Two Teams That Could Stop Golden State Warriors in the West

By bringing in Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors have made themselves the clear frontrunners to win the NBA title next season. They have the most talented starting five in the NBA with two-time MVP Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and offseason additions Kevin Durant and Zaza Pachulia. They’re everyone’s “team to beat”. But perhaps they shouldn’t be planning the parade quite yet. There are two Western Conference teams who will give the Warriors a run for their money—the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Two Teams That Could Stop Golden State

The Spurs pose an imminent threat 

The Warriors pulled off the biggest signing of the summer, but the Spurs and Trail Blazers also made moves that will do wonders for their teams. The Spurs brought in Bulls big man Pau Gasol on a 2 year,30 million dollar deal. Gasol, while getting up there in age, is still one of the NBA’s best big men, and had arguably the two best years of his career in his  recent Bulls’ tenure. Gasol is a two-way big man, known mostly for his post presence; he’s one of the best offensive big men in the NBA. Gasol, combined with LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, will be the NBA’s best frontline.

To add to to the frontline they also brought in big man David Lee, who still poses a threat in the post. While the Spurs’ backcourt with Tony Parker and Danny Green wouldn’t be able to keep up with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Spurs frontcourt will expose a massive flaw in the Warriors’ defense. Both Gasol and Aldridge are post-up players who can also stretch the floor when needed. The Warriors frontline is not adapted to defending in the post. Green is more of a perimeter defender, and Pachulia is an average defender; Gasol and Aldridge will present a big problem for Golden State.

While the Spurs pose a threat in the post, the Trail Blazers are a threat to Golden State because their roster is a close semblance.

The Trail Blazers pose a current and long-term threat

The Trail Blazers have a roster very similar to the Warriors, due mostly to budding superstars Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in their backcourt. Last season, Lillard proved himself to be capable of carrying a team to the playoffs, and McCollum broke out to have a monster season, and become one of the NBA’s best shooting guards.

This young star-studded backcourt isn’t the only facet of their team that stands out—their frontcourt is very talented as well. That frontcourt features free agent signee Evan Turner, athletic forward Al-Farouq Aminu, and centers Mason Plumee and free agent signee Festus Ezeli. Turner and Ezeli were crucial signings. Albeit the hefty 4 year/ 70 million dollar deal, Evan Turner represents a much needed two way threat. While a forward, Turner’s versatility allows him to play both guard spots, and his defensive ability allows him to guard any position, one through four on the court. Turner has the ability to shut down a team’s top scoring option, or in this scenario, limit Kevin Durant’s production.

Festus Ezeli was also a great signing, especially for the price. Ezeli inked a 2-year/ 15 million dollar deal. Ezeli, was an under-the-radar player in Golden State. While not an offensive threat, Ezeli is a defensive presence who can finish in the paint, and he’ll add to a very deep bench. By signing Ezeli and re-signing guard Allen Crabbe, center Meyers Leonard, and forward Maurice Harkless, and keeping big man Ed Davis, the Trail Blazers maintained a formidable bench. With their young firing backcourt, their balanced frontcourt and in-depth bench, the Trail Blazers pose a current and long-term threat to the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors are the team to beat in the West, but the Spurs and Trail Blazers are certainly formidable. The Spurs have the best frontcourt in the NBA with two-way superstar Kawhi Leonard, big man LaMarcus Aldridge, and free agent signee Pau Gasol; they will expose the Warriors’ post defense. The Trail Blazers may be the bigger threat. They have a young, dangerous backcourt that can stay with Curry and Thompson, a defensive and athletic frontcourt, and a deeper bench. With the addition of Evan Turner, the Blazers add one of the better two-way players in the league, and one of the more versaitle players as well. Ezeli will also be a welcomed addition from Golden State due to his defensive abilities.

Main image credit: