This week on the debut of our new weekly debate series, Wednesday Face-Off, Sam Forman and Colin Castleberry debate which NBA front-runner will be hurt more by its injured players? The Cleveland Cavaliers will be without Kevin Love until around the start of the playoffs and Andrew Bogut’s season lasted less than a minute. While the Golden State Warriors are hoping Kevin Durant will return in time for the playoffs.
Forman: The answer here is easy. It’s Golden State that is hurt the most by its injuries. Simply put, Love and Bogut are not top-10 players. However, Durant is one of the three best players in the world. Yes, the Warriors still have Steph Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, but only Curry is a top-10 talent in the NBA. Look at what he has done in the playoffs the last two years and it’s clear the Warriors, without Durant, are the team that is in the most trouble thanks to injuries.
Castleberry: The Cavs are certainly more affected by injuries. To dispute you Sam, though Green and Thompson are not technically top-10 players they are more important to the Warriors than KD. Green is the second-best defender in the league and a top-five rebounder. While Thompson is possibly the best wing player (or role-player) in the league. The Warriors, on the back of their big three, made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances. The Cavs were still able to make the Finals without Love, but couldn’t get the job done without him. Plus, their most consistent shooting option, J.R. Smith, still has not returned.
Forman: Well, look who is putting the wagon in front of the horse. It’s time to slow your roll
my friend. Green is not even in the top five in in two of the top defensive stats this season and here are the numbers. Now, I will give you Thompson is a great wing player, but he’s still not top-10 talent. Smith is set to return any day, so there goes that point. If we played the game right now, the Cavs have two of the top 10 players in the world and the Warriors have one. Golden State’s bench is nowhere near as good as last season and Cleveland plays in the East. As long as Love is back by the Conference Finals they are fine.
Castleberry: Green has not had to perform at the same level this season because the Warriors signed KD. Now, with his injury, each of the Warriors players will do what they always do: adapt and perform. Outside of Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, the Cavs do not have a pure scoring option who can put the team on their back and win a game or a playoff series. The Warriors have Curry, Thompson, Green’s defense/rebounding ability and Andre Iguodala who, let’s not forget, shut down James and won the Finals MVP in 2015.
Forman: All they have left is Iguodala and he did nothing but get blocked by James in the 2016
Finals. Gone is Festus Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa, Harrison Barnes, Bogut and Brandon Rush. This year’s Warriors aren’t built anywhere near as deep. However, even without Bogut, the Cavs did improve their bench. You can’t take away both James and Irving and they have added Kyle Korver and Deron Williams and last I checked they can still create their own offense. Curry isn’t clutch when it truly counts, Thompson can be taken away and Green is too emotional to depend on. So yes, without KD, Golden State may not even make it to the Western Conference Finals.
Castleberry: Alright, I see you Sam, very good. However, Williams is an aging star who has lost a step and Korver is a specialist with little skill set outside of setting up on the line and contributing nothing else to the offense. Yes, the Warriors lost a lot of of talented players from their two straight Finals appearances, however they reloaded on signing day with players like Matt Barnes, David West and Javale McGee. The Cavs are a two-man show with James and Irving alongside some solid role-players who can’t stay healthy. The Warriors lost one superstar for only four weeks on a team stacked with All-Stars.