One nation under Golden State
By ANDREW MORRIS
College Contributor Network
So, the Warriors had two games this past weekend. They somehow managed to pull one out against the Mavericks, which made it 15 straight wins in a row before beating the Pelicans the next night. The 16-game streak is already the best in Golden State history and the second-longest Bay Area pro sports streak ever, behind the Oakland Athletics. The fourth-longest win streak since 2009-2010 in the NBA has propelled the Dubs into the spotlight of the league, sitting atop the Western Conference and entire NBA.
These boys are good. Really good. They are the new era of NBA basketball. Golden State has lights out shooting from every position, quick transition offense, and strong defense to suffocate the other team. The win Saturday was against the NBA's best offensive team -– the Warriors held them to 44 points in the first half. The Dubs now have the third-most points per game, the highest score margin and the most fastbreak points. A year ago, the squad finished middle of the pack in the West and took a harsh first-round playoff exit to the newly established rival Clippers.
The front office decision to let Mark Jackson go in the offseason and bring in first-time coach Steve Kerr has not been the whole reason the Warriors have made the jump into the front of the pack -- he's been about half of it. What Jackson brought from 2011 until a year ago was a strict diet of intense defense. The Warriors were programmed to be energetic and absolutely ruthless on the defensive side of the floor. Jackson implemented that base foundation in the Bay Area and had some nice help with the Warriors' consistent shooting ability. Warriors' nation, among others, wholeheartedly bought into Jackson's teams over the brief period. The firing was a big surprise to many, including some of the players.
Hindsight is 20/20. Kerr's expertise has highlighted exactly what Jackson was missing –- a style of offense to match the skill set of the Golden State players. Steph Curry, Klay Thomson, and Draymond Green aren't the best players for a rugged, half-court style offense. Jackson's gameplan was slow pick-and-rolls and screens that tried to open up Curry or Thompson for a corner three. Even with the fire that those two guards have in their hands, that system is a bit unreliable.
Kerr played guard with Michael Jordan on the Bulls. He won his fair share of rings. He brings experience, a mindset, and a gameplan. Kerr has opened up the offense for the 'Dubs. He lets Andrew Bogut pass and shoot, he lets Harrison Barnes slash, he lets Curry roam free (it's gone pretty well for him), and he has built on the already preexisting defensive mentality. The 'Dubs are currently first in defensive efficiency. Yes, those Warriors.
Jackson brought the D, Kerr brought the O. The Warriors are finally complete, consistent and deadly. Kerr also helps the Warriors not play down to any team, hence the top point-differential. It always seems like in every postgame interview whichever Golden State standout had that win's standout performance says the same thing. The players stay humble, and they stay hungry. Golden State's ascent has surprised many people. But honestly, the cannon had already been lit.
Andrew Morris is a sophomore at Syracuse University. People refer to him in the third person and he has an everlasting love for Orange, Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A's, Golden State Warriors, and Indianapolis Colts. Follow him on Twitter: @Andrewmo123