2014-15 record: 67-15, 1st in the Pacific, 1st in the West; NBA Champions
Roster Additions: Chris Babb, Kevon Looney (30th pick, UCLA), Jason Thompson
Roster Subtractions: Justin Holiday, Ognjen Kuzmic, David Lee
SB Nation Affiliate: Golden State of Mind
It was as much a triumph of team culture as it was of talent for last year’s champs. Steve Kerr had the best showing as a rookie head coach ever, pushing all the right buttons and getting team-first contributions up and down the roster. Armed with an assortment of long and athletic players, the Dubs shifted their speed and look on the floor whenever they wanted without missing a beat, as they led the NBA in Pace, Points Per Game, Field Goal %, Three-Point FG %, Assists, Defensive Rating, and Net Rating.
They were also seventh in average margin of victory (+10.32)…in the history of the NBA. Only Michael Jordan’s Bulls, Kareem’s Bucks, and Wilt’s Lakers won by more. This was a dominant squad whose modus operandi was to work up a bit of sweat through the first three quarters of a game before eventually coming at opponents like a buzzsaw at a birthday cake. Games could go from ‘close’ to ‘over’ in the span of a snack run to the fridge. They were 39-2 at home.
The Warriors actually faced a couple of do-or-die moments in the playoffs, as they fell behind 2-1 against both Memphis and Cleveland. In both cases, Golden State ripped off three straight dominant victories from there, on their way to the franchise’s first championship in forty years.
Don’t Mess with Success
The Warriors had no cause to change their formula in the offseason, with seven rotation players signed through the end of 2017—including all five nominal starters. They did make sure team heartbeat Draymond Green got paid (5 years, $82 million), and parted ways with the guy he replaced (David Lee), but that was pretty much the only notable news.
Some pundits think Jason Thompson will be a nice addition, but he may struggle to get traction in an already crowded frontcourt that also added a development project in draft pick Kevon Looney. Plus, how many minutes are the Dubs going to play with nobody on the floor who’s even 6-foot-9?
Probably a lot, since that worked really well for them last year. Reigning MVP Steph Curry will likely make his yearly assault on his own recently-minted seasonal three-point records, while leaving crowds gasping at the audacity and accuracy of his shot arsenal. Klay Thompson has established himself as the best two-way two-guard in the Association, and already is part of the conversation for member of the best backcourt ever. 11-year vet Andre Iguodala seems so at home in his complementary role that he won a Finals MVP doing it. Harrison Barnes is still only 23 and can run and jump until Jimmy Kimmel comes on. Then you’ve got the steal of last offseason Shaun Livingston and the forever-athletic Leandro Barbosa to attack the cup; why would you ever need to play anyone else?
In case they decide to play something resembling traditional basketball, there is defensive stalwart Andrew Bogut—who didn’t play at all in Finals Games 5 and 6 last year, after logging just three minutes in Game 4. There’s Marreese Speights, who could pass for everyone’s favorite rec league chucker, but is good at what he does. There’s also the developing talents of Festus Ezeli and James Michael McAdoo. So yeah, Dubs got deep.
Back-to-back championships is a tall order, especially considering the murderous West, the prospect of an improved and full-strength Cavaliers team, and the possibility of injury regression. The Dubs were incredibly injury-free last year: seven players who averaged at least 16 minutes a game appeared in at least 76 regular season games, plus a couple of veterans (Bogut and Barbosa) had 66+ appearances. No one missed significant time in the playoffs. But you would think this team is built such that only an injury to Curry could derail this season.
Basically you’d have to expect only bad luck could keep them from being one of the last ones dancing with the chance to take a Larry O’Brien in embrace.