Historically, the greatest team of our generation. But how else are Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors revolutionizing a new National Basketball Association?
by Jayden Taylor
“It’s our league, we run this…” – Draymond Green
122-103 – Dec 29th 2015, Golden State Warriors and reigning MVP Phenom Stephen Curry came back from behind to blowout a valiant Sacramento Kings squad who rode the onslaught from forward Omri Caspi with 36 points including a career high 9 three points, while trading back to back threes with the MVP during a 3rd quarter war. Stephen Curry, as per usual, had a breath-taking performance ending up with a stat line of: 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists – recording his first tripledouble of the year, sixth of his career –a highlight of his performance was a blistering 17 points in a 3minute stint during the third quarter. The Warriors moved to 29-1 for the season and a historic 33 win streak at Oracle Arena. If not for the loss against the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec 12th, the Warriors would have broken the current longest win streak in the history posted by the 197172 Los Angeles Lakers at 33 straight wins. From one historic season to another, Golden State are proving that there is no such thing as perfection, as they evolve even more from last season’s team.
Be it a surprise or an extraordinary prophecy, the Warriors, before our very eyes, have become all-time great, and one that could go down as the greatest of all time. They play with a never-before-seen fast and eruptive offence, while also being one of the best defensive teams, locking down opponents on the other end regularly. We’re talking a team, in which at their current pace will smash the greatest regular season in NBA history of 72 wins and only 10 losses, held by the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan and the 96 Chicago Bulls. As they stand, they would have to go 43-9 for the rest of the season to match Jordan’s Bulls record. It is borderline video game utopia what Golden State have being doing this season. They’re producing 112.5 points per game which is the best in the league while doing it at the ridiculous pace of 102.1 possessions per game; they also have the second best defensive rating within the entire NBA with 97.3. Unheard of is how freakishly dominating Golden State has been this season. Further exploring in to the extraordinary case of Golden State, they average 1.33 points per possession which comfortably ranks as the best the league. They’re, on average, obliterating teams by 15.3 points per contest which is also best in the league – the list goes on.
Let’s now compare this Warriors team in comparison to the next three best teams in NBA history of the past 40 years, in terms of winning percentage – the 1996 Bulls (0.878%), the 2001 Lakers (0.817%) and 1985 Celtics (0.817%). This 2015-16 Warriors, so far, are posting more points per game than the Bulls and Lakers – 112.5 compared to 105.2 and 100.8, respectively. While having a higher true shooting percentage and effective FG% than all three historic teams – Golden State post an EFG% of .559 compared to .484 From Lakers, .518 From the Bulls and .518 From the Celtics. Comparing True Shooting percentage, Golden state TS% is .561% Compared to .520% From Lakers, .518% From Bulls and .526% From Celtics.
If you’re having trouble following those numbers, all you need to know is that Golden State is birthing more points per game then these three legendary teams, at a higher pace while being more efficient. And Golden State has the worst kept secret in the form of Steph Curry.
“Curry for three…”
Only weighing roughly about 181 pounds and standing at 6’3 during his Davidson College days, the whole world was suspicious about the son of former NBA player, 3 point shooter sensation Dell Curry. It wasn’t supposed to be that Dell Curry’s son would surpass his father in every facet including the 3 point shot. To an extent, he’s now arguably the greatest 3 point shooter of all time. He’s also making them at an unbelievable rate – only 30 games in Curry have broken numerous 3 point records. Meanwhile, he’s averaging a career high 30.5 points every game, each one hypnotizing and sending the full arena to a frenzy, brought in by this new world wide fascination to watch the new Phenom. Speaking of which, at this current pace, Curry would eclipse his previous record of most threes in a season (270) by almost a 100 more threes. Steph Wardell Curry will finish at over 350 threes in a season, a once unconceivable statistic. It’s the old saying, “we can’t stop him, and we can only look to slow him down”. But Stephen Curry isn’t your conventional superstar.
Once said to be, “Too small to lead a team”, “not a good enough finisher in the paint” Curry now requires a full team effort to slow him down, let alone stop him, Even then Curry is proving to be a new breed of Basketball superstar. 30.5/5.7/6.4 while shooting splits of 51.1% overall, 44.6 from 3, and 90.2% from the free throw line, this puts him in a very exclusive shooting prestige of players who shoot 50/40/90 splits in the league. The only active players in the NBA to have a season like that are Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki. Coincidentally, the nicknamed ‘baby faced assassin’, Curry is doing all of this while having a PER of over 30.
PER is an advanced metric to measure the efficiency of a player every minute they’re on the court. The only other player to ever have over 30 points a game and a player efficiency rating of 30 is the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan. Even then, Steph separates himself from MJ as a scorer. Yes, Steph Curry is scoring better than the greatest scorer to ever grace the hardwood.
Michael Jordan even with his multiple 30 point per game seasons never really excelled at three point shooting as he was only a 33% three point shooter for his career; only ever scoring as much as 111 threes in one season as a career best. 30 games in to this season, Steph Curry has already had 140, at least, while making them with amazing accuracy. Anything over 40% is already considered uber-efficient, accompanied with the degree of difficulty of shots Steph takes – there’s just no one like Curry in the NBA, ever. Even more bizarre, Curry is averaging more points per minute than any other player in modern NBA history (Sorry Wilt you’re not included today) Including Michael Jordan’s 37 ppg season.
How good is Curry for the Warriors?
Stephen is the nucleus of Warriors, Steph not playing means the Warriors aren’t that same 12-headed beast that are currently taking the world by storm. Steph shoots at unmatched efficiency while providing the Warriors an invincible offence while he’s on the court. More than half the shots Steph takes are 3 pointers and he makes 4.5 threes a game. What about his inside scoring? Steph shoots a mindboggling .712 at the rim. We’re talking a player who you can’t leave on the perimeter otherwise he’ll torch your team and you can’t direct him to the paint because he’s even more effective. To add insult to injury, he averages a career high 2.2 steals a game and still directs and constructs the team’s offence, dishing out 6.6 assists a game.
The killer line-up
The Warriors boasts a line up that may be the most unstoppable line up in the entire league; unsurprisingly it may also be the smallest.
Conventional centres will soon be a thing of the past in the NBA. A good example would be Roy Hibbert, one of the best players on an eastern conference finals team, now struggles to get crunch time minutes for one of the worst teams in the association. The league is moving in a pace and space direction, this revolution was started by the San Antonio Spurs, and perfected by the Golden State Warriors.
The table below shows just how effective the line-up of Curry, Klay, Barnes, Iguodala and Green is – they are outscoring opponents by 74 points per 54 minutes. This is unheard of, and has yet to be seen in the NBA. All 5 players can shoot 3s, dribble, and pass, but most importantly, all of them can make quick decisions in real time. They real key to this is Draymond Green’s ability to defend centres, and centres not to be able to defend him. The defence has so much to concentrate on during a Curry and Green pick and roll, it has to give something up – ClevelandCavaliers in the previous NBA Finals tried leaving Iguodala open in the corner as a solution. This sums trying to defend this Golden State up, a team’s best option to defend them was to leave the finals MVP open in the corner.
With Green being so good at making decisions in the 3 vs 4 or 2 vs 1 ‘Mini-Transitions’ that seem to open up for him so many times in a half-court setting, this basically make him the biggest triple double threat in the league. Combined with the 3 point shooting, the ability to switch on defence and the absurd skill level of his running mate Steph Curry, gives the rest of the league nightmares about this line-up. The Warriors are running away with the league, while hardly using their biggest offensive weapon. Ouch.
Sooner or later we will have to acknowledge how great the Golden State Warriors really are, historically. It’s time to suggest that they’re the most dominant team of the past 50 years maybe even of all time if we prolong the peak for another 2-3 years. They’re providing incredible offence accompanied with astonishing defense. The only problem with Golden State is how long they can continue to strive for perfection. There have already been many shocks in the season already, between coming back from 20 points down and supressing the Los Angeles Clippers, to back to back tough games with the Milwaukee Bucks. This season will be career defining for Steph Curry and the Warriors. But for now, let’s just sit back and admire greatness…