Luol Deng feels the additions made by the San Antonio Spurs in the offseason makes it hard to envisage the Golden State Warriors defending their NBA title.
Luol Deng believes the additions made by San Antonio Spurs in the off-season make it difficult to envisage Golden State Warriors defending their NBA title.
The Warriors won the championship for the first time since 1975 last season by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the NBA Finals.
Golden State triumphed despite four-time league MVP LeBron James averaging 35.8 points per game for the Cavs.
A knee injury sustained by point guard Kyrie Irving in game one of the Finals and the dislocated shoulder suffered by Kevin Love earlier in the playoffs hampered the Cavaliers in the series.
"You could really see they [Golden State] were going to be a good team," Deng told Omnisport. "I shouldn't say they were handed it, like they're going to go to the Finals, but you just knew they were going to be a good team.
"I thought LeBron was amazing, I thought all of them were amazing. They [the Cavaliers] lost it because of injuries. I'm not taking anything away from Golden State, but I really think it would have been a better Finals if they had been healthy.
"Not that Cleveland would have won but it would have been a better final."
The Warriors begin the defence of their title on Tuesday against New Orleans Pelicans but do so without head coach Steve Kerr as he recovers from back surgery complications, with interim coach Luke Walton leading the team in his stead.
And Deng has backed the Spurs, whose defence of the championship last season ended in the first round of the playoffs, to provide the Warriors with a sterner challenge in the Western Conference after adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West to their front court.
Four-time All-Star Aldridge comes over from Portland Trail Blazers and two-time All-Star West arrives from Indiana Pacers.
"It's so hard in the NBA to have a back-to-back. I think they're young and they could do it," Deng added. "But San Antonio adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West I think really makes it difficult.
"I think most of the time, the team that wins the championship is the healthiest team. And that's what Golden State were last year.
"To go on again and be the healthiest team, all luck to them, but I don't see San Antonio losing one guy and being affected by it because of who they added."