OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - The Warriors are going to be the NBA's hot ticket in 2016. The bandwagon will likely struggle to hold all the new fans, and the disdain from the non-Warriors fans should be at an all-time high. Both mean more people will be watching.
The NBA agrees. The Warriors will have 37 nationally televised games this season, more than any other team in the association.
The narrative around the Warriors has changed greatly in the last few years. Seemingly overnight, the Warriors went from a team nobody outside of the Bay Area cared about to an NBA power house.
Their 140 regular season wins in the two years since Steve Kerr took over as head coach are a mere 17 less than they won in the four season prior.
But in a season that included an NBA record 73 wins, the best start to an NBA season ever (24-0), and the first ever unanimous MVP... the Warriors fell short of a championship. We can debate the reasons for that until we are blue in the face...
What matters is how the Warriors responded. Signing Kevin Durant changed the landscape of the NBA, and the perception of the Warriors franchise.
For Warriors fans it's exciting, new, and different. For most of my life, the Warriors had been sub-par. They had made questionable moves and decision. There was no way the best player in free agency was choosing the Warriors over another team. Dub Nation is thrilled with the reversal of fortune.
The rest of the NBA fan bases? Not so much. The Warriors were the anti-Heat/LeBron/The Decision. Their core-3 were drafted and developed in Oakland. That changed in their minds with the Kevin Durant signing.
That's not a bad thing... But, it is a real thing. The goal of the owners, general managers, and coaches in the NBA is to put the best product on the floor so that you can win championship. The Warriors have done that. But in the process, their identity changed.
Last season the Warriors were the big dog on campus. Even though they were beating teams left and right on their way to 73 wins, it didn't feel like they were looked at by others in a negative light.
That will change in 2017. Success isn't just expected now, it's demanded. That means that critics will be ready to pounce if/when they see anything less than stellar play. The scrutiny will be even higher than it was after losing the 2016 NBA Finals.
You shouldn't be expecting 73 wins again. I think the Warriors will focus on locking up home court, ensuring the road to a championship goes straight through Oakland, but they won't worry themselves with trying to set records.
The Warriors have entered unfamiliar territory. Enjoy it, Dub Nation... Because "problems" like this only come around when your team is on top.