It's interesting to me that most of the major sports media analysts are predicting the 2010-11 version of the Warriors to have a win total shy of 40 games. In some cases, well shy of that mark. I think it's pretty clear, if we go by the numbers, that this team is better than the We Believe team that beat Dallas in '07 or that just missed the playoffs in '08. Let's compare position by position, and see what shakes out. I'm going to use two "one number" metrics, WP48 (wins produced per 48 minutes), and WS48 (win shares per 48 minutes). The comps will be between the '08 squad that won 48 games, and the current squad (using the numbers from last season). Here we go:
Baron comes out slightly ahead here, especially in win shares. But I don't think anyone (even Hollinger) would doubt that Curry should improve his sophomore year. Advantage: Let's call this one a push.
Monta Ellis 2008 (0.183 WP48, 0.140 WS48) vs. Monta Ellis 2010 (0.034 WP48, 0.023 WS48)
Monta vs. Monta. Let's hope Monta 2008 returns. Advantage: Monta Ellis 2008.
Wow. Cap'n Jack really doesn't fair well here. Advantage: Dorell Wright.
Besides showing that for some players there is a huge discrepancy between WP48 and WS48 (but that's not the real subject of our discussion here), it's clear that David Lee comes out on top, by any metric, really. Advantage: David Lee.
Andris Biedrins 2008 (0.308 WP48, 0.185 WS48) vs. Andris Biedrins 2010 (0.206 WP48, 0.101 WS48)
Andris had a "bad" year last year. Again, like Ellis, let's hope he bounces back. Even if he doesn't improve, though, in terms of statistics, as long as he doesn't get hurt, he helps the team win. Advantage: Biedrins 2008.
Barnes (0.139 WP48, 0.077 WS48), Pietrus (0.080 WP48, 0.104 WS48), Azubuike (0.105 WP48, 0.094 WS48)
Williams (0.147 WP48, 0.104 WS48), Amundson (0.190 WP48, 0.118 WS48), B. Wright (N/A)
This is a tough call. The '08 bench was probably deeper, but clearly smaller. Going forward, I think having a bigger bench is probably more important than having a deeper one, if that makes sense. (I will say that it's pretty clear the 2008 bench is one of the main reasons that team was very good. It had to make up for the lack of production from Harrington and SJ). Advantage: Lean 2010 Bench.
Hopefully, by looking at these comps, you can understand why I would be puzzled that the win projections by most of the so-called NBA "experts" are so low. The 2008 squad won 48 games and barely missed the playoffs, yet the only two positions where that team had a clear edge are filled in 2010 by the same players, Ellis and Biedrins. We have significantly improved at SF and PF, and if Curry stays on an upward trajectory, the 2010 squad will be better at PG than the We Believe team of '08.
So, next time someone calls you crazy for predicting 45-50 wins, just tell them you'd be crazy not to. Tell them I told you so.