Written by Ayotunde Onabolu
Yes, the title of this article might seem very harsh and pretty much make the other 29 teams in the Association seem rather irrelevant in the race to the title, but if anything we’ve seen in the last four years makes any sort of sense, then there is every reason to believe the Golden State Warriors look more than likely to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers in 2002 to do a three-peat of titles.
Here are some facts that actually show how deadly the Warriors have been over the last four years:
The Warriors led the league in points, assists, and field goal percentage in each of the last four seasons of the league. In fact, in the last 10 years, only the Miami Heat (2013/14 season) shot above 50 percent from the field apart from the Warriors. The Warriors led the league in three-point percentage in three of the last four years, finishing third only the 2016/17 season. The Warriors also led the league in offensive rating in two of the four years but didn’t fail to finish in the top three in the other two years.
On defense, the Warriors were top-three in opponent’s field goal percentage in the last four years, leading the league twice in 2014/15 and 2016/17.
These basic and advanced statistics clearly show how dominant the Warriors have been on both ends of the floor in the last four years, during which they played four straight NBA Finals and won three titles.
A huge part of their success is down to the consistency of their All-Star trio of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green and the addition of one of the greatest scorers of all time, Kevin Durant in the summer of 2016.
Let’s take a look at some averages of these four players over the last four years with the hope of getting a clearer perspective as to why the Warriors are a lock to win the NBA title at the end of the season:
Curry is averaging 26.4 points, 6.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game on 49 percent shooting and 43 percent from three-point range. Curry is also shooting 91 percent from the free throw line, the best mark in the league over the last four years.
Thompson is averaging 21.5 points on 47 percent shooting and 43 percent from three-point range. Like Curry, Thompson has never in his entire career shot below 40 percent from downtown—ridiculous!
In two seasons with the Warriors, Durant is averaging 25.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game on 52 percent shooting and 40 percent from three-point range. KD is a four-time scoring champion and like was quite evident in his two postseasons with the Warriors, the offense was run through him—he was the first scoring option because of the plethora of ways by which he can score—from the post, from midrange, from downtown, in one-on-one situations, pull-ups, off the dribble, catch-and-shoot opportunities, drives to the rim and so on.
Green is one star who has consistently shown that numbers do not necessarily give an accurate description of a player’s effort on the floor. His averages of 11.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.4 assists per game don’t particularly jump out at you, especially for someone who has made the annual NBA All-Star game in the last three years, but his defensive tenacity and efficiency cannot go unnoticed.
To make matters worse for the rest of the league, All-Star big man, DeMarcus Cousins, joined them for a mid-level exception. Who pays only 5.3 million dollars to a player regarded by many as the best center in today’s game?
Here are Cousins’ numbers playing for the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans during the four dominant years the Warriors have enjoyed: 25.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game, shooting 46 percent from the field and 35 percent from three-point territory. Check this out: only Cousins has those numbers in the last four years in the league.
And to put into proper perspective the kind of individual career Cousins is having, let’s see his numbers. Cousins entered the NBA at the age of 20 and has played seven years. His career averages are 21.5 points, 11 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Per Basketball-Reference, only nine other players in NBA history have at least 21 points, 11 rebounds and 3 assists as career averages from age 20 to 27 years. Hint: all of those nine players are retired! They are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Tim Duncan, Charles Barkley, Kevin Garnett, George Mikan, Bob Lanier, Elgin Baylor, and George McGinnis—all members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Sigh!
Cousins is currently recovering from an Achilles injury. You can imagine what the Warriors’ starting lineup will look like when he is healthy—Steph and Klay as the guards, KD at the three, Draymond at the four and Boogie at the five! Holy cow!
Yes, other teams are loaded with some form of incredible talents like the Houston Rockets with James Harden, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, the Oklahoma City Thunder with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, the Los Angeles Lakers have LeBron James and co, the Boston Celtics have Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford, the Philadelphia 76ers have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Toronto Raptors have Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, but no team has five—FIVE All-Stars in their starting lineup.
By the time the playoffs arrive in April 2019, the Warriors will probably have the scariest starting lineup in NBA history, especially if all the pieces are in good health, and it will be so tough to stop them. They may not pay too much attention to what happens in the regular season, just like last season when they finished behind the Rockets in the West and behind the Raptors overall, but their quality will be too much for the rest of the league to handle.
Can the Warriors be stopped from winning the title? Of course! How? If Steph and KD both get injured before the playoffs or before the finals. Even at that, a lineup with Klay, Draymond and Boogie on the floor at the same time could prove be a problem so hard to solve.