Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Stephen A: Steph most likely to win another title over LeBron, KD

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Stephen A: Steph most likely to win another title over LeBron, KD originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

A lot has been made about the triopoly of Steph Curry, LeBron James and Kevin Durant approaching the end of their NBA dominance since their disappointing exits of the 2023-24 NBA season.

None of the three superstars made it to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2005, and the NBA universe already has shipped its sail while welcoming a new generation of young future stars. But to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, the writing might not be on the wall just yet for one of the three future Hall of Famers, who he believes has the best chance of winning another NBA title over the others.

“I say Steph Curry, and I’m going to tell you why,” Smith prefaced Wednesday morning on “First Take.” “I don’t think LeBron is going to leave LA, and to be quite honest with you, I don’t trust the Lakers to be able to get the pieces he needs in order to get them over the hump. When I think about KD, the perpetual unhappiness that religiously gets attached to wherever he lands has played a role. I don’t know if he’s going to get out of Phoenix, I don’t know where he’s going to land.

“Here’s what I will tell you about Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors: If Draymond Green isn’t suspended for those 20 games, not only do they make the play-in, but they’d make the playoffs. I don’t think they’re even in the play-in. When he’s on the court, they win basketball games. They had the third-best record in the NBA when Draymond Green got back from suspension. We also have to remember some of the young talent they have. Look at [Jonathan] Kuminga and how he came up. Look at [Brandin] Podziemski, who’s going to make an All-Rookie team. You know what Steph can do. Klay had a down year. This is Klay Thompson’s definition of a down year: 18 points per game on 43-percent shooting and 38.7 percent from 3-point range. That’s a down year!

“From a skill perspective, they have the pieces. As long as Draymond doesn’t get himself suspended and [the Warriors] get another big body, you can do some things if you’re the Golden State Warriors.”

Curry was the only player of the three whose team didn’t make the playoffs after Golden State was eliminated in the NBA Play-In Tournament by the Sacramento Kings.

But as Smith attested to, things began to click for the Warriors when Green returned to the court and they began to build momentum at the right time. Unfortunately, it was too late and they wound up on the wrong side of a win-or-go-home contest.

Meanwhile, Durant, in his first full season with the Phoenix Suns and first alongside the failed trio of himself, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, was swept by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs — and questions and concerns now loom over his future.

James’ season lasted the longest, but not by much.

The reigning NBA-champion Denver Nuggets once again ended the Lakers’ season in five games of their first-round series.

The future of all three basketball icons likely will be the talking point all summer, but as many are ready to close the chapter on their nearly two-decade NBA dominance, Smith isn’t ready to turn the page on Curry and the Warriors just yet.

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