The Golden State Warriors are NBA champions, and we might be saying that for a while.
The rest of the league has a lot of catching up to do to reach the Warriors’ level. This team has almost no weaknesses. Unless injuries ruin the party, Monday night’s celebration could last for several seasons.
Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce believe’s Golden State’s reign over the basketball world is only beginning, and it’s hard to disagree.
This is why the Celtics, a team with tremendous young players and a treasure chest of future draft picks, should take the long view in their plan to build a champion.
Boston reached the Eastern Conference finals this season but was decisively beaten by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games. It was a great season for the C’s, who earned valuable playoff experience for a young roster.
But if they weren’t close to beating the Cavs, taking down the Warriors would be a near-impossible task. Yes, the C’s have won in Golden State in each of the last two seasons, but this year’s upset at Oracle Arena came when Kevin Durant was sidelined with an injury.
The Celtics have the assets — most notably the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft and a likely top-five pick via the Brooklyn Nets in the 2018 draft — to make a blockbuster trade for a superstar. But even the additions of Paul George or Jimmy Butler via trade, or Gordon Hayward as a free agent, wouldn’t elevate the Celtics to the Warriors’ level.
The best path to success for the C’s is using these draft picks on players who will reach their prime when the Warriors could be broken up (or old) and James and the Cavs no longer are elite.
Imagine a Celtics core of 2016 No. 3 overall pick Jaylen Brown, potential 2017 No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz and whoever next year’s Nets first-round pick turns out to be. Three talented players under 22 years old and signed to team-friendly rookie contracts.
Taking this long-term approach doesn’t hinder Boston’s ability to compete in the East in the short-term, either. Adding a high-end talent like Fultz to a roster that just played in the East Finals would be a substantial upgrade, and depending on how other young Celtics players develop, they might be able to challenge the Cavs soon — not to mention those rumors about LeBron going west.
It’s difficult to be patient, especially after a deep playoff run. The Celtics were just three wins away from the NBA Finals.
But it’s important to be realistic about the situation. The Celtics aren’t going to beat the Warriors as currently constructed. If the Celtics stay the course and build through the draft — like many championship squads are formed — they should give themselves the best chance to win when James is in his late thirties and the Warriors’ party could be nearing its end.
Thumbnail photo via Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports Images
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