Golden State Warriors Won’t Get Complacent in Title Defense


17.9 percent of the NBA’s general managers believe the Golden State Warriors will win the NBA title this season.’s annual general managers’ survey has been around for 13 years now, and 17.9 percent is the lowest percentage a defending champion has received since the creation of this survey.

The term “lucky” has been thrown around a lot when discussing the Warriors’ magical run last season to their first title since 1975. Some fans and writers believe that the Warriors only won the title last season, because they were lucky enough to stay healthy and they were lucky enough to not face the San Antonio Spurs or, as suggested by Doc Rivers, the Los Angeles Clippers in the playoffs. Nice try, Doc.

Some have even called the Warriors’ 2015 title run a “fluke.” They said the Warriors didn’t deserve to win a championship, and a team like the Cavs or Spurs deserved to win it more.

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With all due respect, all of these assertions are completely foolish and inaccurate. First of all, over the course of the regular season and the playoffs, the Warriors won a total of 83 games last season. That is the third highest win total in NBA history. A single team cannot win 83 games purely because of luck, especially when they won by such large margins most nights.

Second, the Warriors weren’t the only team to experience some luck on their way to a title. Yes, the Warriors, as a team, were very fortunate to stay healthy for the most part of last season, but a little bit of luck is required for any team to win a title. Certain matchups are more favorable to a team’s style of play and could be considered “lucky,” but the matchup a team is given is totally out of their control.

We’ve also seen in all professional sports that if a team gets on a hot streak at a right time, it can carry them to a title. It’s not entirely “luck” when a team gets hot.

In addition, health can’t really be measured by luck. Some injuries are most likely avoidable, but some are completely unpredictable and often unfair to a team’s title chances. Would LeBron James have won an NBA title in 2012 and 2013 if Derrick Rose hadn’t torn his ACL, which effectively ended the Chicago Bulls’ playoff hopes both years? There isn’t a right answer to this question, but it seems a lot less likely that James would have won both those titles if the Miami Heat would’ve had to face a healthy Rose and his superior Bulls.

Now that the 2015-16 NBA season has officially started, it’s time for the Warriors to prove all these haters wrong. And they will.

The Warriors’ first game of the season on Tuesday night could’ve easily been a trap game. Normally, when a team gets their championship rings or raises their championship banner, they can lose the actual game that day because they aren’t entirely focused or they’re distracted by all the production surrounding the celebration.

This was not the case on Tuesday.

Stephen Curry made sure the Warriors didn’t fall into the trap. He scored 24 points in the first quarter and electrified the Warriors’ home crowd with several dazzling plays and gorgeous three-pointers. He finished the night with 40 points, and the Warriors ultimately shut down Anthony Davis and beat the New Orleans Pelicans 111-95.

It wasn’t exactly a technically pretty win, but a win is a win. The Warriors know it’ll be even harder to win games this year than last year, since they won’t be able to sneak up on teams anymore. They will have a target on their backs going into every game, and they are even more confident and prepared for it.

Curry and Draymond Green both spoke to Monte Poole of Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area on why they believe the Warriors will be even stronger this season than last season:

"“Last year was our first year with Coach Kerr and the system that he was putting in throughout the season,” Curry said at Media Day on Monday. “He would remind us, when we had some lulls and some down games, that we were still in the first year of our offense and there are layers to it. You become more comfortable with it as you go through.“That second year of that new offense is when things start to really click.”…“As players, we felt like we could go out and really learn on the fly and still play well, even though it’s still the first year and we’re still getting used to it,’’ Curry recalls. “But (Kerr) always was telling us that the second, third year is when you really take off.“So if we did what we did last year and we’re still learning about the system and how we’re going to go out and play it, I like our chances going into this year too.”…“I definitely think we can get better,” forward Draymond Green said. “A lot of times last year we kind of would depend on Steph to bail us out or depend on Klay (Thompson) to bail us out. That’s where in Year 2 you get more comfortable with the offense. You learn to get to the third, fourth and fifth option and play. That’s going to help this team continue to grow.”"

As usual, the Western Conference is extremely tough this season, but regardless, the Warriors could certainly be an even stronger team this year for a few reasons. As both Curry and Green stated, this will be their second year in Steve Kerr‘s system, so the offense (and defense) will continue to develop and grow stronger.

In addition, since the roster is essentially the same as last season’s roster, another year of this same group of players will mean even more cohesion and team chemistry, which was one of their greatest strengths last season. The core players such as Curry, Klay Thompson, Green, Andrew Bogut, and Andre Igoudala will continue to get stronger with more experience together, and the key bench players such as Shaun Livingston, Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, and others will feel even more comfortable playing together as well.

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Lastly, the fact that fans and NBA analysts are questioning the validity of the Warriors’ championship last season will just serve as the ultimate motivation to these players to do even better this year. This is a group of players that has had to overcome obstacles as individuals and as a group, so they will not shy away from adversity or criticism.

The Warriors know that they are an elite team in the NBA, and they have even more confidence and swagger now that they’ve won an NBA title. However, they also know that they can’t get complacent this season, as they defend their title. Winning back-to-back NBA titles is hard enough, but complacency makes it near impossible.

The Warriors are a hard-working team that will not settle for just one title. They thrive for more, and they haven’t even reached their ceiling yet. This team will not be complacent and will not accept mediocrity. This team is destined for greatness, and they will work hard to achieve it yet again this season.

Next: What Steve Kerr's Absence Could Mean for the Warriors