The Golden State Warriors are legit. Starting the 2015–2016 NBA season on a record-breaking 20–0 run has not only validated their rank as former NBA champions but has also revealed the possibility of many more potential championships in future seasons. The Warriors currently rank first in the NBA in points per game and assists, as well as seventh in rebounding. Anyone with even the slightest basketball experience recognizes that this is quite the collection of accolades for any one team to have.
The Warriors also have Stephen Curry’s sharp shooting skills in their arsenal. Curry, named the NBA’s 2014 and 2015 Most Valuable Player, is currently the league’s scoring leader, racking up nearly 32 points per game and shooting at an impressive 63 percent from the field. The Warriors finished the 2014–2015 regular season with a commanding 67–15 record; however, last season Curry was averaging only 24 points per contest, and the Warriors as a team were averaging 110 points per game. This season, the Warriors are averaging 115 points per game, largely courtesy of Curry’s improvement and the team’s already impressive play.
I’m certainly not one to hop on the bandwagon, but numbers do not lie. Not only are the Warriors continuing their league dominance from last season, but they even found room for improvement. At the rate that they are going, the Warriors are on track to tie or even break the 1995–1996 Chicago Bulls’ NBA record of completing a regular season 72–10. While one might consider it blasphemy or premature to compare the Warriors to the legendary Bulls of the ’90s, there are some notable similarities between the two squads. For example, in the Bulls’ record-breaking season, NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan led the league in scoring, something that Curry is on track to do this season.
Jordan’s supporting cast also featured fellow Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen, who served as Jordan’s partner in crime and second go-to scoring option on the squad, and prolific rebounder Dennis Rodman. Similarly, Curry is accompanied by his fellow “splash brother” Klay Thompson, widely know as one of the best two-way shooting guards in the league; Draymond Green, a jack-of-all-trades who currently ranks seventh in the NBA in assists per game; and the talented young Harrison Barnes, who would star on any other roster if he were not in the shadow of the former three. The 1995–1996 Bulls’ average margin of victory was 12.3 points per game, but this season the Warriors have beaten their opponents by an average margin of 15.3 points per game.
To keep the parallels coming, during the Bulls’ historic season, their head coach Phil Jackson received the NBA Coach of The Year award, which is something that Steve Kerr already nearly accomplished in the Warriors’ championship campaign last season, finishing close in second place. Similarly, interim coach Luke Walton, who has been filling in for Kerr during Kerr’s recovery from back surgery, was recently named NBA Coach of the Month for October and November — something that no interim coach has ever done before.
So while the NBA season is barely a quarter of the way through, all the signs point to the Warriors giving Jordan and company a run for the most wins in an NBA regular season. Of the 17 teams in NBA history to end the regular season with more than 65 wins, only three have failed to claim a championship, so if the Warriors continue this level of play it would not be surprising if they end this season hoisting a championship trophy above their heads.
Curry, Thompson and Green are all locked into contracts that will have them playing with the Warriors for at least the next two years, and Barnes is poised to resign with the team when his contract expires at the end of this season. The Warriors look to be unstoppable in the foreseeable future. With the recent announcement of Kobe Bryant’s retirement, and LeBron James turning 30 this past year, it has become increasingly apparent that the NBA is transitioning into a new era of players and potential dynasties. Considering the youth and talent of the Warriors as a team, Stephen Curry and his crew look like not just a team to beat this season, but like future legends primed to give the rest of the NBA a run for their money for years to come.