Late in the second quarter, James Michael McAdoo drove to the rim and drew a foul. In doing so, he tripped over his own feet on contact and almost crashed into Kevon Looney standing a couple feet to the side and under the basket. Together they gathered themselves, all limbs, length, and versatility. The possession before, they both slid into help, McAdoo drawing a charge and Looney the play before cutting off baseline and contesting a jump shot in two elongated but inhuman steps. The Golden State Warriors developmental system felt encapsulated in that sequence and in the duality of skills possessed by both forwards slash guards slash centers.
Of course, the pinnacle of that achievement goes to Draymond Green. Now the quintessential do-it-all forward that doubles as the outlet passer, finisher, shooter, and rim protector, they don't make basketball players, or player, like Green in the entire world. The Warriors struck gold on him and have chose to emulate that type of skillset ever since.
Klay Thompson is known as the sharpshooter but is also versatile enough to take on point guards, especially Chris Paul and Tony Parker, while covering small forwards. Harrison Barnes took on Zach Randolph and gave up nary an inch. Those are the homegrown wings. The front office then identified that success and traded for Andre Iguodala, already known as the Swiss Army defensive knife and inserted him into a role that maximized his abilities to blanket every and all wings including, yes, LeBron James. Shaun Livingston was brought in over seemingly higher level scorers like Rodney Stuckey and Isaiah Thomas because he could guard the same players Thompson could off the bench, not giving up the defensive flexibility.
Now the new wave is coming.
Looney pulled off a Kevin Durant move that almost gave me a concussion with how hard my head hit the bedpost. He stopped on a dime going right, put it between his legs, then rose up for a sunk jumper. It wasn't as smooth and he isn't going to do it consistently, but man, that's some kind of visual.
Then there's McAdoo on the other side of the floor switching off onto guards and blocking shots at the rim. And perhaps his best attribute? Rim-running from one half to the other in a constant motion and slamming down put-back dunks when opposing big men are exhausted.
We all knew this already. I wrote extensively on the subject at hand as well. At the same time, it's more than just the versatility of skillsets the Warriors want to build their team around. When you are equip with the greatest shooter and ballhandler combo player of all time, you can construct almost any offense around him and it will at least scratch the league's best. Look at Mark Jackson's caveman offense creeping towards the top-10.
What the Warriors have really tried to do is eschew a fawning over athleticism, instead focusing on how each basketball player can play basketball. It's a simple concept but an important and unique one nonetheless. They don't care that Iguodala and Livingston are out of their primes in terms of jumping out the building. Thompson and Green won't be mistaken for Andrew Wiggins and Zach Lavine. Barnes can throw down some acrobatic dunks but nothing NBA-special.
Instead, they've honed in on Iguodala's passing, Livingston's ball-handling/vision, Thompson's shooting, Green's IQ, and Barnes' strength and unselfishness. Together, they've acquiesced enough talent and intelligence to overmatch the athleticism we thought necessary to compete.
As we look in the offseason, the present has never seemed so bright, the future never more familiar, and everything coming together as crystal clear as the images of the Golden State Warriors themselves on the Larry O'Brien trophy.