Fresh off of winning the title in June, the Golden State Warriors have shown no signs of regression. If anything they’ve only gotten better. The Steph Curry led squad has set the league on fire with an all-time NBA best start of 23-0. With a commanding lead of the Western Conference, and an offense that shows no signs of slowing down, the only real question about this team is can they finish the season with the best record of all time?
The 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls currently hold the best season record of 72-10, meaning Golden State would need to finish 53-9 or better to break that mark. Based on their schedule, it doesn’t look as though the Warriors will come close to being beaten until Christmas Day when they face LeBron James and the Cavaliers in an NBA Finals rematch. Following that game, their schedule gets more difficult, with several tough match-ups against the Thunder, Mavs, Heat and Spurs. A lucky break for the Warriors is that two of their match-ups against San Antonio are in the last week of the season, a time where Greg Popovich could be resting his aging core heading into the playoffs. This would make Golden State’s road to 9 or fewer losses significantly easier, as the Spurs are one of the toughest teams in the West.
The fact that the Warriors haven’t lost a game yet is impressive, but perhaps even more impressive is that they’ve done it without head coach Steve Kerr. He is currently recovering from offseason back surgery and has no timetable for his return. This has left assistant Luke Walton in charge of the team, and he has clearly done an amazing job of steering the ship, having just received the November Coach of the Month Award. While the true impact of coaching in the NBA can be debated forever, getting back a highly regarded basketball mind in Kerr should give the Warriors even more of an advantage moving forward.
At the end of the day, it’s the players who step on the court and win the games. Luckily for Golden State they have the NBA MVP and a cast of more than capable support players who can all help win games. Steph Curry is the engine that drives Golden State with his flawless three point shooting and ability to dish the ball. Curry is a big part of Golden State’s hot start. He has been flames from beyond the arc in November, making 77 three point shots – the most ever in a calendar month by an NBA player. Curry’s ability to hit shots from anywhere on the court means defenses must adjust to him, leaving less contested shots for the other “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson. By having these two legitimate three point threats outside the arc, it clears up the middle of the paint for guards and forwards to drive to the hoop for an easy bucket or a quick dish to Draymond Green, the power forward who rotates heavily at center.
Green’s ability to switch to center lends itself well to head coach Steve Kerr’s philosophy of playing small ball and shooting three pointers in volume. By having multiple three point threats on the floor, as well as a center in Green who can hop outside to shoot threes as well, the Warrior’s offense is capable of putting a real strain on defenses who have to constantly chase after the ball. This creates confusion among the defense and creates driving lanes for lay-ups or kick back to the three point shooters for seemingly easy buckets. Until teams find a way to slow down this trigger happy three point offense, the Warriors can outscore any team in the league, as evidenced by the fact that they haven’t been held under 100 points all year.
The Warriors certainly look like the best team in the NBA and their record backs that up. Through a combination of great coaching, sharp-shooting players, and an offensive system that maximizes their chances at scoring, the Warriors have been able to take advantage of a fairly soft schedule to date and turn it into the best opening record of all time. As long as they stay healthy, this team has a good chance to be one of the best teams ever.
photos via @Warriors