Are the 2017 Golden State Warriors really good enough to beat the 1998 Chicago Bulls?
On Sunday night, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green posted an intriguing position on Twitter. Green basically said that the 2017 version of the Warriors would easily overcome the 1998 edition of the Chicago Bulls. He tweeted this after watching footage of the 1998 NBA Finals between the Utah Jazz and the Michael Jordan-led Bulls.
I’m watching the 98 Bulls vs Utah in the Finals… I can’t help but notice our 2017 team would’ve beaten these Bulls by a dub and these Jazz by 40 if they’re going to play these brands of basketball. And that’s why it’s dumb to compare Era’s
— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) July 25, 2022
Green isn't the only Warriors player to recently declare that the 2017 team could defeat a legendary team like the 1998 Bulls. Just last week, Stephen Curry also said that the 2017 Warriors would beat the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers in a series. Remember that the 2001 Lakers were led by legends Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
“Between the '96 Bulls and the hypotheticals of a 7-game series, the 2001 Lakers and that hypothetical series, or every other hypothetical series that people say we should've lost because of an injury or because of whatever the case may be, those conversations are trivial,” Curry said. “But at the end of the day, if you could match up in some alternate universe, us versus the 2001 Lakers, obviously we feel like we can win. I don't know who would guard Shaq but I don't know who would guard me and Klay either. We rockin' with that. And three is better than two.”
One thing is for certain — the stars of the Golden State Warriors are obviously not lacking in confidence when it comes to how their club compares to some of the other all-time great teams.
Keep in mind, however, that while comparing teams and players from different eras might be entertaining, it's also a futile exercise because we'll never get to watch the actual games take place. This makes it objectively impossible to judge how teams from other eras compare to one another.
Nevertheless, the arguments and discussions are fun, so let's do it anyway.
In 2017, Green was part of a squad that included Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. All of them are bound to be Hall of Famers. The Curry-Klay-KD trio scored over 22 points per game on average and attempted more than 50 shots per game (23 of which were three-point attempts).
In the playoffs, they suffered one defeat. Total. The Dubs swept the competition to get to the 2017 NBA Finals, where they eventually defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1 to lift the championship trophy. Golden State also won consecutive championships in 2016–17 and 2017–18. They rose to prominence as a team that changed and defined the current pace-and-space style of play. Needless to say, the 2017 Warriors were one of the most dominant teams in NBA history.
Remember, too, that in the last eight seasons, the Warriors have won half of all NBA Finals. They also surpassed the 1995–96 Bulls' regular season record (72 wins) by winning 73 games in 2016, though they infamously lost in the Finals to the Cavs.
NBA teams to win 4 or more championships within a 8 year span since the merger:
Los Angeles Lakers: 1982, 1985, 1987-1988
Chicago Bulls: 1991-1993, 1996-1998
Golden State Warriors: 2015, 2017-2018, 2022#NBAFinals | #DubNation | #Warriors pic.twitter.com/PrSpJU2JGP
— Brandon Carr (@bcarr_13) June 17, 2022
Many fans still believe that the gold standard for legendary team basketball remains to be the Bulls of the 1990s. Since that dynasty won six championships in just under ten years, it is frequently compared with other illustrious dynasties, including the Dubs of the 2010s.
If the 2017 Warriors played the Bulls, could they win?
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3 reasons 2017 Warriors will beat 1998 Bulls
3. What would Luc Longley and Bill Wennington do?
Despite Michael Jordan being the best player in the 1990s, th NBA of that time was defined by dominant big men. It was the era of Hakeem Olajuwon, Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing, and David Robinson, among others. Curiously enough, however, the 1998 NBA Finals did not feature any dominant center.
Manning the middle for the Chicago Bulls were Luc Longley and Bill Wennington. On the other end, the Utah Jazz relied on the trio of Greg Ostertag, Greg Foster, and Adam Keefe. None of those players really exude any inspiration. None of them were particularly highly productive either. Maybe the only exception was Longley, who averaged 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game over the season.
If the 1998 Bulls do go up against the 2017 Warriors, Chicago's centers would very likely look lost on the floor. No 1998 Bulls center would have the quickness to switch well on a pick-and-roll or guard guys like Kevin Durant and Draymond Green straight up. One may even argue that Golden State's JaVale McGee would be the best center on the floor no matter which center played from both squads.
2. Who's guarding Curry, Klay, AND KD?
The 1998 Bulls were a terrific defensive team. In fact, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were on the 1998 All-NBA Defensive Team. Against most other teams from most other eras, having two All-NBA Defensive guys would be enough to stifle any offense.
But not the 2017 Warriors. Remember that head coach Steve Kerr had not one, not two, but three explosive scorers at his disposal — Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. Assuming MJ and Pip would take on two members of that big three, who would guard the other one?
"Would've beaten these  Bulls by a DUB"@Money23Green didn't hold back about how he thinks the 2017 @warriors would beat the brakes off the 1998 Bulls 👀 🌶 pic.twitter.com/dG5zSWgkVW
— Whistle (@WhistleSports) July 25, 2022
Toni Kukoc would have a lot of trouble running around and through screens. Ditto with Randy Brown, Jud Buechler, and, weirdly enough, Steve Kerr the player. That leaves Ron Harper as the best choice to try and lock up whoever MJ and Pip were not guarding. Harper is a solid 3 and D guy, but against the 2017 Warriors' big three? He would likely be out of his depth.
1. Threes are better than twos.
Curry said it best. Threes are better than twos. During the 2017 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors hit 12.7 triples per game. They also shot 38.6 percent from beyond the arc. In contrast, the 1998 Bulls made just 4.2 triples per game on a 32.4 percent success rate.
Yes, this is where the difference in eras, play styles, and pace enter the picture. Still, it's very hard to imagine the Warriors not jacking up threes no matter who, where, or when they play. Shooters will shoot, and the Warriors are shooters — three-point shooters.
Would the 1998 Bulls have made more field goals overall? Maybe.
Actually, probably not. The 1998 Bulls shot under 45 percent from the field, while the 2017 Warriors shot close to 50 percent. No matter the shooting metric, the Warriors were just better.
And that's why Draymond Green was right. They would beat the 1998 Bulls in a seven-game series.