After winning the NBA championship last year, beating LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers 4-2 in the series, the Golden State Warriors are back at it this season – and they might even be better. Off to the best start in the history of the National Basketball League at 18-0, and showing no signs of slowing down, the Warriors are setting the new standard for excellence in the modern NBA.
The Warriors win in completely unconventional ways, and their success has only convinced other teams to follow their lead, reshaping the way the sport is played. They have the sixth best defense in the league with a defensive rating of 99.7 – how many points the opponent scores on average in 100 possessions – largely due to their versatility, which allows them to switch on every screen. While opponents often use screens in order to take a defensive player off of the ballhandler and possibly create a mismatch in order to score, the Warriors have a roster of athletically versatile players where evey player can guard just about every position on the court and not compromise their defense, allowing them to switch on every screen and refusing to be interrupted defensively.
In last year’s NBA Finals against the Cavaliers, the Warriors made a splash by benching their oft-starting seven-foot center Andrew Bogut in favor for utilizing a small ball lineup, where almost every player on the court was around 6’8”. This allowed them to smother the Cavaliers with uncompromising defense and an endless barrage of shooting, and so far this year, the same Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Barnes-Green lineup has still been incredibly effective, leading them to their historically great season start.
Breaking the previous record of 15 straight wins to start a season with a 111-77 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on November 24, and continuing to beat the Phoenix Suns and the Sacramento Kings by 19 points apiece, the Warriors have been unstoppable. Many experts compare the team to the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls – widely considered the best team in league history finishing the season with an unprecedented 72-10 record – and perhaps no team has ever been more deserving of such incredible comparisons. With perhaps
Coming off of winning last season’s Most Valuable Player award, Steph Curry has discovered a new level of stardom. Leading the league easily in points per game at 31.9, while still shooting an unbelievably efficient 51 percent field goal percentage, 44 percent three-point field goal percentage and a 93 percent free throw percentage, Curry is thoroughly dominating the league with an efficiency even Michael Jordan would envy. In addition to the shooting that is already garnering him “greatest shooter of all time” attention, Curry is dishing out 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game – good for the second-best mark in the league.
While many might call Klay Thompson – Steph Curry’s backcourt mate at the shooting guard position and the other member of what many call the “Splash Bros” – Curry’s Scottie Pippen to his Michael Jordan, that honor should instead be given to Draymond Green. Perhaps the most versatile player in the league, in addition to being in the running for best defensive player in the league, Green is the perfect glue guy for the Warriors, and a huge reason for their success.
Having put up back-to-back triple doubles against the Suns and Kings, Green impacts the game in every way as Pippen once did, even if he is not tasked with the responsibility of being the primary scorer. Curry – like Jordan – bears that responsibility, while Green is often tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player, grabbing rebounds like a seven-footer, and dolling out assists like a primary ballhandler. All the while he is posting career-best shooting percentages from three point land with a scorching 42 percent as of November 30.
As of November 30, the Warriors are undefeated at 18-0 and presenting a strong case for a championship repeat. The new record for most wins to begin a season will not be set until the team loses, and with an only moderately challenging upcoming schedule, this now historic team might just continue to redefine the way the game is played.