They also had the flukey 16 game win streak right after Hayward went down. They were an upper 40's type team without that win streak (and I know you can't just disregard it, since it happened, but that team clearly wasn't that type of team either).
Because that team had all of the same issues. It still would have had 4 SF's (Hayward, Tatum, Brown, Morris). It still would have had Rozier as the 3rd string PG behind Irving and Smart. It still would have had Irving and his quirks. At some point that team was going to crash and burn because it was poorly constructed with a lot of difficult personalities. It just wasn't the right mix of players and it started with Irving, but certainly didn't end with him.
I wonder if we were be talking about the great LAL plan had Davis destroyed his leg 8min in the season and Hayward hadn'tI think the problems you saw last year with the roster would have had been there that first season had Hayward not gotten hurt. In addition, I don't think Brown or Tatum is as good today if that injury hadn't happened either. The reality is the roster was set up poorly and was bound to have the same issues. I really don't think Hayward missing time and struggling to come back was the cause, it was quite simply the collection of players wouldn't have worked.
I really don't see how you can be sure that the 2017 Cs would have crashed with a healthy Gordon. The problems the Cs had in 2018 didn't materialize that year before Kyrie got hurt. The young guys hadn't made their playoff run yet and didn't have expectations; Kyrie was weird, to be sure, but there's a lot of reporting that he responded badly to some 2018 events - his grandfather's death and Gordon pressing. Kyrie might have deferred to a healthy Gordon, who also might have helped stop the ball from sticking to Kyrie's hands in crunch time.
I can say with much greater confidence that if Davis destroyed his leg the way Gordon did, the Lakers would have been in some very, very deep pain given the way they mortgaged their future to get him.
No way to be sure, of course, but the 2017 team I remember competed like heck - before and after KI went out. They were 41-19.
Add a *healthy* Gordon and Iím stunned if that team doesnít reach the finals.
They might have beaten the train-wreck that was Cavs that year and made the Finals, but the Warriors would have run them out of the building. That would have been more a function of the conference than the actual team. I think last years team might have made the Finals the year before as well, warts and all as the Bucks and Sixers just weren't ready, the Raptors were well the Raptors, and the Cavs were a mess (though Lebron was well Lebron). Sometimes the conference just aligns right, but that doesn't mean the team was truly that good. I had that same discussion all last season on here. I think the fan base got a bit blinded by the ECF without Irving and Hayward and thought the C's were actually better than they were. At the end of the day though, top end talent wins in the playoffs and the C's just don't have top end talent right now (maybe Tatum gets there). Whether Hayward stayed healthy or not, it wouldn't have changed the fact that every team Boston played would have had the best player in the series if everyone was fully healthy.
1. Re 49 wins - having seen healthy Hayward this year, do you really, honestly think he wasn't worth a few wins? To push some of the starters onto bench units where they might have dominated and - a counterfactual we'll never have the answer to - might have kept the style of play closer to the motion and fastbreak style he facilitates so very well?
2. Re whether Boston had the best player - against Cleveland they wouldn't have had the best player, but they would have had the 2d best, 3d best, and probably 2 or three of the next slots.
3. But here is the biggest point. We're trying to judge a GM's moves. Fine. He picked up too many wings and a PG who turned out to be moodier than ppl expected. But look where he came from and consider the moves. Two top-drawer free agents, the best available aside from Durant, the other major coulda-been. Two stud young draft picks he acquired through a hugely lopsided trade. A solid, solid sixth pick in Smart. Some solid acquisitions like Baynes and Theis. That core he put together was incredible.
Re the inevitability of the collapse, I continue to believe that you're applying the 2018 yardstick to 2017, for reasons I've already stated. But even if you are right and the worst case happened and the team blew up in 2017, look at all the options he had to rebalance with a *healthy* Gordon. Could have fixed those problems. Heck, even having lost so much, look at what's left.
I'd rather have a title too, and to have picked Giannis over Kelly. But I'm also glad we have Tatum instead of Fultz, and the current core over what many other teams have to deal with.