What we know is: The Warriors are incredible. They were incredible during the regular season, and only got more incredible in the playoffs. So incredible, in fact, that they have won more playoff games in a row than any team ever has, and also so incredible that they are a game away from being the first NBA team ever to go undefeated for an entire playoff run, which is pretty goddamn nuts.
Here’s what else we know: Next year is likely going to be the same, what with all of their most important players looking like they’ll be back. So what follows here is not a list of things that each player on their roster can work on during the offseason to make their basketball games better, because, collectively at least, their basketball games are perfect. Instead, what follows is a list of things that each player on their roster can work on during the offseason to make the extracurricular parts of their basketball games better. Because those things are important, too.
What does Klay Thompson need to do? Right around the end of my time in college (this was 2004-ish), this movie called You Got Served came out. Mainly it was about one dance crew (the good guys) having to battle a different dance crew (the bad guys). The first of the two times the crews battle, The Good Guys realize that The Bad Guys have tilted the game in their favor by talking Sonny, one of the members of The Good Guys, into joining their crew so he can teach them the moves The Good Guys do. The Good Guys are all standing around waiting for Sonny to show up before the battle starts, and when he gets there he lets everyone notice him, then walks over to The Bad Guys and joins them. The Bad Guys of course wax The Good Guys, and so then the scene ends with a big fight between the crews and then one of The Bad Guys tells one of The Good Guys he’s just mad "because you got served."
Anyway, that’s what Klay needs to do. He needs to You Got Served the Warriors. He needs to show up a little late to the first Cavs-Warriors game next year, let everyone notice him, and then, rather than jogging over to the Warriors huddle, he jogs over to the Cavs huddle and joins them. My colleague Chris Almeida wrote of Klay that "almost 78 percent of his shots came with a touch time of less than two seconds." Imagine the trouble he could cause if he was on the Cavs and they let him touch the ball for three seconds at a time? He might score 400 points in a game.
As things stand now, the Warriors are basically unbeatable. They’re a tidal wave of axes and razorblades and bazookas. Not even LeBron, who is basically Human Hercules at this point, could slow them down. BUT: Imagine if we swapped out Iman Shumpert for Klay Thompson. And imagine all of the tiny barbs LeBron would drop into all of the pressers leading up to that Finals. ("I don’t want to speak on the past," he’d say, right before indirectly speaking on the past, "but we as a Cavs organization just felt like nobody had seen the best Klay had to offer because he hadn’t been given the chance. We’re giving him a chance and we’re seeing the results.") Put those pieces all together and suddenly we’re talking about two basketball super-asteroids smashing into each other for seven games. So, I say again: Klay needs to You Got Served the Warriors.
(A tiny disclaimer: I know that Klay’s contract has him in Golden State through the year after next, but, I mean, come on — if the only thing in this blurb that bothered you is that it doesn’t line up with contract restrictions, then I don’t even know what to tell you.)
What do Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston and JaVale McGee need to do? Nothing. They are all already very perfect, and I refuse to hear otherwise. (Maybe JaVale could convince them all to grow rattails. That’s maybe the only improvement that needs to happen.)
What do James McAdoo and Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw need to do? Does it even matter?
What does Matt Barnes need to do? He can do whatever he wants, because I love Matt Barnes. I have made room for him in my heart every season since his 8-seed Warriors upset the 1-seed Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs in 2007, which is one of my five favorite basketball memories of all time. (Dirk Nowitzki and the dastardly Mavericks knocked my beloved Spurs out of the 2006 playoffs, and so watching them lose in historic fashion that next year was just so, so, so fun and funny.)
And while I wish Barnes had been allowed a bigger and more important role on the Warriors during these playoffs, I am still very, very happy that he’s going to get a championship ring. If we’re arranging players on the Warriors by how excited I am to finally be able to say, "NBA Champion [NAME]," it goes Matt Barnes > JaVale McGee > and then about a billion names, and then Zaza Pachulia. (None of them, though, feel as euphoric to say as last year when we all finally got to say "NBA Champion J.R. Smith.") (J.R. Smith really is the best.) (Did you watch the video segment they did on him and his wife and their daughter? It was very beautiful and overwhelming.)
What do Steph Curry and Draymond Green need to do? I’m all the way ready for Steph to go Full Villain next season. And I don’t mean the version of Full Villain that we got from him this year where he grew a sort-of beard and started taking more and more of those Eff-You 3-pointers he’s begun to favor. I want TRUE FULL VILLAIN Steph Curry. Like, maybe he cusses some rival fans out during the Warriors-Cleveland Christmas game ("Merry Christmas, bitches!" he shouts at a cluster of Cavs fans as he swishes a 3 at the end of the second quarter). Or maybe he gets an Only God Can Judge Me tattoo across his neck. Maybe he shoves Steve Kerr during a timeout of a nationally televised game and then after that he tells everyone he’s decided to go by Steve Curry now. I want it. I want it all.
Likewise, we take Draymond and spin him in the opposite direction too. Give me FULL CHURCH-LOVING DRAYMOND. Give me Draymond quoting scripture in postgame press conferences, and then when someone says something like, "Wait, aren’t you the same guy who accidentally posted a picture of your penis on social media during the Olympics?" he responds with something like, "Well, the only thing I’m accidentally posting these days is the word of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ." We need a Freaky Friday situation to happen here. That’s how we make next season super-interesting.
What does Kevin Durant need to do? It feels a lot like Kevin Durant winning this championship is going to dull the tips of the petty arrows in his petty quiver. I hope that’s not what happens. I hope that, following winning a ring, he just spends the whole offseason throwing it in everyone’s face. Give me Instagram posts, tweets, Snapchat stories, all of it. That’s all we need. We need KD to fan the flames as high as he can get them. It’s the only thing that’ll make him and the Warriors winning the next four or five championships any amount of enjoyable. We need him to just bask in the glow of his own greatness. And every year that they win a title, I want him to get louder and louder and more obnoxious about it. After he gets his third in a row, I want him to legally change his name to "LeKevin Durames" and talk about how he did what LeBron couldn’t. After he wins his fourth, I want him to legally change it back to Kevin Durant, and then start asking around for lawyers who specialize in naming rights because he wants to try to force Michael Jordan to have to legally change his name from Michael Jordan to "Kevin Durant, Except Not a Four-Peat."
What does David West need to do? Nothing. He’s all done. His journey is complete. Remember when Gollum fell into Mount Doom after he finally got the ring in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King? I guess if West is going to do anything, it could be that. (The way that Gollum is able to wrestle the ring away from Frodo is he actually bites Frodo’s finger off and then removes it from the stump. If David West was willing to walk away from $11 million for a chance to win a ring, I have to believe he would just as easily bite someone’s finger off to get one, too.)
What does Zaza Pachulia need to do? My youngest son has this book called The Ugly Duckling Dinosaur: A Prehistoric Tale. It’s about a baby T. rex egg that, through some way that is never explained or even addressed, ends up in a nest of duckling eggs.
When the egg finally hatches, the baby T. rex is very excited to be alive and to meet his family, only the problem is he’s a T. rex and his brothers and sisters are ducks and so they all kind of just hate him because they think everything he does is bad and wrong because he does it like a T. rex would do it and not like a duck would do it. (When he swims, for example, his giant tail splashes some other duck and the duck makes a big fucking deal about it.)
Eventually, the T. rex becomes so distraught and depressed and heartbroken that he decides to run away from his duck family while they all swim around gracefully at the pond one day. He tries to make friends with other things as he wanders through the forest (a turtle, some smaller dinosaurs, etc.), but nobody wants to talk to him or be with him because he doesn’t look like anything else. (It’s a very sad book, and one that I think is accidentally arguing in favor of segregation, though I’m certain that wasn’t the intention.) After weeks and weeks of wandering, he meets a Mama T. rex, and she tells him that he’s beautiful and worthwhile and welcomes him into her family. That’s how the book ends.
I mention it because that’s the book I always think of whenever I see Zaza Pachulia, big and lumbering and plodding, out on the court with all of the other Warriors. He looks like a whole different species of human when he’s out there with them. I hope that he’s not secretly very sad because the Warriors are all making fun of him for not being more like them in the locker room or at team dinners or whatever. Basically what I’m saying is I hope that this offseason he meets his version of the Mama T. rex, so she can tell him that he’s beautiful and worthwhile. That’s what he needs to do.