It seems pretty clear that the current Golden State Warriors are a modern-day reincarnation of the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. Both teams won their games with defense, but made their mark with offense. The 2016-17 Warriors had a 116.02 Offensive Rating, followed only by the Los Angeles Lakers of 1986-87, with 115.6. These teams are flamethrowers. From 1981 to 1986, the Lakers never scored less than 9,400 points in a season. The Warriors have pulled off the same feat over the last two years.
Yes, yes, the game has changed. The three-point line has spaced the game and Steph Curry has radicalized what you can do with that space. But both of these teams energized the entire league and made everyone cower with awe and appreciation. Legends were made.
The question is not if the Warriors are as good as the Lakers. The only question is whether the Warriors can duplicate the Lakers' success, winning four championships and cementing their status in the pantheon of sports dynasties. Let's consider if the Warriors will also stand the test of time.
Beyond the Splash Brothers
As the Warriors went from bad to good to great, they rode the coattails of the remarkable duo of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Thank god that Jerry West was still doing his thing up in the front office and didn't let the Thompson-Kevin Love trade happened. This team would never be where it is today because the would've lost their blistering firepower (and Thompson's epic defense). Curry and Klay have the top 5 records of 3-pointers made in a season and they are nowhere near finished. They have changed the underlying math of the league. Why get 2 points on an open fast-break layup when you can get the easy 3? The move away from the rim has radically devalued big men in the game. It has opened up space and led to the rise of point-forwards (Lebron and Draymond), point guards who don't pass (take your pick), and positionless play (see the rising Milwaukee Bucks). But more than anything, the Splash Brothers brought in joy to the Warriors organization and that brought them Kevin Durant.
KD is what arguably makes the Warriors a dynasty. Without him they already won a championship, secured the greatest regular season of all time and made the Association quake. But with him, they are going to reach historical levels. That was the pitch that the Hamptons Five made when they recruited him and they were right. This year has proven what this style of play can do when you have five All-Stars (let's throw in playoff-version Iguodala in there). Without KD you are one ankle tweak away from a Warriors team that is down Steph; and a team that is very vulnerable. The failed championship run of 2015-16 shows how weak the foundation was. Steph has had ankle problems his entire NBA career and he has had some worrying tweaks throughout the season. KD has had foot problems and the knee injury this year. But the Warriors now have the personnel, the system and the coaching to do this for the next 3 years barring TWO catastrophic injuries. I think they can stand to lose any one of the Big 4 for a month or more and still win the 'chip over the next 3 years.
Better than the Lakers
Magic Johnson recently said that the Lakers would SWEEP the Warriors if they were to play in some kind of NBA old-timer time machine. This sentiment has been repeated by Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley and many other players. "They would all kill us. The game gets worse over time," joked Steve Kerr when he heard these accusations. Having played on a few of those dynasties himself, he has seen and felt the evolution of the game.
Everyone in the Warriors rotation is athletic, intelligent, can switch, and plays within the system. They are an evolved and nearly-flawless product. The Lakers ran with Magic as a new kind of point guard. The Warriors are doing something similar with Steph. The Bulls built a team around Jordan and Pippen (twice!). It's the ability to surround a team with complementary pieces that makes a dynasty. The Warriors front office has done this perfectly. Bob Myers will probably win more Executive of the Year trophies.
Good for the League
There should be little doubt that this is very, very good for the league. Magic, Jordan, Kobe... these players brought star power. For the hardcore fans, there is not enough 'competition,' but that is assuming that people only want to watch a close, grind-out game that goes to the buzzer every night. Golf never had more popularity than when Tiger Woods blasted the doors off the competition for nearly a decade. People watch sports to observe excellence. They want to see the best competing, sure, but also excelling. Every team, on every night, has more than enough incentive to win in the NBA. Some teams tank and players get rested, but the NBA has a good product. That product is even better when a team is operating at peak performance. As you are seeing with the Rockets, OKC, Timberwolves this season - the leagues is going to strive to reach that pinnacle, not cower in its shadow.
The Warriors play the Beautiful Game. Pele helped revolutionize soccer with the Brazilian national team in the 1960s. There was flow, there was skill, there was dynamism, there was fun. Everyone loved it. If the Warriors and Steve Kerr can stay healthy and meet expectations, the Beautiful Game will be an NBA staple for years to come.