The Real Reasons Why Golden State Is Vulnerable
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because all dynasties must end.
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Is This the Most Beatable Warriors Team Since 2014? Steph Curry and Kevin Durant are still the best bet to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in June, but the regular season has exposed flaws that have other NBA teams anxious to test Goliath. Here’s why Golden State is vulnerable.
The Relocation of LeBron. GMs across the Eastern Conference scrambled to acquire talent as soon as the King moved to L.A. Finally, the plebs have a chance! With Kawhi Leonard (and Marc Gasol) thriving in Toronto, a blossoming Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee and young rosters in Boston and Philadelphia that give Golden State fits, you can make a case that each team is more dangerous than LeBron’s recent Cleveland teams. The Warriors are a combined 3–5 against those four contenders from the East — with their long, athletic lineups holding Golden State to just 29 percent from three in the five losses.
DeMarcus Cousins and Team Defense. Boogie’s not entirely to blame — complacency is the obvious culprit — but he’s a big reason why Golden State ranks 16th in team defense. Since 2002, only one NBA champion ranked outside the top 10: last year’s Warriors, at 11th. The Dubs solved that equation last season, but they also got lucky with Chris Paul’s injury in the Western Conference Finals helping them sneak past Houston. Cousins was signed to help Golden State bang with loaded Western Conference frontcourts, but he’s a constant defensive liability against bigs who spread the floor. In today’s NBA, that’s everyone but Steven Adams. Cousins, who now ranks a woeful 65th among NBA centers in defensive efficiency, is the double-edged sword that could turn inward and slay a dynasty come playoff time.
What to Watch & Pick ’Em
No. 4 Duke at No. 3 North Carolina (Saturday, 6pm ET on ESPN)
With Zion Williamson doubtful to play, will Duke regroup from the “Shoegate” blowout?
D.C. United at NYC FC (Sunday, 3pm ET on Fox Sports)
MLS is back, and where better to have a New York home opener than Yankee Stadium?
Ones to Watch
Andrew Vaughn, California First Baseman. Currently projected as the third overall MLB draft pick this June, Vaughn ranks eighth in the nation in batting average (.529) and third in home runs (seven), with a whopping 18 RBIs and 15 walks. At 5-foot-11, Vaughn doesn’t look like a traditional power hitter, but if this production keeps up, he could supplant Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman as the top pick. Cal heads to No. 10 LSU this weekend.
Chiquita Evans, NBA2K League. With the 56th pick of the night, Warriors Gaming on Tuesday made Evans the first female player in the league’s history. The former college and semipro basketball player from Chicago is among the best actual basketball players in the 2K League, and now she’ll look to keep breaking barriers. The NBA has made gender diversity a point of emphasis for the esports league, with data showing that male players weren’t passing the ball to female gamers in last year’s pre-draft combine.
Second-Generation NBA Stars. We’re not just talking about the Curry brothers. There’s been a massive increase in second-gen ballers since 2009, when Steph (son of Charlotte Hornets sharpshooter Dell Curry) joined the league as one of 10 pro progeny. Prior to that, the all-time high was 12. Today, 27 sons are following in their fathers’ footsteps. From Devin Booker and Kevin Love to Domantas Sabonis and Jaren Jackson Jr., this generation of young stars was groomed for success. But do they have their athletic mothers to thank?
Streakers in Kansas. With a loss to surging Oklahoma on Tuesday, the Kansas Jayhawks (22–8) were mathematically eliminated from the Big 12 Conference race for the first time since 2004. Under Coach Bill Self, Kansas has won 14 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles, a Division I record that may never be replicated. Even Gonzaga — playing in the lowly West Coast Conference — has only won seven in a row, maxing out at 11 straight in the early 2000s. Selection Sunday brings an end to another absurd streak: For the first time in 13 seasons, Kansas almost certainly won’t be a top-three seed.
Esports Gets Its Next Stamp of Approval — From Hip-Hop Stars, by Matt Foley in OZY
Nothing signals mainstream acceptance quite like an invasion of pop culture — and in particular hip-hop. With the emergence of esports megastars like Ninja, entertainers like Drake and Soulja Boy are joining investors and brands in aligning with major players.
The Exile of Rick Pitino, by John Gonzalez in The Ringer
Fired by the school he coached for 16 years, the disgraced Hall of Fame coach has turned up in Athens — immersed in a heated Greek basketball rivalry, working for a self-styled Bond villain and enjoying a new chapter of life.
Remember Sarah Sellers? She’s Back for Another Boston Run, by Stan Grossfeld in the Boston Globe
Unsponsored and unranked, the nurse from Tucson came out of nowhere to finish second in last year’s Boston Marathon. Now everyone knows her name.
Black Women’s Love of Hockey Evolves Into a Fan Club, by Emily Kaplan in The Undefeated
Each time Renee Hess went to an Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings game, she never saw two Black women together. Thus began the Black Hockey Research Project.
Ever wonder what MMA-obsessed NFL insider Jay Glazer does when he’s not breaking news? He turns celebs into stone-cold killing machines, of course. Think Demi Lovato will pick up the dentist tab?
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@ddlovato sooooo sorry not sorry she knocked my tooth out today sparring WITH MY MOUTHPIECE IN!! Andddd yes then not-so-casually gloats about it. Ahhh the crazy shit that goes on inside our doors at @unbreakableperformance. Oh, and for those who are so concerned about the condition of my beautiful smile have no fear… I #crazyglued my tooth back in! Hey crazy glue call me, perfect campaign. Hahahahaha. See ya tomorrow D 🥊🤼♂️ #unbreakable besides my teeth. #unbreakablefamily #fightlife #mma #gym