Right before leaving for an African safari, NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry stopped by CBS Sports Radio to discuss his former team, the Golden State Warriors, who he led to a championship in 1975.
Barry said that the Warriors – with 67 wins in the regular season and an 8-2 mark in the playoffs – have been a championship-caliber team all season.
“I think there were very high expectations to start with,” Barry said on Gio and Jones. “It all was going to be predicated on the health situation, which is always the primary concern for any team, especially with (Andrew) Bogut. They’ve had their fair share of injuries throughout the course of the season, as have had a lot of other teams. But the main thing is, their two biggest offensive weapons had a relatively-free-from-injury season. That’s Klay Thompson and that’s Steph Curry.
“I think Steve Kerr’s done a remarkable job for a first-year coach coming in to get these guys to buy into the defensive philosophy that he had for them,” Barry continued. “They became a better defensive team under Mark Jackson, but they’ve taken another step forward and are one of the top teams (on offense and defense). It’s been a pretty exciting season. And yet, there’s still a way to go. They’re only halfway there now.”
Barry said he was not worried when the Warriors fell behind 2-1 to the Grizzlies.
“Not really,” he said. “I knew that the next game was going to be a big one. I wasn’t overly concerned. I just couldn’t believe that this team – as offensively explosive as they are – would shoot so poorly for a third game in a row, and it proved to be true. They never lost three games in a row all season and they came out and took care of business. The last three games, they played at a much higher level. In fact, that’s probably the three best games they’ve played in the playoffs so far. I don’t think they really played a great game against New Orleans. They certainly still have yet to play, I think, a game where they play 40 minutes and have executed efficiently on both ends of the court. Now if that happens in the next series, Houston’s going to get blown out.”
Barry isn’t convinced that the Rockets can stop Golden State offensively. In fact, he isn’t convinced anyone can stop Golden State offensively.
Said Barry, “I told the guys when I met with them late in the season – we had our 40th anniversary of the championship year – we said, ‘We all believe that if you guys go out and play on both ends of the court the way you’re capable of playing, in a seven-game series there’s not a team in this league that can beat you if they play their best game. That really is the reality of it. The only issue is, you have to go out there and do it.’”
If they do do it – and even if they don’t – it’ll be interesting to see what Draymond Green does this offseason, when he becomes a free agent. Is Green, who averaged 11.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists this year, a max-contract player?
“No, he’s not a max-contract player,” Barry said. “He’s a great contributor to a team, on this team especially. A max-contract guy is a guy that makes the difference between winning and losing the majority of nights to take the team on his back. Draymond’s not going to do that. He’s not going to get you 30 or 40 a night offensively. He’s going to be the hard-hat guy who’s going to play defense, rebound, score some points for you, knock down some threes, play multiple positions defensively – and that’s a great asset to have on your team. But that’s not a max-contract player. Hopefully he’s not going to get greedy or somebody’s going to be foolish enough to want to pay him that kind of money. And if they do, you can’t blame him for leaving, especially if they win the championship. But I think somebody would be out of their mind to pay him a max contract – and that’s taking nothing away from him because I’d love to begin a team with a guy like Draymond Green and have him as a teammate. But max contact? No.”