Sunday 22 October 2017 / 10:52 PM

DO DOWNSIZED WARRIORS HAVE A PROBLEM?

The ink is still wet from Kevin Durant’s massive, seismic shaking contract he signed with the NBA’s premier dynasty in the making, the Golden State Warriors. We are less than a week removed from the Warriors being anointed the best team of all time, so it may be a little early to start dissecting them.

Free agency isn’t over yet, sure. And there are still plenty of moves to be made across the league. But the Warriors are up to 13 guaranteed contracts, and most of the NBA’s game-changing free agents are off the board. So for the most part, we know what Golden State has, and what their training camp roster will look like, and roughly what their starting lineup is going to present when they open up in late October.

With that in mind, it’s time to point out a flaw on the greatest team of all time: the Warriors have a big size issue. Now I know this seems like nitpicking for a team with so much offensive talent and spacing problems, but hear me out. The Warriors have some big problems down low, and are going to have to address them.

This offseason, the Warriors lost Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, and Maureece Speights. To replace them, they’ve added Zaza Pachulia and David West. Andrew Bogut was a key cog for the offense and defense last year, but primarily providing some intensity in the paint, particularly with Green off the court. When he played with Curry and Thompson, it was Bogut’s ability to provide help inside that allowed Golden State to function with one of the league’s best defenses. Ezeli also brought presence and rebounding to the floor and gave the Warriors some size inside against some of the better centers they faced in the Western Conference.

Zaza and West are solid big men, and would probably start on teams not as deep as

this one. For all intensive purposes, Zaza will be the starting center for the Warriors, barring any other bigger moves. But with that in mind, the Warriors haven’t fixed an issue that plagued them in the postseason.

Against the Thunder, OKC’s lineup of Kanter and Adams, along with Ibaka frustrated the Warriors and put them in uncomfortable situations. The all-big lineup was a big part of the reason the Thunder had Golden State down to begin with, as Golden State struggled to match the size and rebounding ability that OKC threw at them.

We saw more of the same in the NBA Finals, with the Cavaliers using LeBron as a 4 and Tristan Thompson inside. And after Bogut’s injury, the Warriors got absolutely decimated on the interior. James and Irving got to the rim with ease, in the same way that Durant and Westbrook did just the series before. There was virtually no rim protection, and the rebounding of Thompson and James led to the death of Golden State by a thousand cuts.

Zaza will aid Golden State in the rebounding department, and provides adequate rim protection. But the Warriors will face serious trouble against better big men who can play over and muscle against Pachulia. But even counting on the play of Zaza may be wishful thinking. The older center is facing injury concerns, and hasn’t played a full season in quite a while. Zaza also hasn’t played big minutes in a few seasons, and asking him to be the answer at rim protector is a lot in a conference filled with slashing guards and players that can get to the rim.

Sure, Golden State is going to score big points and score them in massive ways. But there are chinks in the armor. And unless Golden State can find some interior help, and some more convincing prescence on the market, we may see a repeat of what we saw last year. The Warriors could score enough points that it may not matter, but in a battle inside the paint, the greatest team of all time may have some kryptonite.

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About the author

Austin Albertson

Austin is CBS' senior NFL and NBA analyst, bringing you commentary on everything between the lines and inside the hashes, from the film room to the scoreboard.

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