As the reigning back-to-back Champions, Golden State entered the season as overwhelming favorites to take home their third straight title. Having Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green certainly factored into those odds.
But in the end, the world was in for a bit of a shock when the Warriors lost, in six games, to the Toronto Raptors — who had made their first Finals in franchise history.
The Raptors definitely earned their Championship, and their team was among the best, but several key injuries to the Warriors no doubt drastically increased their chances. In fact, if you ask ESPN’s Stephen A Smith, he’ll tell you that had Klay stayed healthy throughout the series, the Warriors would be NBA Champions — sans Durant.
“I contend that if GSW had a healthy Klay Thompson, that didn’t get hurt in Game 2, that didn’t miss Game 3, that didn’t play on one leg in Game 4, that didn’t go down after having 30 in the 3rd quarter in Game 6, the GSW would be the champions right now without Kevin Durant.”
The Draymond/Thompson/Curry trio have already proved themselves to the league. In 2015, they went on to win the Finals against LeBron James and the Cavs, only to follow it up with a record-breaking 73 win campaign the very next season.
So, acquiring Kevin Durant in 2016 did not make them Championship contenders, it only put them further above the rest of the league. As the injuries began to take over their offseason, and with questions about Durant’s future looming, the Warriors were again being reminded of their former selves.
When Klay went down, it was simply too much to overcome, but it’s certainly not out of the question to believe that, had he been healthy, he could have been enough to secure yet another against the Raptors this past summer. Alas, we’ll never know for sure.