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The Fall of the Golden State Warriors

Entertainment

Sun, February 18

In the past decade, the Golden State Warriors have dominated the court with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green bringing multiple consecutive championships to the Bay Area. Their names are synonymous with the greatest NBA players of all time and Curry, in particular, changed the basketball game and impacted how modern basketball is played. His lethal three-point shooting and impossible range make him one of the most dangerous players on the court, often being double-teamed from the logo. However, in the 2023-24 NBA season, the Warriors went from 2022 NBA champions to 11th-seed two years later, barely fighting to make the playoffs, making us wonder: How did the Warriors' dynasty fall apart?

Image Credit: Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons

The Splash Brothers (feat. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson)

Since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1970s, the Warriors became a struggling poverty team, holding a record for the most consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance (12). Their roster contained a list of injured players and superstars such as Monta Ellis but a poorly built team that surrounded them. The Warriors barely made it to the playoffs (at 8th-seed), and beat the Mavericks, becoming the first NBA 8th-seed to beat 1st-seed in two decades.

However, the Warriors lost the second round to the Utah Jazz. The Warriors went on to finish with a disappointing 2008-9 season, ending at 29-53.

Then came Stephen Curry.

Curry, from Davidson College, was drafted in 2009 as the seventh overall pick. Although the season was a disappointment for the Warriors, with injuries devastating the starting lineups, Curry won the NBA Rookie of the Year award and made the NBA All-Rookie First Team. From 2010 to 2012, although failing to make the playoffs, the Warriors slowly made changes to their roster, drafting Jeremy Lin in 2010 and Klay Thompson in 2011.

Image Credit: Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons

In 2012, the Warriors drafted Draymond Green to finish the trio. The 2012-13 season started with a bang – something Warriors fans had not seen in decades. Curry and Thompson were nicknamed the “Splash Brothers” for their long-range shooting, making a combined 480+ three-pointers in the season. The Warriors made the playoffs that season but lost the second round to the Spurs.

The Warriors continued making records, albeit without a championship. In 2013, they made 10 consecutive wins, the longest streak since 1975. They ended the season at 51-31, finishing over 20 games with 0.500 for the first time in 22 years. Curry made the All-Star team for the first time in 2014, while he and Thompson made 484 threes as a duo, breaking their previous record.

Image Credit: All-Pro Reels from Wikimedia Commons

The Warriors' Dynasty (feat. Kevin Durant)

In May 2014, the Warriors signed Steve Kerr as the head coach of the team. The Warriors finished that season (2014-15) with a record of 67-15 and an at-home record of 39-2, the second-best in league history. Curry was named the MVP of the 2014-15 season – the first Warrior to do this since Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s.

The Warriors then entered their first Finals since 1975 after beating the Memphis Grizzlies, the Houston Rockets, and the New Orleans Pelicans in a devastating sweep. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers with an amazing comeback after falling 2-1 and became 2014-15 NBA champions.

The 2014-15 Warriors were first-ranked in defensive efficiency and second-ranked in offensive efficiency. Their team, composed of the “Big Three”, and Andre Iguodala, who would go on to win Finals MVP and become a future 4x All-Star player, was the foundation for the Warriors dynasty, building upon Steve Kerr's knowledge of space creation and three-pointers, as well as Curry's magical performances with his duo, Klay Thompson. The Warriors earned their first title in 40 years, opening the door to a bright future ahead of the young stars.

Image Credit: Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons

The 2015-16 season started again with a bang. The Warriors won their first 24 games, the most in league history, and went on a 54-game consecutive win streak at home, breaking the previous record set by Michael Jordan with the 1996 Bulls. The Warriors broke the most wins in franchise history at 68 wins, then broke the most wins in league history, ending the season at 73-9.

Curry was given the MVP award for the second time in a row and became the first player in NBA history to win the MVP award with a unanimous vote. However, in the Finals, the Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit and, with Draymond Green getting suspended and Curry ejected, the Warriors lost the series, becoming the first team to lose the championship after leading the Finals at 3-1.

From then until 2019, the Warriors recruited Kevin Durant from the OKC Thunder as their 4th All-NBA player. Curry destroyed three-point records and the Warriors won the championship twice in a row against the Cavaliers (2017 and 2018 seasons) and won the Western Conference four times. Then, after losing to the Raptors in 2019, Kevin Durant tore his Achilles and Thompson, his ACL.

Curry broke his hand in the second game of the season. The Warriors missed the playoffs two times and the dynasty was over.

Image Credit: Chensiyuan from Wikimedia Commons

A Struggling Team (feat. Draymond Green and Jordan Poole)

The 2022-23 NBA season was one of the worst the Warriors had seen in a long time, going 44-38 in the regular season, making 6th seed. The team went through multiple hurdles, barely making the playoffs and falling to the Lakers in the second round. Early in the season, Draymond Green punched teammate Jordan Poole in the face during practice and the video went public, going viral overnight. It seemed like, from that point onwards, the Warriors team was never the same.

Jordan Poole became a turnover machine, and although he would go on fire some nights, in most games he would take terrible shots and become more of a liability to the Warriors. The mantra became “Trade Jordan Poole”, and thus the Warriors traded Poole to the Washington Wizards after they lost the 2022-23 season. As the 2023-24 season took off, the Warriors struggled as Draymond Green committed foul after foul, famously stepping on other players and putting them in a chokehold. Klay Thompson threw brick after brick, throwing entire games into jeopardy.

Image Credit: Keith Allison from Wikimedia Commons

Although, in some games, Thompson would come alive again and the “Splash Brothers” would be revived, the Warriors team remains that of a finished dynasty. The one player that remains consistent, game after game, is Stephen Curry, who magically pulls off 60-point games and still holds the most three-pointers made in the season, at 35 years old. However, despite the “Big Three” getting older, the future looks bright for the Warriors, with Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski holding powerful positions.

A new era has opened up for the Warriors, and consequently, for the league as a whole.

Samuel Teoh
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Samuel Teoh is a homeschooled high school sophomore in Taiwan. He is the News & Media Director of AspirAsian, a Senior Editor and Video Editor for Polyphony Lit, and a published author. He is passionate about identity and self-expression, whether through writing, art, or film. His favorite pastimes are drinking bubble tea, listening to K-pop (especially NewJeans!), and reading/writing stories.

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