Monday was the introductory press conference for Mike Dunleavy Jr., the new general manager of the Golden State Warriors. Three days later he gets the privilege of hitting the ground running with the Warriors holding the 19th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The Warriors played valiantly against the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers during the playoffs, but it was clear that the Warriors did not have a strong enough roster to contend for a fifth NBA Championship in nine seasons. There needs to be an improvement in the on-court talent that surrounds Steph Curry, but a new challenge has been presented to the Warriors. New faces in managerial roles will be expected to perform at a championship level.
Bob Myers is gone. He stepped down as the Warriors’ general manager at the end of March. There was speculation that team owner Joe Lacob would elevate his son Kirk to the role. Instead, it goes to Dunleavy who the Warriors hired as a scout the autumn following his last game as an NBA player.
He has moved up through the ranks and is now in charge of the basketball product for the organization that Lacob said in 2016 was “light years” ahead of the rest of the NBA. The Warriors aren’t the first organization to smother its competitors in dominance. However, like other dominant teams, attrition takes its course and talent has to be replaced. While the talent in uniform performs the bulk of the labor, changes to the workers in plain clothes are also capable of bringing an abrupt end to a legendary run.
Alabama football has tallied less than 11 wins once since 2008 and also took home six National Championships. No post-integration Power 5 program can compare to that run. Nick Saban is still bringing talented players to Tuscaloosa, but the program is hemorrhaging coaching talent.
In Athens, Ga., Kirby Smart is working with all of his might to make Georgia the college football program that sits atop America. Last season his Bulldogs won the National Championship for the second consecutive season with a 65-7 win in the title game. Since the turn of the millennium, the only college football coaches to repeat as undisputed national champions are Smart and Saban.
When Saban’s Crimson Tide won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012, Smart was his defensive coordinator. A decade later, Alabama’s loss of great coaching talent like Smart is beginning to show. Without Bryce Young’s brilliance at quarterback the previous two seasons, Alabama is nowhere near a championship contender.
Alabama will have both new offensive and defensive coordinators for the 2023 season. At 31 years old, Tommy Rees will run the offense for Alabama after three seasons as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator. Kevin Steele is 34 years older than Rees, and will be Alabama’s defensive coordinator. While certainly an experienced college football coach, as Miami’s defensive coordinator last season his unit gave up three 65-plus yard touchdowns at home in a loss to Middle Tennessee.
The Warriors’ stellar defense was already in place when Steve Kerr took over as head coach for the 2014-15 season. A new and fluid offense was designed by Alvin Gentry who left the staff after that championship season. Following the Warriors 2021-22 championship, associate head coach Mike Brown took the job as head coach of the Kings. Also, Kerr currently has only one year remaining on his contract.
Victory comes with celebrations, promotions, and burnouts. In the modern-day business of athletics, turnover rates are so high that teams rarely are forced to replace key staff members while also attempting to extend an era of dominance. Largely because one championship usually results in too much change to continue winning at that level.
At least Alabama still has Saban as its head of player personnel. Dunleavy likely won’t get fired if the Warriors’ 2023-24 performance is equivalent to Saban’s 7-6 first Alabama season, but the sand in his hourglass will be rapidly sinking.
Curry is 35 years old, and arguably the best professional athlete in the history of Bay Area Sports. Dunleavy has — for now — been entrusted with maximizing all of the production that the NBA’s all-time leading 3-point shooter has left in his body.
Dunleavy’s boss believes that he is ready for the big chair, but hopefully, the Warriors’ new general manager knows that he will be held to the standard of the man who came before him. And he will also have to live up to that standard with less talent around him at every level of the organization.