NBA: Top 10 ‘What ifs’ from the 2010s

NBA Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NBA Oklahoma City Thunder James Harden #13, Kevin Durant #35 and Russell Westbrook #0 (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Golden State Warriors
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

4. What if the summer of 2014 played out differently for the Warriors?

In retrospect, the summer of 2014 was an extremely critical time that would make or break the future dynasty in the Bay Area. There are two extremely interesting “what ifs” from this offseason:

While firing Mark Jackson was far from a no-brainer in its own right, let’s say that the Warriors still move on from him, but that Steve Kerr decides to take the Knicks job. It has been reported that Stan Van Gundy was the next option, so what do the Warriors look like with Van Gundy at the helm? I can only speculate that they run plenty of high pick-and-roll with Stephen Curry. This is certainly appealing, especially since many have been clamoring for years for Kerr to fully unleash Curry like a James Harden or a LeBron James is utilized.

The other inflection point in the summer of 2014 for Golden State was the Kevin Love debate. In hindsight, it may seem ludicrous that a Kevin Love for Klay Thompson, David Lee, and a draft pick trade was ever on the table, but remember that Love at the time was seen as a top-ten player. What if members of the Warriors’ front office (notably Jerry West) argued in favor of the deal instead of against it?

The Warriors still become an elite team with the breakout of Stephen Curry in 2015 and Love/Barnes/Bogut surrounding him. However, Draymond Green never emerges as an all-star, which ultimately lowers their ceiling as a team that wreaks havoc on both ends of the floor.

Had either one of these scenarios gone differently, the Warriors never become a dynasty. In all likelihood, they still win one championship due to the brilliance of Stephen Curry, but the landscape of the NBA changes. Van Gundy would be a good coach for them, but ultimately without the diversity of Kerr’s beautiful offensive system, they become much easier to defend in the playoffs.

I see the LeBron Cavs’ winning two titles instead of one, and the Harden/Paul Rockets’ winning one as well. These two decisions show just how fragile building a dynasty in this league can be, and that the line between a good and a less favorable option is razor-thin.