The Western Conference of the NBA is extremely competitive where all teams at the top have legitimate claims to being the NBA’s best team. The Warriors have the splash brothers and Kevin Durant, the Rockets have James Harden and Chris Paul and have swept the season series with the Warriors, the Spurs are the Spurs and they always seem competitive, Minnesota has superstar in the making Karl-Anthony Towns, and don’t forget Oklahoma City who has a bundle of superstars too. But the Warriors thrashing of the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night shows that this Warriors team still is the NBA’s best.
Yes, the Warriors did not start the same way they have in years past, this year was actually the worst record in the first 60 games that the Warriors have ever had under head coach Steve Kerr, but if you take into account they have not lost more than 20 games since 2014 you’ll see that as a moot point. The Warriors still have perennial MVP candidate Steph Curry who is blasting through his career averages in points and rebounds, Klay Thompson who is the best pure shooter in the NBA right now, Kevin Durant who is the second best player in the NBA behind LeBron James, and Draymond Green is having his best season as a pro and on any other team he has the ability to be a second option. The Warriors still boast a bench that is hands down the best bench in the league, headlined by guys like Nick Young, Andre Iguodala, Omri Casspi, David West, Zaza Pachulia, and Shaun Livingston. All these guys could be starters on any other team. One of the things that sets these guys apart from the rest of the NBA is their ability to simply dominate the third quarter. Regularly, they have an offensive rating of 114.1 (which is incredible in itself), but in the third quarter they boost that up to 120.6. Also regularly, their net rating is 10.6 and in the third quarter it raises to an astonishing 21.6. Not only do the Warriors as a whole go off in the third quarter, but Steph Curry raises his already stunning points per numbers. In all four quarters, his pts per 36 minutes is 29.3, his rebounds per 36 is 5.4, he boasts a 3pt % of 42.1, and has a net rating of 14.6. In the third quarter all of his numbers increase, his pts per go up to 31.3, rebounds per go up to 6.3, and he sees an increase to 51.3 in his 3pt % along with a 29.7 net rating (Numbers from NBA.com). The thing is, the numbers they put up normally are out-of-this world great, but they only get even better in what I think is the most important quarter of the game. Even though they have lost games to other teams in the west, there were circumstances that come with playing an 82 game schedule (travel, fatigue, injury, etc…) that have held the Warriors back which will not be nearly as much as a factory during a 7 game series. They still stand as favorites for the NBA finals, and they are still in a class of their own when it comes to the game of basketball.