This Team Would Beat the Golden State Warriors
Or so says nERD.
nERD is numberFire's measure of a player's overall contributions for a season, based on efficiency. Like win shares, it tells us how many games above or below .500 a league-average team would be with that player as one of their starters.
For example, in 2011-12, LeBron James posted an 18.3 nERD rating, meaning if he played alongside four league-average players, nERD would like that team to finish 50-32, or 18 games over .500. By summing nERD for a team's players, we can see how many games above .500 a team would finish in a full 82-game season.
After watching the Warriors do horrible, horrible, horrible things to the Cavs in this year's NBA Finals, I decided to concoct a roster comprised of current NBA players who have a higher combined nERD than the Warriors, and fit under the the league's salary cap. So if the Association's general managers decide they don't like the concept of five-year-long Warriors dynasty, they're welcome to collude and bring this team to life.
The Mighty Dubs
Before we introduce the squad that will take down coach Steve Kerr's crew, let's remind everybody what they'll be up against.
|F/C||James Michael McAdoo||0.3||$980,431|
As expected, the Warriors' starting lineup delivers a large chunk (87.1%) of their team's nERD, and their Big Four of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant account for 79.9% of that themselves. The bench more than did their job this season, led by Andre Iguodala (5.5 nERD) and JaVale McGee (4.6), a duo that put up over 33 points per 36 minutes of play.
But does any of that faze our fantasy team? Nah. Here's why.
The Mightier Challengers
Before the big reveal, a quick note about how we utilized the salary cap: Although the cap was roughly $94.1 million in 2016-17, we decided to use the Warriors' total cap hit of $98.7 million for our cutoff. (It's only fair, right?)
Furthermore, we used each player's price tag for this season, ignoring all coming extensions in 2017-18. With all that in mind, check out the collection of talent this Billy Beane of roundball slapped together.
The squad boasts six All-NBA performers and eight of the top 20 players in our power rankings, and they combined for 266.4 points and 19.4 three-pointers per game on 38.3% from beyond the arc.
So the offensive numbers are in favor of our Moneyballers...but what about the other side of the floor? In the NBA, it's all about matchups.
According to Basketball Reference's play-by-play data, Jimmy Butler and Kawhi Leonard both logged defensive time at multiple positions throughout the season, and could thus comfortably check Curry, Thompson, or Green -- and you know they'd check them quite well, what with both having appeared on multiple All-Defensive Teams. Then there's the length thing: Antetokounmpo sports a 7'3" wingspan, while Davis tops out at a whopping 8'0".
Could Durant bust out of that double team? We'll give that a hard maybe.
As for Gobert, his shot-blocking (2.6 swats per game) and offensive-rebounding (3.9 boards per) skills would give the undersized Warriors fits down low. And if he's forced to the bench against Kerr's small-ball lineups, do-it-all bigs like Anthony Davis and Nikola Jokic will give the Dubs plenty of trouble.
Speaking of the bench, the hulking Jokic, with an assist rate of 28.8% in his second season, brings unique play-making skills from the center position, while position-switching forwards Otto Porter and Jae Crowder could check each if the Dubs Big Four when Butler and Leonard head to the pines.
Shooting guards C.J. McCollum and Gary Harris would be key threats off the ball for the second unit. Between them, the two youthful scorers managed 37.9 points and 4.2 treys a game. Yes, Iguodala, their prime defender off the bench, is a great ball-stopper -- he's made two appearances on the All-Defensive Team -- but there's only so much one man can do.
So for those of you Cavs fans who have been bummed out about the team's performance in the Finals, know that the Golden State Warriors are vulnerable, and with a few slick trades, can be dethroned.