In this weekly look at NBA Power Rankings compiled by NBA reporter Zach Harper of The Athletic, the Golden State Warriors had almost nowhere to go but up, after being ranked 28th last week.
And after Stephen Curry’s career-high 62 points in a win against the Blazers on Sunday, you had to figure a meteoric rise was in order.
Well, I half expected that. Harper didn’t see the situation the same way. He’s got the Warriors at No. 24 this month, in a mere mild improvement in his eyes.
Here’s what he wrote about Golden State in his expansive piece for The Athletic.
The discussion around the Warriors so far this season is going from one extreme to the next. One day, Steph Curry was a player whose legacy was tainted and tarnished by this team. Literally the next day, he goes for 62 points against Portland and has the internet buzzing. Steve Kerr will have to find some happy medium here. Obviously, Curry can’t go off every night, and he’s going to need some help. Draymond Green is back, hoping to make a difference on both ends of the floor. The Warriors will have to commit somewhere though. They have no chance at being good at both offense and defense. The offense seems more fixable than the defense does, so they probably have to figure out how to maximize that end of the floor.
Why rank them here? This team is pretty bad, and until Curry went for 62, they felt like a lost cause. But they still had a 2-1 week and have a quality win over the Blazers. It’s baby steps away from despair, but still a few baby steps away from just your average mediocrity. They need to find things to build on.Zach Harper/The Athletic
Looking at Harper’s comments, I agree that Curry can’t have the same usage he did on Sunday every game. But I see no reason the Warriors can’t thrive on both ends of the floor. They can do so if they focus on defense, not offense. With nine players owning 7-foot wingspans and Draymond Green and James Wiseman in the paint, Golden State can be a strong defensive team, That will create easy offense. It’s the way the Warriors dynasty was built, and if you plan to win, defense always has to come first. Especially when you have a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year in Green.
But I still think the No. 24 spot is fair. The Warriors have a lot to prove, even to themselves. The win against the Blazers was enormous, however, and not just because of Curry’s 62. Green was his old self and Wiseman had his first double-double. New wings Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre contributed their part, too.
Look for the Warriors to continue to build rapport. Their week got off to a great start, with a 137-106 win against the Kings on Monday. The Clippers come to town Wednesday, however, for the first of two consecutive match-ups. That will be a tough test, but that’s life in the NBA and the Warriors have to prove they can play with a top-flight contender.
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