By ERIC LI, sophomore
Every new NBA season presents new storylines for basketball fans to get excited over, and the storyline of the 2015-2016 season so far has been the journey of the San Francisco Bay Area-based Golden State Warriors. On December 11th, 2015, after a strenuous, double overtime game against the Boston Celtics, the Warriors emerged victorious 124-119. This win gave the Warriors their 24th consecutive win this season. Combined with the team’s wins in the 2015 NBA final, the Warriors have increased their win streak to 28 wins. Coming off of last season’s NBA championship against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Warriors have picked up right where they left off, breaking the NBA record set by the Miami Heat in the 2012-2013 season with the second longest win streak.
To many, it seems like the Warriors have broken into the scene in just a matter of a few years. With their rise out of nowhere, many people ask the question: how have the Warriors come away with win after win without fail? The answer is that there is no single reason for the Warriors’ success: many pieces of a puzzle, fitting perfectly together, can be attributed to the team’s excellence.
First and foremost, it is important to recognize the genius of the Warriors’ front office in assembling the perfect distribution of talent on their roster. Almost all of the Warriors’ main players were acquired from the draft, not from trading, a testament to the ability of the front office to find players with potential. Stephen Curry, who was selected with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft, has become a reigning MVP over the course of six years; he averages an astronomical 32.6 points per game (as of November 28).
Though Curry is clearly the team’s centerpiece, but none of the Warriors’ success would be possible without the other players who fill their roles so perfectly. Klay Thompson is a three-point marksman and a secondary offensive option for the Warriors; he provides another source of scoring when the main star of the show, Curry, is struggling. Draymond Green might be one of the best all-around players in the game: at 6’7”, he can defend all five positions, handle the ball well for his size, and act as a threat from the three-point line. Andre Iguodala is known for his lockdown defense, and Harrison Barnes ignites the Warriors’ offense with his electrifying athleticism. Like Thompson and Green, both Iguodala and Barnes are capable three-point shooters as well.
While the Warriors’ collection of talented players is obviously important to their success, it’s the way they use their talent that truly makes them special. The Warriors use a playstyle that perfectly complements their roster; all of their players are willing and capable passers, so it comes as no surprise that they lead the league in assists (almost thirty per game). Due to the open shots that their passing creates, they also lead the league in field goal percentage, at 49%, as well as three-point field goal percentage, at 42%.
The Warriors are most successful with their revolutionary “small ball” lineup, which consists of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes, and Green. This lineup features Barnes as the tallest player at only 6’8”—most NBA teams conventionally have two players at 6’10” or above on the floor at all times. This lineup not only gives the Warriors an offensive advantage due to its speed and shooting ability, but also benefits the team defensively, in large part due to Draymond Green’s versatility.
But even with the pieces of the puzzle in their possession, it’s impossible to complete the puzzle without someone at the helm to put all the pieces together. That “someone” for the Warriors last year was head coach Steve Kerr. Although last year was Kerr’s “rookie” season as a coach, he performed admirably in his new position, possibly due to his substantial experience as a player. Kerr’s charisma, knowledge of the game, and composure were all instrumental in the Warriors’ championship run. With the advent of the 2015-2016 season, interim coach Luke Walton (who, like Kerr, also has extensive experience as a player) took the reins of the Warriors during their 16-0 stretch. Though the NBA credits the wins to Kerr by default, because Kerr is still the head coach, media reports speculate that Walton will ultimately receive his deserved recognition.
While the Warriors can cherish their historic start for now, it goes without saying that the real title that they’re aiming for is a second consecutive NBA championship trophy. Golden State might be heavy favorites to win it all in June, but nothing is certain until the time comes. For now, though, the Warriors look to ride their winning streak like a wave off the San Francisco coast.