Golden State Warriors defy their critics

Shaneel Narayan,

Warriors_BrittanyEngland copyThe Golden State Warriors are off to their greatest start in franchise history with the best record in the NBA, 50-12 at the time of publication, but criticism is pointed at the team daily.

Critics say the Warriors style of play, which is three-point heavy, is a recipe for disaster during playoff time. I will add fuel to the fire with more criticism and say the Warriors have a legitimate chance to win the NBA championship this season.

To live and die by the three is true in most cases when it comes to the Warriors, it gets to the point when you are scratching your head with the number of fast break three’s they take through the course of a game.

Back in the day, a fast break meant either a layup or a dunk. However, when you shoot 39 percent from the three-point line as a team, which ranks best in the NBA, and have a three-point contest winner in Stephen Curry, along with his partner in crime Klay Thompson, who by the way shoots 43 percent from behind the arc, I say go ahead and let it fly.

In fact, the top seven three-point shooting teams in the NBA would all be in the playoffs if the season were to end today, four from the Western Conference and four from the Eastern Conference.

Curry has quickly shaped himself into an elite player in the NBA. Not only is Curry one of the hottest tickets in town, he’s also becoming one of the faces of the league, behind LeBron James of course. Curry was also the leading vote getter in the All-Star game and currently one of the front-runners for this season’s Most Valuable Player award. But let’s not forget his running mate, Thompson, who is arguably the best two-way guard in the NBA.

The Bay Area knows these two as the “Splash Brothers” because they can shoot from anywhere on the court, and according to former Golden State coach now ESPN analyst Mark Jackson, Curry and Thompson are “the best shooting backcourt in NBA history.”

Both Curry and Thompson can get hot in a hurry, just ask the Sacramento Kings when Thompson scored an NBA record 37 points in one quarter, and the Dallas Mavericks when Curry poured in 51 points in a victory. Shooters keep shooting and it is proving the critics wrong.

Oracle Arena is the home of the Golden State Warriors and is one of the loudest venues in the NBA. The Warriors have lost only two games at home this season and I think it’s safe to say home is where the heart is and the fans are the beat.

Home court advantage in the playoffs is like gold, it’s what every team fights for, and assuming the standings stay the same, Golden State is in prime position to make a run to the finals as a top seed in the west. Oracle Arena has sold out for over 100 consecutive home games dating back nearly three seasons.
When it comes to the Warriors playoff chances it does come down to the health of center Andrew Bogut. Five of the 12 losses this season occurred when Bogut was inactive.
Forward Draymond Green is the most improved player on the team if not the league this season and has also been mentioned as a candidate for the defensive player of the year.
Forwards Andre Iguodala and David Lee both took a decreased role so that the team could prosper.

Guard Harrison Barnes is coming into his own as another offensive threat other than Curry and Thompson. Add the size of six-foot-seven-inch point guard Shaun Livingston who is a nightmare for smaller guards to cover and you have a recipe for success to defy the critics.

The Warriors are a very deep team. Another problem opponents have with the Warriors is that they can play “small ball” and force mismatches, which limits what the other team can do by playing five smaller guys at once.

The ability to rotate lineups and switch screens defensively everywhere on the court is a major advantage. Offensively, just imagine a seven-foot center trying to guard Thompson, not easy.
Golden State leads the NBA in a few major categories other than three-point percentage. The Warriors lead in points per game (110.1), field goal percentage (.477), and most importantly defensive field goal percentage (.426).

How can the Warriors be the best scoring team and yet be the top defensive team in holding opponents to the lowest field goal percentage? Depth.

With all of that said, my favorite statistic is that the Warriors lead the NBA this season in total assists so far with 1,641. Last year, the San Antonio Spurs led the NBA in assists with 2,066, and were one of the NBA’s elite defensive teams. Remember how that resulted? One word: championship.