Steve Kerr’s freezing cold Warriors championship take before 2022 NBA Playoffs
Even the most zealous Dub Nation partisans must admit that the Golden State Warriors’ latest title team doesn’t compare to its predecessors in terms of individual talent and overall quality.
The 2017 and 2018 Warriors were two of the most dominant squads in league history, championship shoo-ins around Steph Curry and Kevin Durant even before those seasons tipped off. Golden State’s first title team isn’t considered anywhere near that level of historical juggernaut, but still entered the 2015 playoffs with a 67-15 regular season record and +9.9 net rating—a whopping three points per 100 possessions better than the second place LA Clippers, per NBA.com/stats.
These champion Warriors, on the other hand, only earned the third playoff seed in the Western Conference and didn’t even rank top-10 in offensive efficiency during the regular season. Curry was sidelined for the last three weeks of the 82-game grind, too, nursing a sprained ligament in his left foot.
Golden State certainly didn’t seem like a surprise title-winner en route to a fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy in eight seasons, though. The Warriors didn’t face an elimination game all playoffs, took out out the Dallas Mavericks in an easy five games after Luka Doncic and company beat the 64-win Phoenix Suns, then soundly defeated a Boston Celtics team in the NBA Finals that had already dispatched of Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jimmy Butler.
There’s no debating whether Golden State earned this championship. Steve Kerr’s squad was clearly the best in basketball during the playoffs, a development that apparently took both the Warriors’ coach and lead decision-maker by surprise—at least compared to their late-season expectations.
During media availability on Wednesday, general manager Bob Myers recalled a conversation he shared with Kerr as the Warriors geared up for another title run.
“Steve said to me at one point, ‘I don’t know if this is a championship team.’ This was before the playoffs,” Myers said, laughing. “‘We know what a championship team is. I don’t know if this is a championship team.’ So we were laughing about that. We said, ‘Well, what do we know?'”
Myers went on to clarify that he agreed with Kerr’s pre-playoff assessment, noting the “high bar” set by previous Golden State championship teams. Kerr even thought the Warriors would have a difficult time winning the West.
“I remember a couple of conversations where it was like, ‘This team feels, you know, like a conference finalist. Maybe not further than that,'” he said.
There’s no shame in admitting the 2022 Warriors don’t stack up to teams that featured Durant or Golden State’s original iteration of “strength in numbers.” Talent is much more evenly spread throughout the league now than it was in the mid-to-late 2010s. The Warriors emerging as champions in a season rife with parity is another ringing endorsement of their ongoing dynasty, not a chink in the armor that will decrease the historical significance of another coronation.
The doubts espoused by Kerr and Myers before the playoffs, actually, make Golden State’s latest title all the sweeter.