The Golden State Warriors have been incredible, but they’re not slowing down any time soon.
This will never get old.
This, as in the Golden State Warriors once again entering a season as massive favorites to win the NBA Championship. This, as in the Warriors returning all four of their stars — two of the top five players in the league, the best pure shooter in the NBA and the most versatile player the league has ever seen. This, as in a championship banner being raised at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night for the second time in three years.
Oh yeah. It’s happening. Again.
Ten-year-old me, with my Baron Davis jersey and all, would have been so confused. Confused about a lot of things, like how injury-prone, undersized point guard Stephen Curry became a global superstar, or how an assuming kid out of Washington State named Klay Thompson became a legend both on and off the basketball court. I would be confused about how chubby second-round draft pick Draymond Green morphed into the monster that he is today, and, of course, how the hell this team actually signed Kevin Durant.
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I feel like I’ve listed all of the above before, but I just can’t get over it. And I probably won’t, even as I watch them tear up the league for the third straight season – and neither should you.
Winning just one championship is hard in sports. It’s hard to get a team together that gels and finds that perfect balance of talent and chemistry, a team that is both good and resilient enough to withstand hardship, grind through the postseason and win a title. A lot has to go right for that to happen.
Not only have the Warriors attained that goal, but they’ve also ascended beyond the level of merely a “championship team.” They are now a dynasty, where nothing short of perfection will fly with the critics. They’ve assembled a team so deep, so skilled, so talented that everyone else in the league will have to pretend for 82 games that there isn’t a 99.9 percent chance the Warriors are repeating as champions.
SHANGHAI, CHINA – OCTOBER 08: Andre Iguodala
Let’s look at that depth. Let’s start with the fact that the Warriors’ starting lineup would probably beat this season’s Eastern All-Stars, or that they make Zaza Pachulia look like a competent offensive player. Let’s move on to the fact that their bench of Shaun Livingston, Nick Young, Andre Iguodala, David West and JaVale McGee is probably better than half the starting five’s in the league.
Or how Patrick McCaw and Omri Casspi, who are the 11th and 12th men in the rotation, respectively, would be the fifth and sixth men on any other team. And let’s not forget Jordan Bell, who the Warriors straight-up swindled in the second round from the Bulls and will probably end up being the second coming of Draymond Green.
Sure, their core is a year older. Curry and Durant are a year from 30. Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala, two key components off their bench, are 33 and 32, respectively. David West is 37 and Pachulia is 33. Nick Young is 32. At some point, they’ll have to reconcile with the loss of the wily, high-IQ Iguodala and revamp the bench. And, to a larger extent, they’ll have to eventually deal with Curry and Durant reaching the end of their respective primes.
But that’s years down the line. For now, it’s business as usual, as in racking up win after win and being upset that a 5-point victory wasn’t larger. For now, it’s showing up at Oracle Arena and waiting for at least five moments per game that would be good enough to make other teams’ Top 10 Plays list for their entire season. For now, it’s expecting perfection – or close to it – because we may never see a group of basketball players this talented again in our lifetimes.
So we should enjoy this while it lasts, whatever this is. The Warriors are in the midst of a perfect storm, combining skillful drafting with luring a big fish in free agency, as well as an understanding head coach creating a world-class culture. You don’t see organizations run this smoothly, this efficiently, considering the power, fame, and celebrity on this team. You simply don’t.
CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 11: Kyrie Irving
Other teams can try. Over the offseason, we saw team after team, reaching to make deals to assemble their own superteam, to try and out-star the star-studded Warriors.
The Celtics traded for Kyrie Irving and gave up a haul to the Cavaliers, who also added Derrick Rose and Dwyane Wade. The Timberwolves acquired Jimmy Butler. The Rockets added Chris Paul to be the ying to James Harden’s yang. The Thunder went ham and somehow landed both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony via trades.
All of those teams did this because of the Warriors because they had to in order to even make a dent in the championship conversation. And perhaps they’ll challenge the Warriors, make them sweat a bit, try to beat fire with fire. Which will make it extremely adorable when the Warriors sweep each one of those teams in the playoffs.
You see, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The Warriors took years and years, two different head coaches, multiple drafts, signings and trades to accumulate this roster. You can’t just trade for stars, plug them into a system and expect to take down this juggernaut.
So don’t sweat it. Enjoy the home opener. Marvel at the banner being raised, at every spectacular play we’re used to seeing by now – every Steph or Klay three, KD moment, Draymond defensive play. Soak it in. All of it. Because the Warriors are back, and they’re doing this thing all over again.