The 2020-21 NBA season will be a season of unseen precedence. There will be no fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the NBA is even unsure how the backend of the season will be.
But one element that is bringing intrigue is the potential return of the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are in stage 2 of their climb back to NBA relevancy. And their march begins tonight.
But the pandemic, injuries to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and the departure of Kevin Durant may have let us forget how mighty the Warriors once was the last 17 monthd. Without Golden State and their basketball ethos, there is no current NBA or even basketball now.
The Warriors were winners of three NBA titles in five seasons. Two with Durant, in a much-maligned era. Nevertheless, the Warriors put their stamp on basketball with three-point shooting, ball movement, and a motion system that could all put teams to bed by the third quarter.
But while Durant is with Brooklyn and Thompson is out another year, it begs a simple question: will the Warriors get back to the tenants that changed the NBA and basketball?
The Warriors always relied on ball movement to create shots in the halfcourt. While ball movement is nothing new, they attacked teams with the three-point shot versus high percentage two-pointers. However, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr always challenged his teams mentally to gain an edge over their competition.
Kerr built a culture that, like Pete Carroll in Seattle, teaches mindfulness and embracing team unity. For Kerr, the Warriors must embrace the mantra of strength in numbers. From Steph Curry to the 15th man on the roster, the Warriors needed everyone to lock-in.
For that to happen again, the Warriors must embrace the four principles that made them successful during their championship era.
Joy: When you watched the Warriors pre, and during the Durant-era, you sensed that the team enjoyed playing with each other. Curry’s three-point explosions, Durant’s spectacular scoring rampages, or Thompson’s silent, record-setting performances, their joy on the floor quickly made nights at The Oracle a spectacle to watch. With Curry back, he will have to lead this Warriors team back to its joyous ways
Kerr preached mindfulness to his Warriors as a way for his team to stay centered. Being mindful would help the team remain a unit, where on offense, a good shot can turn into a great shot with just one more pass—on defense, knowing your assignments and playing within their system. The Warriors regularly ranked in the top 5 on offense and defense in their championship years. Even with new members on the floor, can the Warriors get back the mindfulness superpower that made them elite?
When Draymond Green got into heated arguments with Kerr during their first few years together, it was their compassion for each other that helped get them out of a rut. Kerr understood Green’s outbursts came from passion. Green understood that Kerr wanted him to evolve. While the Durant drama drained the team in the end, it will be necessary for the Warriors to remember how far compassion brought their two leaders, leading to championships.
A staple of the Warriors heyday was that they were never out of a game. The Warriors could pour on their infamous scoring avalanches at any time. Why and how? Due to them always remembering to compete, no matter the score. Easily this is why the Warriors won three NBA titles and have the record for most wins in a season with 73.
So can the Warriors get back to where they used to be? They could, of course, but it will not be an easy march. The NBA has changed drastically, and each team employs a tactic that made the Warriors special. However, with great cultures, the Warriors must prove that they are the originators. One that is replicated but never can be duplicated.