What in the hell is going on with the Golden State Warriors?
Somehow, essentially without the likes of Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush, Golden State finds itself atop the NBA’s Pacific Division. In case you’re wondering, that’s the same Pacific Division that houses both the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.
So, I repeat, what in the hell is going on with the Warriors?
It’s a fair question. Even with the addition of Bogut and a healthy Stephen Curry, there was much to doubt about this team. And you know what? There’s still plenty to doubt about this team.
Golden State is not only winning despite the absences of Bogut and Rush, but also despite the poor shooting stylings of one Klay Thompson, who is averaging 15 points per game, but shooting just 37.2 percent from the field. Andris Biedrins also remains as useless as ever while players like Festus Ezeli and Jarrett Jack have played well, but not excellent.
So what gives?
Well, for one, as John Hollinger of ESPN.com notes, the Warriors are fourth in the league in rebounding rate this season:
Yes, that’s the Warriors tied atop the Pacific division standings Tuesday morning. Yes, that’s the Warriors who are 12th in the Power Rankings, going 8-6 despite a difficult early schedule and injuries to Andrew Bogut and Brandon Rush. Yes, that’s the Warriors who are fourth in rebound rate, after finishing 29th or 30th for an astounding six consecutive seasons.
Hollinger also goes onto note that the Warriors are, in fact, legitimate playoff contenders as well. But as impressive as their rebounding rate is, what’s happening with the Dubs goes well beyond their glass-crashing.
Curry and David Lee continue to light it up on both ends of the floor, Carl Landry is looking like a free agency steal and Harrison Barnes is making a case to become a part of the Rookie of the Year conversation.
No, this team isn’t scoring at an exceptionally high rate (they’re dropping 98 points per game for 16th most in the league), and they’re actually allowing more than they’re scoring (relinquishing 98.8 points per game—18th in the Association), but they’re still managing to win. They’ve won five of their last seven, all of which have come against playoff hopefuls and proved that even amidst losing bouts with injury, they’re a force to be reckoned with.
Sure, in a division that boasts the likes of both the Clippers and Lakers, it’s unlikely the Warriors remain at the top, but bear in mind that they’re playing above .500 without arguably their second best player in Bogut. Just imagine what they’ll be like when he returns to the floor.
Which brings us back to the question at hand: Is Golden State a legitimate playoff contender?
Less than 20 games into the season, it would be easy to say no; it would be easy to declare their impressive start a fluke. But this start has come amidst a bevy of trials and tribulations, and 100 percent of their perseverance and subsequent execution cannot be a string of good fortune. Not in the midst of such a heavy dose of bad fortune.
So yeah, the Warriors are a legit playoff contender. They wouldn’t have been able to navigate this extensive path of controversy if they weren’t.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.