ESPN


Catch Them
If You Can
STEPHEN CURRY MIGHT BE THE POSTER BOY FOR GOLDEN STATE'S SUCCESS. BUT THE REAL STORY OF THE NBA'S BEST TEAM? THAT GOES 12 DEEP.

PERHAPS IT'S THEIR SILKY JUMPERS, those stellar scoring averages or just that sexy moniker: Splash Brothers. Whatever the reason, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have garnered much credit for the Warriors' season. But there's far more to what's going down in Oakland than just a deadeye backcourt. Through Feb. 8, the Dubs not only had the West's top record at 40-9, they were outscoring opponents by an astonishing 11.2 ppg -- which would be the second-biggest margin since the NBA/ABA merger. So to fully grasp all the ways the Warriors are crushing their foes, let's visit our favorite state: the metric state.
1

It Starts with Stops

When trying to define the Warriors of the past three decades, terms that come to mind are run-and-gun, or defense optional. Amazing, then, that this year's team boasts the NBA's top D, allowing just 97.3 points per 100 possessions. Credit power forward Draymond Green, who is skilled enough to guard all five positions and is one of just four players to average 1.4 bpg and 1.6 spg this year. And center Andrew Bogut, who holds foes to 41.9 percent at the rim, fifth among NBA bigs. His interior prowess allows the Warriors to deploy a cadre of long, quick wings who switch on virtually all screens that don't involve the big Aussie. "The screen-and-roll is the hardest thing to guard," says coach Steve Kerr. "So switching helps us contain penetration." And the stats below show just how effective that strategy has been.
Getty Images
2

THE SHARING IS GLARING, AND IT IS GOOD

The NBA, spurred by San Antonio's success, is undergoing a ball-movement renaissance. And no team today is as pass-happy as the Warriors, who lead the league in assists per game (27.3) and in "hockey assists" (the pass that leads to the assist) per game (8.1), according to SportVU. With Bogut, who averages 2.8 assists, and point-forward Green, who posts 3.6, the team gets dynamic passing from nontraditional, nonperimeter spots. "We've got high-IQ guys," says backup point guard Shaun Livingston."This is the best passing team I've ever been on."
Getty Images
3

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Pelicans coach Monty Williams doesn't hesitate when asked what makes the Warriors so dominant. "They've got two starting lineups," he says. "There's no letdown." Consider: Last year David Lee averaged 18/9, Andre Iguodala was first-team All-D and Livingston started for a Nets team that made the Eastern semis. Add in the stunning emergence of backup big man Marreese Speights, who ranks ninth in the NBA in points per 48 minutes (32.1), and that's a quartet that would start for plenty of other teams. But for now, they're just part of a bench that by itself would project to win 39 games -- good for a No. 7 seed in the East.
Getty Images
4

SIDELINE STABILITY

One of owner Joe Lacob's main gripes about ex-coach Mark Jackson? His unwillingness to hire top assistants. Not a problem with Kerr. He hired Ron Adams, a defensive tactician with 20 years' experience, and Alvin Gentry, a former head coach with 25 years on NBA benches, to run the offense. That's led to more stability, and some necessary stylistic changes, particularly on offense. "There's a lot less isolation," says a Western Conference GM. And Kerr himself has proved to be no slouch in leading the league-best Dubs. "His ability to communicate is really valuable," says Livingston.
Getty Images
5

OH, AND ABOUT THAT BACKCOURT ...

No team in NBA history has featured two players who averaged 20 ppg ... and shot 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3 ... and made 85 percent at the line. That's Golden State's backcourt, and you can only hope to contain it. Typically, the team runs screens between the arc and midcourt for Curry, freeing him to drive to the rim or kick it out to Thompson on the weak side for the open trey. "All we do offensively is spread the floor," Kerr says. Easy game, right? Sure, when you're the NBA's best team.
Getty Images

More Stories