Golden State Warriors on pace to smash Bulls’ win record
Robbie Purves | February 23, 2016
Warriors become fastest team to 50 wins
Golden State Warriors withstood a late Atlanta Hawks comeback to become the fastest team to 50 wins in NBA history with a 102–92 victory on Monday.
Warriors, who are 50-5 this season, eclipsed the mark set by the 1995/96 Chicago Bulls, who needed one more game to get to the 50 mark.
Golden State are chasing the Bulls’ 72 win record and took a step closer to it on Monday. The three previous teams to start 50-7 or better (the 1995/96 and 1996/97 Bulls, along with the 1982/83 Philadelphia 76ers) all won the NBA title, and Golden State look no different.
Michael Jordan and his teammates recorded their historic 72-10 record at the height of their six-titles-in-eight-years dynasty in 1995/96, but that record could now be under threat.
The birth of a new basketball dynasty
Golden State have the talent and a superb coach in the form of Steve Kerr. He is the perfect fit in Oakland and lets the players perform with a freedom that allows them to show their exceptional talent. Kerr’s team are operating on a whole different level to that of the rest of the NBA.
He takes elements of the triangle offence from his playing days in Chicago under Phil Jackson, the spacing and pace of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio, and the breathtaking uptempo principles Alvin Gentry used in Phoenix, when Kerr was the General Manager.
Kerr has a plethora of star talent. Steph Curry, a future Hall of Famer and top five all-time player, is playing sensational basketball. He averages a league high 29.8 points per game (PPG) and has limitless range from beyond the arc. His Splash Brother, Klay Thompson is also registering 21.6 PPG.
Draymond Green is another crucial component to Warriors’ campaign. The power forward provides balance in the team. He scores 14.1 points, grabs 9.7 rebounds and makes a team high 7.3 assists per game.
The only thing that stands between them and breaking the Bulls’ record, is complacency. There is certain lapses in the Warriors’ performances that could become troublesome if they start to appear more often.
In fact against Atlanta this Monday, it almost felt like they won the game twice. The Oakland team flew out the blocks in the first quarter outscoring Atlanta by 15 points. However, during the third quarter Kerr’s side took their foot off the gas, and allowed their opponents to score 36.
Atlanta finished the quarter on a 28-6 point run and led briefly early in the fourth, sending the sell-out crowd wild in Georgia.
Golden State managed to comeback and fight off Atlanta but serves as a reminder that the Californians’ can be ruffled and are not unbeatable. This fact was brutally seen in Portland when Steph Curry’s team were thrashed 105-137 by Damian Lillard’s resurgent Trailblazers.
Do Warriors dare to disrupt with Durant Deal?
Perhaps what is most interesting about Golden State, is what the future will bring?
Kevin Durant will hit free agency this summer and it is one of basketball’s open secrets that he would be open to a move to sunny California, if, and it is a big if, he wants to leave Oklahoma.
Durant wants to win a Championship immediately. He either wants to win with his current Thunder teammates or move to a team that can guarantee success. Because of this, Los Angeles Lakers and Washington are not viable options.
Golden State is the only option that can truly match his goals and propel the team to legendary status. The team is 10/3 to win next year’s Championship with Steph Curry being named as Finals MVP. Even if Durant does not move to California, we could be seeing the start of basketball domination.
Golden State have the cap space to acquire the Oklahoma superstar but may decide against it. Kerr’s team possesses the right balance and talent to dominate yet another season next year and may not want to risk bringing in another star. The team they have is almost too good to make better.
It may be a risk, but Durant in Oakland could make them unstoppable and the very fact that the deal is possible is testament to General Manager Bob Myers’ superb work.
Can Leonard led Spurs challenge?
The emergence of Kawhi Leonard to superstar level has been one of the best stories in the last few years. From the 2011 15th overall pick to franchise leader, the progression has been rapid and transformational. Leonard now averages 20.2 PPG and 6.7 rebounds.
San Antonio have two 2016 All-Stars and three future Hall of Famers beside them. Gregg Popovich’s men could have dominated this era of basketball, it is just unfortunate for them that Golden State has become one of the best teams ever to play the game.
The future is bright for Spurs, however. Popovich has proven in his 19-year career as San Antonio head coach that his teams can beat anyone through his cultured and crafted coaching. His team have a reputation for finding quality players with good personalities and when asked recently about this, Popovich said:
“For us, it’s easy… We’re looking for people who have gotten over themselves and understand that they’re just a piece of the puzzle.”
Coach Popovich and Spurs have created an enviable culture and devised a system where if players act selflessly, they will benefit. Players sacrifice individual numbers for team success – a mentality that has delivered an impressive five Championships since 1999. This teamwork based ethos is a refreshing change from the increasingly egocentric NBA.
Although Golden State beat them by a significant 30 point margin last time they met, I would not take that as an indicator of how a Conference Final series would play out. Kerr’s men will be favourites, but this Spurs team will not roll over.
San Antonio are 10/1 to win next year’s Championship and Kawhi Leonard to be named Finals MVP. With Leonard continuing to develop and Coach Popovich orchestrating the masterful, selfless style of play synonymous the franchise, the Texan team could realistically do it.