A season after winning an NBA-best 67 games and the NBA championship, with a historical margin of victory, the Golden State Warriors have somehow gotten even better.
Through four games, the Warriors are 4-0, but their play has simply been at a different level than the rest of the NBA.
According to ESPN’s Ethan Sherwood Strauss, this is something coach Steve Kerr preached through training camp (before taking a leave of absence to recover from back surgery).
“The one thing coming into training camp, Coach Kerr’s one go-to line was ‘next level,'” Draymond Green told Strauss. “Next level in the offence, next level in the defence, next level in focus, next level in intensity.”
Nobody really thought that was possible after the Warriors’ run last season. The Warriors have scoffed at the idea that they got lucky to win the championship, but they did have fortune and luck when it came to avoiding major injuries. Additionally, in an improved Western Conference, it would not have been surprising if Warriors were to see some slippage in their overall play and perhaps their win totals.
In fact, in ESPN’s NBA experts predictions, only nine of 25 writers predicted the Warriors would win the West. While four games is far too early to say that those other 16 experts were wrong, early on, the Warriors are far and away the best team in the NBA.
Through four games, the Warriors have the NBA’s best offence, scoring 115 points per 100 possessions, with the second-best defence, allowing just 88 points per 100 possessions. In their four games they have beaten other teams by a combined 100 points! They also shoot the ball better than every team in the league, with an NBA-best 58% True Shooting Percentage, and they take care of the ball better than all but two teams.
This tops what Golden State did last year. In the Warriors’ first four games last year, they had a 107 offensive rating and a 90.5 defensive rating. They finished the season with a 109.7 offensive rating and 98.2 defensive rating.
While the four games this season is a small sample size, it shows just how dominant the Warriors have been. They haven’t played a cupcake schedule — they have played the Pelicans twice, the Rockets, and just beat the Memphis Grizzlies by 50 points!
This has been buoyed by Stephen Curry, who quite frankly, is the best player in the NBA at the moment. He’s averaging 37 points per game on 60% shooting, 49% from three, with six assists per game. He’s already dropped the NBA’s first 50-point game this season, scoring 53 on the Pelicans which included a 28-point third quarter. His PER (player efficiency rating) is 50.5 — 15 is the NBA average.
During Golden State’s drubbing of the Grizzlies, watch the Grizzlies do everything they can to run Curry off the three-point line, and he still creates enough space in a snap second:
These types of shots are demoralising to opponents:
And he’s entered full Magic Johnson-mode this season:
This all says nothing of Curry’s supporting cast, particularly defensive Swiss Army Knife Draymond Green, but right now, Curry is the star of the best show in the NBA. As Strauss points out, Curry’s 148 points through four games are the highest since Michael Jordan.
Perhaps more amazingly, Curry is doing it in less than 32 minutes per game. Curry’s only played a total of 17 minutes of a possible 48 minutes in fourth quarters because the Warriors are blowing out teams so badly that he’s no longer needed on the court.
Clearly, the NBA world undervalued the importance of continuity with this Warriors team. They are an engine firing on all cylinders, they have no big adjustments to make, and this is without Steve Kerr at the helm.
The Warriors will slow down… we think, or at least Curry will, as 60% shooting with his shot selection is unsustainable. But right now they’re beating up on playoffs teams. When their schedule softens, the Warriors wins will pile up, and it may only be a matter of time until we’re questioning if this team could challenge for the Jordan-Bulls’ record 72-10 season.
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