We have never seen a team like the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have broken many unwritten rules and stereotypes in the NBA. There was a time in the NBA that everybody believed that the path to an NBA championship was to have a dominant big man on the post, a power forward whose main task was to get rebounds, and so forth. The Warriors have broken this mold by fielding their five best players regardless of height and position, translating into a style based on constant movement from a group of well-rounded players.
The result of this “experiment,” which is now trying to be duplicated by every team in the league, translated into an NBA championship last season and now a league-best 57-6 record (as of this writing) – the best win-loss record posted by any team through 63 games. The Warriors are also on track to break the record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls who won 72 of the 82 games they played. They have a good shot at breaking this record with only 19 games left which means they have to go 16-3 the rest of the way.
The Warriors play 13 of their last 19 games at home which is an advantage since they are now 28-0 at the Oracle Arena for the season and hold the NBA record of most consecutive regular season wins at home (46-0). Golden State’s last regular-season home loss was way back in January 27, 2015 against the Chicago Bulls in overtime. Since then, the Warriors have won their last 18 home games and 28 straight games this season to grab this record. The only hurdle facing the Warriors is that they play the San Antonio Spurs three more times.
There is no question that the Warriors are a product of the evolution of the game. Rule changes in the 90s and at the turn of the century, which favored offenses, have forced teams to change their playbook. While the Warriors are the latest evolution, Mike D’Antoni’s Phoenix Suns were the first to adapt and take advantage of the rule changes. D’Antoni favored a fast-paced, offense-oriented system dubbed “Seven Seconds or Less.” His teams featured shooters, an undersized center and power forward, and pass-first point guard. In four seasons under D’Antoni’s system, the Suns recorded at least 54 wins.
Despite their successes and achievements, the Golden State Warriors have heard many criticisms. Even greats like Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas have weighed in. Robertson created a firestorm when he said he was aghast on how present defenses were so loose compared to his era. He also criticized NBA coaches who “didn’t seem to have a strategy in guarding Steph Curry.”
Maybe what is being put to question is the greatness and generational influence of Stephen Curry. He is a departure from the norm, just like Golden State. Here is a skinny, 6-3 player who is making 38-foot shots easily, blows by defenses with his speed and ball-handling, and making his teammates better. Every progression has always been faster, bigger, and stronger. Magic Johnson was bigger than any point guard. Larry Bird redefined the small forward position with his laser-like shooting. Even LeBron James is faster, stronger, and more talented than any guy his size.
Curry is the exact opposite, he isn’t about athleticism, he is all about talent and discipline. People don’t seem to understand that he is at the cutting edge of basketball, the next evolution. And this is the reason why the Warriors are chasing and making NBA history. And it looks like their story is just beginning.