On March 10, the Golden State Warriors were eliminated from NBA playoff contention. They're the first team to receive that "honor" and currently hold the worst record in the league at 15-50. At this time last season, the Dubs were 45-21 and well on their way to their fifth consecutive NBA Finals appearance. Golden State's tumble from one of the greatest dynasties of the millennium to leading the pack for the No. 1 overall draft pick was swift, if not surprising. But it always is, isn't it?
There are a multitude of reasons the Warriors now find themselves in this position, and most of those are out of their control. Kevin Durant chose to head east to Brooklyn in free agency, Klay Thompson tore his ACL in last year's Finals and will miss the whole season, and Stephen Curry only just returned after he broke his hand four games into this year's campaign. Golden State is capped out after giving Thompson and Draymond Green massive extensions, so reloading through free agency wasn't an option this year. They did land D'Angelo Russell in the Durant sign-and-trade, but sent him to Minnesota at the trade deadline for Andrew Wiggins and draft picks.
All of this brings the team to where it is are now: a bottom-feeding team struggling to make it to the end of the season. The last 17 games should be more palatable with the presence of Curry, but the days of blowout victories and feeling like kings of the castle are long gone. But the end of dynasties are rarely pretty.
Miami went 37-45 after the Heatles broke up in 2015 and missed the playoffs entirely. The Celtics staggered into the playoffs barely above .500 in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett's final year before they bottomed out completely by trading the two former superstars to the Nets. The Cavs completely cratered both times LeBron James left their team.
These Warriors are more similar to the Lakers of the early 2000s than they are the above former powerhouses; they lost their biggest and best superstar but kept their hometown hero who is a superstar in his own right. But even Los Angeles stumbled with Kobe Bryant at the helm after trading Shaq, missing the playoffs with a 34-48 record after losing the NBA Finals the previous year.
The Warriors will be fine. Curry, Thompson, and Green is a good enough trifecta that they'll be a playoff team while everyone is healthy. It remains jarring that the big, bad Warriors, after five years of a gigantic target on their backs, are out of playoff contention before spring has arrived. But the fall of giants is always jarring.