Are the Warriors a Dynasty?
The Golden State Warriors are NBA Finals Champions, a title they have held for the third time in four years. What does this mean?
After winning three titles and nearly dominating the league for four years, it is safe to call the Warriors a dynasty. But what does it mean to be a dynasty?
To me, this illusive status is given to the team that dominates their respective sport year after year. The Warriors have done just that.
How They Got Here: The 2009 Draft
The Warriors road to multiple titles began in 2009.
After falling to a 29-53 record in the 2008-2009 season, the Warriors held the seventh pick in the 2009 NBA Draft held in WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden. With their franchise seemingly doomed for mediocrity and a championship drought of nearly 40 years, the Warriors were in desperate need of a star. Little did they know that Stephen Curry, the underrated guard out of Davidson College, would blossom into a two-time MVP player (2015, 2016) with three championship rings (2015, 2017, 2018).
His accolades do not stop there:
He led the league in points per game in 2015.
Shot an NBA record 286 three-pointers in the 2015 season.
Achieved NBA All-Star status five times.
The Next Step: 2010-2014
The Dubs struggles did not immediately stop upon the introduction of Curry. In fact, for the next three seasons, the Warriors did not surpass 40 wins.
In addition, the team experienced great turnaround as there were multiple changes in coaching over this period.
Upon the ending of the 2009-2010 season, Don Nelson, the Warriors coach of four years was fired.
Next, long-time assistant coach, Keith Smart was promoted to take over the head job. However, he was fired after only one season as his efforts were not good enough. He led the team to a mediocre 36-win season.
Finally the franchise found a coach that could win. In 2011, the Warriors hired head coach Mark Jackson. Over the course of three seasons, his team went from 23 to 51 wins.
This drastic turnaround can partially be accounted for by the addition of shooting guard Klay Thompson in 2011.
Jackson ended a five-year playoff drought and seemingly initiated the Warrior culture of winning. Unfortunately, he was not able to take the team to the next level as they lost in the Western Conference Semi-Finals and First Round in the years he led the team to the playoffs.
As a result, the Warriors hired Steve Kerr for the 2014-2015 season.
The Steve Kerr Era: 2014-2015
With up-and-coming shooting specialists in Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the all around team player in Andre Iguodala, and defensive stalwart, Draymond Green, this talented roster needed a coach. Steve Kerr was that man.
In Kerr's first year with this squad, they reached franchise record 67 wins and beat LeBron James in the NBA Finals. As if that was not enough, Steph Curry was named MVP and Klay Thompson was selected as a starter on the All-Star team. This duo developed into one of the most dangerous offensive threats in NBA history. As a result, Curry and Thompson were given the name "The Splash Brothers" because of their three-point shooting abilities.
On the defensive side of the ball the Warriors were thriving as well. Power-forward Draymond Green was named to the first team and center Andrew Bogut was named second team All-Defense.
This season defined the Warriors as winners, but they were not done winning yet.
The Steve Kerr Era: 2015-2016
After a championship season in 2015, the Warriors took the next step towards becoming a dynasty.
In 2016, the Warriors broke the NBA record for wins in a season, previously held by the 72-10 Chicago Bulls in 1995-1996, with a record of 73-9.
Their dominance continued into the playoffs as they rolled past the Houston Rockets in the first round series 4-1.
Then in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors faced the Oklahoma City Thunder led by Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. After falling into a 3-1 hole, Curry and Thompson propelled the team to victory becoming only the 10th team in playoffs history to win after being down 3-1. The most notable performance of the series was Klay Thompson's NBA playoffs record eleven three-pointers.
Led by back-to-back MVP Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green yet again, the team advanced to the Finals to meet a familiar opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers. This time things were different. After holding a commanding 3-1 series lead after four games, the Warriors lost to LeBron James and the Cavs.
For many teams this would have been a devastating blow and may have ruined their chances at another title. However, this fueled the Warriors. Already the most talented team in the NBA, the Warriors added another world-class player in Kevin Durant.
The Steve Kerr Era: 2016-2017
The Warriors entered the 2016-2017 season as runners-up in the 2016 Finals, after a record-breaking 73 win season. With the addition of Kevin Durant in the offseason, they were hailed as a "Super-team" by the media and fans, forming a new All-Star lineup of Durant, Curry, Thompson, and Green.
In the regular season, the team broke multiple NBA records and reached their second most win total (67) in franchise history.
As if the Warriors did not display their dominance in the regular season, they went on to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs, the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Semi-Finals, and the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.
In the NBA Finals the Warriors faced the Cavaliers and LeBron James for a third consecutive year. Leading the series 3-1, this time Durant was too talented to let the Cavs make a come-back. Winning the series 4-1, the Warriors won their second title in three years with a playoff record of 16-1.
The Steve Kerr Era 2017-2018
Now that the Warriors cemented their status as the best team in basketball by winning two titles in three years, adversity struck. The Warriors ended the season with a slew of injuries. Most notably Steph Curry was sidelined with an MCL sprain for six weeks. This led to the Dubs losing 10 of their last 17 regular season games.
However, once Curry returned, he did not miss a beat. Their familiar dominance came back once Curry was on the court in the playoffs. In the first round they beat the San Antonio Spurs 4-1, the New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Conference Semi-Finals 4-1, and the top-seeded Houston Rockets 4-3 in the Western Conference Finals.
As for the NBA Finals, the Warriors faced the Cavaliers for a fourth consecutive year, an unprecedented feat in NBA history and in North America's four major professional sports league. This time, the Warriors swept the much less powerful Cavaliers.
Through four years of consecutive dominance, three NBA titles, and multiple young All-Star talents, it is evident the Warriors dominance will remain strong in coming years.
Their accomplishment to this point have put them in the same category as the Chicago Bulls of the 1990's, the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980's, and even the Boston Celtics of the 1960's. Who knows what the future holds for this team?