1. The West is wide open now
The Warriors have ruled the Western Conference since 2015.
They’ve earned the No. 1 playoff seed four times in the last five years, averaging 64 wins per season — including the record-setting 73-win campaign three years ago — and have represented the West in the Finals five straight times. They’ve won three championships in that span.
The addition of Kevin Durant in 2016 turned a great team into a modern-day dynasty.
With this loss to the Raptors, however, it feels like Golden State’s run at the top may be over. Serious injuries to Durant and Thompson suffered in the Finals make the outlook even more bleak. No matter what those two decide regarding free agency, the Warriors’ aura of invincibility is gone.
That would mean there is an opening for the Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz and even the Lakers to break through and snap Golden State’s streak of Finals appearances.
Those aforementioned contenders are better built to take their shot if next season started tomorrow.
The Lakers have some building (and healing) to do.
The fact that the Warriors are vulnerable bodes well for L.A., because it could be easier for the Lakers to attract big-name free agents if those players believe they have a real chance at competing for a championship in what is now a different Western landscape.