With their megastar roster, the Golden State Warriors went into the 2016/17 NBA season with huge expectations and were short-priced favorites to win the championship that so narrowly eluded them in the last campaign.
There’s been nothing that’s taken place over the opening months of the season to suggest that the Warriors don’t warrant that level of faith in their abilities and, although the odds may be prohibitive, few would argue against placing a bet365 free bet on Golden State Warriors to win the 2016/17 NBA.
They might be hard pressed to replicate last season’s record for most wins in a single season when finishing 73-9 but, at 25-4 as we approach Christmas, the Dubs are well on track in their quest to make amends for last season’s surprise NBA Finals defeat against the Cleveland Cavaliers, surrendering a 3-1 series lead in doing so.
As things stand they are leading the way not just in the regular table, but also in various team metrics per game, including averaging 117.4 points; 31.3 assists; 6.4 blocks; 9.4 steals and 20.7 fast breaks. The ‘Fantastic Four’ are more than living up to the hype.
Provided the superstars remain fit and well, the main job of the bench will largely be to provide lead protection in the latter stages of games after the starting roster have established a healthy lead.
Where that game plan could start to unravel is if injury were to impact on any one of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant.
The signing of Durant from Oklahoma City Thunder in July added to what was already a star-studded roster and the Warriors got a 7-time NBA All-Star, a four-time NBA scoring champion and the 2014 NBA MVP in return for a two-year, 54.2 million contract.
KD has settled in just fine, but his arrival didn’t come without consequences, with sacrifices having to be made elsewhere in order to accommodate him in the budget. Starter Harrison Barnes and center Andrew Bogut both left for the Dallas Mavericks and bench players Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli and Marreese Speights also all departed.
Center Zaza Pachulia and veteran free agent Forward David West were brought in to provide additional cover, but few would argue that the bench is as strong as that of 12-months ago. Would the Warriors have enough quality in depth were one or more of Curry, Draymond, Klay and KD to be ruled out for any period of time?
The implications of the NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) means the Warriors’ bench is almost certain to be further weakened next season, with the likes of Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston among those likely to move on.
The Warriors are unquestionably a ‘super-team’, but the lack of bench cover could yet be their undoing were anything to sideline one of the ‘Fantastic Four’. It’s certainly what their NBA rivals will be banking on.