There have been many story lines this year in the NBA, most recently being Rondo tearing his ACL and ending his 2012-2013 campaign. However, the media has been ranting about the Lakers and raving about LeBron and Durant while completely missing one of the greatest stories in the NBA. What is that story you ask? The Golden State Warriors are a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.
I repeat. The Golden State Warriors are a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. The fans of the Bay Area cannot believe their eyes. Historically they are one of the most doomed teams in NBA history and haven’t had much to cheer about, as documented by a great article written by Bill Simmons. This year, things are different. They aren’t playing the bottom feeder role that they are accustomed to playing. They have a lot of youth as well as a decent mix of veterans. They have a coach who seems interested in playing defense. They aren’t quite the team they want to be on defense, but they have made huge strides over the teams that Monte Ellis was familiar with. David Lee and Stephen Curry have been playing great basketball and David Lee was rewarded with an All-Star appearance, while Curry was awarded with grumblings from basketball nerds as to why he got snubbed from the All-Star game.
You may be wondering just how well they are playing. The record of 27-17 is one thing, but what does their resume look like? They’ve beaten the L.A. Clippers 3 of 4 games, Minnesota twice, Atlanta twice, and the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder once each. That’s not too shabby. They are 9th in points per game, 9th in assists per game, and 4th in rebounds per game and have done all of this without one of their biggest assets down low in Andrew Bogut. Bogut played for the first time tonight since November 7th and hasn’t really missed a beat. We have seen such a good team that we forget they aren’t at their full capacity. We all forget that Brandon Rush went down at the beginning of the season, and he was supposed to be the sixth or seventh man depending on how you use Carl Landry. Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have been everything the Warriors have wanted and then some and are playing like veterans. Klay Thompson has had a solid sophomore campaign, and Jarrett Jack and Richard Jefferson have been great influences on this team that has traditionally had a lot of off the court problems.
I quietly picked the Warriors to make the playoffs and go as high as a 5 seed and no one else took me seriously. We think of the Warriors like we used to think of the Clippers pre “Lob City.” They are the team that is going to get hammered and is an easy victory for the beasts of the Western Conference. But right now they sit in the 5th position out west and no one has taken a good look at how good these guys are. This isn’t the “We Believe Team” of 2009, but I’m a believer.