The Warriors dominance is well established. Over the past four seasons, they’ve won more than 80 percent of their games, establishing a new regular season record for wins and taking home three championships. Only an epic comeback (or collapse, depending on how you look at it) prevented them from winning a fourth.
With the addition of DeMarcus Cousins this summer and no major subtractions from the roster, they will enter this season as the overwhelming favorites to finish with the best record and continue their Finals dominance. For any team to beat them in a playoff series will take tremendous performances, tremendous luck, and winning just enough of a thousand tiny matchups that won’t really reveal themselves until later in the season.
At this point, the most interesting questions about the Warriors are mostly about measuring them against themselves. So, besides a whole bunch of winning, what could the Warriors actually accomplish this season?
According to Basketball-Reference, Golden State finished last season averaging 113.6 points per 100 possessions, just behind the Houston Rockets and the 31st best mark since 1973-74. In 2016-17, the Warriors finished at 115.6, tied with the 1986-87 Lakers for the top mark in that time frame. Being the best offense in NBA history is certainly within their grasp.
An even more interesting possibility, however, is breaking some new ground in the 50/40/90 category (50 percent from the field, 40 percent on 3-pointers and 90 percent from the free throw line). Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are two of the seven players to ever manage those percentages across a full season. With career percentages of 45.8 percent from the field, 42.2 percent on 3s and 85.2 percent from the free throw line, Klay Thompson has consistently been a stone’s throw away from making it as well.
What’s amazing is that Golden State, as a team, was within striking distance of 50/40/90 last season — shooting 50.3 percent from the field, 39.1 percent from the free throw line and 81.5 percent on free throws. Only 58 teams in NBA history have ever shot better than 50 percent from the field for a season. Just 10 have ever topped 40 percent on 3s, none of whom were also above the 50 percent from the field threshold. No team has ever managed 90 percent from the free throw line from the season.
However, all else being equal if the Warriors had made 22 more of the 1,444 3-pointers and 141 of the 308 free throws missed they would have been over 50/40/90 for the season. Free throws would be the biggest challenge but the Warriors are entering their fifth season doing things no one has ever done before. Who is to say this isn’t a record that’s waiting to be broken?