It's probably safe to assume that even people who expected the Golden State Warriors to win the Western Conference never imagined a historic season of quite this magnitude — by virtue of being unprecedented in franchise history, it's by its very nature unpredictable.
So color me surprised about the Warriors' season — even if I might have had some inkling that the team could break the 60-win threshold, there's no way I thought they'd blow away the field in quite the way they have or inspire comparisons to the 72-win Chicago Bulls at any point in the season. It has been an amazing ride thus far and I'm still wrestling with the idea that I can actually expect the GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS — my Golden State Warriors — to somehow make a deep playoff run.
Anyway, putting my personal surprise aside, I've often wondered how the surprise of the Warriors' dominance compares with the surprise of the Atlanta Hawks' success. Today the NBA.com Blogtable chimed in on that very subject asking, "2015's biggest surprise?"
Naturally, the Hawks were the most popular choice but there were some points made about the Warriors that I can get behind.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The biggest surprise is the dominance of the Hawks and Warriors in their respective conferences. I had Atlanta eighth among East teams in my preseason Power Rankings and only two GMs picked them to win the Southeast Division. They were, by far, the East's best team until it was time to ease off the gas pedal, beating a lot of Western Conference contenders along the way. The Warriors were projected higher than the Hawks, but I don't think anybody saw them registering the best point differential since Steve Kerr was playing for the Bulls.
(Side note: Schuhmann's point about the point differential thing figures prominently into my argument for Stephen Curry as 2015 NBA MVP, which I've generally avoided because these discussions always get messy and become a matter of semantics at some point. Without digging too deeply into a discussion of what constitutes "value", I don't think there's any denying that Curry has played a significant role in catapulting a team that looked really good on paper to historically great on the court. Does he have talented teammates? Sure. But there have been a lot of talented teams in league and not many have established a +10 or above point differential. Curry is doing something really special and the arguments against him as MVP seem to be poorly structured academic arguments. In other news, he's a point guard, for those still wondering.)
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The biggest surprise is easy: John Stockton, fresh off releasing a book, starring in insurance commercials, in costume and everything. Who is this guy? The Knicks will come back to make the playoffs on the last night of the regular season, then win the championship, and it still won't top Stockton, who worked hard to avoid the spotlight as a player, as the king of all media. (If you're going to insist on a surprise on the court, it's anyone blowing away the field in the Western Conference standings. This was supposed to be a tight race, right? The Warriors have turned it into a non-race.)
I mean, it's really hard to beat Curry, John Stockton, and Sue Bird appearing in insurance commercials together as the biggest surprise of the season...but what would you say is the biggest surprise of the 2015 NBA season?
The poll below includes the full range of responses from that roundtable.