Extreme Transformation in Golden State Warriors’ Culture


Dec 12, 2012; Miami FL, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrates their 97-95 win over the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

If you take a look at the Golden State Warriors recent franchise history, you wouldn’t take them seriously. They’ve made the playoffs just twice since the 1993-1994 season and have gone through eleven different coaches in that 18-year span, which exhibited only three winning seasons.

Furthermore, on March 13, 2012, the Golden State Warriors’ culture improved drastically.

Monta Ellis was traded in a deal that sent Andrew Bogut, the coveted defensive big man, to the Bay Area. Sure, Ellis is fun to watch, he can score points in bunches, but truth be told, his playing style is not conducive to winning basketball games. The Warriors were never going to be serious contenders with the services he provided. Although he is a great scorer, he is an inefficient one, and although he is fun to watch, his defense is horrendous.

Additionally, the emergence of Klay Thompson wouldn’t have been possible with Ellis around. Not only that, but the Warriors wouldn’t have acquired  Bogut, who provided them with a defensive presence in the paint. Throw in Stephen Curry, David Lee, and the up-and-coming Harrison Barnes, and you’ve got a solid team. The Warriors certainly made noise last season. They completed a first round upset by defeating the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and put up a fight against the eventual Western Conference champions in the San Antonio Spurs.

This scenario may look familiar to Warriors fans, however. In 2007, they completed a huge first round upset as they defeated the first-seed Dallas Mavericks. However, the disparity is astronomical. Instead of the “We Believe” T-shirts fans wore in the 2007 playoffs, the slogan now is “We Belong,” and that certainly distinguishes their two spectacular playoff runs. This team is going to be dangerous for a long time to come, and Warriors fans should be excited for the transformation.

It’s no secret that defense wins championships, and although the Warriors had a mediocre defensive squad last season, they’ve addressed that need in the off-season. Curry is not a formidable defender by any means, but neither was his back up point guard, Jarrett Jack.

Curry and Jack played together for a significant amount of time last season, which surely didn’t help the problem. Bigger guards such as Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant and Russel Westbrook would have a field day facing either of the two, and in the playoffs, the Spurs took full advantage.

With Curry and Jack on the floor, the Spurs outscored Golden State by 10.8 points per 100 possessions. Of the 10 most frequently used two-man groups in the series against the Spurs, none of them were worse than the point guard tandem. In that sense, perhaps Jack’s departure is a blessing in disguise.

Despite the loss of Jack, the Warriors brought in Andre Iguodala who is certainly an upgrade. With the defensive presence inside provided by Bogut and the perimeter defense provided by Iguodala, the Warriors will improve in their team defense overall. Last season, the Nuggets’ defensive efficiency improved from 19th to 11th place in the league, thanks to Iguodala’s long, lanky figure in the perimeter.

Other players will follow Iguodala’s lead and take paycuts to sign with the Warriors, which is a reason for hope of a prosperous future. The Warriors are here to stay; they won’t dwindle away after one year of postseason success like in 2007.

Not only has the team enriched on the court, but they have also succeeded as a franchise. Last season, they sold out 38 consecutive games. This summer, they have sold more than 3,000 new season tickets, which led to an all-time high of nearly 14,000.

Additionally, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber paid $450 million for the Warriors in November of 2010. The team is now valued at $800 million.

It is safe to say that the Warriors are flourishing in every aspect, and the transformation has taken just a few years.