Which Steph-era Warriors title team was the best?
Set the argument: Which Steph-era Warriors title team was the best? premiered on NBC Sports Bay Area
The last decade of Warriors basketball has been nothing short of a dynasty. Four championships, six trips to the NBA Finals and a handful of future Hall of Famers have walked through the doors in Oakland and San Francisco.
One day Steph Curry will be wearing an orange jacket in Springfield, Mass. So will Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and coach Steve Kerr. Andre Iguodala certainly made his case as well.
Each of the Warriors’ four championships under Kerr, with the Big Three of Curry, Thompson and Green along the way, holds a special place in franchise history. But which team was the best? Here at NBC Sports Bay Area, we’re looking to find the ultimate answer to the “Set the Argument” debate, and we need your help.
Fans will decide via social media, starting on Tuesday with the 2015 champions taking on the 2022 champions.
What was the best Warriors team of the last decade?
In the spirit of the NBA In-Season Championship, it’s time for our very own Warriors bracket 🏆
Round 1: 2014-15 Warriors vs 2021-22 Warriors
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 15, 2023
The 2017 champions will then face off against the 2018 champions in a vote on November 24, with the winners announced on November 28.
Strat-O-Matic simulates the 2015 champions as the best team, defeating the 2018 champions in six games. Below, NBC Sports Bay Area has argued for the four teams why they should, and should not, be considered the best of the group.
Why they can be considered the best team: There is nothing like achieving the ultimate goal for the first time. The 2014-15 Warriors were a team 40 years in the making, winning their first NBA championship since Rick Barry and the Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in 1975.
This was Steve Kerr’s first season as a head coach, and the five-time champion as a player was able to lead the Warriors to the promised land in his first time coaching at any level. It also marked the end of Curry’s first MVP season, and he averaged 28.3 points in the playoffs, including 26.0 points, 6.3 assists and 5.2 rebounds in the Finals. The Warriors’ Big Three of Curry, Thompson and Green won their first title, but “Strength in Numbers” was in full effect.
Andre Iguodala was named Finals MVP for his efforts guarding LeBron James while also averaging 16.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. The Warriors won 67 regular season games, the most in basketball, and finished the regular season with the league’s second-best offensive rating (110.4), best defensive rating (100.4) and the best net rating (9.9).
Why it can’t be considered the best: Because of how good these Warriors were, this wasn’t their strongest team in the regular season or the playoffs. This was only the beginning, but not the height of their powers.
The Warriors found themselves in a two-game-to-one hole in the Western Conference semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies before winning three straight to advance to the conference finals. Then, there are the manufactured stars that the outsiders placed on the Warriors Finals opponent.
Kyrie Irving only played one game for the Cavaliers, and Cleveland’s Kevin Love didn’t.
Why they can be considered the best team: Clean leadership. After winning 73 regular season games the previous season, but then dropping a three-games-to-one lead to the Cavaliers over seven games in the Finals, the Warriors essentially traded away Harrison Barnes for Kevin Durant and they couldn’t stop.
The Warriors won 67 regular season games and three players averaged at least 22 points per game. They had four NBA All-Stars – Curry, Thompson, Green and Durant – and Green was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year. The Warriors led the NBA in offensive rating (114.8), were second in defensive rating (103.4) and first in net rating (11.4), while having a 70.4 assist rating.
And the playoffs were a breeze.
They swept the Portland Trail Blazers, swept the Utah Jazz, swept the San Antonio Spurs and won their first three games against the Cavs in the finals to go 15-0 in the playoffs. The Warriors took down James in five games, outscoring their opponents by an average of 14 points. Durant won the first of two Finals MVPs, averaging 35.2 points on 55.6-percent shooting, 47.4 percent from 3-point range and 92.7 percent on free throws, as well as 8.2 rebounds and 5.4 a ‘ help every game.
Curry was right behind, averaging 26.8 points, 9.4 assists and 8.0 rebounds in the Finals.
Why it can’t be considered the best: Is there really an argument against these Heroes? Kawhi Leonard aggravated his sprained left ankle when he came down on Warriors center Zaza Pachulia in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, but there was simply no team that was going to stop the 2016 Warriors- 17.
The only real argument for those who are still shedding tears is that Durant joining the Warriors was not fair.
Why they can be considered the best team: It’s never easy to repeat as champions, but the Warriors did just that in their fourth straight trip to the Finals. Curry and Durant each averaged 26.4 points in the regular season and both nearly fell in a 50/40/90 shooting season. The Warriors once again had four All-Stars but didn’t take home any hardware from the regular season.
Golden State also had two players make at least 200 3-pointers and four eclipse the 100 mark for 3s made in the regular season. Durant was named Finals MVP for the second consecutive year, this time averaging 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists on 52.6-percent shooting, 40.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc and 96.3 percent at the charity stripe while the Warriors swept the Cavs.
Why it can’t be considered the best: Durant’s second season with the Warriors had more bumps in the road than his first, from the regular season to the playoffs.
The Warriors won 58 games, finishing second in the West to the Houston Rockets with 65. Even the 59-win Toronto Raptors were better than the Warriors in the regular season. The Warriors were third in offensive rating (112.8), 11th in defensive rating (106.8) and third in net rating (5.9).
Although they defeated the Spurs in the first round in five games and the New Orleans Pelicans in five games in the second round, the Warriors faced their toughest test of the Durant era against the Rockets in the conference finals. The Warriors were in a three-game-to-two deficit and on the verge of elimination against the Rockets before winning two straight to reach the finals again. Additionally, Chris Paul, then a member of the Rockets, missed the final two games of the series after sustaining a strained hamstring late in Game 5.
Then again, Iguodala only played in three of the seven games.
Why they can be considered the best team: The Warriors won one championship and a regular season record of 73 games before Durant came aboard for three seasons. Their championship in 2022 meant something special: The Big Three of Curry, Thompson and Green won another ring without one of basketball’s superstars. Finally, and we mean finally, Curry won his first Finals MVP.
His performance at 34 years of age was nothing short of spectacular. Curry over six games against the Boston Celtics averaged 31.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals while shooting 43.7 percent on 3-pointers. Down two games- to one in Boston, Curry’s 43-point, 10-rebound performance where he also drained seven 3s will be remembered when he is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The Warriors had four players average at least 17 points per game during the regular season. Klay Thompson returned from his two-plus year absence from a pair of season-ending foot injuries and became a champion in his first season back. There were plenty of surprises throughout the season, and even more wins.
Why it can’t be considered the best: The 2022 champions weren’t just the Warriors’ strongest title team. Their 53 wins were the fewest of the franchise’s last four championship teams. Curry was their only All-Star, and the Warriors were the No. 3 seed in the West going into the playoffs.
In the regular season, the Warriors were second in defensive rating (106.6), but 16th in offensive rating (112.1) and fourth in net rating (4.4).
When all is said and done, the 2022 champions will always hold a special place in Warriors history. They overcame injuries and the three stars barely spent time together on the court before the playoffs. But once the playoffs started, their combination of depth and Steph being Steph was back at the top of the NBA mountain.
Now that we’ve made our arguments, it’s time for Dub Nation to make their voice heard.
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