Little did Danny Ainge know that he would trade the NBA forever, when in he acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join forces with Paul Pierce during the summer of 2007. For one of the first time in NBA history, a team decided to build a superteam by acquiring established star players in their late primes instead of obtaining young players and allowing them to develop. Whether it had been Russell’s Celtics, Johnson’s Lakers, Bird’s Celtics, Jordan’s Bulls, or Duncan’s Spurs, each of these teams were naturally developed by either drafting players or trading for them at a young age. Since the 2008 Celtics’, there have been numerous attempts at the creation of superteams, Lakers with Howard and Bryant, Clippers with Paul and Griffin, Knicks with Stoudamire and Anthony, and Spurs with Aldridge and Leonard, but the only teams that have yielded championship have been LeBron’s Heat and Cavalier teams.
In addition to the Celtics acquiring stars, one of the biggest reasons for the change in team development is the role of Olympics and FIBA World Championships in relationship building. Prior to the Dream Team in 1992, NBA players were not allowed to play in the Olympics so they never had the opportunity to play with one another. However, since the Dream Team, the relationships created during these international competitions have led to numerous superteams, especially in recent years. James decided to join Wade and Bosh in Miami because of the connection he built with them during the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. It has been well documented that Kevin Durant formed a strong bond with Curry and Iguodala during FIBA Championships in 2010.
The addition of Kevin Durant makes the Warriors one of the greatest teams on paper in NBA history and the greatest shooting team in NBA history. The combination of Curry, Durant, Green, Thompson, and Pachulia will easily form the best starting rotation in the NBA this season. For the first time in NBA history, a team will have 4 players that were members of the 2015-2016 All-NBA teams. Last season, the Warriors starting five of Curry, Thompson, Barnes, Green, and Bogut formed the best starting five in the NBA, but there current starting rotation is even better. Kevin Durant is astronomically better than Harrison Barnes and Zaza Pachulia is a competent replacement for Bogut. During the NBA Finals, the Warriors needed an extra scorer that could alleviate the pressure from Thompson and Curry. Although Iguodala, Barnes, Barbosa, and Livingston are quality players, they do not have the ability to create their own opportunities or chances for others without the assistance of Steph and Klay. Durant will immediately solve this dilemma because he may be the best offensive player in the NBA. Durant will complement Thompson and Curry because he can drive the ball more effectively than the Splash Brothers, which will amazingly give them more open three point opportunities. The Warriors would have likely won the Finals if Barnes did not display a total inability to score the ball throughout the final four games. There is no chance Durant would come up small like Barnes. Besides for his offensive dominance, the addition of Durant will help the team’s defense because Durant provides length and size that Barnes cannot match. Besides for improving the team’s rebounding and passing ability, Durant will improve the team’s ability to switch on defense because he has the size to guard taller players, but the speed and agility to stay in front of guards. The Warriors have been able to constantly switch screens because they have versatile players, like Durant, that can defend multiple positions. During his years in Oklahoma City, Durant was always a great passer and wanted to move the ball around the court instead of playing iso with Russell Westbrook. The Warriors’ style of play will fit Durant perfectly because he will pass the ball around the arc and allow for more open looks and more slashing opportunities.
Even though the Warriors will not have the same bench due to Durant’s signing, they should be able to sign quality veterans with leadership and toughness. The loss of Barnes, Bogut, Ezeli, and potentially Barbosa and Speights will hurt the Warriors ability to blitz their opponents with their depth. However, they will keep their best bench player Shaun Livingston and still have the opportunity to sign others at below market value. The Warriors have already signed David West and are looking to acquire more veterans. West will provide toughness and an ability to rebound the ball at a high level. The Warriors have been linked to Ray Allen, which would not be a great addition because they already have incredible shooting.
While the Warriors are set to become one of the best teams in NBA history, the Thunder are set to take a major step backwards and potentially enter a rebuilding phase. The Thunder have pieces to build around such as Adams, Sabonis, Oladipo, and Kanter and they will have the opportunity to trade Westbrook for numerous valuable assets either before the season or trade deadline. Even though Westbrook is free agent after the season, he should net the Thunder a great return. A perfect partner for the Thunder would be the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers. The Celtics and Lakers did not sign Durant, but they still have a haul of draft picks and young players to trade for Westbrook. The addition of potentially Brooklyn’s draft picks and Marcus Smart would quicken the Thunder’s rebuild. Boston would be an excellent fit for the Celtics because they are in need of a true superstar. Horford and Thomas are quality All-Stars, but do not have the skill to lead a team to a Final’s appearance. Neither Thomas or Westbrook are true point guards so their games should be able to mesh together. The Lakers desperately need a star on their team and Westbrook has been one of the few players that would be willing to sign with Los Angeles. The Lakers could offer draft picks, but more importantly young players like Russell, Randle, or even Ingram. Although Westbrook alone would not be enough for the Lakers to reach the playoffs, he could assist in recruiting other free agents the following summer.
The Cleveland Cavaliers should be one of the most active teams after hearing that their biggest rival just acquired one of the three best players in the NBA. The latest reports around the Cavs is that they are attempting to convince Wade to depart the team that drafted him and sign with his best friend, LeBron James, in Cleveland. Wade would not give the Cavs the advantage over the Warriors on paper, but the Cavs would definitely add an interesting wrinkle to the rivalry. Wade is an sure fire Hall of Fame player with the ability to still score and play at a high level, especially during the playoffs. However, Wade would not be easy to acquire for the Cavs because they have no cap room. The Cavaliers would have to trade either Tristan Thompson or Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert. In addition, they would not be able to re-sign Smith and James would have to take a pay cut. During the postseason, Love showed that he was not a great fit into the Cavs rotation. However, he played well in the seventh game and maybe another year under the system would allow him to fit into his role. Although unlikely, the Cavs should definitely make a play for Wade and potentially trade Love to the Celtics for either draft picks or inexpensive pieces.