Steph Curry has said that this year’s Warriors team – which improved to 19-0 after beating the Jazz in Utah on Monday – is better than last year’s team that won the NBA title.
“I definitely agree,” Yahoo! Sports columnist Marc Spears said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “They’re better, one, because of the experience they have. At this time last year, they didn’t know if they could win a championship. They weren’t even talking championship. They hadn’t been through the battles (that this) team has been through after last season. Now their confidence is just on a higher (level).”
Especially Curry, who is averaging a league-high 31.6 points per game.
“The biggest difference between Steph this season and last season is confidence,” Spears said. “I believe he’s worked on his game too, but I think all the hating they endured – all the lack of respect – fueled them. To me, it started when James Harden got the MVP from the players. Then it was what Doc Rivers said and what James Harden said and what Kyrie Irving said and the GMs not voting them to win it. All those things, to me, fueled them. I talked to Steph, and he told me that the thing that bothered him the most was Doc Rivers saying they were lucky. So now when they’re playing, they don’t look like the hunted champs; they look like a mad king defending his throne by any means necessary.”
The Warriors lead the league in margin of victory (15.3 points per game). Only one other team, San Antonio (9.0), has a margin of victory greater than 6.5.
Even more impressive? The Warriors are doing all of this without Steve Kerr on the sideline. Kerr, of course, is still recovering from offseason back surgery.
“Well, I think Steve is kind of a Wizard of Oz; he’s behind the scenes kind of pulling the puppet strings,” Spears said. “But he’s not on the road with the team. He’s not been on the bench. There’s only so much he can do. It’s not like football where they’re wearing helmets and the guy from the suite can give you a tip on what’s going on. So you got to give Luke a lot of credit and i think it’s imperative and necessary that the NBA give him those wins. With all due respect to Steve, Steve didn’t coach those games and Luke deserves to get those wins. I think it’s going to be the second Warriors coach in a row that ends up getting a new job next summer. He’s gone. He’s as good as gone. He’s going to get something else.”
As for the team, the Warriors have easily the deepest, most balanced team in basketball, with 11 players averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
“The one thing that has been strong for the Warriors is their depth,” Spears said. “It allows them to take a guy like Harrison Barnes and not rush him back (from an ankle injury). I wouldn’t be surprised if Harrison stays out longer than he even needs to because he can. For Brandon Rush, it’s much-needed confidence and minutes. Brandon Rush used to be starter in the NBA. If he can play well here, it makes a great team even better. This team is so deep you got a guy like Jason Thompson, who was a starter for the Kings last season, and now he can’t even get on the court.”
The Warriors will go for 20-0 Wednesday in Charlotte (10-7). Tip-off is at 7 p.m. ET.