The NBA is a copycat league.
Yes, I’m aware that’s usually what is said about the NFL. And yes, I’m going to copy that phrase and use it here. Ironic? You be the judge.
Steve Kerr addressed this not-so-secret trend of taking what works from successful franchises and using it to your own benefit Saturday night when he coached against one of his former teams, the San Antonio Spurs. Kerr was asked after the game if he thought it was weird to see the Spurs run similar looks to what Golden State has been running.
“Not really,” said Kerr. “I played for Pop and I took a lot of things from him. But so has the whole league.
“So when we play against Denver, I see a lot of the same stuff that Denver’s doing, I see it with San Antonio. A lot of people have taken from the Spurs, because they’ve been the best franchise in the league for 20 years.”
Kerr is right, the Spurs have been the league’s gold standard for two decades now. But what his Golden State Warriors have been able to accomplish over the past three years has that gold standard shifting slightly.
Last week the Cleveland Cavaliers completely overhauled their roster in unprecedented fashion for a title contender this late in the season. Isiah Thomas? Shipped off to Los Angeles along with Channing Frye and a pick for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance – two long and lean wing players who can defend multiple positions. Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose are gone, replaced by Rodney Hood and George Hill, two more wing players who can ‘3-and-D.’
“We know what’s going on,” Steph Curry said Monday of the trade deadline. “We have an understanding of how people are trying to position themselves for certain matchups including us…or, especially us I should say…and that’s that.”
The Warriors were linked to a few big names near the end of the trade deadline (Joe Johnson, Marco Belinelli among the most recognizable), but nothing materialized for the champs. That left Golden State on the sidelines waiting, and watching to see what moves other teams would execute.
Some teams more than others.
“When it’s Cleveland and Houston, it’s hard not to (pay more attention), Curry said. “Especially when you’re dealing with the names that…a team run by LeBron, and trying to figure out what pieces to go with him. And James (Harden) and CP (Chris Paul) playing at an amazingly high level all year, with all the question marks they had around their team going into the season.
“The NBA is in a healthy state right now.”
That subject may be up for debate (and you can be sure it is in diners, drive-ins and dives across America). But what’s not up for debate is basketball is healthy and thriving in Oakland, California.