The absence of Harrison Barnes proves Warriors are NBA’s best team…for now

Updated: December 25, 2015

In the NBA, there are three things that are guaranteed to winning an NBA title.

  1. Talent
  2. Team Chemistry
  3. Health

Looking at the Cleveland Cavaliers roster, they have all three. They have talent, had team chemistry (which is something that I’ll get into later), and they’re the healthiest they’ve been all season, but not near 100 percent.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors have talent, with the current league MVP leading the way. And they have team chemistry, but they’re not 100 percent healthy.

Harrison Barnes, a key piece to the success of the Warriors over the past four seasons, has missed the team’s past 12 games with an ankle injury. And Warrior fans may notice his absence, the rest of the league has not.

If you watched the Cavs play Golden State on Christmas, then you know that the run and gun champions of the basketball world are still by far the league’s best team and are still better than the wine and gold.

Of course, this is my opinion, and you have every right to disagree with it. But think about this: Having played in a little over 40 percent of their games this season, the Warriors are without a player who not only started all 82 games last season, but five games over the past three seasons. And with players like Andre Iguodala, plus the overall improved play of Draymond Green, a case can be made to see how great the team with the best start in NBA history can become.

And if that’s not enough, Barnes is in a contract season, so he’s gonna try to make his mark on the Warriors blueprint even bigger. Especially if he’s determined to cash out this summer.

Now back to the Cavs, making Kevin Love a primary focal point in the offense along with bringing both Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert back into the fold can make the wine and golders even better. No one knows how good this team can be, but the commitment to making Love the No.1 or 2 option vs. No. 3 is the biggest question mark.

Plus, a veteran could be added before the playoffs. One thing to always keep in mind is that Dan Gilbert is willing to spend money. Now to the extent of “how much more” is he willing to spend, well, that is uncertain and may not even happen. I’m sure he’d make various exceptions, but when your spending over $110M on 15 players, you have to realize that you can’t go “crazy” in throwing out contracts and guaranteed money.

To become better than the Warriors, everything lies on Kyrie Irving. He has the ability to become a better player than he was last year. But how long that may take or more importantly reach a comfort level on the floor is something we’ll have to wait for. Three games is too little to gage and overtime team chemistry will get better.

Personally, I expect to see Irving reach his mark somewhere between mid-late January. Following with the team reaching its full potential shortly after the All- Star break.

Should Cavs and Warriors meet again in the NBA Finals, I think the Warriors win in seven games. And as most series play out, each team wins at least once on the road. Although when you lose three games at home all of last season, the odds are against the road team. But the Cavs were one of those teams to knock of Golden State at home, so as Kevin Garnett once said, “anything’s possible.” Plus, I’m foreshadowing an event less than six months from now.

If there’s one thing that can be taken out of the Christmas game, note that nothing is set in stone. You watched a Cavs team that while statistically is all healthy, has failed to practice as a full unit since Game 1 of the NBA Finals. And the same goes for the Warriors, who could not only benefit from a healthy Barnes to make it out of a strong Western Conference but a healthy Steve Kerr. I’m sure it’ll help the players mentally knowing that he’s at all of their games. And of course, the Cavs would have to make it out of the East. But their journey to June will be easier than Golden State’s.

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