Despite entering the 2018-19 NBA season as the heavy favorite to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the Golden State Warriors were still unable to join the elite three-peat club after falling into the hands of the Toronto Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors didn’t even need to play all seven games to dethrone the Warriors as they managed to end the best-of-seven series in just six games. However, it’s worth noting that the Warriors were not at their full strength when they defended the title against the Raptors.
In a recent interview with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on Showtime’s All the Smoke podcast, Warriors power forward Draymond Green discussed their heartbreaking loss against the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals. Though he admitted that the Raptors were a tough team to face in a best-of-seven series, Green confidently said that Toronto “wouldn’t have stood a chance” if their key players, specifically Kevin Durant, didn’t suffer an injury last season.
“Kevin don’t get hurt — you see that game when he came back — they wouldn’t have stood a chance if Kevin didn’t get hurt,” Green said, as quoted by NBC Sports. “But s–t happens and that’s a part of the game. Injuries happen. And Kawhi was f–king amazing. Pascal Siakam — they were f–king amazing.”
What Green told Barnes and Jackson wasn’t a pure boast. If the Warriors had a healthy core of Green, Durant, Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and DeMarcus Cousins, the outcome of the 2018-19 NBA season would have been different, and they might have swept Leonard and the Raptors in the 2019 NBA Finals. However, the only thing that the Warriors could do right now is to move on and do their best to find their way back to title contention.
Though the 2019-20 NBA season isn’t yet over, the Warriors no longer have any chance of reclaiming the NBA championship title this year. Before the NBA suspension due to the spread of coronavirus, the Warriors became the first NBA team to be eliminated in the playoff race. Luckily, the Warriors aren’t expected to remain at the bottom of the league for long.
Aside from making sure that their core of Green, Thompson, and Curry would be healthy before the start of the 2020-21 NBA season, there are rumors that the Warriors are planning to search for their fourth superstar this summer. The Warriors may not have the salary cap space to chase big names in the 2020 NBA free agency, but they have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal. In the past months, the Warriors have already been linked to several NBA superstars who are expected to be available on the trade market in the 2020 NBA offseason, including Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, and Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers.