All hail the Pacific Division-leading Golden State Warriors.
by Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan
The Golden State Warriors have the brightest backcourt in the NBA.
If you’re wondering it, don’t overthink it, it’s definitely double entendre I’m using right here. This title that I’m using isn’t any form of disrespect or malice, no sir. Being the fair-skinned brother that I am, (depending on where you’re from, you might know this as being “high yella” or “light-skinned”) when I watch Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson ball, they immediately stand out to me.
Maybe it’s because I image that if I were 50 pounds lighter, a few inches taller and some DNA strands tweaked, I could be doing the same things that they do on the basketball court. Yes, this is the pipe dream that I gave up over a decade ago. Now I write instead.
Yet, the duo shined bright on Thursday night. Curry, the other point guard who folks continually question if he’s really a point guard, played like a…wait for it…point guard! (Positional naming conventions are stupid, by the way.) Twenty points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and a few huge shots later, the Warriors overcame a 17-point deficit to bring the game within reach.
Those big shots also came with some big passes, and the beneficiaries were Thompson and David Lee. Thompson has become the lead gunner for the Dubs, and with his confidence growing in every game, the proficient shooter is emerging as a legitimate 20-point threat every night. Curry found Thompson all night, and 21 points and 9 rebounds later, the Warriors were in contention to win the game. As for Lee, he trumped Thompson’s 21 with a 31-point, 9-rebound effort of his own, and his defense was just good enough (for a change) to net a positive for head coach Mark Jackson’s club. The bench played hard, the defense stood tall in the second half, and the Oracle Arena was cracking…of course the Warriors found a way (in a somewhat clumsy fashion) to win the game versus the Denver Nuggets.
The Golden State Warriors are 9-6 on the season. They are tied for the Pacific Division lead with the Los Angeles Clippers and they are two games up on the supposedly powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors are (and will be) without two of their top seven in the rotation for a lengthy period of time in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush. They start two rookies in the lineup with Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli. Stephen Curry’s mom made me a homemade sweet potato pie. OK, I made that last one up.
Are the Ws playing above their head? Probably. Does it matter? Nope. Wins are wins, and the confidence that comes from achieving success with one another can help teams grow leaps and bounds. What matters is that everyone’s learning on the job, from Coach Jackson, to the players, to the assistant coaches, to the owners, to the fans, this team is different that the ones we grew up knowing. They’re becoming their own team.
Some thoughts from the Warriors on the Warriors start this season:
Head Coach Mark Jackson: “People may think I’m crazy but, I love my team. I love my guys, I love their competitive spirit, I love how they show up early for practice, how they hang around the gym, how they show up at night time, without being prompted to. I love how they don’t like losing. I’ve been a part of teams that didn’t mind losing, they talked about it, but it really didn’t sting.
“Every night for us is going to be a battle. I wish I could sit here and tell you that we’re good enough to just cruise. But every night, because of our youth, because of what we have to work with, we’re short-handed. It’s going to be a battle, and that’s alright, because we understand that. If you told me that, we’d miss two of our top players in Bogut and Rush, and that we’d have eight road games already, I don’t know if anybody would’ve thought we’d be where we are. We picked some guys that have the right DNA.”
Jeremy Tyler: “We’re a good team, we fight through adversity. I think versus last year, we’re responding to the coaches and everyone’s on the same page. Our leaders are being real leaders, and since we’re all on the same page, we’re up for following. There’s a mentality change, we don’t want to lose anymore, and we want that winning spirit back.”
Kent Bazemore: “It’s a testament to what folks did over the summer. Guys like Steph and David, came in early, came in every day over the summer. Guys like (Jarrett) Jack got added to the team, and they got in and worked. We believe, and even with the six losses we have, we probably gave away two or three of them. We overcame a 17-point lead tonight and we fought back and won, we’re learning how to do that.”
Festus Ezeli: “I didn’t know what to expect with this season, but once I got the guys around me, all I can think about is building with this team. Our success is a testament to everyone who’s involved, from the owners, to the coaches, to the players, we’ve came in feeling like we have something to prove. We haven’t done anything yet, and by showing we have something to prove its beginning to show on the court.”
I’m not a big fan of going into a locker room after the game, for a variety of reasons, so when I go in I usually make it a point to not go to the stars. Tyler, Bazemore and Ezeli were free and there I went. Two rookies and a second-year player, and yet these guys preached a gospel that I’d expect a veteran to say.
Who knows what lies ahead of this Warriors team, but what’s clear is that this team does have a chip on its shoulder, and its time to show and prove is now.