The Golden State Warriors, at 47-9, currently sit atop the NBA landscape, surveying the carnage from afar. Even though they would need to win 26 straight games going away to match their NBA-best 73-9 record from a year ago, you just get the sense that this team is finally figuring out how best to utilize the world-changing talents of their four best players, all of whom are going to New Orleans this weekend. Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant represent the creme de la creme of the NBA.
Outside of Durant, not a single one of those guys was a “sure thing.” Curry was too small, he was a tweener. He’d never fit into today’s NBA, he’d never survive. Green was a once-pudgy tweener himself. Was he a power forward? Was he a small forward? Little did we know he might very well be the best center in the dang league. Klay Thompson was perhaps better known for being the son of a former #1 draft pick than for being a sharp-shooter. However, he caught Jerry West’s ever-roaming eye, and the rest is history.
With the addition of one of the greatest, most transcendent players of all time in Durant, the Warriors have formed a seemingly unbeatable superteam. Sure, they’ve been derided for skipping the process, but if three of those guys are home grown, and the fourth comes of his own volition with an eye towards playing free-flowing, fun basketball, how can you possibly stand in opposition to such construction?
They seem looser this year. They seem at peace with the journey. Klay and Steph struggling early? Trying to find their place within the new, Durant-infused offense? No worries. Their shots will start falling eventually. Last year, Draymond Green willed the team towards the nightly hustle, the nightly grind towards 73 wins. It was their dream. It was their waking nightmare. And 73 wins happened. It really did. However, so did 3-1.
Durant, having experienced his own 3-1 nightmare at the hands of this very same squad, can sympathize with horrible collapses. He quite literally knows how that feels.
So, as we enter into the NBA’s flagship jamboree of a weekend, it’s relevant and necessary to take a step back and appreciate where the Warriors stand, both internally and also against the backdrop of the NBA as a whole.
The Cavaliers were good, and then they were bad, and then LeBron James said they needed more parts and then they got more parts (specifically Kyle Korver) and somehow amidst all the turmoil and media intrigue — especially intense for a defending championship team, if we are being honest — they still sit atop the Eastern Conference, a full three games ahead of a surging Boston Celtics squad.
The Spurs are the Spurs. At 43-13, they are only four games back from the Western Conference leading Warriors, and yet only have one All-Star in Kawhi Leonard. The Rockets — led by MVP-frontrunner, point guard convert, and beard oil savant James Harden — sit in third in the Western Conference. Mike D’Antoni is back in the league in a big way.
The NBA is making more money than ever before, and the marquee stars are more famous, more wealthy, and more politically, socially, and emotionally active than ever before. Social media has opened the floodgates, and bright, young, talented, motivated stars have seized the opportunity to be able to speak their minds.
NBA All-Star Weekend is a good time to sit back and ponder where we are, not just in the league but also as a society and as a group of people who live and die on a nightly basis with these players and with these teams. To that end, I was recently sent a whole list of various prop bets that you can make in regards to this weekend’s festivities. Some of them make sense, some of them made me laugh. But overall, they represent a very interesting cross-section of NBA culture, and the current goings-on of NBA life. There’s no better way to figure out what’s going on in the world than by following the money, you know? What is Joe Shmoe in Vegas betting on? If it touches a nerve — if you strike emotional oil — someone somewhere is gonna place some money on the outcome. It’s human nature. We can’t help ourselves.
So, here are a few that caught my eye, with stupid comments about how I feel, etc.
[All prop bets via SportsBetting Dime]
Over/under length of longest shot made by Stephen Curry: 34 feet
This makes sense. I mean, I’m taking the over. Because, duh. It’s Curry and it’s a meaningless game where he’s incentivized to do stupendous things. I’d put the over/under at, like, 40 feet or something. Give him a challenge.
Odds all four Warriors are on the court at the same time: 1/2
Steve Kerr will definitely make this happen. You know he’s going to. And he’s gonna smile while he does it. And his blue eyes will twinkle and all of #DubNation will smile alongside him and we’ll have a grand ol’ time but most likely the other people on the team — ahem, Westbrook, cough -- will get surly. Actually. Dude. Kerr. Put Westbrook on the court with all four Warriors. PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN! Oh my, that would be glorious.
Edit: Turns out I’m not the only one who wants to see this happen:
Draymond's mom is rooting for all 4 Warriors and Russell Westbrook to be played together.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 17, 2017
Because aren't we all? pic.twitter.com/RQCjEA9Pct
Odds of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook being on the court at the same time: 1/3
Again, if Kerr plays all four Warriors alongside Westbrook as a sort of “f-you, how do these dang cupcakes taste now, dog?” move, this bet would pay off.
Odds of at least one public anti-Trump protest by any NBA player during an All-Star Weekend competition: 4/1
My bet is on more than just one. Especially if things continue to careen off the rails in Washington like they have been for the past week.
Odds of Charles Barkley apologizing to LeBron James during NBA All-Star Weekend: 9/1
Hahahahahahahahahaha, yeah this isn’t gonna happen.
All-Star Game MVP
Russell Westbrook: 10/3
James Harden: 7/1
Steph Curry: 15/2
LeBron James: 8/1
Anthony Davis: 10/1
Kevin Durant: 12/1
Isaiah Thomas: 14/1
Giannis Antetokounmpo: 16/1
For whatever reason, Westbrook really shines in All-Star games. Winner of the previous two All-Star MVP awards, he’s once again the odds on favorite to three-peat. Listen, I say give it to him if it really matters that much. You know, as long as we get to see that Durant, Thompson, Green, Curry, Westbrook lineup and then they run a bunch of complicated Warriors sets that Westbrook won’t be able to follow and we all chuckle as he gets lost in the motion.
My personal bet for All-Star MVP is actually on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Have you seen him balling lately? Good lord, he’s on fire!
Uggggggggh, that dude. Just ... Just, wow.
Giannis is a young God amongst mere mortals. I think he takes over the game and this is his true national coming-out party for the casual NBA fan.
In addition, I wish there were prop bets like, “which NBA player (or former player) will be the first one filmed drunkenly gambling at the casino by the river?” But, actually, the answer is obviously Charles Barkley, so maybe that’s not the best bet.
Or, what about, “odds that Draymond Green gets a technical for arguing some meaningless call in a meaningless game?” I would bet on this. Do they even give techs in the All-Star game? If it’s even on the table, I’m not ruling it out.
So anyways, once again, shoutout to SportsBetting Dime for sending us these cool prop bets. What do you guys think will happen? What are you most excited to watch? The actual All-Star game? The 3-point contest? The rising stars challenge? The slam dunk contest?
Either way, the Warriors will once again represent the best of the best as the NBA shows off for the world. Time for some street-drinking, delicious-food-eating, music-dancing, walk-walking, and every other glorious thing that will transpire this weekend. New Orleans, here we come.