The very first video game I ever played as a kid was NBA Live 2004 on my family’s old computer. I had the time of my life playing that game, using the old-school Minnesota Timberwolves a lot along with the Los Angeles Lakers. I simulated seasons endlessly, trying to see whether my team would sweep the season or not. Typical things a seven year old would do.
But if there was something I absolutely loved to do, it was changing the composition of the teams. Or you can translate that as, “I want my favorite team to have ALL OF THE TALENT, so let me tinker with the line-ups just a little bit.”
I liked the Lakers then, and Kobe Bryant was my favorite player. But I wanted more. So I went ahead and made Kevin Garnett a Laker. Even Tracy McGrady went joined the purple and gold under my control. LeBron James the rookie was pretty cool too, so add him in as well.
All of a sudden, I had a starting line-up with FIVE All Stars. LeBron, TMac and Kobe at the wings, while Shaq and KG manned the paint. I didn’t even bother simulating it, I KNEW that team was going 82-0. At the same time, even seven-year old me knew no way that was going to happen. McGrady, Garnett and James were never going to the Lakers. It was just fantasy.
Now imagine that scenario happening in real life. You laughing? Laughing really hard? That was also my reaction when I read this the other day.
Free agent DeMarcus Cousins has agreed to a deal with the Golden State Warriors, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 3, 2018
So much laughter. Glorious, glorious laughter.
Let’s settle down for a minute and stop laughing. This is really happening. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and now DeMarcus Cousins. The immediate reaction has been, “The NBA is ruined! Why even play the season out?!?” I totally get that. Lots of people feel the same way. But let’s take a step back and try to process things.
Right now, we know the Warriors have those five all stars. Absolutely terrifying. But there’s something deeper within this scenario, and we’ll try to unpack everything by presenting five different scenarios from the point of view of the Warriors. Those are, the ABSOLUTE worst, the worst, the best, the ABSOLUTE best and the realistic one.
The ABSOLUTE worst and best are essentially overreactions. The worst and the best are situations where we become pessimistic or optimistic. We look at the information from a particular lens, but with much more attention to detail.
Then there’s the realistic scenario. This is the most likely one, since this is looking at both sides of the coin of the situation. It’s trying to find a good balance.
Let’s have some fun with this.
The ABSOLUTE Worst Scenario
Cousins is currently undergoing rehab for an achilles tear. So what if Boogie never gets to play? Something goes wrong with his rehab and he’s forced to sit out the rest of the year. His gamble of taking a massive pay cut for his comeback doesn’t payoff.
Then the Warriors implode. Durant takes exception to Green recruiting Cousins. He then tries to prove his worth by taking over possessions. Thompson starts playing to try to get a new contract. Curry loses control of his team. The Warriors still have enough talent to get to the postseason. But they lose their mojo in the Playoffs and get eliminated early.
Basically, the Warriors turn into the 2012 Lakers
The ABSOLUTE Best Case Scenario
HAHHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHA THE WARRIORS GET BOOGIE BY OPENING NIGHT AND GO 82-0 WHY EVEN PLAY THIS SEASON RIGHT HAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAA
The Worst Case Scenario
Cousins gets back by January, only for him to be out of playing shape. The Warriors need him for a run at the top and they play him anyway.
Initially, it isn’t pretty. Boogie trying to do too much, and his strong personality clashes with the other superstars. They’re having trouble fitting him in, with their style of play, and he doesn’t fit at all.
Then the All Star Break comes, and somehow everything is fine. No, not this isn’t the Warriors sipping coffee in a room on fire. They’re really fine. They go on a mini 12-game winning streak, with flashes of the old Boogie coming to light. They wind up winning 59 games, good enough for the first seed. Winning 60+ games won’t be possible anymore in the West because every all star thought it would be cool to play there.
The Warriors win the championship, but it isn’t easy. They’re pushed to seven games by the Anthony Davis-Julius Randle Pelicans. Kyrie Irving nearly scares them in Game 7 of the Finals before Durant hits a dagger in the Garden — The Celtics won 64 games, what are we gonna do?
At the core of it all has Cousins just not looking right. He looks more like a rich man’s Mo Speights who can play better in the post. Not bad, but it doesn’t exactly fit the un-fuck-withable mold we had for the Warriors coming into the season. With Curry still unable to win Finals MVP, the Warriors face plenty of uncertainty entering the 2019 offseason.
The Best Case Scenario
Cousins’ rehab goes better than planned and makes it back by December. The time he spent with Steve Kerr sitting down on the bench the whole time recovering is tremendous, as his overall attitude towards the game sees a shift. Less angry, more joy. Suddenly, it starts to show itself on the court.
It isn’t a seamless fit, but you can see the Warriors trying to make it work. After working with Durant a lot in the post during training camp, they run more post action now involving Cousins. They try to use the biggest strength of Boogie to blend it with whatever motion offense they have now.
Of course Cousins starts taking more threes, and Curry absolutely loves it. He even has one game versus the Kings in Oracle where he goes off with a ton of made threes. It was quite the moment. It is ridiculous, as Golden State ends the regular season with 70+ wins like they needed to prove anything else.
Truth be told, Cousins doesn’t have the same zip he had before. But 70 percent Cousins is still really good. The Warriors sweep the first two rounds, only to face the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals. They’re the first seed, plus they have Boogie. Clint Capela can’t do anything, and the Warriors sweep.
The Finals are a lot more interesting now with the Boston Celtics looking to stop the Warriors machine. But they just can’t do it. They were able to contain Cousins, but that meant opening up space for his other teammates to contribute. We all get three classic games, only to end up in with the Warriors beating the Celtics convincingly in Game 4. The Golden State Warriors complete the very first sweep of the postseason in NBA history. The one year rental of Boogie was worth it.
The Realistic Scenario
The Warriors are forced to sit Cousins for the first two months of the season, and he doesn’t take it well initially. There’s some tension between management and the temperamental star early on, but Steve Kerr takes on the challenge of holding the fort and blending him in with the system. He opens his mind and enjoys the winning situation. It does wonders to him.
He finally gets on the court in the middle of January, but it came with growing pains. The Warriors already commit so much turnovers as it is, and Boogie does nothing to alleviate that. It’s a wonky blend of the Warriors’ motion and Boogie’s play in the post. The search for the balance between proper post play and movement continue for Golden State as they approach the postseason. They wind up with the first seed, winning 60+ games over the high 50 of the Rockets.
They sweep the first two rounds, convincingly. They meet the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, and the chess match is quite interesting. Clint Capela does a good job of defending Boogie in spurts. But that’s just it. Spurts. The Warriors Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Lineup (The Five All-Stars) proves to be too much, as they beat the Rockets in six games. No Chris Paul injury occurred in this beating.
Warriors-Celtics for the Finals, and guess what, it’s pretty fun and competitive. Boogie’s unplayable at times because Tatum, Brown and Kyrie continue to kill him off switches, so the Warriors are forced to rely on their death line-up. It’s a Kyrie-Curry shootout for six games, leading a Game 7 in Oracle.
With the series hanging in the balance, Steve Kerr gambles and puts in Boogie to start the fourth quarter. Cousins hits three straight hook shots over Aron Baynes. The crowd goes wild, as the Warriors find themselves up by seven points with seven minutes remaining in the series. The Death Lineup goes in and finishes things off. Warriors are your 2019 champs, with Curry FINALLY winning Finals MVP. All that matters is this 2019 championship. The Durant to New York chatter can be discussed later on.
“Why even watch the NBA?” the frustrated fan tweets as he reads news about Cousins to Golden State. Well, here are five reasons why, and that’s not even all of them. The possibilities are endless. The end result will likely be the Warriors winning the championship. That’s perfectly fine. You watch the NBA because of the ride and the thrill, not the ending. If you watched things for solely its ending, then you would have considered How I Met Your Mother utter trash.
HIMYM is cool. The NBA, is awesome. The ending of a season doesn’t change any of that.
Sit back, relax, and let the season simulate before your very eyes. These are the Video Game Warriors. Let’s see what the Basketball Gods have in store for us this time around.
Photos from Getty Images