The team the 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors most often got compared to was the 96 Bulls, for reasons too obvious to get revisited here. Scottie Pippen, however, didn’t believe there was any comparison at all, stating definitely that his 72-10 squad would’ve swept last year’s Warriors in a Finals series.
You’d be loathe to find very many former players who would concede defeat in these hypothetical scenarios, especially those with championship credentials, but that hasn’t stopped the media from trying. In a recent interview with Ananth Pandian of CBS Sports, former Pistons Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince were asked how their title-winning ’04 squad would match up against this current iteration of the Warriors, and their responses were fairly predictable:
“It would be no comparison.” Hamilton said on CBS Sports’ NBA Crossover. “We can guard every position. Every guy from our point guard to our five, can guard any position. We were big. We were long.”
The match-ups alone are enough to make any hoops fan drool. Just imagine the battles in the paint between Draymond Green and Ben Wallace/Rasheed Wallace. How many technicals/flagrants/suspensions would ‘Sheed and Draymond rack up between them? How about Chauncey Billups d-ing up Steph Curry, while Tayshaun Prince covers Kevin Durant? How about the Pistons giving the Warriors a taste of their own medicine by running Rip off endless screens to free him up for open looks?
These are two excellent defensive teams, but the Warriors certainly get the edge in terms of scoring. Those Pistons squads of the mid-aughts were a slog on offense. Also, as Prince pointed out, so much would depend on the era in which this imaginary series took place.
“It depends on what the rules are.” Prince said. “Because back when we played, we could play hands-on, physical. As you can see from the Pacers rivalries and all of the rivalries we had back in the day, we were scoring in the high 70s, low 80s. We were physical. So now if you play this style of play, where they’re running and gunning and touch fouls and things like that, all of sudden we would start getting in foul trouble because back when we played, we were very, very aggressive on defense.”
It’s really too bad we’ll never get to witness any of these trans-generational showdowns (except maybe in the world of NBA 2K), but it’s an interesting thought-experiment, nonetheless.