Warriors

Draymond Green's mom doesn't agree with Damian Lillard on Warriors-Blazers

Draymond Green's mom doesn't agree with Damian Lillard on Warriors-Blazers

The Warriors will play in their fifth straight NBA Finals starting on May 30 after sweeping the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals. 

Portland's star guard Damian Lillard, however, believes one player changed everything.

No, not Kevin Durant. 

"I think going into the Western Conference finals, in my mind this was a shot for us to win it all," he told reporters on Tuesday. "I really felt like we could have beat the Warriors and went on to win it all.

"I think we have Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic), it's a completely different situation. And that's not a crutch or an excuse, I just think with him out there our season would have probably been extended a little bit longer."

Draymond Green's mother, Mary Babers-Green, responded to Lillard's claims Tuesday on Twitter. And she's not wrong. 

The Warriors beat the Blazers in four games while missing Durant (right calf strain) and DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quadriceps) for the entire series. They were also without Andre Iguodala (calf tightness) in Game 4. 

Oh, and the Warriors became the first team to overcome three consecutive 15-point deficits in the NBA playoffs in two decades.

[RELATED: These three tweets from Jefferson sum up Warriors' sweep]

Missing the 7-foot Nurkic, who averaged 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds, was certainly a big loss for the Blazers. Durant, Cousins and Iguodala were ... well, a lot bigger losses.

It's not even apples to oranges. It's Warriors to Blazers. One team is elite, the other is just good.

Why Warriors' strategy in 2019 NBA Draft could differ from past years

Why Warriors' strategy in 2019 NBA Draft could differ from past years

Editor's note: Grant Liffmann (@grantliffmann) is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.

The offseason of uncertainty has begun.

It has been quite awhile since the Warriors have had to go into an NBA draft looking to add pieces that could potentially play substantial roles on the team next season. But with the Warriors well over the salary cap and restricted from bringing in much talent from the outside, this Thursday's draft is more important than ever.

The Warriors will probably see a lot of roster turnover this offseason. Even if unrestricted free agents Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were to re-sign -- Klay is fully expected to return while Durant is much more uncertain -- they would both not be available to play a majority, if not all, of next season after suffering major injuries. The loss of those two will leave a crater-sized hole in the Warriors' scoring ability, as the two combined to represent nearly 50 points per game in the regular season.

Their absence will also significantly hinder the team's defense, as they both played key roles in the team's ability to switch and guard any opponent. The Warriors will now have to fill the void of two starting positions, but that is not where the draft will bolster their team.

The Warriors instead will draft players to help fill the gaps in a potentially barren bench. Assuming that Andre Iguodala remains on the team next season, there is a high likelihood that he returns to the starting lineup. If Shaun Livingston were to retire or be cut from the team, Jacob Evans would be the only bench player firmly under contract next season (assuming Damian Jones returns to the starting lineup).

The team has a very inexpensive option for Alfonzo McKinnie, which would make him seem like the perfect candidate to remain on the squad. After that, the list of Warriors that are unrestricted or restricted free agents includes DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell, Jonas Jerebko, Quinn Cook, and Andrew Bogut, who will return to Australia to play for the Sydney Kings of the NBL.

Other than Looney, whom the team values highly, it is unknown who the Warriors will attempt to bring back. A couple more names to pay close attention to are two-way players Damion Lee and Marcus Derrickson. Both players can provide highly-coveted long distance shooting, and both have developed nicely over the last year. 

So, keeping the major turnover and absences in mind, what will the Warriors look to add in the draft? The easy answer would be NBA-ready talent, most likely in the form of a wing, that can shoot from deep and play defense.

It was quite evident throughout the playoffs that the Warriors were in desperate need of spacing to allow Steph Curry and Draymond Green to feast on the opposition. The problem for the team, however, is that NBA-ready "3-and-D" wings are in high demand in today's game, and the Warriors will not make selections until the No. 28 and No. 56 picks in the draft.

More likely than not, the Warriors will have to select players that have low ceilings, but are ready to step into a game immediately and contribute in specific areas of need. If they are able to select an impressive shooter, it will probably be someone that is limited in playmaking or individual shot creation, meaning they are in the mold of pure spot-up shooters that can play adequate defense.

Look for these to be mostly four-year college players that are on the older-side of the rookie class, making them less desirable for teams building from the bottom. 

Also, don't be surprised if the Warriors buy more picks in the second round like they did to select Pat McCaw and Jordan Bell. The team needs to acquire as much talent on the cheap as possible, and selecting second-round prospects is the perfect solution, even if the players are a bit of a crapshoot.

If the Warriors mostly focus their draft sights on guards and wings that can shoot, one area that the team can effectively ignore is the center position (unless the talent is too hard to pass up). Even with the uncertainty regarding the futures of Looney and Bell, it has become apparent over the last few seasons that defense and rebounding-first front court players are easier to acquire on the free-agent veteran minimum.

Free-agent skilled shooters usually have more demand in the NBA, making them hard to sign on the cheap.

[RELATED: NBA mock draft 3.0]

When the Warriors had a fully-healthy star-studded team, the draft was largely important in that the team had a chance to pick players that they could develop and try to turn into future contributors on inexpensive deals. If the Warriors intend on competing next season, they no longer have the luxury to wait and develop players.

They will need NBA-ready players who aren't afraid of the spotlight so early in their careers. That means Bob Myers and the front office will have a tough task ahead of them Thursday.

Warriors lost psychological edge, rest of NBA pouncing at title shot

Warriors lost psychological edge, rest of NBA pouncing at title shot

OAKLAND – Sixteen days shy of three years ago, the Warriors were charged with ruining the NBA. Upon adding Kevin Durant, you’d swear they committed a felony. They were littered with scorn.

The Warriors didn’t care. They’d lost the 2016 NBA Finals in most ignominious way, but they were holding the biggest NBA lottery jackpot since Miami won LeBron James in 2010.

In luring KD out of Oklahoma City and becoming prohibitive favorites for 2017 -- even posing with silver balloons spelling out “Super Villains” -- the Warriors had a message for the rest of the league: Try your slingshots against our heavy artillery.

"Just to be absolutely clear, I do not think that's ideal from the league standpoint," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said a few days after Durant signed with the Warriors.

Those were the days, eh? They are as gone as Anderson Varejao.

The rest of the NBA has been gaining a little bit at a time, eventually eliminating the awe factor that once allowed the Warriors to win merely by stepping onto the floor with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Durant and the minimum-salary center du jour.

Asked the other day if he thinks the rest of the NBA has gotten better over the past few seasons, Warriors CEO Joe Lacob didn’t hesitate.

“It did. I do believe that,” he said. “There are 29 other ownership groups and management teams and players that are all working to make themselves better. It gets harder every year.

“But that’s fun. That’s what the fun of it all is. It’s not meant to be. I don’t think we’re going to go out and win every year, although I’d like to and we will try to. But there are a lot of good teams, good players, good organizations and the chess pieces get moved around a little bit when you have the draft and free agency. And that’s all the exciting next few weeks.”

Lacob, who says he doesn’t do retrospection, knows what’s coming not only in 2019-20 -- when injured current Warriors Durant and Thompson will play little, if at all -- but beyond.

The Raptors, having dethroned the Warriors last week, will enter next season as favorite -- if they re-sign Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. If they lose Leonard, the Western Conference team that signs him -- Toronto is the only Eastern Conference team believed to have a chance -- will be, at worst, a title contender.

The Bucks are legitimate and will be better after dipping their toes into deep postseason waters. The 76ers are serious, as are the Celtics. Assuming none of the top four teams in the East undergoes dramatic retooling, they’ll all be threats.

And then there is the West, which is not as top-heavy as the East but surely is deeper. The young Nuggets will be better next April. The Trail Blazers are a quality forward away from being imposing. The Rockets will be back, even after the presumed remodel.

Care to imagine Kawhi and another star joining the Clippers, who went nose-to-nose with the Warriors in the playoffs?

The Lakers are committed to giving themselves more of a chance next season. After spending last summer renting veteran rejects and role players, surrounding LeBron James with young talent and cardboard cutouts, LA will add Anthony Davis. That’s threatening.

Most of the aforementioned opponents have experienced the joy of walloping the Warriors by 20 or more points over the past two seasons. They believed and they succeeded.

The past five years have taken a toll on the Warriors, particularly the 105 postseason games. They’ve averaged 103 games per season. That, combined with serious injuries to Durant and Thompson, is enough to embolden teams that once figured they had no reasonable chance.

[RELATED: Draymond denies report that he visited KD in New York]

When the Warriors take the court next season, they’ll do so with the wind in their faces instead of at their backs. The psychological edge is completely gone. They’re weakened, and everybody will believe they can get a piece.

When the Warriors last season often claimed to get “everybody’s best shot,” there was some truth to that. Not nearly as much as there will be next season.