Led by Finals MVP and superstar Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors stood above all else at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. After a short hiatus, the trio of Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were back on top, aided immensely by the production of Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney.
So, having started this season with a 3-7 record, the dominance of that starting five must dissipated right? No, not really. Sure, individually, some are below their best, but collectively, this is still one of, if not the best five-man group in the NBA.
The continued supremacy of the Golden State Warriors’ starting five provides the overarching reason for optimism on their chances of a turnaround.
The Warriors starting five is +24.1 in net rating across 109 minutes together — that’s an extraordinary number given the team’s record overall. Their defensive rating of 105 would be good for a top three defense in the league, while their offensive rating of 129.1 would be nearly 12 points better than the top-ranked Dallas Mavericks.
They have the best net rating in the league of any lineup to play more than 82 minutes together — there are 12 lineups that fit the criteria. Golden State’s starting five is still dominant, and there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Green’s been active offensively — he’s averaging the most points of his career since 2017-18 — yet, the same commanding control of the defense has proven elusive thus far. Thompson’s shooting struggles have been well publicised, with the 32-year-old shooting 36.4% from the floor and 32.9% from three-point range. Even Looney’s rebounding and defense is below the level we saw last season and especially during the playoffs.
The above paragraph may be Curry’s MVP argument in a nutshell — that the starting lineup is still elite despite the below par form of three players individually. The two-time MVP has returned to over 40% shooting from three, is putting up 31 points per game, is dragging in a career-high seven rebounds, and his 6.8 assists are the most in his last eight NBA seasons.
The Warriors bench is clearly the major concern, but that’s something that can be ironed out and improved upon, or aided by a midseason trade. If the aging core were particularly struggling as a collective, then that would be greater cause for concern on the Warriors’ championship hopes. That’s simply not the case, and for now, it provides reason to believe they’ll return to the championship contender most expected prior to the season.