INDIANAPOLIS -- The Golden State Warriors, who roll into Indianapolis for a clash with the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night looking for a 23-0 start to the season, are good. Real good. Historically good, in fact. What's behind their dominance? There are many reasons, but here are five good ones:
1. Curry is having the greatest season ever
Yes, it's true. While we don't know if what Stephen Curry is doing can be sustained, if it can be, it's the best we've seen. If the season ended today, Curry would finish with the highest-ever PER, win share average, and points per 100 possessions. Basically, Curry is scoring at a rate higher than anyone ever, and doing so with the greatest efficiency we've ever seen from a scorer (70.7 true shooting percentage). He has individually hit more 3-pointers than four NBA teams have. He has connected on 9-of-13 shots beyond 29 feet. It's happening. A player who just three seasons ago wasn't projected as a future superstar is now playing better than all the greats of basketball history. Not coincidentally, the Warriors are winning a lot.
2. Ball movement beats slumps
The Warriors are shooting a volcanic 43.7 percent from 3 this season, and it's not all just Curry. What has helped them elude slumps so far is their superior ball movement. They make it a goal to get 30 assists in each game; while coming up short with an average of 28.9, they still have managed to lead the league in assists per possession. When the ball moves, it's always finding someone in rhythm, to compensate for someone else's off night. The passing is fueled by the defensive attention Curry brings, combined with the team's advancing understanding of its offense. Coach Steve Kerr said that Year 2 would be when the offense took a leap. It was hard to fathom its improvement then, but here we are.
3. Ezeli rebounds offensively
Traditionally, the Warriors are a poor offensive rebounding team, but backup big man Festus Ezeli cares not for tradition. Golden State was 21st in offensive rebound percentage last season; it has since leapt to fourth. So much of that is Ezeli, whose physique looks like body armor and whose wingspan extends to 7-foot-5¾. He has been called up for more playing time and he's chipping in with 4.3 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes. Every team likes getting offensive boards, but the Warriors are especially deadly with them. They're the rare time when a defense is completely scrambled and likely not guarding Curry beyond the arc.
4. Forgotten Thompson has missed only one game
Klay Thompson isn't having the best season, but his presence alone matters greatly. This was noticeable when the Warriors almost dropped a home game to the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Thompson sat with a stiff back, and Golden State's offense that night was similarly constrained. Thompson's shadow impact will show up to the arena even on his off nights. Defenders take themselves out of the play to stick with him and it's easier to score when the setup is 4-on-4. Thompson remains a huge reason for why this winning streak is continuing.
5. Green is an All-Star
Draymond Green's stats represent a caricature of well-roundedness: 13.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 blocks, 38.8 percent from 3-point range. He has always been an ace defensive player, but now he's progressing quickly on the offensive end. Last season saw the advent of "Drailbreak" possessions, instances where Green grabbed a rebound and pushed it himself in transition. He has expanded on that, while directing more offense when Curry gets double-teamed. He does everything on the court, save generating contested isolation jumpers. In this era, that's more than OK.