For the first time since 2015, the Golden State Warriors are not favored to win the championship. After an injury-rattled trip to the NBA finals, many believe it’s the end of an era. This included the departures of Kevin Durant, who will recover from an injury in Brooklyn, finals MVP Andre Iguodala, and beloved role player Shaun Livingston.
While other players like DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut also departed, these three players have been major parts of the Warriors’ run, but who will be missed most?
Durant’s 2016 decision to move to Golden State was maligned by fans, players, and the media. They saw someone who many believed to be the second-best NBA player taking an easy route to an NBA championship.
Despite what people may think about Durant’s move, it worked. He propelled the Warriors past the Cavaliers following their 2016 defeat and picked two finals MVPs in the process. Although Durant sacrificed some of the looks he got in Oklahoma City, he was the same dominant player. The NBA star seemed poised for another finals MVP.
Durant himself has acknowledged that he never truly felt like he was part of the Warriors team. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Iguodala, and Livingston had all been there from the get-go, and Durant was more of a convenient piece than a core member.
Iguodala was the perfect piece to add to the puzzle when he signed with the Warriors in 2013. With Green still a year away from emergence, Iguodala helped secure the Golden State’s frontcourt. When Steve Kerr took over as head coach, however, the former All-Star took his talents to the bench, and Iguodala emerged as a champion.
Iguodala may not have the same talent level as Durant, but he was vital to the team’s contention. Although Curry, Thompson, and Green got the bulk of the attention, it was Iguodala who hoisted the first finals MVP trophy thanks in part to his ability to contain LeBron James.
For this reason, it was a strange sight when the Warriors sent Iguodala to Memphis in a move that was essentially a salary dump. There’s no doubt he still holds a special place in Warriors fans’ hearts.
Livingston has long been lauded as one of the greatest comeback stories in the NBA. In 2007, a 21-year-old Livington experienced a horrific knee injury. This made many believe his career was over. After missing the entire 2007-08 season and moving around the league on small contracts for many years, nobody saw him being a vital member of a talented team.
On paper, Livingston’s numbers may not pop out, but he was a consistent threat from the mid-range, who hit the right shots when the team needed it. This was especially true in the playoffs.
Livingston’s hard work to not only get back into the NBA, but become a valuable member of a team endeared him to Golden State and NBA fans alike. Sadly, like Iguodala, he was unceremoniously dumped during the 2019 offseason.
Which player will the Warriors miss most?
These are three wildly different players. Iguodala was the Finals MVP of the era before Durant, and this will not be forgotten. Likewise, Livingston is the face of resiliency and got a second chance when everyone counted him out. Sentimentality aside, the Warriors will miss Durant the most.
Iguodala and Livingston are both getting older, and Livingston has already retired. Sentimentality aside, Durant probably has more time left in his NBA career, even with his Achilles injury. All three meant something to the Warriors, but Durant was the generational talent, and he can’t be replaced.