The Warriors are really good.
That is the one-sentence summary of last night’s game at Target Center. I wasn’t necessarily expecting a Timberwolves win, but if you told me that Andrew Bogut would foul out in 16 minutes, and that Steph Curry would tweak his ankle and score just 5 points, I would’ve liked their chances. But the Warriors — for one night, anyway — proved that they’re much more than the Steph Curry Show. Despite the lackluster performances turned in by Bogut and Curry, the Dubs rolled to a 106-93 victory at Target Center that was mostly not in doubt through the fourth quarter.
Klay Thompson had 30 points on 11-21 shooting. Through 5 games, Thompson is averaging 24.0 points per game. He has the prettiest (oh, and maybe also the “best”) jumpshot in the league, and also plays defense. If Thompson isn’t already a star, he will be soon.
Andre Iguodala has long been recognized as one of the league’s most under-appreciated stars. (Wait, is that an oxymoron?) As a small forward, he does two things that make him a great fit on a team that has Steph Curry: He can play point forward, allowing Curry to avoid the wear and tear of constant ball-handling duties; and he can play lock-down defense on any type of perimeter player, including point guards. Iggy scored an efficient 20 points to go along with 6 assists in last night’s win.
David Lee’s reputation took a big hit after Kirk Goldsberry’s research for Grantland showed him to be a terrible interior defender. This Eureka moment seemed to make some forget all about Lee’s two All-Star appearances and established rep for 20 & 10s, and focus instead on his shaky defense. Things only got worse (for Lee) when he went out with an injury in last year’s playoffs and a small-ball lineup with Harrison Barnes reached the second round. The Warriors gave the almost-champion Spurs a legitimate scare and Lee’s added value was called further into question.
Well, if the first five games are a reliable predictor for the rest of the season, Lee will silence his critics. He continues to be productive with nightly averages of 20.2 points (on 57.1 percent shooting) and 9.4 rebounds, but with the added, advanced-stats boost of a team-best net rating of 28.7. (The Warriors are 28.7 points better than opponents, per 100 possessions, when Lee is on the floor.) Lee outplayed Kevin Love in last night’s game, scoring an efficient 22 points and pulling down 15 boards in a +11 effort.
Last but not least, Harrison Barnes returned to the Dubs lineup last night after missing the first four games with a toe/foot injury. Seeing Barnes in person last night — and maybe this was partially due to the weak opposition he faced — he looked out of place as a reserve. He has the look of a high-impact player. He’s big, quick, agile and skilled. Barnes can play off or on the ball, he can post up or square up, and he defends. He’s a super-sub, which is such a luxury in this NBA of 30 teams with improving methods of talent evaluation and tighter, tax-imposed budgets.
The Warriors are extremely well coached by Mark Jackson and will factor heavily into the championship conversation as the season rolls on. While some teams have (slightly) better top-end talent, I can’t think of a single one that has so many “very good” players. The “live by the jumper, die by the jumper” adage is pushed to the limits when the shooters are Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. The odds of both being on fire are so much greater than the odds that either one will shoot his team out of a game. Thompson, Iggy, Barnes and Bogut will make sure the Dubs defend. I hate to even include this caveat, because it really applies to every team, but ***ASSUMING THEY ARE HEALTHY*** the 2013-14 Warriors might just win a title.
Season Record: 3-2