The most coveted weapon in the NBA is a player that can score at will and still look get their teammates involved.
Teams that dominate have multiple guys like this. For example, last year’s Cavaliers had LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and the current Rockets have James Harden and Chris Paul. If one goes down with injury, the team can still tread water as long as they have another scoring-playmaker anchoring the squad.
Deadly Duo in Oakland
The reason the Golden State Warriors are vying to be the greatest offensive team in NBA history is because Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are historically elite scoring-playmakers. They are both former MVP’s and scoring champions with the uncanny vision to slice up defenses with beautiful passing.
Curry limped throughout the majority of the 2016 playoffs, and ankle injuries have plagued him his whole career. One of the lessons the Warriors learned in their shocking NBA Finals loss to the Cavaliers in 2016, was that they needed another player who could ACTUALLY DRIBBLE AND MAKE A PLAY. When Harrison Barnes sought a max-level deal after his Finals collapse, the door for Durant’s entrance swung so far open it shattered the hinges. Curry and Durant’s combined powers evaporated any hope of Lebron and Kyrie getting a title together ever again.
Curry + Durant = global basketball annihilation.
But what about when one of them gets hurt and it becomes, “Curry - Durant”, or “Durant - Curry”? It still equals wins, baby.
In case of emergency, always have a second MVP ready
Curry has missed seven games this season due to injury. The Warriors are 6-1 in those games. Durant has missed five games this season. The Dubs went 4-1 in that period. The one loss we see in both of those records is from the Sacramento Kings game in which they both didn’t play. So, basically, when we only have one MVP playing, we’re still undefeated.
Durant is averaging 32 points per game, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 50% shooting from the field, 36% shooting from the arc, and 2.5 blocks in the games Curry missed.
When Durant is out, Curry is averaging 30 points per game, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, while shooting an eyelash under 50% from the field, 37% from downtown.
Side note: Draymond Green has missed five games this season, the champs are 5-0 in that span. Klay Thompson has been the only Warriors’ All-Star from last season who hasn’t missed a game (probably because he’s an android). That’s 15 missed games by three All-Stars in their prime, with only one loss to show for it.
All stats from ESPN.com
The Grizzlies aren’t surviving injury woes
Surviving the NBA regular season is no joke, and any team with championship aspirations needs to have multiple BALLERS in case of emergency. Of course, it’s not just talent: coaching, quality depth, and roster continuity are big parts of winning despite players missing games.
The Memphis Grizzlies cut loose their continuity when they shipped off franchise cornerstones Zach Randolph and Tony Allen. They looked to reshape their slow, plodding roster on the fly around their two scoring-playmakers, point guard Mike Conley and center Marc Gasol. Memphis started the season 5-1, even getting a victory over the Dubs.
Then the wheels came off, compounded by Conley going down with a heel injury. Conley’s only played 12 games this season, and the Grizz were 7-5 in those games. Since he’s been out, the Grizz are 2-15. Gasol has not picked up the slack, and is even heavily rumored to have been the main reason their head coach was shockingly fired.
MARC GASOL POST-UP PROBLEMS (thx to @SynergySST):— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) December 16, 2017
The left image is Gasol's post-up derived offense before Fizdale's firing.
The right is Gasol's post-up after Fizdale.
Overall, Marc shot 44% from post-ups pre-Fiz firing, and is shooting 29% post-Fiz firing. pic.twitter.com/dQcmL3CgXE
Judging from that graphic, Gasol is no MVP.
Survival of the Splashiest
The Warriors have been dealing with frustrating injuries to their stars all season, and yet are right in the hunt for the best record in the NBA as we reach the holiday season.
It sure is nice to be able to have an MVP activate the “BEAST MODE” button anytime the other MVP can’t suit up. #LightYears #GodsTeam #StrengthInNumbers