- Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) is a professor and an NBA analyst for ESPN.
One month into the 2021-22 NBA season, the Golden State Warriors are back. Despite Sunday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets, they have a league-best 11 wins, and six seasons after winning a record 73 games, they’re on a 69-win pace. They seem to have rediscovered their championship-winning recipe from the 2010s, updated it, and are using it to cook the rest of the league.
Tuesday night in Brooklyn, Golden State faces its biggest game of the season so far against Kevin Durant and the Nets. Before the season even started, the sportsbooks had tagged Brooklyn as the favorite to win it all, but just one month into the campaign, it’s Durant’s former teammates in the Bay Area who are playing the best hoops in the league.
Stephen Curry and the Dubs have emerged as serious contenders to win their fourth NBA title this season. They are back to being a two-way juggernaut, logging a familiar set of elite statistical indicators that harken back to their title runs last decade. Once again, they are among the league leaders in both offensive and defensive efficiency, ranking second in points scored per 100 possessions and first in points allowed.
The Warriors won five straight Western Conference championships in part because they ranked in the top three in offensive efficiency in each of those seasons. But following a rash of high-profile departures and injuries, the Warriors’ once-ferocious offense spent the past two seasons near the bottom of the league, ranking 20th in 2020-21 and dead last in 2019-20, when Curry missed all but five games. This season, the Dubs’ high-powered offense is back, and it is defined by three main traits:
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