Don’t Be Too Quick to Label Warriors the Greatest Ever… Yet

Feb 28, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) lies on the court after being fouled against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) lies on the court after being fouled against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

Last season, fans and analysts alike started to ask if the Golden State Warriors were among the leagues best teams ever. However, recent struggles have called that notion into question. With the window to win closing, it is now or never for Golden State to get their potential dynasty back on track.

After going 67-15 in the regular season, the Golden State Warriors won their first title in 40 years after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals. The next season, with virtually the same roster, the Warriors shot out of the gates on fire, winning their first 24 games of the season, an NBA record. They would go on to set way too many records to name, but the crown jewel came in the 82nd and final game of the year as the Warriors capped off their historic 73-9 season, besting the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls who had owned that record prior.

All season long comparisons were naturally made between these two teams, and rightfully so. However, the question continued to be asked: Which team is better? An impossible, yet fun debate.

After the season seemed all but over against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors managed to come back from a 3-1 deficit to advance to their 2nd straight Finals appearance against Cleveland yet again.

Up 3-1 and Larry O’Brien nearly in hand, this was the epitome of Warrior greatness. But as we all know the Warriors fell short, not by a game, but by a minute. It’s funny how 55 seconds of a sporting event catapults you from being the greatest ever, to the punchline of every stuttering Twitter egg you see.

Fast forward less than a month and broken hearts begin to mend as Durant, the greatest scorer since Michael Jordan, decides to take his talents to Oakland. Once again, the Warriors are back on top of the basketball world, and whispers can be heard all over that the greatest team ever had been assembled, some even calling it unfair.

However, if you were to travel back in time a few years to talk to a Golden State Warriors’ fan, and you were to inform them that their team would be 193-38 over the past two and a half seasons, you would likely be laughed at. If you told them the Warriors would go to back-to-back NBA Finals, win one of them, and were going to employ the league’s last three MVP’s on their roster, said person would promptly gather their belongings, call over their wife and children, and start walking briskly in the opposite direction as you might do to someone trying to tell you the world is flat.

Then if you shouted to them that Golden State was currently 39 games above .500 and a third straight Finals appearance was a very likely possibility, this person might just stop in their tracks to confront you about your irrational hopes of a mediocre franchise . Finally you tell them that fans and analysts have began seriously asking if the Warriors are the best team of all-time, and at this point the police have been called to find a doctor who can check your mental state.

All joking aside, if you were to scroll through the depths of Twitter, you would begin to assume that you are in fact crazy, and have been living in an alternate reality where the Golden State Warriors are the best team in the land. Fans, rivals, and analysts alike have all begun to jump off the bandwagon, and have started to believe that the Warriors just aren’t as good as they once were, especially with Kevin Durant sidelined with a knee injury. And they’re right.

The Warriors aren’t as good any more, at least not lately. Prior to Thursday night’s 122-92 drubbing of the Magic, the Warriors were 3-5 in their last 8 games. They had lost back-to-back games not just once, but also had their first three game losing streak in the Steve Kerr era. They have averaged just 100.6 points per game while opponents had averaged 104.3 over that span. They haven’t looked like the Warriors we came to know over the past few seasons and maybe it’s time to wonder if the “best team ever” label came a bit too soon, putting unnecessary pressure on the organization to measure up to expectations.

Now, Golden State winning the title this season, what was almost a foregone conclusion, doesn’t seem to be as much of a sure thing as it did in July. Most rational people would say that Golden State will be fine. Once they get their leading scorer, rebounder, and blocker back, one would think that they will figure things out and win the championship that everyone has expected them to win all season. But it’s not that simple.

What if all this “greatest ever” talk is getting to the Warriors? After losing the Finals in gut-wrenching fashion, this season was supposed to be about proving everyone wrong, and showing the world why they deserve to be in the discussion with the legends that have come before them. But things have not seemed to go as planned, and at times the Warriors have not looked like the super-team everyone thought they would be.

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There having been growing pains. When you add a league MVP and four-time scoring champion to your roster, there are bound to be adjustments. There are going to be bumps in the road. No one expected them to come out and win 74 games. But there seems to be more than just a slight worry about the immediate future of this team. Even when they get Kevin Durant back, there is no guarantee everything will go smoothly, and after being so fortuitous over the past couple seasons, the pressure of righting the ship may be wearing on Stephen Curry & Co.

The window to win in the NBA is very slim, and with teams like the Utah, New Orleans, and Minnesota young and growing, there isn’t a lot of room for error for Golden State. One has to wonder if KD’s injury and subsequent struggles have caused them to scramble to get things together before they dig themselves too deep of a hole, because anything short of a Larry O’Brien trophy would be quite the chagrin.

Next: Warriors Window to Win Already Shrinking

Maybe talk about the Warriors being the greatest team to ever play started a bit too soon. Maybe it’s time for Dub Nation to slow their roll, and not count chickens before they hatch, because as we know, it can come back to haunt you.

Whatever the reason for their current slide, the good news is time is on their side. It’s better to slump in March than in May or June. With about four weeks left in the regular season, that gives Durant enough time to get healthy, and be back in time to knock the rust off for a deep playoff run. Maybe when he gets back, the Warriors will actually start making shots again. But as we’ve learned ever-so harshly, nothing is ever a sure thing.