team, but Kevin Durant proved himself as a superstar. After a year of being ridiculed for his move from OKC to GSW, the abandonment of former teammate Russell Westbrook, and basically becoming the villain of the NBA, KD silenced all the critics by winning Finals MVP. He finished with an unreal 35.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.6 blocks and finally overcame LeBron James.
They picked up Nick Young this offseason, which will only add to their unbelievable shooting abilities, as well as improve their somewhat lackluster bench. On top of that, they managed to re-sign both Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry this offseason with Durant taking a pay cut and agreeing to a 2-year, $53 million contract while Curry signed a super-max 5-year, $201 million contract, the richest in league history. They lost no major pieces and with another year under their belt, believe it or not the Golden State Warriors could be even better next year. They should continue to terrorize the league for years to come.
Steve Kerr has had a recent history of back problems, limiting his ability to coach the Warriors at times. Luckily, he was able to coach all 82 of the Warriors’ regular season games before taking time off in the playoffs to heal and recover, handing off the reins to Mike Brown.
The Warriors continued to dominate on the offensive end, putting up the highest points per game in the league with 115.9. They finished first in a multitude of offensive categories, such as made field goals (43.1), field goal percentage (.495), adjusted field goal percentage (.563), points per shot (1.33) and player impact estimate (57.9) while playing at the fourth highest pace in the league (102.24).
They were the most unselfish team in the league, averaging a league-high 30.4 assists per game, the most since the Showtime Lakers’ 31.4 in the 1984-85 season. Golden State also managed to put up a franchise record of 50 games with 30 or more assists including games with 41, 45 and a franchise-high 47.
One of their most important aspects as a team, defense, shined this season. They held their opponents to a league-low .435 field goal percentage while also locking down behind the perimeter, allowing opposing teams to shoot only .324 from behind the arc. They flaunted the largest point differential in the league with a plus-11.6 and forced their opponents to commit 14.8 turnovers per game, the most in the league. All of this, combined with the fact that they led the league in both blocks (6.8) and steals (9.6) played a huge role in Draymond Green earning his first Defensive Player of the Year Award after being the runner-up for the last two years.
Steve Kerr is a genius that can destroy teams with a traditional NBA lineup as well as his small-ball “Death Lineup.” He’s always in the conversation for Coach of the Year because he continues to manage not only the play-styles, but the egos of four NBA superstars. The Warriors struck gold when they hired Kerr three years ago.
ADP: 4/2 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 3/1 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 4/3 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 79
Steph’s numbers dropped from last season, but not as drastically as everyone seems to think. He put up averages of 25.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.8 steals in 33.4 minutes. The addition of KD reduced the number of shots he took from 20.2 to 18.3. He made 324 threes, which is a big dip from last season’s 402, but it’s still much more than the 268 the runner up, his backcourt buddy Klay Thompson, made. Steph shot a career low 41.1 percent from behind the arc, but that’s still amazing and enough to win the 3-point category for any fantasy owner while not hurting them in field goal percentage. Bottom line, Steph was still a monster, both in fantasy and real life.
He became the highest paid player in the league this offseason, and that should only motivate him to produce even more. He was drafted in the top-5 of most leagues and he didn’t let his owners down. Although he started off the season slow, he turned it around in the second half and finished as a top-3 player in both Yahoo and ESPN. Curry is great in every category besides blocks, providing points, 3-pointers, rebounds, steals and assists while putting up a manageable amount of turnovers.
Looking ahead, Curry will have a whole year as well as the offseason to gain more chemistry with Durant and could possibly even increase his shot attempts back up to 20-plus per game. If anything, the addition of Durant has made it easier on Curry, allowing him to rest on some offensive possessions without having to always take the bailout shot. In the long run it will better Steph’s game as well as the contributions he makes for his fantasy owners. Expect him to be a top-5 pick when next season rolls around.
ADP: 5/3 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 12/8 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 3/1 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 62
With Kevin Durant switching to a new, more superstar-heavy team there were concerns that he wouldn’t be able to be as dominant a player as he’s shown to be. Those concerns have definitely been washed away as he averaged 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists while shooting an incredibly efficient, career-high 53.7 percent from the field in 33.4 minutes. He missed 19 games with a knee injury that definitely hurt fantasy owners, but KD is too amazing to let slip by just because of a slight injury history. Durant has played in at least 70 games in seven of his ten seasons, proving that he is more reliable than his recent history shows.
He really proved to be a defensive anchor for the Warriors as well as his fantasy owners, putting up a team-high and career-high 1.6 blocks per game while also notching 1.1 steals. Durant contributes in absolutely every aspect in fantasy, which is why he’s always a top-5 pick in drafts. Had he not missed 19 games, there is a very good chance he ends up being the number one fantasy player this season. He finished as the best player in per-game value in 9-cat leagues due to the fact that he doesn’t really hurt owners in turnovers, averaging a career-low 2.2.
Next year expect Durant’s field goal percentage to come down, but he could up all of his other categories, especially assists. If Steve Kerr decides to trust him as the primary ball handler sometimes in the half-court set, KD could average seven or more assists. Combine that with another year in Golden State’s system and his drive to continue proving his critics wrong, all signs point to KD being a top-3 pick in drafts next year with the potential to finish as number one if he can stay on the court.
ADP: 20/19 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 17/19 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 20/21 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 76
Draymond’s numbers dropped this year and therefore his value in fantasy dropped, but in real life this might have been his most impactful year. He averaged 10.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.4 blocks while leading the league in steals at 2.0 per game. However, one of his most unique talents, the ability to shoot the three ball was severely diminished this season, as his percentage from behind the arc dropped from last year’s 38.8 percent to a below league average 30.8.
However, even though he didn’t have as good a season offensively, he made up for it in his defensive stats, still managing to live up to his ADP’s of 19 and 20. He’s one of the most valuable players in fantasy due to the fact that he produces in categories that most PF’s don’t such as 3-pointers and assists while being able to limit his turnovers as well. With the addition of Kevin Durant, someone’s offensive production had to decrease and Green was that someone.
Hopefully Draymond can fix whatever issues his shooting stroke gave him this season and if so, he should bounce back up to first round value. There aren’t many players, if any, that are as valuable as Draymond Green and fantasy owners should feel comfortable taking him in the early-mid part of the second round.
ADP: 24/23 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 29/27 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 34/31 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 78
When Kevin Durant signed, most people believed that Thompson would be the one to have to sacrifice the most. However, Klay’s numbers didn’t really differ much from last season’s, and he averaged more points than last year at 22.3 while keeping his assists (2.1) and rebounds (3.7) about the same. Durant may have actually helped Klay more than hurt him, as he garnered less defensive attention and actually handled the ball less, cutting his turnovers to just 1.6.
Klay even managed to take more shots, upping his attempts per game from 17.3 to 17.6. Perhaps his most impressive moment of the season came on a night that he scored a career-high 60 points on only 11 dribbles in 29 minutes against the Pacers. Klay didn’t exactly play up to his ADP, but he wasn’t far off. He did exactly what his owners expected of him, which was plenty of value in 3-pointers, points and free throw percentage while adding in a couple of rebounds and assists at the shooting guard position.
It would be foolish to predict that Thompson dips in value next year, but it also wouldn’t be smart to say that he gets much better than this season. He still produced late second, early third round value and he’s as good as a 3-point specialist as fantasy owners could hope for. As long as the opposing team doesn’t have Stephen Curry, Thompson should lock down the 3-point category for his owners and that alone makes him extremely valuable.
ADP: 108/135 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 86/70 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 110/88 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 76
Andre Iguodala far exceeded his ADP this season, producing in pretty much every category and providing amazing late round value for his owners. He finished the season averaging 7.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.5 blocks on a career-high .528 from the field in 26.3 minutes. Iguodala uptick in value comes from his raised field goal percentage and his ability to really limit his turnovers, averaging only 0.8 this season.
Whether or not he would be returning the Warriors was in question at the beginning of the offseason but he eventually re-signed with them. Iggy’s ability to provide in every category except free throw percentage in his limited minutes is what makes him a valuable fantasy asset. Next season his role with the Warriors will be the same, but it’s unlikely he replicates his percentage from the field which limits him to the back end of drafts.
ADP: 114/139 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 163/165 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 163, Games Played: 70
Zaza definitely didn’t live up to his ADP but that’s because fantasy owners didn’t know what to expect from him to begin with. Taking Pachulia was a gamble, one that didn’t pay off for most games. Zaza’s best attributes, toughness and experience, are things that don’t gain fantasy owners production. He started off the season slow and was dropped by many owners, but he began to turn it around in the second half of the season and finished the season averaging 6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.5 blocks on .536 shooting from the field in 18.1 minutes per game.
Pachulia doesn’t play many minutes and doesn’t produce in blocks or rebounds, which is a center’s biggest use when it comes to fantasy. He ended the season putting up 14th round value and all signs point to him playing the same role next year. Zaza doesn’t offer much production in fantasy and owners can stay away from him in drafts next year unless they are in dire need of a couple rebounds at the center position.
ADP: N/A / 149 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 199/203 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 226/228 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 68
David West was probably Golden State’s best traditional big man in his 36-year old season, averaging 4.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 12.6 minutes. He averaged 6.4 assists per-36 minutes, which was best among all NBA centers. While he was good for the Warriors in reality, his fantasy production was sorely lacking.
West doesn’t provide major stats in any categories and his opportunity is fairly limited due to his age and the amount of talent the Warriors have on their roster. He’s decent in both free throw (.768) and field goal percentage (.536), but that kind of production can be found in other players that provide other stats. While West might be a great locker room presence and add to the toughness of their team, his days of being a fantasy-relevant player are long gone.
ADP: 140/133 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 245/244 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 287/293 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 76
Shaun Livingston is one of the Warriors’ biggest weapons off the bench, providing valuable points and being able to run the break while Steph Curry is getting some rest. His post game is one of the best out of any guard in the league and his turnaround jumper is basically incapable of being guarded. This year he averaged 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists on 55.1 percent from the field in 17.7 minutes.
Livingston fell far below his ADP and finished the season putting up 25th round value, proving that his game doesn’t translate well to fantasy and he doesn’t provide much for owners in the limited amount of minutes he plays. Next year his role with the Warriors shouldn’t see much of an improvement and he’s on the back end of his career so he can safely be left off of fantasy rosters.
ADP: N/A / 126 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 224/204 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 276/251 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 77
The Warriors took a gamble on Mcgee in the hopes he could provide some rim protection and energy off the bench and that risk paid off. He was actually a crucial part of the Warriors’ lineup, except when the opposing team would run small ball lineups because his ability to protect the paint was negated by having to stay out on the perimeter to guard his man.
JaVale averaged 6.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists and 0.9 blocks in 9.6 minutes. He’s not very valuable for fantasy owners because of his inability to get more playing time and that doesn’t seem like it will be changing next season. McGee should be left undrafted in all leagues unless Zaza Pachulia gets injured over the offseason.
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 235/232 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 279/278 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 77
Clark provided bench depth for the Warriors this season, serving as a backup for Klay Thompson, Steph Curry and Shaun Livingston at the guard position. His only bright moments really came in garbage time and when Steph or Klay decided to rest. Clark averaged 6.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists on .487 percent from the field in 14.8 minutes and wasn’t fantasy relevant at all. He’ll be heading to the Pelicans next year and while their starters will be Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday, he might be able to make his way into the rotation and it’s very likely that one of those guards miss some time during the season, opening up more opportunity for Clark. He shouldn’t be drafted in fantasy leagues next year but keep an eye on him as the season goes by, especially in the event of injury.
ADP: N/A, Total Value: 297/285 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 350/339 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 71
Patrick McCaw was a steal for the Warriors in last year’s draft and he’s one of the main reasons they were willing to let Ian Clark walk. Throughout the season he showed that he’s capable of being a great role player for the Warriors as he continues to develop. McCaw averaged 4.0 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 0.5 steals on 43.3 percent from the field in 15.1 minutes a night. He doesn’t quite get enough opportunity to shine on the Warriors but he’s very talented and he’s shown glimpses of what he could turn out to be. He won’t be fantasy relevant this upcoming year and should be left undrafted. In dynasty leagues he’s definitely worth a late round flier.
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing that the Warriors did wrong this season. They broke records and made history on both the offensive and defensive end. With another year under their belt they could get even better and that should make the rest of the league extremely scared. If there was one thing the Warriors faltered in this season it was their clutch performances, they only outscored teams by 31 points in 100 “clutch” minutes while last season’s 73-9 team outscored teams by 110 in 144 “clutch” minutes. With two of the best shooters and most clutch players in the league in Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, they shouldn’t have an issue correcting that problem. Bottom line, the Warriors are one of the best teams to ever exist in the history of the NBA and they’ll be competing for championships for years to come.