Somehow the Golden State Warriors have become the New England Patriots of the NBA. Fans of the NFL know how polarizing Brady and Belichick can be. In sports, maybe in life as well, with high levels of success comes a lot of resentment and envy. When the Golden State Warriors hired Steve Kerr before the 2014-15 season, the team was pretty much under the radar. That season, Kerr made some changes to the team and the Warriors took the NBA by storm.
To give you a timeline, this was the first season after the Heat dismantled and the Spurs won their championship. The league was expected to be wide open for the Cavs to go on a run winning championships with only San Antonio and possibly Oklahoma City in their way. Then, the Steve Kerr Warriors led by Steph Curry were something we had never seen before. The players were pretty much the same from the previous season, but something was different. That was the play of Steph Curry being elevated to an MVP level. But before Steph Curry established himself as one of the best players in the league, he was an injury prone player who couldn't advance far in the playoffs.
Today we'll list some of the best of times and the worst of times. From the best teammates Steph has ever had, to other ones he would gladly purchase a plane ticket out of town for. These are the 8 teammates Steph wishes stuck around, and the 8 teammates he's glad are gone.
16 Wishes Stayed: Leonardo Barbosa
Before the Warriors had to shed salary to sign Kevin Durant, Barbosa was one of the key pieces to the Warriors bench. Their slogan was "strength in numbers" and often Golden State often won games by large margins thanks to their depth. Many times Steph Curry and the starting lineup had large leads, and they were fortunate enough to rest a ton of fourth quarters. Now, with the addition of Kevin Durant, their bench has weakened, and they have to rely more on their starters. The result of the increased workload is what you see now: injuries. Getting to the NBA Finals three years straight can take a toll on a player due to the shortened off-season to recover and added games. Had Barbosa still been around, maybe Curry's ankle injuries wouldn't have reappeared this season.
15 Glad Are Gone: Anderson Varejao
Anderson Varejao played most of his career for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the main rival of the Golden State Warriors. The Cavs traded away Varejao (a fan favourite) in 2016. After he was waived by the Blazers, the Warriors swiftly signed Varejao for the rest of the season. Many suspected this as a chess move, just to get an advantage on the Cavs in terms of game plans, strategies and an inside look into what the Cavs want to do. Steph Curry was the unanimous MVP that year and lead the Warriors to 73 wins, a league record.
As the story goes, the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Since Varejao was a member of the Cavaliers that season, he would be eligible for a ring from the Cavs although he was a member on the losing squad. There were people that suspected Varejao of being a double agent as their plan backfired, and they did not win the championship. This late in his career, Varejao didn't bring much on the court and after Bogut was injured, maybe a more productive player helps them secure a title in 2016.
14 Wishes Stayed: Jose Calderon
If you’re wondering when Jose Calderon played for the Warriors, trust me you’re not going to be alone. Calderon was signed by Golden State last season but after Kevin Durant was injured, he was waived to sign Matt Barnes. This is one of those weird NBA stories only die hard fans know about. His Warriors career lasted for all of two hours before it was over, and was paid for the entire season. $450,000 in two hours is pretty good money if we'd say so ourselves. If you've paid attention to the NBA of late, Jose Calderon has been playing very good basketball this season and has helped the Cavs string together a lot of victories. In the head of Petty Curry, I know he would much rather see LeBron's team crash and burn.
13 Glad Are Gone: Kwame Brown
The Washington Wizards drafted Kwame Brown with the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. This was the first blow to the reputation of Michael Jordan as a talent evaluator. To this day, Jordan is known to have the reputation of drafting busts much to the surprise of fans who witnessed his greatness as a player. Brown signed with the Warriors in 2011, but only played in 9 games due to injuries and let's be honest, he wasn't that good. I was being nice before, Kwame Brown stunk. The Warriors were wasting a roster spot with Brown and would have been better off with a player who could produce. I would assume Steph Curry would just be glad to get as far away from Kwame Brown as possible. As a guard, it has to be frustrating to play with such a wasted talent, just ask Kobe Bryant.
12 Wishes Stayed: Kent Bazemore
Kent Bazemore was undrafted in 2012, but after solid summer league play signed with the Warriors that July. For much of his time in Golden State, Bazemore was the guy at the end of the bench that fans loved because of his celebrations and all teams need that guy. The Warriors traded away Bazemore in 2014 for Steve Blake. Blake never panned out in Golden State and Bazemore got a chance in Atlanta. It's always tough to see a player you developed see the fruits of their labor show on another roster. Basically giving up Bazemore for nothing, the Steve Kerr lead Warriors would be a perfect fit for the 6'5 wing. He was cheap, and can make outside shots, something you don't want to give up for nothing. Golden State didn't make a lot of roster errors, but this was one of them.
11 Glad Are Gone: Lou Amundson
Sometimes big men last a long time in the NBA just because they're tall. Lou Amundson calls under that category. The Warriors signed the 6'9 Forward to a 2-year deal in 2010. Of course Steph Curry doesn't miss Amundson, he makes the team look bad. Once when he played for the Pelicans, Warriors announcer deemed one of his free throw attempts "one of the worst air balls in my 20 years." It's always funny hearing broadcasters acknowledge when a player is really as bad as we think. In a Warriors uniform, Amundson averaged 4.3 points per game in 46 games. He also shot 39 percent from the FREE THROW LINE! That's not bad, that's just down right awful. Steph Curry shoots a better percentage from the 3-point line than he did at the free throw line. Steph must have slept well the night Amundson was not retained in Golden State.
10 Wishes Stayed: Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson wasn't the same guy in Golden State that he was in New Jersey. What Jefferson was is the veteran presence that keeps the team together and eases the locker room during a difficult season. The pressure to win a title year in and year out could take its toll both mentally and physically. Just take a look a Kevin Durant if you don't believe me. I'm sure it wasn't exactly a great sight for Curry watching his ex-teammate play for his biggest rival. Jefferson's greatest moment also happened to be Curry's worst back in 2016. Had Jefferson been a member of the Warriors, maybe they wouldn't have had to rely on Harrison Barnes so much that season. We'll get a little more into that later. Jefferson is nothing more than an end of the bench guy for morale at this stage. But laughs are great, and we all like to laugh, even two time MVPs.
9 Glad Are Gone: Anthony Morrow
Anthony Morrow wasn't a bad teammate or a scrub that brought nothing to the team. The reasoning Steph is glad Morrow is gone are for more egotistical reasons. Between Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors have two of the best shooters in the NBA. Anthony Morrow may have been a better shooter than both of them. Morrow doesn't see much playing time, but when he does, he shoots like he's been playing for 35 minutes already. During their lone season together, Morrow surprisingly had a better percentage from three.
Professional athletes have egos, and NBA superstars are even worse. In practice, Curry often competes with head coach Steve Kerr who owns the second best three-point percentage for a season in NBA history in shooting contests. As much as I tried to sell you on Morrow, if I had to bet I'd still put my money on Steph.
8 Wishes Stayed: Marreese Speights
Marreese Speights is another guy on that long list of ex-Warriors whose departure totally depleted the Golden State bench. With that bench depleted, they now have to rely on stars like Nick Young and JaVale McGee. At least those guys are known, the rest of the bench is filled with a bunch of guys you've never heard of. Speights was a great shooter for his size and the nights when Curry can't make a shot, Speights helped offset that. When Pachulia is in the game for instance, you just have a guy that can run and breathe at the same time. Outside of Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and a couple bench guys, I'm sure Steph would have no problem trading the rest of the team.
7 Glad Are Gone: Omri Casspi
This is actually a fairly recent move. The Warriors released Omri Casspi to make room for Quinn Cook. This isn't all about Casspi, who played decent for Golden State this season. This is more about Cook, who the Warriors found as a diamond in the rough. As we've mentioned before, Curry needs someone to help carry the load as the point guard and Cook has been that help they need. It also helps Curry play off the ball which helps him focus on scoring and not setting up his teammates. As the playoffs approach, the Warriors can't rely too heavily on Omri Casspi when they already have Nick Young on the roster. Defensively, I'm sure Casspi would struggle to guard some of the team's assistant coaches, so I'm sure the move helps in the defensive category.
6 Wishes Stayed: Ian Clark
Much like Barbosa, Ian Clark played a part of the Warriors NBA Finals runs the last few seasons. Clark was the backup to Curry and when he would be in foul trouble or resting. This season, when Curry isn't available they just have not been the same team. The days of "strength in numbers" are over. With Curry dealing with multiple injuries, it would be nice to have that extra guard that has experience and could man the ship. Shaun Livingston has not been healthy this season and they really miss Clark. This is the first time in the last three seasons that the Warriors will not finish with the league's best record. The last time the Warriors didn't have a healthy Curry for the playoffs, they lost in the Finals. Like I mentioned before, could the lack of rest and deep playoff runs be finally catching up? Only time will tell.
5 Glad Are Gone: Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis was the Warriors' leader when the team drafted Steph Curry in 2009. The team and fans had an emotional connection to Ellis, and they hated to see him go. During the trade deadline in 2012, Monta Ellis was shipped away much to the displeasure of Warriors fans. So much so that when the team retired Chris Mullin's jersey was retired, the fans booed owner Joe Lacob throughout the service. In a 2016 interview, Ellis acknowledged that the team would not have been able to win a championship the year prior had they not parted ways. In that deal, the Warriors received Andrew Bogut who was a catalyst in their first championship run. If Ellis was still around, it could have been a possibility that Curry was shipped away instead. Then maybe Curry never gets the freedom from Steve Kerr, and we're having an entirely different conversation about the two time MVP.
4 Wishes Stayed: David Lee
During Steph Curry's career in the NBA, David Lee was one of the most talented players he played with. During the 2012-13 season, Lee represented the team in the All-Star game. Lee averaged as much as 20 points per game and as much as 11.7 rebounds per game. This entry is a little two fold. His departure opened up the path for Draymond Green's development, but the team still could use Lee. To this day, the team lacks a guy that can score in the low post and as we know, they are super reliant on the three point line. When shots aren't falling from the perimeter, it's nice to get some easy baskets. There are about four big men on the Warriors bench that lack the ability to score. If Lee was still on the team, maybe they would still have the best record in the NBA like the past three seasons.
3 Glad Are Gone: Jordan Crawford
During the 2013-14 season, Jordan Crawford played 42 games for the Golden State Warriors. There are two types of players that teammates hate playing with. First is the scrub, who just doesn't belong in the league, and the gunner who shoots the ball whenever they touch it and never pass to anyone. Jordan Crawford can be classified as a certified gunner. The year after Crawford left the team, Steph Curry turned into the league MVP because he got more shots. After Crawford's showing in Golden State that season, he was out of the league for the next two seasons. Steph is a shooter, and all shooters want to shoot the ball. Superstars aren't interested in sharing the spotlight with some guy at the end of the bench, that's for sure.
2 Wishes Stayed: Andrew Bogut
When the Golden State Warriors were both the league's best defensive team, and offensive team, it was anchored by Andrew Bogut. While many people point to Draymond Green suspension as a reason for the 2016 Finals loss, the Bogut injury may have had a larger impact. Since Bogut wasn't resigned the Warriors have replaced him with Zaza Paculia and Javale McGee. If you could somehow combine the talent of both Pachulia and McGee, they would still fall short of Bogut. Those two are what we like to refer to as scrubs in NBA circles. When you have success with someone and build something great, it's always hard to break that bond. With Zaza and JaVale both clumsily injuring both he and Kevin Durant in back-to-back seasons, Steph would kill for a sensible center again.
1 Glad Are Gone: Harrison Barnes
This is another key member of the Warriors when Steph Curry was in the MVP conversation. Those days seem like forever ago. If you watched the 73-9 Golden State team lose in the Finals, Barnes was a complete no show. In the words of Stephen A. Smith, "there's an APB on Harrison Barnes." That off-season, Harrison Barnes was due to see an increase in salary, similar to All-NBA performers. When management had to make a decision, it came down to paying Barnes or adding Kevin Durant. That has to be one of the easiest choices they have ever had to make. If Barnes contributes in the slightest in 2016, maybe Steph is going for his 4th consecutive championship. I think Curry enjoyed Barnes in there earlier days, but if asked will have driven his limousine to the airport if it meant getting Durant.