Why does a three-time champion, two-time MVP and the greatest shooter ever need to score 62 points in a regular season game to silence the critics?
When a season is only a few weeks in, fans are generally able to recognise the current climate of the league at its early stages will eventually mould into an understandable and semi-predictable picture that fans can justify.
In other words, the earlier we are in a season, the less you should take things seriously. Apologies to all my Cavaliers and Knicks fans because although you may have high standing now, you are a long way from stepping into the playoffs.
So if that’s cleared up, then I have a question for the NBA community: why are you so quick to write off a team’s season after just a few games? The question could also be asked in reverse: why are you so quick to legitimise a new team as championship contenders? To be specific, I cite the Warriors and the Nets.
This is just as annoying as the useless end-of-season discussions on last moment MVP changes. No, the fact that LeBron James decided to pick it up in the last month of the season does not discredit a consistently dominant Giannis Antetokoumpo season. You know who you are.
So, if fans can comprehend the Knicks are not one of the best teams in the East through the first few games, then why are they so happy to write off a Warriors team that started 1-3? Because right before the Warriors tipped off in what would be Steph Curry’s highest-scoring game ever, the Warriors displayed a very interesting graphic that most might have missed. The graphic explained that every team the Warriors faced had completely lucked out behind the three-point line. Every single time.
Last five opponents’ three point percentages
•The Nets shot 42.9
•The Bucks shot 54.1
•The Bulls shot 41.5
•The Pistons shot 37.1
•The Blazers shot 46.5
This means that the Warriors were succumbing to the highest opponent three point field goal percentage in the entire league. Again, if this was late February, then I would recognise a problem. But it’s not. It’s five games where teams have, on average, shot 44.5 per cent against Golden State from deep.
To put this into context, Stephen Curry – the greatest shooter of all time – shoots at 43.4 per cent. That means in this small sample size of games, short enough for many to come to the conclusion that the Warriors’ season is over, Golden State have been playing opponents shooting better than the greatest shooter ever.
I don’t really use this word much, but my hands are crossed. That’s just sheer bad luck. A word that can be only used in sport when the sample size is small and the results are perplexing.
The Warriors should be defending the three-point shot better, it is a massive part of today’s game.
Steph won that game scoring 62 points against a team on the fringe of playoff contention, how is that sustainable?
Counters to those counters
Clearly the Warriors should defend the perimeter better, that’s just indefensible allowing a team to score that many points. And although the Warriors might not be the scariest team on defence, I can bet anyone my retro Jason Williams Kings Jersey that this number will drop dramatically.
Lastly, the sustainability of Curry is a legitimate issue. But I’m going to go back to one of the oldest rules in basketball to guide my prediction.
Do you know why when a team trades a superstar, they lose the trade every time? Because the NBA is a star-driven league. It doesn’t matter if you’re sending Kevin Garnett away in the largest trade in league history – Garnett has a ring and the Timberwolves have seen the playoffs once since the Big Ticket packed his bags.
Curry is one of a very small handful of superstars you have to expect to make the playoffs every year. That list reads in no order: Kevin Durant, LeBron, Giannis, Kawhi Leonard.
So, if you have one of these players, at their superstar capabilities (given they’re healthy), you have to expect to make the playoffs. The last superstar to not make the playoffs was LeBron in his first year in L.A. and he only played 55 games.
Another rare occurrence happened in 2006 when Kobe Bryant was stuck on the worst defensive team in the league and dealing with a tumultuous court case while putting up 35.4 points per game.
Honourable mentions go to Dirk Nowitzki in 2013, Dwyane Wade in 2008 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1992.
So by the statistical probability that superstars make playoffs, even in the tight Western Conference, it should be expected that NBA fans do not give up on the Warriors to find a way.