OAKLAND – Last Saturday, on December 12, the Golden State Warriors finally lost their first game of the 2015-16 regular season, in a 95-108 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks. This loss put the previously 24-0 Warriors’ streak to an end. This winning streak, which extended back to last season, stretched over an impressive period of 28 games.
Although this defeat definitely stung, it takes away nothing from the reputation and quality of this team. The Warriors are still 1st in the Western Conference and still a shoo-in to make the playoffs this year. However, this loss also brought the team back to earth, after it had enjoyed a sensational NBA experience. With a loss in their pocket, it is much easier to view the Golden State team as still being mortal.
With new knowledge such as that, it is now easier to make a reserved and realistic judgement as to where this Warriors team will be in 57 more regular season games. Such possible scenarios vary from an 81-1 regular season record to an almost impossible opposing scenario of a 24-58 record. While the former is more likely, although still quite far-fetched, there is a lot of guessing as to what will happen. This guessing can be educated, but is also mainly dependent on several important factors…
Injuries are always a danger for any team, so it is no surprise that the same is true for the Warriors. Part of the reason why Golden State has been so successful up to this point in the season is the fact that its young roster has managed to remain healthy. When a team roster is unlucky enough to be plagued by injuries, it is hard to avoid setbacks.
Many teams have witnessed their stars fall victim to injury in the past couple seasons, such as Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), Wesley Matthews (Detroit Pistons / Dallas Mavericks), etc. The list goes on and on. Some of these injuries proved troublesome for the welfare of the team, while others affected the career of the player being sidelined.
It is therefore understandable why the Warriors should be fearful of such possibilities, especially when the roster is loaded with star players that include Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green. Losing players of such caliber will not only signify the absence of a key part of the team, but it will also likely drag down the team morale. Players always hate having to watch their teammate be unable to play, and it takes time for the team to adjust.
One positive outlook for the Warriors is that, since its roster is stacked with multiple star players, a single injury won’t be as damaging to the team quality as it would be for other NBA teams. Golden State can remain calm by giving itself constant reminders of the impressive ability it has ranging across the entire roster.
Off-the-Court Issues / Team Chemistry:
A big part of a team’s success relies on its ability to mold together and play off of one another. A team that has no chemistry, no matter how good its individual skill may be, cannot be expected to do great things in the NBA. Teammates have to know to work together in order to keep raising the team’s overall level.
Another part of the Warriors success can be attributed to the fact that they bond very well as a team. Nobody on the Golden State roster is selfish or desperate for the spotlight. Day in and day out, this team works together in order to find a way to win.
A possible source of controversy that hasn’t succeeded in upsetting the Warriors is the salary of superstar Stephen Curry. This season Curry is earning $10,629,213 (according to basketballinsiders.com). While this contract is still a significant amount of money, it is nowhere near the amount that the NBA’s MVP, and arguably best player, should be earning. 50 NBA players have higher salaries, including 5 other players on the Warriors.
To this point, Curry has been very wise and unselfish in not fussing over the amount of money he receives. This level-minded approach has helped his team to avoid any locker-room controversy that could possibly upend their season.
However, it isn’t easy for someone to be so calm, especially when playing a sport that is meant to bring out one’s competitive spirit. It’s very easy for athletes to accidentally let a meaningless comment slip out, a meaningless comment that the hungry media will then twist around in order to create controversy. If such unfortunate events were to take place after Curry made a seemingly harmless comment, then the true character of the Golden State Warriors will be tested as they will need to put comments like that behind them.
This is, of course, assuming that Stephen Curry actually lets something slip, which is very unlikely given his calm and unselfish nature. On the other hand, the media is aware of his low salary and are therefore waiting for an opportunity to pounce and expand on that topic.
It is very likely that the Golden State Warriors will be able to surpass the regular season record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who won 72 out of a possible 82 games. The Warriors are currently on pace to break that record. The Golden State roster is just as potent as the Bulls roster, which included Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. But the Warriors have shown that they can beat just about any team in the NBA, including the Pacers and (present-day) Bulls. Therefore, Golden State definitely has the ability to set a new NBA regular season wins record.