By TJ Ram
Follow TJ on Twitter @TheRealTJRam
The Warriors’ incredible ascension to the top of the NBA has caused people to wonder what the reason for their success is. Whenever a sports team goes from mediocrity to dominance, the general consensus is that it is due to meteoric rise of a superstar or a single player. While the success of a team’s best player certainly has a lot to do with it, people tend to overlook other pivotal factors.
Stephen Curry’s dominance in this league has most people scratching their heads for two reasons: his appearance and his style of play. He is listed at a generous 6’3’’ and weighs less than 190 lbs. He lacks the major athleticism you that you see in a guy like Russell Westbrook. Curry is the first player we have ever seen dominate purely based on skill. Obviously he’s athletic enough to play in the NBA, but his athleticism will never be an advantage for him unless he’s being guarded by a slow-footed forward or center. The deception he has with his ball handling coupled with the fact that he can pull up from thirty feet make him unstoppable. If you overplay him, he can still beat you off the dribble and finish at the rim. If you give him space, he can knockdown contested shots seven or eight feet behind the three-point line.
People knew Curry was good at Davidson. They knew he was good when he got drafted. After he came back from his ankle injury and broke the record for three-pointers in a single season, people were ready to call him the best shooter they had ever seen and a top 3 point guard in the league. But to become the best player in the world? Not even the biggest of Curry fans saw that coming. And, perhaps not coincidentally, as Curry got better and better, so did the Warriors. Don’t get me wrong, Curry deserves a ton of credit. But he’s not the only reason the Warriors are able to display this level of unprecedented dominance.
The Warriors were a playoff team under Mark Jackson. A team that no one expected to get past the second round. Then Steve Kerr arrived. All of a sudden, Curry explodes and becomes a front runner for MVP, Klay Thompson becomes an all-star, and the Warriors become the best team in the NBA. What happened? A new coach came in and implemented his system. The roster didn’t change. Kerr took talented players and brought the best out of them with a system designed to run in transition and get open three point shots.
On paper, I don’t think anyone would call the Warriors the most talented team in the league. Although they certainly are talented, they don’t have the star power of a Cleveland or an Oklahoma City. But teams like the Warriors, and, just to throw another example into the mix, the Spurs, get it done because of excellent coaching and team basketball. The fundamentals of the game need to be heavily implemented in order for any team to be successful: this includes ball movement, making the extra pass, on and off ball screens to get open shots, and constant off ball movement and cutting. Having a superstar who can create his own shot is great, but not if the other four guys are just standing there watching him isolate on every play. Basketball is a team sport and it takes a team to be great. Obviously, it takes a special set of individuals to make a team great. Fortunately for Warrior fans, their team has just that.
Cover Image: Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic Monday, March 7, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Golden State won 119-113. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)