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Here are five reasons why the 2017 Golden State Warriors would win in a fantasy matchup against the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Media has had some really interesting takes in recent years. This time, the take involves a hypothetical matchup between two great teams, the 2001 Lakers and 2017 Warriors
NBA World debates 2001 Lakers vs 2017 Warriors; Here's five reasons why the Warriors would win

Here are 5 reasons why the Warriors would overcome the Lakers in a head-to-head matchup

There were a lot of great teams in the past, so it's fun to mix and match them and debate whether one would beat another. When having those discussions, two teams immediately jump out of the gate. The 2001 Los Angeles Lakers featured the dynamic duo of Shaq and Kobe, while the 2017 Golden State Warriors featured the mighty big four of Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green. Both teams won the championships in their respective seasons, going 15-1, and in an interview with Complex, Warriors star Stephen Curry had this to say about the matchup between these two legendary squads:

"I don't know who would guard Shaq but I don't know who would guard me and Klay either. We rockin' with that. And three is better than two." Curry stated.

And, of course, as interviews go, there will always be rebuttals. NBA Great and Laker Legend Shaquille O'Neal don't exactly think the Warriors would pull this off:

"I say we can win that because who's gonna guard me and Kobe, right? — They're gonna have to double me, if they don't double me I'm going for 60 without the free throws." O'Neal said.

Five Reasons why Golden State would win

There's no doubt Shaq would be a tough matchup in this series as Big Diesel would dominate the paint in the same manner he did in his prime. And then there's that kid, Kobe Bryant. With his natural clutch gene, Kobe would be a tough matchup, as proven in their championship run.

With these two being a dominant duo, matched against the might of four all-stars with terrific depth, there is no question it will be close, but the Warriors definitely pull it off. Here are 5 reasons why the Warriors would overcome the Lakers in a head-to-head matchup.

1. Kevin Durant

KD, basically a seven-foot offensive juggernaut, is enough to be a reason why this would be a mismatch. Durant, in that season, tallied 25-8-5 and looked absolutely more lethal in the playoffs, where he averaged 29.

Who exactly guards him on the Lakers? Rick Fox? It's fair to assume Fox won't be enough to get Durant off his game, as many have tried that season. Other players may take a shot at guarding Durant, and Kobe might even get terrific stops, but remember that there are two other offensive maniacs on the Warriors team.

2. Splash Brothers

These guys have caused more than enough headaches for teams in the last few years. In that season, Curry tallied just around 25-5-7, while Thompson averaged 22-4-2. The Splash Brothers would do just enough to make Laker guards scratch their heads.

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Guards like Fisher, Lue, and Kobe would need to go above and beyond to contain the Splash Brothers and think about the unicorn on the wing in Durant. Now we've seen one or both go cold in games, but there's still a higher percentage of Steph and Klay both going on fire than them being cold. And trust me when I say, Klay on fire is a no-no.

3. Depth and Dependability

The thing about this Warriors team is it's not just the Starters who could do a lot of damage; it's also their role players. A bench consisting of mid-range master Shaun Livingston, a defensive stalwart in Andre Iguodala, and tough veterans like Matt Barnes, JaVale McGee, and David West. This squad would give the Warriors enough helping hand to fare against the Lakers' second unit consisting of Harper, Lue, and Horry, to name a few.

In terms of dependability, we've seen time and time again how the Warriors' bench proved to be the key to winning games. Their cohesive defense and offensive contributions mend well with the likes of their all-stars.

Dependable is probably Draymond's middle name too. Though not imposing as much of a threat of scorer, he'll be a key in unlocking the Warriors' deadliest of offense — and defense. He'll probably get some stops on Shaq, not enough to get Shaq below 30 Points, but he'll do enough in certain situations to hold his own and make a difference.

4. Firepower

The offense is just too much to handle. In the modern-day NBA, the Warriors fared up against the old school LA team, even imposed with the illegal defense rule; The Warriors are still tough to stop on offense. Instead, the Lakers should run around circles trying to stop the three-ball from one of the best shooting teams.

Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant might have a great day on the court with their shots, but at times they'll probably be a little slowed down by the hungry two-way Kobe Bryant and certain bodies the Lakers would throw around to stop them.

The Warriors just looked too hard to stop in that season even before the fourth quarter came. Their offensive arsenal is just over what the Lakers could handle. Even if Bryant and O'Neal have their usual jaw-dropping performances, the depth and "strength in numbers" alone would be too hard to contain.

5. The Limits of Diesel

Shaq is going to dominate, and that goes without saying. Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, and Kevon Looney wouldn't pose any threat in the paint for the legendary center. Maybe Draymond gets a few stops, but he will get his numbers.

With the limits in mind, I do think O'Neal would struggle in the perimeter-focused offense of the Warriors as the offensive trio would probably track down Shaq for a mismatch. We've seen it repeatedly with Curry as he makes big guys dance outside on the perimeter.

Just a hypothesis, but this type of offense would likely tire out O'Neal, and in the last few years of Golden State's playoff runs, Hack-A-Shaq was sometimes a part of that, and so far, they've gone to the finals while getting a championship out of it.

Now, these are all purely opinions on how these teams would've fared against each other. That 2001 Lakers team was great, no question about it, but matched up against a superteam of this caliber like the 2017 Warriors, which is arguably the best team ever assembled, they'd hold their ground, sure, but they won't come up with a dub.

What do you think? Who would win in a seven-game series in this fantasy matchup?


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