Winning has not been the norm for the Golden State Warriors. They’ve been to the playoffs only once in the last nineteen years (dubbed the “We Believe” season), which is shockingly bad considering that 16 of the 30 NBA teams find their way to the playoffs. It takes a very special combination of selfish players, apathetic coaches and ignorant ownership to evade the playoffs as long as the Warriors have, but it looks like that era is over.
The Warriors are among one of the hottest teams in the NBA and have proven that they are a contender because of their chemistry, consistency and coaching. Golden State went 6-1 on their recent, grueling road trip where they picked up wins in Brooklyn, Miami and Atlanta. Warriors PF, David Lee, also was named Western Conference Player of the Week.
So why are the Warriors performing? What’s changed? In short, everything.
The ownership has done a lot to reinvent the identify of the team. They bring NBA experience and a desire to win. They also brought in Mark Jackson, the right head coach for the job.
Jackson played in the NBA for 17 years (playoff appearances in 14 of those seasons) and knows what it takes to be a winner. Before coaching the Warriors, Jackson was an analyst on the YES Network and ABC. To give up a cushy studio job and subject yourself to the stress and criticism of being a head coach shows that he has the drive and determination to turn the Warriors into a force to be reckoned with. Oh yeah, he also taught Golden State defense and rebounding. Finally.
The composition and dynamic of the team has also changed. And by that, I mean the Warriors are actually functioning like a team. The Warriors have no super stars on the roster, but they do have a bench that steps up every game. Ex-Warriors, like Baron Davis and Monte Ellis, played for themselves more than they did for the team. While they were talented players, they didn’t make their teammates better and their style of play improved their personal statistics – not the team’s record. It’s great to see a NBA team represent in the Bay Area.
The season is still early, but it is already clear the Warriors are a completely renewed franchise. Golden State has finally transitioned from “believing” to “achieving”.