The Golden State Warriors have been the most dominant force in the NBA for the last decade. This past year marked their fourth championship victory in eight years, as the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green has dominated the league.
Curry is the greatest shooter in NBA history, Thompson is the greatest catch-and-shoot shooter in NBA history, and Green is one of the best defenders and glue guys in NBA history. All will be Hall-of-Famers, and as a trio, they are one of the best cores ever.
But what if they never got the chance to work together? Dan Favale of Bleacher Report compiled a list of the biggest ‘what ifs’ for every team in the NBA, and he turned to Grant Hughes to list the Warriors’. For Golden State, Hughes discussed the deal that almost sent Curry to the Milwaukee Bucks.
“If we accept that Stephen Curry is the person most responsible for transforming the Warriors from laughingstock to a glamor-market powerhouse (which we should, because it’s true), then we have to choose the moment that would have removed him from the organization entirely,” Hughes wrote. “It could have been him, and not Monta Ellis, who went to the Bucks in a package for Andrew Bogut in 2012.”
Sending Curry out in the deal for Bogut would have been one of the biggest mistakes in league history, but at the time, fans didn’t feel that way.
Warriors Fans Booed the Trade
At the time of the trade, Ellis was the more established player. In fact, after the Warriors made the deal for Bogut, fans actually booed team ownership for trading Ellis instead of Curry. Oh, how wrong they were.
“Judging by the fan response at the time, most might even have preferred that Curry had been the one to go. The home crowd relentlessly booed governor Joe Lacob in the aftermath of the trade,” Hughes explained. “If only they’d known then that the next seven years would include three titles and five Finals trips—a remarkable run of success driven by Curry, who’d win a pair of NBA MVPs in the process.”
It’s understandable that fans were upset at the time, as when the trade went down, Ellis was the better player. But as soon as Ellis was off the team and they handed the keys to Curry, everything changed. It was the best decision the Warriors could have ever made for the future of their franchise.
He saved them.
Curry Saved the Warriors
If the Warriors traded Curry instead of Ellis, everything would have been different. All of the things we associate with the Warriors today wouldn’t have existed.
“In that alternate reality, there are no Splash Brothers, Draymond Green wouldn’t have had an all-time shooter and off-ball mover to minimize his weaknesses and play to his strengths, the 73-win season surely would’ve never happened and KD wouldn’t arrive (or depart). The whole course of Warriors history would have gone in another, indisputably worse, direction.
“Curry saved the franchise that nearly traded him,” Hughes explained.
Luckily for Golden State fans, Warriors’ ownership made the right decision. Even if a shotty medical examination was the main reason Curry wasn’t traded.