Stephen Curry and the Warriors got shellacked by the Lakers on Sunday night, but the news is not all bad in Golden State.
The rest of the week went exceptionally well, with the team’s first three-game winning streak. Plus, each win came against a team that had previously beat the Warriors: the Knicks, Pacers and Hornets.
So despite the embarrassing loss on national television to LeBron James’ Lakers, the Warriors rose seven spots to No. 10 in The Athletic’s NBA power rankings, compiled by veteran NBA reporter Zach Harper. Golden State entered Harper’s top 10 for the first time this season.
His thoughts on exactly why he placed the Warriors at No. 10 was rather brief, as he concentrated on identifying an “X-Factor role player” for each team. (More on that in a minute).
Here’s what Harper said about rating the Warriors the 10th-best team in the NBA at the moment.
Another winning week for the Warriors. They got trounced by the Lakers, but the Warriors had a 3-1 week to shoot back up the rankings while other teams previously above them struggled.Zach Harper/The Athletic
That does make sense; it’s hard to figure the Warriors could shoot up these standings after being trounced by the Lakers, but their No. 10 ranking is reflective of other teams struggling, and that includes the Warriors’ Wednesday opponent, the Blazers.
Harper identified guard Kelly Oubre Jr. as Golden State’s “X-Factor,” and it’s easy to see why. After an awful start, Oubre was one of the Warriors best players in February and even further back than that, averaging 18.8 points per game in his last 19 starts.
Harper says if Oubre can keep that up, the Warriors can easily avoid the play-in portion of this year’s NBA playoffs. Step one is getting their confidence back after losing badly in LA. Curry will lead his squad with that aim, first against the Blazers and star guard Damian Lillard on Wednesday and then against the Suns on Thursday as the first half of the season draws to a close.
(Photo credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)