It’s been only 19 weeks since the Golden State Warriors won the 2015 NBA championship, but we’ve already forgotten how good they were.
Over the course of 103 games, the Warriors outscored their opponents by 992 points, a number topped by only three teams in NBA history. They were one of only three teams in the last 38 years to rank in the top two in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Did it help that they didn’t have to play the Clippers or Spurs in the Western Conference playoffs? Sure. Did all four of their postseason opponents have injured point guards? Absolutely.
But there’s no evidence that supports the idea that the Warriors would have lost a series if they faced the best opponents at full strength. Golden State won the brutal Western Conference by an incredible 11 games and was 4.5 points per 100 possessions better than any other team in the league.
The champs have their entire rotation back and their core is younger than that of any other championship team we’ve seen in a while. The top of the West will be tougher than it was last year, but there’s no logical reason to believe that any other team has a better chance of winning the championship than the one that just did it.
Of course, the Warriors were ranked fourth in this space at this time last year. So, let’s just watch these games and see what happens.
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• Mid-summer rankings: Summer moves don’t change East-West discrepancy
• This time last year: Spurs on top in early going, but it’s wide open — The Warriors showed signs of an improved offense in the preseason, Joakim Noahsaid that his knee would be an issue “all season long,” Kevin Durant‘s health was a big question, and Steve Nash’s season ended before it started.
• Hero team of the preseason: Charlotte (7-1) — The preseason champs opened things up offensively, shot more threes, and had one particularly impressive win: a 42-point victory over the full-strength Clippers in Shanghai.
• Zero team of the preseason: Dallas (0-7) — Despite his status as co-plus-minus dud above, Jenkins was an offensive bright spot, averaging 24.9 points per 36 minutes on an effective field goal percentage of 54.5 percent.
• High jumps of the preseason: Boston (+2), Denver (+2), Portland (+2), Washington (+2)
• Free falls of the preseason: L.A. Lakers (-3), Seven teams (-1)