The Golden State Warriors are on top of the NBA standings with a 12-2 record. It is a steaming hot start that caught everyone off guard. Warriors diehards themselves believe that things will pick up once Klay Thompson returns to action. Yet here they are. Stephen Curry is reminding us once again why he’s bar none the best shooter of all time. Steve Kerr, too, is showing us that he did not win titles because his roster was oozing with stars. All he needs is time and decent players.
In the 2014-15 NBA season, Steve Kerr took on his first-ever head coaching job. People know him as a player, specifically Michael Jordan’s teammate who hit a game-winning shot in the 1997 NBA Finals. They knew of him as a sharpshooter, a broadcaster, and an executive. As a coach? Not so much.
And so there were understandable qualms on how he’ll fare in his first season as a coach. The only way to get rid of these concerns is to lower your expectations. Warriors fans did just that. They knew greatness takes time to bloom. But then the 2014-15 Warriors started winning in bunches. Beating thems they shouldn’t defeat on paper, squashing bottomfeeders with ease. They started the season off with a 21-2 start and capped it off with 67-15. Fans knew something special was brewing right in front of their eyes.
Kerr remembers those heady days when they were conquering the NBA world by surprise. From his point of view, there is one striking similarity between this current crop and the group that eventually won the title.
“I think the comparison is appropriate. From an exceeding expectations standpoint, the similarities are there.”
“Didn’t feel like a mirage,” he said. “So this start has not really surprised me, because it just felt like this was gonna be a really good team,” Kerr said, per Sports Illustrated.
In addition to the presence of Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson, similarities start with the low expectations and how the team exceeded them, as Kerr noted. The resemblance stops there.
The 2014-15 Warriors squad was filled with veterans and journeymen like Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston. They had stayed in the NBA long enough to be deemed knowledgeable about the game. But in terms of how this expertise translates into actual wins was still in doubt. Curry and Klay were good. But in the eyes of spectators, they were not regarded as the best shooting duo yet. No one knew about Draymond Green or the term “point forward.”
Meanwhile, the current group consists of very young players like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and James Wiseman. Attached to them is the stigma around young players: they need more time to understand the game better. They also have the modern-day journeymen in Damion Lee and Gary Payton III, who have been in-and-out of NBA teams and the G League. There is also Andrew Wiggins, who, for much of his stint in Minnesota, has been in-and-out, was fending off draft bust status.
The trio of Thompson, Green, and Curry is no longer young. They are heralded as one of the elites. And before this season, when injuries started piling up, they were deemed washed up.
History indeed favors the bold. Amid all the criticisms hurled at them — when they were at the top and when they were down in the ruts — the Warriors organization remained resilient. The Warriors know that sooner or later, these criticisms will come back ringing in their ears. They already know how the story goes. They know that only a title could hush everyone up.