The Golden State Warriors have battled their way to the top of the National Basketball League (NBA) standings, making a name for themselves as the league’s best team this season. Led by Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, both players who were selected as 2015 All-Stars, the Warriors have set multiple records which have allowed them to be compared to Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls team that went 72-10. One of these records features Curry and Thompson, the team’s first pair of All Stars since the venerated Mullin and Hardaway pair represented Golden State in 1993.
What truly has changed for the Warriors this season is the ability of their stars players to show up day in and day out. One such example came on Jan. 23, when they faced the Sacramento Kings on home court. Thompson scored 37 points in the third quarter, not a game but a quarter. That was enough to break George Gervin’s 1978 NBA scoring record for the most points scored in a quarter. He also went 9-9 (yes that’s 100%) from beyond the three point line, breaking the record for the most threes scored in a quarter. Due to star players making star performances, the Warriors have gone from the sixth seed last year to the top this season. It’s no longer Lebron’s team that is leading the league but rather a Bay Area powehorse led by two young shooting and point guards.
Not only have the Warriors taken the throne in the NBA, but they also hold the best overall net rating since Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a championship in 1972. Even in a league with a stiff salary cap and superstars who chase eight figure contracts, they have managed to sport a 39-8 record. But this .830 win percentage is more than just a product of Thompson’s and Curry’s efficiency. According to ESPN, what the team and coaches consider the leading cause of the Warriors’ success is not their actions on the court but rather their actions off of it. With the sixth highest scoring bench as reported by NBA.com, the Warriors have players that take the pressure off of the starting five. For example, despite averaging 36.5 minutes last season, MVP candidate Curry now averages 32.9 minutes a game, just 47th in the league for its eighth highest scorer. Individual talent has remained subsidiary to teamwork on this team, a major component for their winning record.
However, this success did not come without a bit of controversy. Over the summer, former coach Mark Jackson was replaced by former five time NBA Champion Stephen Kerr. Although he has the rings to captivate any fan, Kerr was met with skepticism because this was his first coaching job. Fans were puzzled as to why Jackson, a coach who took the team to the playoffs, needed to be replaced. Nonetheless, Kerr’s appearance proved to be a great decision in the face of animosity. He was far exceeded expectations and player interviews by Comcast SportsNet indicate that Kerr has won over the locker room by directly asserting each member’s position and responsibilities, enhancing the offense without drastic changes.
The Golden State Warriors have risen to the spotlight. They have done more than earn constant publicizing by ESPN take the honor as the most tweeted NBA team this season. With a history of sports teams who have fell short (disregarding the Giants), they have become a team that the Bay Area can look up to.