The Golden State Warriors, proud rulers of the Kingdom of Hooplandia not so long ago, are once again making a serious bid to regain that prestigious NBA title. Seriously crippled with the departure of one of their greatest gladiators ever in Kevin Durant, plus the injury suffered by their sharpshooting archer in Klay Thompson; the Warriors’ glorious dynasty run had been stopped cold some 3 seasons ago.
But with the inspiration and great example of their incomparable court-centurion – the former MVP Steph Curry, the Warriors have jumped the gun this season, serving notice of their serious intent to recover that coveted crown. Even with the absence of Klay Thompson who remains in sick bay still, the Warriors have collected numerous trophy scalps this early in the season, leading the pack by a mile with a fiery 16-2 record. Only last year’s Western Conference champ Phoenix Suns have been able to keep pace with them.
Steph’s scintillating performance has been the key to keeping the team’s offense humming like a well-oiled machine. But as basketball is a team sport, he needs some solid support coming from the rest of the crew. Thus, Draymond Green remains the spoke in the defensive wheel. Andre Igoudala has returned to provide veteran guidance and quality minutes. Andrew Wiggins is slowly fitting in as a reliable 2-way player. And then the new recruits Jordan Poole, Damion Lee, Otto Porter, Nemanja Bjelica, Gary Payton II, Juan Toscano Anderson and Jonathan Kuminga, all of whom are buying in to that winning culture, and contributing unselfishly to create an unforgiving defense and a fast-and-furious offensive pace. At present, they are tops in defensive rating, and number 3 in offensive rating.
And with the impending return of Klay Thompson and last year’s prized rookie James Wiseman this December, this magical run conjured by coaching wizard Steve Kerr is expected to be further enhanced. If this strong assault at the win column continues, the Warriors will have the luxury of experimenting with combinations, while resting their veterans and key players for the big push come playoff time. With this furious winning trend prevailing, they can be audacious in trying out new strategic concepts.
The previous version of the champion Warriors had taken pride in contributing many changes that have led to basketball’s recent evolution. From the greater emphasis on the 3-ball, to the creation of the small-ball concept, to the morphing of new players capable of playing position-less ball, the Warriors have been the catalysts in triggering creative game-changers. (Pls read: Changing the Game of Hoops.) And it’s certainly a credit to this new version of the Warriors that they maintain this tradition of creativity and pioneering spirit in play. The expectations for another championship – nay, another string of championships, if you will – are slowly filling the homecourt rafters.
And if they’re healthy come the playoffs, they will definitely be a force to reckon; with the veteran experience, the greater emphasis on basic defensive accountability, and that growing passion to regain that lost glory. There remains a champion’s pride in the team, which the veterans in Steph, Draymond, Klay, Andre and coach Steve, keep inculcating on the newbies. There is a new wave of talent, and this new breed is slowly jelling with the old. And there is excitement once again, as Coach Steve does his mixing and matching; breaking the opponents’ offensive or defensive rhythm, challenging traditions, and creating bold and new innovations.
Basketball has evolved so much during the past decade. And a big part of that must be credited to the Golden State Warriors. If you are a serious student of the game, watch the Warriors play. Understand the small nuances, the subtle changes and adjustments. Not only will you learn about new basketball concepts, perhaps you’ll find some profound nuggets of wisdom that could enhance your philosophy in life. (For more on the Golden State philosophy and its use in life’s bigger challenges, please read: Golden State’s Small-Ball in Business.)
Cover Photo courtesy of: SB Nation. For a closer look, just click on the pics. Other pics courtesy of Golden State of Mind, The Mercury News, Sports Spyder, Blueman Hoop and Sports Illustrated.