For all the Golden State Warriors are and have been in this arduous and dramatic season, it’s easy to forget that they have compiled the most talented top-5 players on a single team in NBA history. They have two of the top-5 defenders in the entire NBA, one on the wings and the other in the paint, a two-time MVP, a scoring champion and MVP, and the hottest shooter in the entire world. With how pundits love to discuss how the Warriors will deal with other teams, we tend to forget what those other teams have to deal with in any game, at any moment.
In the 123-101 win over a D-League New Orleans Pelicans team without Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, the Warriors went on to exhibit the amount of talent in one franchise. When the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers rest their superstars, two different events occur. The Spurs hold ship as they are the most well-coached unit in the league and their system maximizes the talents of their depth, catering to everyone in an egalitarian system. For the Cleveland Cavaliers, they fall apart without the one-man superpower, LeBron James.
The Warriors are a slight combination of both as Steve Kerr’s system aims to play to the strengths of Ian Clark while the team completely falls apart on offense without Stephen Curry. Any other year this game likely requires the bench to chip in with an unsustainable effort or the starters to play over their head. Usually, that means someone like Marreese Speights or Ian Clark going for 20 while Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green nailing down multiple treys.
In this current iteration, they did not miss a beat. With one MVP down, another was re-inserted in his place. Sporting tights but nary a bulky knee brace, Durant was rusty as expected on offense, missing all 4 three-point attempts and clanking fadeaway midrange Js. He still functioned as a steroided version of Draymond Green, with 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and a light 16 points.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Warriors look to be regressing back to their normal states after some struggles during the season. Draymond railed 3 3s after dropping to a career-low 30% from distance. Shaun Livingston looks to have the turnaround J back after an awful month stretch. Ian Clark doesn’t miss floaters anymore. And finally, Iguodala’s aggressiveness on offense looks to be as sustainable as ever.
The Warriors looked like a championship team on Saturday night. On Monday, they’ll welcome back the other MVP to the lineup.