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The Golden Boys of Basketball—What Sets the Warriors Apart

dynasty
/ˈdɪnəsti/
noun
A powerful group or family that sustain a position of prominence for a considerable time.

The Golden State Warriors from Oakland, California embody this word to the T and have cemented their legacy as one of the greatest basketball teams of all time. While the NBA has had great teams in the post-Michael Jordan era, and before it as well, very few have had the kind of cultural impact over the game of basketball as the Warriors have.

But what is it that makes this team so special? What makes them a subject for discussion and contemplation? Many teams have won championships with a combination of teamwork and skill. The attribute that distinguishes the Warriors from other teams is the sheer dominance they have had over the league and how they have remoulded and revolutionized the game of basketball.

The starting lineup for the Warriors also known as their ‘death-lineup’. (Image Source: Sports Illustrated)

The manner in which they have built their stellar twelve player squad also sets them apart from other teams. Players can be acquired in many wayssigning a free-agent, trading for players, and drafting college players to the team. In the first two methods, it is known how the player will perform, as they have already played a significant amount to determine their capabilities. Drafting a player, on the other hand, is a completely different ball game. No matter how well someone has played, there is no way of knowing how he will perform against professional NBA players. There have been numerous instances where a player has shown great promise as a college superstar, but could not make the cut in a professional team. Meticulous management and scouting by a team are necessary for good draft picks.

The Real MVPs

The saga of the Golden State Warriors began with the 2009 NBA draft. With the seventh overall pick, the Warriors drafted a 6’2” point-guard named Wardell Stephen Curry II of Davidson College. Curry, the son of a famed ex-NBA athlete, Dell Curry, and a lauded shooter in his college days was labelled as having ‘below standard athleticism,’ described as ‘not a great finisher around the basket,’ and someone who ‘needs to considerably improve as a ball handler’. Needless to say, that proved to be far from the truth. Curry or ‘Steph’, as he is affectionately called by his fans, would go on to win the Most Valuable Player award twice.

Two years later, the Warriors would go on to draft Klay Thompson, another NBA legend. Thompson’s father Mychal Thompson was drafted first overall and Klay follows after him. Curry and Thompson would later in 2013 set the combined league record for most three-pointers made in one season, earning them the moniker of the ‘Splash Brothers’. Draymond Green, a contentious player was selected in the 2012 draft for the 30th pick overall. To improve on their under-performing bench, they made some trades and signed Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets. The following 2014-2015 season would signal the arrival of this new team-to-beat. Curry would break his own record for most three-pointers made and also the one set with Klay previously, with a mind-boggling 525 three-pointers made in the entire season.

Draymond Green defends against a drive from Cleveland’s Kevin Love. (Image Source: foxsports.com.au)

The Warriors did face a humbling loss by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015-2016 final, in which the Cavaliers came back from a 1-3 series deficit. This was something that had never happened before in a final. It would become the defence for opponents of the Warriors on the internet and analysts to question the legitimacy of the Warrior’s reign over the Championship. Golden State took the loss very seriously and signed the biggest free-agent at the time, the scoring forward of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Kevin Durant. He led the Warriors to two consecutive championships in the following 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons and was named the Finals MVP in the latter. Signing another all-star, DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors keep getting better with each year. Bob Myers, the Warriors’ President of Basketball Operations and general manager deserves all the credit for creating one of the best championship teams in just four years.

It’s Raining Threes

This winning spree established their dominance and position in the league. However, it is their influence on the game that has always been the major reason for discussing them. The fluidity with which they play the beautiful game of basketball has always been fun to watch even when they were not winning championships. The duo of Curry and Thompson is deadly behind the three-point arc, and that added to Green and Iguodala’s versatility made it a tough team to guard. Their selfless ball movements and versatility without positional labels made them a highly formidable offensive team. In addition to this, the team also has one of the best defences in the league.

Stephen Curry holding the trophy at their championship parade in Oakland. (Image Source: mercurynews.com)

When the NBA added the three-point line in 1979, only 3% of the shots put up were three-pointers. Over the next three decades, that number rose to 22% and remained constant. The sport seemed to have found its optimal ratio. Then the Golden State Warriors came along and blew that assumption to pieces. This tactic has had a clear influence inside and outside the league as well. College and school teams around the world have changed. The centres, players who usually do not shoot a three in the entire match, are now spending hours practising them. The tried and tested screen-and-roll, which involves blocking a teammates’ defender was the most common play everywhere. Not anymore, since an open three is more lucrative now as it makes faster points and the transition to defence easier. This is not necessarily something new, but seeing the Golden State Warriors do it so effortlessly has made multiple teams attempt this technique.

The New ’96 Chicago Bulls?

The Golden State Warriors have been repeatedly compared to Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls, a team of which, Steve Kerr, the current coach of the Warriors was a part. Golden State broke the regular season record held by the Bulls of 72 wins and 10 losses to 73 wins and 9 losses. The constant comparison between the two teams may be unfair as both teams have had their own unique playing styles and share of influence on the game of basketball

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr coaches his players during the NBA Western Conference playoffs. (Image Source: bangphotos.smugmug.com)

The Golden State Warriors’ sway over the league is unquestionable and their rise to success is laudable. They have made brilliant strategic and tactical moves to upset the balance of power in the NBA. This team, whether or not it wins more championships, has established itself as one of the greatest group of people to have come together to play organised basketball. The introduction of absolutely new techniques of play by them promises an exciting future for the game of basketball.

Featured Image Source: sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com