The Golden State Warriors have composed one of the most interesting and talented teams that the National Basketball Association has seen in the last decade. They assembled a squad of highly skilled basketball players with a flamboyant and visually appealing style of play. Golden State regularly appears in the highlight reels on ESPN because of their sharp-shooting point guard, Steph Curry, but they play sound basketball between the lines as a team. They field the best defense in the NBA, move the basketball better than anyone in the league, and make the most three pointers of any team, however the Golden State Warriors will not be champions in 2015. Though they are the best overall collection of talent in the National Basketball Association, Golden State has several fundamental flaws that will ultimately prevent them from winning it all. Their lack of interior scoring, their reliance on the jump shooting, and their lack of experience will prove detrimental to their title hopes.
In the history of professional basketball, no jump shooting team has ever won a championship in the National Basketball Association. Casual fans remember the sharp shooting of Danny Green and Gary Neal when the San Antonio Spurs won a title in 2014, but they forget the interior presence of the ageless, perennial All-Star Tim Duncan. The 1994 and 1995 Houston Rockets were built similarly with Hakeem Olajuwon surrounded by a host of long range scorers. But, both of those teams featured one of the best post players to ever play the game of basketball as the focus of their team’s offense. The Golden State Warriors do not even field one of the better inside scoring options in the NBA today, though they do have exceptional outside shooting. Most teams that win titles shoot the ball well from deep, however the core of their scoring system is based in post play or penetration. Moving the basketball into the paint opens up opportunities behind the three point line conventionally. Basketball teams that can regularly score in the paint put pressure on defenses to change their defensive strategies. Buckets in the paint equate to easy scores that must be stopped through defensive adjustments. That, in turn, opens up easier, uncontested three point shots. Every other championship team has had multiple players that could get to the basket complemented by shooters. Though Golden State is one of the most prolific three point shooting teams in the history of the league led by a man who might be the best pure shooter in league history, the shots that this team relies on are difficult to make.
All championship teams have excellent scoring options that are readily available to be utilized when the game is on the line. Those teams have a proven scorer – and most have multiple scorers - who can get easy baskets when basketball games slow down. And in the playoffs, easy buckets equates to points in the paint. Past champions have had a strong post presence led by dominant big men like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O’Neal or more recently, Tim Duncan. If a true post was not present, then championship teams either had super-athletic, slashing guards like Jordan, Pippen, Wade, or Kobe or they had point guards who could impose their will onto games without scoring like Magic Johnson or Isiah Thomas III. The Warriors have the newly-crowned Most Valuable Player of the NBA who has been proven to be an proficient scorer, but his baskets are not easily made. Any of the aforementioned Hall of Fame players could get their own shots in the paint when their team needed them or they could create a shot for their teammates. Points in the paint represent steady reliable scoring. Championship teams have the ability to get buckets against tough defenses, and interior shots are the types of baskets that great players convert against great defenses. In the playoffs, possessions slow down, and most shots are contested. So, a team’s ability to hit three pointers usually becomes somewhat limited. Scoring opportunities therefore become more scarce, making each possession more important. The Golden State Warriors have no viable scoring threats when the game slows. They do not have a polished big man in the post, an athletic attacking wing, or a slashing, penetrating point guard. When the basketball slows down, the Warriors have an average NBA point guard in size, speed, and quickness, who can not get his own shot, an average NBA wing who is only effective using his jump shot, and a slew of big men who can not score in the post.
The final obstacle to Golden State’s championship hopes is experience. The only player on the Warrior’s squad who has played meaningful playoff games is Leandro Barbosa, and he backed up Steve Nash on Phoenix teams that never advanced past the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors have no players who have started games for a contender. Knowing how and when to make a play is necessary to competing for a ring, and most teams have to play a few tough series before they learn to make the right plays. Jordan, Pippen, and the rest of the Chicago Bulls lost to the Detroit Pistons yearly before they finally advanced past them in the Eastern Conference Finals. Shaquille O’Neal lost his first NBA Finals to Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets before he anchored the Laker’s dynasty of the early 2000′s. This assembly of players in Oakland has only played together one year, and though they won 51 games last year, they lost in in the first round of the playoffs, negating any valuable experience that they might have gained. Golden State needs seasoning to endure the rigors of the postseason.
The Golden State Warriors have had a tremendous season. The have Steph Curry, the reigning MVP, a budding star on the wing in Klay Thompson, and a supporting cast of players that could eventually challenge for a NBA title. However, they lack interior scoring, rely too heavily on perimeter shooting, and lack the experience to persevere under playoff pressure. They are a great team, but the Warriors will not win a championship in 2015.