The Golden State Warriors continue to make all sorts of history and defy the critics with the most dominant regular season we’ve ever seen (to this point). Steph Curry deservedly gets all the accolades, but the real source of the Warriors’ incomprehensible strength is their depth. While teams like the Clippers and Thunder often have an ace scoring sixth man (Jamal Crawford and Enes Kanter), the best they can often hope for is to tread water while the stars are out. Not so with Golden State — two-way studs like Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston can put a game away all by themselves at times.
Klay Thompson knows this, and on the Hang Time podcast with Sekou Smith (recorded during the All-Star Break), he made a rather bold claim about the Warriors’ bench mob:
We have a lot of nights when the starters don’t have it, and our second unit is good enough to be a playoff team in my mind, so that’s what’s pushed us over the edge. It’s been our depth.
I know the Western Conference isn’t what it once was, and the Warriors’ bench is really good, but that’s crazy talk. The best we can figure for the Dubs’ second five is Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Andre Iguodala, Marreese Speights and Festus Ezeli. To be fair, that’s a group with a lot of good, complementary skills, but neither Barbosa nor Iguodala have dangerous enough three-point shots to create enough spacing for the midrange-and-in game of Livingston, Speights and Ezeli. They’d defend well, but would struggle mightily to score.
Of course, starting fives don’t make the playoffs – whole teams do. A team that had to start the above unit would probably have the worst bench in the NBA. They wouldn’t sniff the postseason.
Then again, who cares? Klay knows how important Golden State’s bench is, and it’s his right to talk them up as much as he wants. It’s simply our job to pedantically poke holes in every boast like the least popular guest at a party. And to be honest, the more we think about it, the more we believe that starting five could make the postseason — if it was in the East in 2014.