It felt like a thunderstorm when the 2016 Finals ended. The Cleveland Cavaliers had just defeated the 73-9 Golden State Warriors by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit. This was the beginning of one of the most interesting offseasons the NBA has had. There was an air of uncertainty during the offseason thanks to Kevin Durant who had just become a free agent after losing to the Warriors and demonstrated a downgrade in his play as his team blew a 3-1 lead to the Warriors. It felt like he needed to lock in over the summer and get his revenge against the Warriors. But he had also been with the Oklahoma City Thunder for his whole career and going somewhere new wasn’t out of the question. But when the news of his decision to join the already historic 73-9 Golden State Warriors was announced, it sent shockwaves through the league.
It was a historical move for the OKC star to move to the team that had just defeated him in a 7-game series in the previous playoffs especially because they blew a 3-1 lead during the series. Everyone hated this move, everyone called it unfair, and everyone despised the superstar for “betraying” his team in OKC. But regardless of the betrayal, this massive move led to the 2017 Golden State Warriors being, undoubtedly, the greatest basketball team ever assembled.
The era in which basketball is being played is a big part in determining which team is the because each era has a unique approach to playing the game. The 2013 Heat had their “attack the rim as much as possible” style, the 1996 Bulls ran the triangle offense, the 1995 Rockets used their finesse center Akeem Olajuwon, and the 2000-02 Lakers had the two-star offensive style with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. These are prime examples of different offensive styles in different eras that helped create legendary championship-level teams in the sport. However, the Warriors’ style of spacing the floor with shooters and having one of if not the best scorers the game has ever seen in Kevin Durant made for a brand of basketball that was unique and unstoppable.
Many factors affect other teams’ chances to beat this team, but the main one is the depth that this Warriors team had. As said by Bleacher Report, “Never has a team with a unanimous MVP, a former MVP still at his peak, three of the best four shooters, and a Finals MVP coming off the bench also had the most versatile defender in the league starting at power forward. The Warriors have that in Draymond Green.”
It’s pretty easy to see why this team is the hardest to beat. Before the Durant move, this team already had won a championship in 2015 and changed the narrative that a 3-point shooting team could not win a championship. They had insanely accurate plays that ran through their playmakers and bigs to create open looks for their shooters and created defensive schemes to hide their weaker defenders. Under the coaching of Steve Kerr, this team was already a powerhouse of high-volume scoring and fast pace play that would outlast a lot of teams on a nightly basis. On top of this, they added the second-best player in the league at the time, Durant so this team was bound for success right away
This suspected success became reality their first year together and really came into full form during the Playoffs. Playoffs usually have 60 to 105 games accounting for the different series that go on longer than four games. This team swept through their first three rounds which gave them a 12-0 record before The NBA Finals. During the finals they won 3 more games, making them the first team to ever be 15-0 during the playoffs.
It took all-time NBA Finals performances from LeBron James and and Kyrie Irving just o win one game. Irving scored 41 points each and Lebron had a triple-double to go along with the performance in order to take a single game from this team. That alone is a testament to the difference in the level of this team compared to this and former eras. After this, the Golden State Warriors took down the Cavs in 5 games, finishing their incredible season with a 16-1 playoff record, beating the 2000-01 Lakers for the best playoff run of all time.
Since then, the team has gone 2-1 in the finals, only losing thanks to injuries and the other team having a great run of their own. The team was dissolved due to drama and kind of just a clash of mindsets between Durant and mostly Green. But while it lasted, we witnessed history even when some did not want to.
This team influenced the league as a whole. After 2019, we saw a crazy increase of stars wanting to play together and eventually doing so. We saw a high demand for shooting in players and the market for guys who can shoot and defend has become one of the most valuable in the league. This team made three-point shooting a necessity. The 2017 Warriors are the greatest team in basketball history, and their long-lasting effects on the NBA as a whole only prove this to be true.