“Wow” is all I can say about the beyond-impressive start to the Warriors’ season. Not only are they off to a 4-0 start, but they are looking fairly unstoppable. There were some questions raised in the off-season about the decision to release head coach Mark Jackson and bring in former three-point gunner Steve Kerr. I too critiqued the choice, as Jackson was a talented coach and the team was getting better every year. But front office politics sometimes force actions, and we find ourselves wondering how new head coach Kerr will hold up with a team possessing both high potential and high expectations.
The season began with the signing of shooting guard Klay Thompson to a massive four-year deal for a max contract of around $70 million. This is a large investment in the 24-year-old splash brother, considering they had the opportunity to trade for Kevin Love but sided with Thompson instead. A risky move for sure, but boy has it paid off! Thompson has averaged a whopping 29.7 points per game with unbelievable efficiency. In his career-high, 41-point scoring performance against the Lakers, he shot 14-18 from the field, hitting five of seven three-point attempts. With the opportunity to train and play with Team USA over the summer, he has developed his game to be far more than merely a catch-and-shoot sidekick to Steph Curry, demonstrating his athleticism with a recent posterizing dunk on Robin Lopez. With Curry’s team developing around him, he is able to expand his role to be more than just a scorer, demonstrated by posting double-double games in two out of three outings. Curry and Thompson are posting the tenth and twelfth best player efficiency ratings respectively, making a serious case for the splash brothers being the best backcourt in the league.
How much of this success can we attribute to good momentum and how much can we credit to Coach Kerr? The first big move he’s made is to shift 2014 All-Defensive first-team player Andre Iguodala to the role of sixth man. While he is clearly more dynamic and experienced than Draymond Green, Kerr is attempting to model a Gregg Popovich rotation style. Similar to Manu Ginobili coming off the bench for San Antonio, Iggy can provide veteran leadership and run the second team. With more rest, he has fresh legs, and for the 30-year-old forward, the change allows him to continue providing his imperative contributions to the team without grinding him down. In addition to this well-thought-out move, the team is fourth overall in points per game, third in assists per game, and second best in points allowed. This incredible array of stats helped lift the Warriors to an away victory over a talented and up-and-coming Portland team. True, the season just started, but whether you believe it or not, Dub Nation is in prime position to be a powerhouse player in the West.
Eber is a member of the class of 2017.