Don’t let the Warriors’ looks fool you

Shomari Block,

It’s a pickup basketball game. You and four strangers compete against an organized team. Maybe a high school team or a junior college team that wants to practice more together. They’re similar in size to you and they’re strangers. Neither team has an out-of-this-world athlete. When the game starts, the organized team dominates. They move synchronized around the court. Every pass seems to lead to an open shot and no matter where your team passes the ball, two or three of them arrive to make shooting impossible. They embarrass you with no-look passes and alley-oop dunks.

They reach 10 points before your team reaches five. They win easily and the team of strangers walk frustrated off the court. The Golden State Warriors are that organized team and the rest of the NBA are groups of strangers playing together.

        The Warriors have the best record in the league right now. They recently broke the record for consecutive home wins and threaten the record for wins in a single season. Reigning MVP Stephen Curry is the consensus best player in the league right now. Two weeks ago he broke his own record for three point shots made in a single season with more than 20 games to play. All-Star Draymond Green may have the most complete game in the league, with a league-leading 11 triple doubles. Including Klay Thompson, more than half of the Warriors’ starting lineup are current All Stars. However, the Warriors don’t dominate the NBA because they have a great starting lineup. They play like a team, and they are better together than any other team in the NBA.

        Other All Star trios have played together and not dominated the league like the 2016 Warriors. From 2010 to 2014, Lebron James joined fellow All Stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. At the time, James and Wade were considered two of the best five players in basketball. During this run, the Miami Heat won two championships in four years, but they never approached the level of dominance the Warriors displayed over the last two years.

        The Warriors rank near the top of the NBA in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The only dominant offensive weapon is Curry. While Green is a versatile defender, the Warriors have no dominant defender. The Warriors get it done collectively. The team is unselfish. They don’t care who scores as long as they win. Even their best player, Curry, cheers on the sideline for his teammates during games, like he is a rookie and has to do it. They coordinate on defense to make life difficult for opposing offenses. On offense they pass up good shots to find great shots. This leads to confused opponents repeatedly watching Warrior players taking wide open shots.

        The NBA describes an assist as a pass that leads directly to a basket. Assists require chemistry and teamwork. The Warriors not only lead the NBA in assists but have nearly four more assists per game than the Atlanta Hawks, who are second in assists. The Warriors score nearly 26 points more a game on assists than the Los Angeles Lakers, the team that is last in assists.

        Most importantly, all 12 players on the roster play meaningful minutes. The situation does not matter. With Curry, the best shooter in the NBA, anyone might take the big shot. Starting forward Harrison Barnes, backup guard Andre Iguodala and backup forward Maurice Speights have all hit game winning shots this season. Furthermore, the Warriors have won two of the three games Curry has missed this season.

        Having the best player in the league helps a lot. A 66 win percentage gets a team into the playoffs and that percentage, as the Warriors have with Curry, gets a team into the record books. The Warriors are on pace to break the wins in a season record set by the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls. Some guy named Michael Jordan led that team to that record and the championship. The Warriors are on track to surpass the best efforts of the best ever. They do it as a team. The NBA has 28 teams. The Warriors are the ‘teamiest.’