Contenders in the East still have improvements to make…
The Golden State Warriors are on an 11-game winning streak which has taken them to the top of the Western Conference. Are they the NBA’s best this year?
With a potent offense led by the ‘Splash Brothers’, the Warriors have been an emerging force in the league in recent years and were led to a solid 51-win season by Mark Jackson last year.
However, following rumblings within the organisation, Jackson was replaced with rookie coach Steve Kerr this past summer, but the multiple championship-winning player has shown no sign of inexperience as he leads the charge.
While Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have continued to impress, it has been Kerr’s ability to get more out of the entire roster which has perhaps been the most surprising part of his development so far.
The likes of Draymond Green, Marreese Speights and Harrison Barnes have evolved their respective games this season and it has led to an all-round solid unit which is complimented well by Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston with each player knowing their role and who are seemingly content to come off the bench if necessary.
Golden State are third in the league with 106.8 points per game, third in rebounding and first in assists which arguably isn’t all that surprising given their offensive talents.
However, averaging just 95.9 points allowed per game, their defense has undoubtedly improved and ultimately that has transformed them into a championship contender as they stand alone at the top of the Western Conference with a 16-2 record.
The level of consistency that they have shown on both ends of the court puts them in a strong position moving forward, but in such a competitive Western Conference they will be tested throughout the year to see if they are worthy of their tag as legitimate contenders.
The Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs are not far behind despite the franchise-tying record of 11 straight wins, and so the Warriors will have to find a way of maintaining their form over the next few months.
Saturday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls will give us an indication of how far they have come, but having already shown an ability to win ugly this season, they have passed several tests.
The aforementioned teams in the West look set to rival them in the post-season, along with the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and potentially the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Meanwhile, the East isn’t nearly as competitive and the Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers are yet to find their optimum level of play thus leading to the Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks emerging as the top three.
Nevertheless, many expect the pair to make it to the top before the regular season concludes but at the time of writing, Kerr and the Warriors certainly look the part as they eye a high seeding in the West at the very least.