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2017 NBA Champions – Golden State Warriors

Perhaps the easiest NBA Championship winner prediction ever has come to fruition.  The Warriors are champions for 2017.

From the outset, this team was designed for greatness.  The core of a 73 win team is returned from a year ago, with the addition of a former league MVP, multiple scoring champ, and star player in the prime of his career.  Sure, as a team, the work still had to be done day in and day out at training and in games.  But overall, this team was always assembled as the team to beat for the 2016/17 season.

The moves made by the Warriors front office to enable Kevin Durant to be added to this roster were excellent.  It took risks in moving on key championship pieces like Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Mareesse Speights and Festus Ezeli.  Although the sum of those parts doesn’t equal what KD brings to the table, it left quite a hole in depth to fill on the roster too.  JaVale McGee, David West and Matt Barnes, along with the continued development of Ian Clark and James Michael McAdoo, plus solid young rookie Patrick McCaw ensured this great team had just enough mix of superstar brilliance combined with bench depth to defeat all comers.

They had quite possibly the best 3 LeBron James containment players in the game – Green, Iguodala and Durant (FYI – not ‘stoppers’ as only LeBron can stop LeBron!).  The size, speed, strength and defensive specialisation amongst those 3 were key.  Still, even with all that talent James averages a triple-double through the 5 games (33.6, 12, and 10 on 56.4% from the field) proving, like Durant, the two are in a class above anyone else in this league today.  (Sorry Steph, even as a 2-time league MVP, that includes you being a step below these lads).

For the Cavs, they lacked some defensive spark after losing guys like Matthew Dellavedova this season.  It allowed Steph Curry to get more open looks more often and more involvement in general play for his career best Finals series at his third attempt (averages of 26.8, 8 and 9.4).  Klay Thompson and Draymond Green doing their bit too, consistently over the series.  Then the previously mentioned Andre Iguodala plus Shaun Livingston showing the bench mettle gained to contribute at both ends of the floor.

But Durant was a worthy Finals MVP, posting 35.2ppg, 8.4rpg, 5.4apg, 1spg, 1.4bpg, with better than 50/40/90 percentages to match.  Aside from LeBron, the Cavs had no one who could run with him, where the Warriors had 3 people to run with James and it eventually showed.  His addition to this team was the difference maker in getting the Warriors back to the summit, as widely predicted pre-season by everyone.

Still, until the names are etched on the Larry O’Brien trophy.  Until the locker room is soaked with quality French champagne.  Until the expensive Cuban cigars are lit, there is no confirmation on those predictions.  And KD and the Warriors ensured they delivered on all fronts.

Well done Warriors on a great season.  Lets allow the celebrations to settle in before writing anymore about how to bring about their downfall in 2017/18.  I’m pretty sure 29 other NBA teams won’t be so generous though!

Up next:  “With the first pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select…”

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