How entertaining would football actually be without fantasy football? If we weren’t obsessing over how much of our free agent budget to spend on a waiver claim on Devin Funchess, would we ever care about the games as much as we do? For the Golden State Warriors, we’re two games into the regular season but we’re already searching for things that will excite us in different ways. The overarching answer to the question of a basketball game is a foregone conclusion, the Warriors will find a way to win. But the fun little goings-ons are what’s going to make each mid-October and end of March game as special as any other.
Friday night’s struggle against the New Orleans Pelicans, essentially the Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins’ Show, was spectacular in its moments. Kevin Durant had a double block on Tony Allen without a shoe on. Jordan Crawford made an appearance and put on a show in the first half with Ian Clark, going 7-7 from the field and 5-5 from 3 at one point. Draymond Green and Cousins yapped and shouted their way into one tech for Dray and 3 fouls for Cousins, igniting a 19-7 run to close the half.
During that run, Durant took over, with an and-one layup and a pull-up three to end the half, with Steph waving off the play to let him get after it. The Warriors, still sluggish from whatever they are tired from, still are able to find peak rhythm in the moments that will sweep you up and churn you out like a washing machine.
The bad still permeate the team just enough to keep the score tight. A Zaza Pachulia Bad Game will pop itself in there every so often, especially against elite bigs like AD and Boogie. The offense can look as ugly as a G-league team as they force themselves into passing angles that simply aren’t there. The bench can run a little on fumes when they can’t thrive on stops and transition opportunities.
But when it truly matters, the championship mettle still flashes enough. Andre Iguodala’s hesitation maneuvering during a fastbreak, Steph’s quest to average 10 assists across a season leading to phenomenal outlet passes, Durant’s seven (!) blocks, and perhaps most impressively, the sign of maturity from Klay Thompson that may unleash another level to this team.
Across the past two seasons, the great passers on the team were Iguodala and Draymond, with most of the closing coming from the Splash Brothers. Late in the 4th quarter, Zaza Pachulia picked up a huge offensive rebound and kicked it back out to Klay on the wing. A year ago, he jacks it up with 23 on the shot clock, without a conscience, and with good reason. He’s one of the greatest shooters of all time, if the shot is open, why not?
Fast forward to 2017, he takes a side dribble, clears out the attacking defender, and without a glance, swings it to the corner for an open Steph, who cans the 3. That extra pass, from a player that isn’t known, or is expected to within the offense to be that guy, is the next level unlocked within the Warriors offense.
Before Durant arrived, Walton and Kerr spoke about the Warriors implementing counter actions that would make their schemes even more unguardable. Now imagine that in their second year with Durant, but with players more willing to feed each other. There won’t be a single player acting as the offensive fulcrum, the five on the floor will function entirely as the same body.
Think San Antonio Spurs’ in the 2014 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat but will far greater and more explosive talent.
That’s the ceiling of these Warriors. And even though the conclusions may be written already in the regular season, the process of their evolution is as entertaining as ever.