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Could the Warriors’ starting five *really* beat the All-NBA first team?

Let’s find out.

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors - Game Two Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Yesterday, after the All-NBA teams were announced — and not a single Warriors player was on the first team — the mothership had an interesting thought: Could the All-NBA first team, featuring LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis, beat the 2016-17 Warriors?



Seriously, that is an interesting question.

It’s a testament to how crazy good this Warriors team has been lately that this is even a serious question.

Okay, let’s break it down.

Point Guard

Stephen Curry vs. Russell Westbrook/James Harden

Oklahoma City Thunder v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Right off the bat, things are wonky because, honestly, who is actually going to play point on the All-NBA first team squad? Harden is a natural two guard who thrived running Mike D’Antoni’s high-octane system. Westbrook has traditionally played the point, but this year — unleashed, uncaring, and unhinged — he used his ridiculous physicality to bully his way to a season-long triple double, shattering usage records and brains on a nightly basis.

My guess? Westbrook and Harden can’t quite figure out who is supposed to dominate and initiate the offense, and the “point guard” duties suffer as a consequence.

Advantage: Warriors

Shooting Guard

Klay Thompson vs. Russell Westbrook/James Harden

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

As we’ve already covered, the All-NBA squad wouldn’t have a clearly defined 1-2, and would be playing almost positionless in the backcourt. Either way — as much as I love Klay Thompson — this match would go to the All-NBA squad. No matter who he’s paired against, these dudes both just had all-time great years and are on fire right now (even as they both sit at home, watching the rest of the playoffs unfold from the comforts of their over-sized lazy-boys, adult beverages in hand).

Advantage: All-NBA first team

Small Forward

Kevin Durant vs. Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio Spurs v Golden State Warriors - Game One Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

If Kevin Durant hadn’t injured his knee (see, Zaza Pachulia is clumsy, not malicious) near the end of the season and missed significant time, I think you would have seen him earn a lot more first team votes. Not to take anything away from Kawhi Leonard’s spectacular season, but peak Durant is still very much >>>>>> current day Kawhi. With the combination of offensive skill set, seven foot frame, and new-found defensive intensity, Durant is in a league of his own. The NBA has never really seen a player quite like him, and that’s why — even though none of this matters and I’m literally thinking about a scenario that will never, ever happen — I’m totally giving the advantage here to Durant.

Advantage: Warriors

Power Forward

Draymond Green vs. LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Yeah, yeah, LeBron James is nominally a small forward. But if this (never, ever gonna happen) team took the court against the 2016-17 Warriors, LeBron and Draymond Green would see A LOT of each other. Their mouths would be be doing so much yapping, and they would each utter so many bold proclamations that I bet they’d be able to trace the contours of each other’s dental structure from memory by the time the series was over. (Note: This might already be true after two straight Finals showdowns, with a possible third one looming on the horizon)

LeBron might play like a shooting guard wearing Karl Malone’s body like armor, and Draymond Green might play like Shaquille O’Neal if he’d never had a growth spurt, but the obvious advantage — both in this fictional series and in the actual, real life series to come, this year or the next — goes to LeBron.

Advantage: All-NBA first team


Zaza Pachulia vs. Anthony Davis

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

So, SB Nation’s thought experiment orginally asked the question, “Could the Warriors’ ‘Death Lineup’ beat the All-NBA first team?” Obviously, I’ve gone in a slightly different direction, because if we start messing around with starting lineups, assuming there are better, more death-ier lineups available, then maybe the All-NBA team is sliding Stephen Curry (All-NBA second team) or Kevin Durant (also All-NBA second team) onto their squad instead of Anthony Davis and then this whole experiment is worthless (not that it holds a whooooole lot of weight to begin with, but whatever).

By far the worst/funniest response to the original question:

Ahhhhhhhhhh my dude. Way, way too soon.

Well, without getting any further into that bag of live wasps, let’s just move right along and admit that obviously Anthony Davis wins this matchup.

Advantage: All-NBA first team


Stephen Curry’s brilliant all around play would negate and frustrate the defensively apathetic Harden and Westbrook combination, while Klay Thompson’s defense would disrupt their flow on the other side of the court. I think overall the backcourt is a clear win for the Warriors.

A lot of this would depend, obviously, on what system the All-NBA team would end up running. I mean, do they get Gregg Popovich to coach? Or are they bringing in some NBA dinosaur like Mark Jackson, and end up just running endless iso plays for each player, one at a time?

In the frontcourt, even with Durant, the Warriors would face a very fierce uphill battle for supremacy. LeBron and Durant maaaaaybe cancel each other out, with LeBron obviously having the slight upper hand with his experience and stronger frame. Even though technically they’d be playing out of position, you’d see a whole lot of Draymond Green vs. Leonard, with the league’s two best defensive players going toe to toe. Anthony Davis would destroy Zaza Pachulia, but whatever.

In the end, I’d say this series would go to a Game 7, with the Warriors winning at the buzzer after Andre Iguodala (breaking all the rules) checks himself into the game, sprinting down the court to make a world-ending, miraculous chase down block on a LeBron James layup to seal the deal.

Let’s do this.

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