After having missed out on the playoffs for the last two NBA seasons, it is easy to forget that not too long ago, the Golden State Warriors were THE team to beat.
Five NBA Finals appearances in successive seasons, three of those ending in victory, elevated the team to dynastic levels and while their performances over the last couple of years have fallen well short of those halcyon days, there are signs this season that things are going to be golden for them once again.
After five straight wins in pre-season, the Warriors have won all but one of their seven games so far in the new NBA Season and lie second in the Western Conference just half a game behind the Utah Jazz, having played one game fewer.
Things are clicking into place for the Warriors and that could be a real concern for the rest of the NBA.
It’s easy to forget that the Warriors last reached the NBA Finals back in 2019. They lost to the
Toronto Raptors 4-2 that year, ending their two-year hold on the title.
Their four NBA Finals series games against the Cavaliers, of which the Warriors won three (2015, 2017 and 2018) will go down in history as one of the greatest rivalries in the NBA and it is easy to forget that there are some key players from that team still around today.
Sure, the 2021 Warriors are a different looking team, but there are enough pieces of the puzzle in place to make them very relevant.
The likelihood is they would have been in the past two seasons but for injuries to two key players in both those seasons, Steph Curry with his broken hand and Klay Thompson’s torn ACL and Achilles.
But Curry, the catalyst for those golden years for Golden State remains. As does Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Damion Lee and Klay Thompson.
However, added to the mix has been some veteran experience in the likes of Nemanja Bjelica, Gary Payton II, Jordan Pool and Juan Toscano-Anderson. They joined the likes of Andrew Wiggins, who was the key signing ahead of the 2019-20 season.
The net result is a team that, still under the guidance of Steve Kerr, has been a much better team when fully fit and firing, than their performances over the last two years suggest.
In a division that contains the Suns, Clippers and Lakers, not to mention the Sacramento Kings
who are no pushovers, the Warriors have had their struggles, including that awful 15-50 season in 2019/20.
Last season saw a big improvement to 39-33 but this latest team has started very well, opening 6-1 on the season and winning eleven of their last 12 matches, including pre-season friendlies.
First round Draft Pick Jonathan Kuminga has been a good signing and in a division where even the worst team has three wins on the season so far, the Warriors are already two games ahead of their nearest rivals.
A win in their eighth game would see them tie the Utah Jazz at the top of the Western Conference.
Of course, having arguably the greatest point scorer of all time in Steph Curry makes them a potent threat but this Warriors team has the same kind of balance around him that teams of the past two seasons have lacked.
Injuries, Covid and a loss of form may yet play a part for the Warriors, but at the moment, they are looking back to something near there best.
And that is going to be a worry for every other team in the NBA.