The Golden State Warriors, the first team in history to feature four current All-NBA stars, are off to a 9-2 start, and could flirt with the greatest offensive season in NBA history, yet they somehow seem to be flying under the radar.
It’s not that the star-studded Warriors have avoided the spotlight, but compared to a year ago – when, as defending champs, they exploded out of the gates with 20 straight wins en route to a 73-9 season – it actually feels like things have died down a bit.
Perhaps it’s that the Warriors haven’t been historically dominant enough, or amusingly dysfunctional enough to truly pique curiosity the way Miami did at the height of the “Heatles” era, the way The Big Three Era Celtics did nine years ago, or even the way Golden State, itself, did last season.
In any event, the rest of the league should cherish this moment, because it’s likely only a matter of time before this once in a lifetime collection of talent – which has reeled off five straight wins – begins to operate like a well-oiled machine.
Here’s how the new-look Warriors feel about their first month together.
How this season compares to the circus of last year
Steve Kerr: I think it’s a little more muted. Last year was different. We were picking up where we left off. We had a champion’s confidence, we had everybody back. We were playing loose and free and everything started out so well.
Klay Thompson: Through the first 20 games, it was crazier last year, because of that streak we were on. The media attention was on us a lot, which was awesome, because a lot of our players had never experienced that.
Shaun Livingston: It’s similar, but last year might have been even more, because of what we were doing with the streak. It was like a train that was gaining momentum everywhere we went. This year was to be expected. Last year wasn’t as much to be expected.
Anderson Varejao: People were waiting for us in hotel lobbies and outside of hotels (last year). There was so many people, they had to bring extra security for the players.
Do you think that was because of the fascination with 73 wins?
Varejao: I wouldn’t even say it was about chasing 73. What Steph (Curry) was doing (last year) was crazy for everyone. No one had ever seen anything like that. Even other players in the league – LeBron, Dirk, everyone – was texting like ‘c’mon, Steph, what are you doing?’ Especially after that game in OKC when he hit that game-winner from center court. If the players were reacting like that, imagine what it was like for people outside the league.
How the reception on the road has changed since adding Kevin Durant
Andre Iguodala: It’s crazy how people want to label us like villains, or the team that everybody hates, but people show us love everywhere we go. They try to boo KD, but there are more cheers, so you can’t hear ’em.
Thompson: Durant gets a lot of boos, but that was coming. I mean, I’d be salty too if he was a free agent and didn’t come to my organization. But man, he doesn’t let it ever get to him. It’s kind of funny, actually. It makes it more competitive and makes the fans more engaged.
Varejao: When we go on the road, it’s more half and half now. Before it was more love. It’s normal. It was his decision. To me, he made the right one. It’s his career. He’s the only one who knows what’s best for him.
The challenges of adding a dominant offensive player like KD
Kerr: When you throw in a superstar, it’s a lot different than adding a role player to the mix. It really changed the dynamic quite a bit, and I think our guys are still getting used to that. It’s been pretty smooth. Everybody loves playing with KD. He’s a playmaker. He’s a passer. It’s more ironing out the wrinkles, trying to find the right rotations, the right combinations.
Thompson: Getting him to know the sets like second nature. Other than that, he’s been great for us. If you look at his efficiency, it’s been unbelievable. And he’ll continue to be great for us.
Livingston: He’s still able to get his touches. I think he’s figuring out where he’s going to get his points. With Steph out there, he may not have the ball as much. Without Steph, he may have it a little bit more. It takes time, and that’s what we’re using the regular season for.
Early season chemistry not all Superteams have enjoyed
Kerr: These guys wanted to be together. The only reason KD is here is because all of our other stars were in The Hamptons recruiting him in July. They wanted this. They asked for this, and they’ve been incredibly receptive to my coaching and each other’s suggestions. That’s why you’re seeing it work pretty well in the early going, even though we’re not where we’re going to be.
Iguodala: The thing I like about (Durant) is he wants to really fit in. He’s a really unselfish player. He can shoot more, actually. There’s only like two or three players in the league that can shoot anytime and it’s a good shot. He’s one of those guys. I don’t even know if there’s three guys, but he’s one of them, and he’s still looking to make plays and share the wealth. He wants everyone to eat. It’s that much easier when you’re playing with a guy like that.
Thompson: It’s still building. Obviously, as far as getting along, it’s not a problem, but as far as knowing each other’s games on the court, it’s still growing, which is to be expected. It’s only mid-November. We want to peak in the latter months of the season, like May and June, and I think we’re ascending in that direction.
Author: Joseph Casciaro