Chasing The Championship


Emily Molden

Warriors Big-Three after acquiring elite forward Kevin Durant.

Michael Chambers, Reporter

The 2016-2017 NBA Finals ended with the Golden State Warriors winning their second title in three years, trumping LeBron James and the Cavaliers 4-1, leaving many to wonder how could they could ever be stopped.


Then came the offseason, and it seemed like more than ever before, players were  after championships instead of the highest paycheck.


In 2015, the Golden State Warriors started out the season on a 24-game winning streak, establishing themselves as the best team in the Western Conference and had many wondering if they could break the Chicago Bulls’ 72 win season record. That year, the Warriors finished the season 73-9, winning 89 percent of their games, which was one game better than the record previously held by the Bulls. Warriors guard Stephen Curry became the first ever unanimous MVP, averaging 30 points, seven assists, and five rebounds per game. The Warriors eased their way through the regular season and playoffs before finally meeting the other NBA juggernaut, the Cleveland Cavaliers, in the finals. It seemed too easy for the defending champion Warriors, but after a game four ejection and one game suspension of forward Draymond Green, things turned drastically. Up 3-1, the Warriors looked as if they were a different team and suffered against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, losing the series 4-3. Many people considered the Warriors choke artist, who couldn’t get the job done. They were talked about on ESPN and all over social media as jokes, but all the chatter changed when rumors began to unfold that former MVP and Scoring Champion Kevin Durant would join the team. People went from talking about how the Warriors blew the Finals to how dominant they would actually be with Durant on their team.


“It’s never been done before. To have four All-Stars on one team is pretty much impossible to stop,” Junior Harold Donnegan said.


On July 5, 2016, Kevin Durant announced he’d be signing with Golden State in the 2016-2017 season, which sent the NBA world into a frenzy. A team who just came off a 73 win season with three All-Stars, including the unanimous MVP, would now be adding the former MVP. After another regular season winning 68 games, they only seemed to get better heading into the postseason, winning their first 15 playoff games, including sweeps in the Divisional round, Conference Semifinals and Conference Championship rounds. In the Finals, they would meet the team that caused them the heartbreak the year before. From the beginning, the Warriors were in their own league, quickly dominating the series, winning the Finals in five games and finishing the postseason with a 16-1 record.  After they walked away with the Championship, many NBA owners and players had a new and common goal: It was no longer all about the money and merchandise, people wanted to win rings. This led to the most explosive offseason in NBA history, including the signing and trades of more than 10 All-Stars and upcoming NBA talents. It became clear that everyone had the same goal; to win. With teams making deals to acquire the best players, the race to the finals had already began, and new superteams developed. The top two teams from the Eastern Conference, Cleveland and Boston, swapped star point guards. The trade sent young and upcoming star Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics, escaping from the shadow of being LeBron James’ sidekick, and sent Isaiah Thomas and a first round pick to the Cavaliers.


Varsity Basketball coach Chris Johnson believes that the Celtics were the winner of the trade and set their franchise up for more success in the future.


“He’s the best player in the league right now,” Johnson said about of Kyrie Irving. “He’s a playmaker that can score however he pleases, and he can carry this team to a title.”


On draft night 2017, the Minnesota Timberwolves made their move by trading away two of their young talents, Kris Dunn and Zach Lavine, to the Bulls in exchange for four time All-Star Jimmy Butler. Butler and the Bulls had been trying to reach a mutual agreement to part ways for some time, but no one expected it to occur on the night of the draft. The Bulls began rebuilding their franchise, and in exchange the Wolves developed a new super team, consisting of the newly acquired Butler and the young and promising duo of Forward Andrew Wiggins and Center Karl-Anthony Towns.


“This is a team who can be very good for many years to come,” sophomore Jarquis Parker said about the Wolves. “They have the most potential to be great than anyone else. They have such a strong core that happens to be very young too.”


The Oklahoma City Thunder had a better season than most expected. 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook, averaged a triple double for the season, which hasn’t been done since the 1961-62 season. It wasn’t near enough to make a run for the championship, though. So the Thunder went all out trying to build a championship team. On July 6, the Thunder traded for four time All-Star Paul George in exchange for Victor Olidipo and Damantas Sabonis. Many felt this new duo could already compete for a championship, but the Thunder wasn’t finished building yet. On September 23, they shocked the world and traded Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott to the New York Knicks for 10-time All-Star and former scoring champion Carmelo Anthony, establishing themselves as a serious championship contender.


According to Johnson, the Thunder made the two biggest moves of the offseason, and they can be a serious threat to the defending champs.


“With George and Melo joining Russell Westbrook, they can be really good. Anyone that can build up a team with two or three All-Stars has a good chance to win.”


These were not the only moves made. With teams like the Rockets trading for nine time All-Star Chris Paul to form a dangerous tandem with guard James Harden and the Lakers shocking the world by shipping young guard D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets to make way for rookie phenom Lonzo Ball. The surface of the NBA is looking completely different than from the previous year, but will it still be enough for a team to take down what by many believe is the best team of all time?