Fans are, justifiably, not super stoked about the Golden State Warriors right now. More than a quarter of the way through the season, the Dubs sit at an even 11-11, behind teams like the Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, and the injury-depleted Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers.
It took them nine attempts to win a game on the road, and it’s taken Steph Curry being the best player in the league just for them to tread water.
The concern, while a touch overblown, is at least justified.
But what is not justified is the notion that’s been bandied about that the Dubs are no longer contenders. That the successes of just half a year ago are unattainable to this team just because they replaced Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. with Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green.
Will the Warriors repeat as champions? Who knows. Will they even contend? Again, who knows. But does this slow start out of the gates portend doom?
Before you shriek and wail about how bad the Warriors are, and about how no team has ever played this poorly before and turned things around, let’s rewind a little bit.
Let’s head all the way back to February 9. You might remember February, because it was earlier this year, and most people remember earlier this year. You might even remember that the Warriors won a championship just a few months later. Gee, those sure were fun times, right? They sure coasted to that one with limited turbulence, right?
On February 9, the Warriors got their asses kicked by the Jazz. The next night, they lost to the lottery-bound New York Knicks.
And then they kept doing it. The Warriors slid from February 9 to March 30, a nearly two-month span that took the team to within five games of the playoffs.
In the span of those 49 days, the Warriors won 7 games. They lost 16 games.
7-16. That’s kind of like 11-11, except a hell of a lot worse.
There were losses to good teams and there were losses to bad teams. There were nail-biters and there were blowouts.
Their offense was 23rd in the league during that span, and their defense was 19th. Their net rating was 22nd at -3.1, a mark significantly worse than this year’s Los Angeles Lakers squad.
“But Steph Curry was injured!” you might remark, but he played in 15 of those 23 games. The Warriors went 6-9. “But Draymond Green was injured,” you might rebut, but they went 1-6 when he wasn’t.
They were simply not playing good basketball.
I had fun looking through some of the articles and recaps during those weeks, and taking note of the collective panic. I won’t throw anyone under the bus by posting people’s reactions, but let’s just say there were a lot of fans ‘round these parts who were already looking towards ways that the team could bounce back in 2022-23. A deep run, let alone a championship, was off the table for many.
Now here we are, less than a year later, with the Warriors mired in yet another slump. When you account for better injury luck this time around, you could probably say that this 11-11 is just about the same as last season’s 7-16. Overcoming one quarter season slump doesn’t mean they’ll overcome a second, but the takeaway should still be clear. This is a team full of star talent, a great coaching staff, and a bench learning to play the system. They emphatically have a “best player on a championship team” talent, and all the tools necessary to build a championship-level defense.
They might wither and die. But history tells us to pump the breaks on the obituary, put away the typewriter, grab a cold beer, and watch what happens next.