Before the Golden State Warriors defeated the Charlotte Hornets to kick off their East Coast road trip, several different publications delivered their NBA power rankings. The Warriors were consistently pegged for the #2 spot in the lists with the up-and-down performance of their new Fantastic 5 starting lineup deemed the culprit.
ESPN Power Rankings: Warriors #2
All is not heavenly in Warriors world since the All-Star break. Forward Draymond Green suffered a sprained left ankle against the Rockets on Saturday, a game the Warriors lost with James Harden sidelined. After a strong start following his return from an Achilles tendon injury, frustrated center DeMarcus Cousins has been struggling and has not been used down the stretch.
CBS Power Rankings: Warriors #2
Worst-case scenario: That this All-Star starting five can’t quite look as good on a basketball court as they do on paper. As ESPN pointed out the other day, the Warriors’ starting five -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins -- have been outscored by one point this season. Small sample size, certainly. But the Warriors have not hit their stride yet this season (maybe because we think “their stride” is, well, to never lose). The worst-case scenario, I think, is for the Warriors to never jell, to struggle more than we’d expect in the Western Conference finals, and then to lose in six or seven games in the Finals to either the Toronto Raptors or Milwaukee Bucks.
NBA.com Power Rankings: Warriors #2
The Warriors are tied for the league lead with 12 wins after trailing by double-digits. But every team has a losing record after trailing by double-digits and the champs have now trailed by double-digits in seven of their last nine games, in part because their five-star starting lineup has been outscored by 24 points (with bad numbers on both ends of the floor) in its 45 first-quarter minutes over that stretch. DeMarcus Cousins was a plus-45 in his first two games with his new team, but The Boogie Experiment hasn’t worked very well since then (even though the Warriors are still 11-2 in games he’s played).
Since then, Cousins had his first 20-10 game of the season against Charlotte, giving Dub Nation a reminder of his potential and how far he’s come from his devastating injury. The eyes of the NBA will be on Cousins and how he performs down the final stretch of the regular season.