By: Geoffrey Parker, Staff Writer
The Golden State Warriors have somehow surpassed all expectations, so far, this season. Coming into the 2015-2016 NBA season, the defending champions were actually underrated in some basketball circles.
NBA head coach, Doc Rivers, referred to their title run as “luck” in a recent interview with Grantland and said, “You need luck in the West. Look at Golden State, they didn’t have to play us or the Spurs.”
With the Clippers and the Spurs adding pieces to their championship puzzle in the offseason, many had them and the LeBron-led Cavaliers as their favorites to win the title this season.
Comments, like the ones from Rivers, did not sit well with the Warriors roster and was enough to get them motivated to start the season.
Early on, it was apparent the Warriors were on to something special. Their small ball line-up of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green has been blowing teams out, although none of them are even 6’9” (about the expected height of a power forward).
Through the first 15 games of the season, they played about 56 minutes on the court together, eight more minutes than an actual NBA game. The Warriors’ small line-up has outscored opponents 200-119 through that time while shooting 66% from the field and 67% from the three point-line.
All this while playing at a pace that would outdo the league leader in possessions per game, the Sacramento Kings, with a possession rate of 109 possessions per 48 minutes. Their possession rate, coupled with a 46 to 13 turnover ratio, has led to a historic 22-0 start. This is the fastest paced, most efficient offense of all time.
Another key to their improved start that can’t go unnoticed is Stephen Curry shooting at a historic rate.
Since the turn of the century, the three point shot has become a key to every team’s success on offense. Last year, the final four teams in the playoffs were the top four three point shooting teams in the league. The Warriors deadly offense becomes unstoppable when Steph Curry enters the game.
Curry is the fourth most efficient shooter and has taken over 200 shots behind Kyle Korver, a spot up shooter, DeAndre Jordan, a dunking center and Kevin Durant, a power forward.
Over the past few seasons in which this efficiency was recorded, Curry has taken over 1,600 shots while no other player has even attempted half of that. He is on pace to make 704 three pointers over the last two seasons. He’s expected to make about 418 this year – and made 286 last year – to break the record for most threes in a season, a record he already owned and has three of the top five spots.
Larry Bird had a total of 649 in his 13-year career. He has scored 14 points in the final minute and 53 seconds of a quarter. His ability to shoot from anywhere on the court is no hyperbole and the stats speak for themselves. His volume of shots, coupled with his high efficiency, makes him the deadliest shooter in league history, bar none.
If Golden State replaced their entire offense with just the bottom quartile of Curry’s threes, they would still have the best offense in NBA history by a large margin.
As of Monday morning, the Warriors are 22-0 (best start to a season for all four of the major sports since the 1884.
St. Louis Maroons in baseball who went 20-0 before losing), 89-15 since last season, and are not looking to let go of the gas pedal anytime soon.
With the best start ever for a defending champion, (and yes that includes all of Jordan’s Bulls, including his 72 win season), and being favored to win literally every game for the rest of the season, just when can we expect the Warriors to lose? The scary thing is no one can give you a definite answer. Watch out LeBron, after you coast through the soft Eastern Conference, you may have another NBA Finals loss looming.