Warriors face frontcourt questions after Finals failure


In sport, not all fairytales have a happy ending and the Golden State Warriors found that out the hard way on Sunday.

Throughout the 2015-16 season NBA season, the Warriors have looked like a team of destiny - setting new records at will en route to the best regular season record of all time.

The 73-9 Warriors have been praised for many things during this incredible campaign, but - aside from a unanimous MVP season from Stephen Curry - what was perhaps most impressive was their depth.

Golden State got excellent contributions from those not named Curry, Klay Thompson or Draymond Green - however - the Warriors' depth deserted them when it mattered most, ultimately ensuring their historic season ended in disappointment with the 93-89 game-seven loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Indeed, while the one-game suspension of Green for striking LeBron James in the groin proved key in allowing the Cavaliers to get back into a position where they could overturn a 3-1 deficit, it was the Warriors' inability to replace injured center Andrew Bogut that proved to be Golden State's downfall.

The knee injury Bogut picked up in game five forced Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao into extended action, and neither could replicate his contribution as a rim protector, allowing Tristan Thompson to have a devastating impact on the boards.

For Ezeli, his dreadful performance in game seven figures to be particularly damaging. He stood to make big money in free agency but his play down the stretch will have raised eyebrows among potential suitors.

In a similar position is small forward Harrison Barnes, whose shot almost completely deserted him in the last two games of the Finals.

Barnes is a player who displays startling hesitancy for someone of his physical gifts and his lack of production, which was keenly felt as Curry and Thompson failed to consistently find their range, leaves the Warriors facing something of a dilemma going into the offseason.

Golden State knows that Curry and Thompson will come back firing along with Green next season. However, Bogut is now 31 and it appears likely that he will only decline in the years to come. 

It is clear that the Warriors cannot count on Ezeli to fill in for Bogut in crunch time and Golden State's patience may have worn to a point  where they do not feel inclined to match the offers he or Barnes receive.

But should the market for that duo cool then the possibility of bringing Ezeli and Barnes back at an affordable rate and maintaining continuity may be a tough one to pass up.

The Warriors' personnel department has received widespread praise for how this team has been put together. Golden State now faces a big decision over whether to keep the faith with Barnes and Ezeli or look elsewhere. What they decide could well have a determining impact on whether Curry and co. are back in the Finals next year.