By Austin Medina
The Golden State Warriors bludgeoned the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday night, winning Game 1 by a final of 112-87. Of course, the Splash Brothers showed up, knocking down 14 shots combined including four 3-pointers. The Warriors success for years has been their usage of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, as the franchise is just three seasons beyond making five consecutive NBA Finals.
While their success has been on centerstage, Golden State transformed throughout their Finals run and were much different in 2019 from their proverbial “Strength in Numbers” squad from 2015. For those who need a refresher, the Warriors rise in 2015 was highlighted by Curry’s unanimous MVP season.
Curry averaged 23.8 points on 48.7% shooting, while dishing out 7.7 assists and shooting 44.3% from 3. Additionally, Thompson averaged 21.7 points per game and shot 44% from distance. While the Splash Brothers certainly arrived, it was the Warriors “strength in numbers” that ultimately led them to winning the NBA Finals.
Golden State possessed several highly talented players working in specific roles. Draymond Green defended the opposing team’s biggest player and has been the team’s defender since being drafted in 2012. Harrison Barnes was a diamond in the rough, as his scoring ability stretched the floor for Curry and Thompson to operate. Golden State signed two high-IQ ballhandlers in Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa, both with the ability to create for others while getting their own bucket. Lastly, we can’t talk about the 2015 squad without bringing up the veteran leadership and pesky defense of Andre Igoudala.
The 2015 squad is eerily similar to this year’s Warriors squad. Of course, Curry and Thompson are the pillars and engine that allows the machine to operate. Golden State has rejuvenated talent unlike no other team in the NBA, with both Andrew Wiggins and Otto Porter Jr. serving as the two main examples.
Wiggins is enjoying his first All-Star season, as the 26-year-old looks as comfortable as he’s ever been in the Association. Wiggins averaged 17.2 points during the regular season, shooting a career-best 39.3% from distance. Porter Jr. is as healthy as he has been since his days in Washington, playing in 63 games for the Warriors and shooting an efficient 37% from three-point range. The former 3rd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Porter Jr. has been rejuvenated into a key role player for the Dubs.
Jordan Poole has emerged as a superstar third option for the Warriors. Poole added six points per game to his season average from a season ago, as the 22-year-old guard enjoyed a career-best 18.5 points per game. In 12 playoff games, Poole is averaging 19.3 points on 51% shooting. His efficiency from the perimeter and ability to get to the basket has unlocked a new dimension in the Warriors offense, a dimension the 2015 squad did not have.
This year’s Warriors team has the most depth of any team during their prolific dynasty that kickstarted in 2015. Along with the names mentioned above, Draymond Green is still the energy fueling the machine and still an elite defender. Young role players such as Kevon Looney, Jonathan Kuminga, and Gary Payton II have rounded out the deepest team remaining in the playoffs.
With Game 2 Friday night, the Warriors will have the talent advantage as well as the depth advantage. Outside of the fits Luka Doncic will give them, Golden State should have no problem representing the West for the 6th time in the past eight seasons.