The Golden State Warriors looked really, really good in their 137-106 victory on Monday night.
The Sacramento Kings are likely not a very good basketball team.
Both of these things can be true, but it’s hard to know how to allocate blame and credit. Which is part of what makes the upcoming baseball series against the Los Angeles Clippers — an unequivocally excellent basketball team — so intriguing.
But until those games happen, we’re left wondering if the Warriors are starting to put the pieces together, or the Kings are just really bad.
The evidence supports the former more than the latter. For one, the Warriors blew out the Kings, something they didn’t come remotely close to doing against the other bad teams they’ve faced, the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons (and the Kings, who have beaten the Denver Nuggets twice and the Phoenix Suns, are likely better than the Bulls or Pistons). For two, it came just a night after an inspired and comfortable victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
But most important is simply how it looked. Against Sacramento, the defense moved so much more than in prior games. There were rotations and disruptions and contestations galore.
Likewise the ball popped on offense, leading to a stunning 41 assists on 51 made baskets.
It won’t always be that pretty. Even when the offense flows the way that it did, they won’t always make 53.5% of their shots from beyond the arc, especially with people not named Steph Curry shooting 18-for-31. When things fall at a more normal rate it might be a comfortable win rather than the type of laugher that resulted in Nico Mannion playing two-thirds of the final quarter.
The Warriors might not be good yet, and Wednesday and Friday’s games might prove a rude wake-up call against one of the West’s elite. But at this point it feels undeniable that Draymond Green’s presence makes the team leaps better; that Steve Kerr is learning how to simplify the offense and maximize his talents; that the role players are figuring out how to fit in the system and with the personnel; and that Steph Curry is still an MVP caliber talent who has shaken off the rust of a five-game season a year ago.
Keep a close eye on Wednesday’s game. The Warriors are finding their footing.