The Golden State Warriors Once Again Look Like They Might Be the Best Team of All-Time
The last two seasons, we at numberFire -- like everyone else -- have spent a lot of time debating where the Golden State Warriors stand as one of the greatest teams of all-time.
In 2014-15, they set the bar exceptionally high by going 67-15 and becoming one of only eight teams in NBA history (at the time) to finish a season with an average margin of victory (MOV) north of 10.0 (10.10). In 2015-16, they were at it again, setting an NBA record for wins by going 73-9 and once again joining the exclusive plus-10 MOV club (10.76).
Then, they added Kevin Durant.
The last two years of Warriors basketball have undoubtedly both belonged in the discussion as potentially the best single-season team of all time. While the consensus answer to the question tends to be the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls that set the previous win-loss record at 72-10, the Warriors were almost there both times.
The 2014-15 championship team was lacking the win-loss record to challenge Michael Jordan's Bulls, while the 2015-16 version fell short of the championship in historic fashion and thus eliminated any chance they had of donning the crown. But once this team that was already historically dominant added a former MVP in his prime in Kevin Durant, the sky became the absolute limit.
The Dubs looked very flawed at the start of this season, however, and discussions of breaking their own 73-win record and once again challenging the '95-96 Bulls were dropped rather quickly.
After a brutal 29-point loss to the San Antonio Spurs on opening night, the Dubs had an even more shocking 20-point defeat at the hands of a Los Angeles Lakers team that went 17-65 the year prior a week later.
It took the Warriors until December 30th (their 31st game) to suffer their second loss in 2015-16, and they had it by November 4th (game six) in 2016-17. Ideas about defensive flaws and an inability to share the basketball among four superstars emerged among pundits and in the media and talk of all-time greatness was put on hold.
Well, a 12-game winning streak later and we're back on track. The Warriors now sit at 16-2 with a win-loss percentage of .889. Want to know what kind of record that would produce if pro-rated over a full 82-game season?
Talks of another record-setting campaign are back on, no matter how conservative you are only a quarter of the way through the season. After all, this Warriors team is now on pace to beat all the previous highs they hit over the last two seasons:
|Margin of Victory||10.10||10.76||12.72|
|Simple Rating System||10.01||10.38||11.40|
They look to be right back in the mix for 73 wins again, while being on pace to set NBA records in average margin of victory and offensive rating. Their defensive rating has slipped ever so slightly in each of the last three seasons (sorry Draymond), but the offensive efficiency reaching record-setting levels has compensated for that, as their net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating) is higher than it's been at any other point in this three-year run.
Simple rating system is a team rating that takes into account average point differential and strength of schedule, denominated in points above/below average, where zero is average. They are currently on pace to place fourth all-time in that category as well, suggesting that this early-season domination can't even really be dismissed because of their easy schedule to date (they're ranked 28th in the NBA in strength of schedule at the moment).
Any way you slice it, the Golden State Warriors are once again making us talk about the best teams of all-time and how they will stack up against them when the season is over, whether we like it or not. The discussion may be getting a little tired after three seasons of the same thing, but if they stay on track to break a bunch of all-time records and ultimately top it off with an NBA championship?
Perhaps it won't even be a debate anymore.