After their elimination in the 2023 NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals, many have essentially deemed the dynastic days of the Golden State Warriors to be over. Whether these predictions turn out to be premature or accurate, here’s a look back at the timeline of the Warriors’ run of greatness.
The interesting case with the Warriors is that the exact moment that the seeds of their dynasty were planted is hardly in dispute. Back in the 2012-2013 season, while still being coached by Mark Jackson, it all started to come together for the Golden State Warriors. Steph Curry increased his three point attempts from 4.7 to 7.7 attempts per game, and Klay Thompson increased his three point attempts to 6.4 attempts to game, up from his rookie season average of 4.1.
Also that season, the Golden State Warriors drafted defensive wizard, Draymond Green.
And just like that, with those changes, among others of course, the Golden State Warriors won 47 games that season. More than doubling their previous year’s win total of 23. Of course, no one could really know it at the time, but the core foundation of a once in a lifetime team had been set. The Warriors even made it to the NBA Western Conference Semifinals were they lost to the San Antonio Spurs in 6 games.
Though it was clear that they were on the path, they were still a mediocre team to be sure. In the 2012-13 season, the Warriors finished 11th in Offensive Rating, and 14th in Defensive Rating. An improved team, but still work needed to be done.
The following season, the Warriors took another step forward, they added Andre Iguodala to the mix, finished with 51 wins, and improved defensively, but unfortunately lost in the first round to the Los Angeles Clipper in 7 games. The Clippers were a loaded team that finished the season with 57 wins, so this was hardly a setback for the Warriors. They just happened to run into a team that was further along than they were in the first round.
The 2014-15 season however, is when everything changed. The Warriors finished with 67 wins, was 2nd in Offensive Rating, and 1st in Defensive Rating. Most importantly, they won the Larry O’Brien trophy, taking home gold that year.
While Steph Curry’s otherworldly shooting is most credited for much of the Warriors success, it is important looking back to remember all the things that made the Warriors special. Their commitment on the defensive end, spear-headed by Draymond Green, their cohesiveness and unselfish ball-movement, and of course the shooting of both Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry.
Ironically, the very next season, the Golden State Warriors would have too much success, ultimately leading to a disappointing end to their season. After a record breaking 73-9 season, in which it seemed the Warriors were just in a league of their own, they ultimately crumbled in the NBA Finals, squandering a 3-1 lead to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
This setback would only prove to be fuel for the Warriors however, as they would go on to repeat as NBA Champions in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, except now they had Kevin Durant leading the charge. The addition of Durant after having a 73-9 season made them all but unbeatable, and unlikeable.
Though the 2018-19 season seemed like it would be much of the same for the Warriors, their luck changed. They did finish with the best record in the Western Conference, but would lose both Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant in the playoffs due to injury. Those losses would prove too much to overcome as they would lose to the Toronto Raptors in the NBA Finals in 6 games.
What could have potentially just been a minor bump in the road for the Golden State Warriors, turned into an extended string of bad luck. Kevin Durant would leave the Golden State Warriors that summer, partially due to a dust up with mercurial forward Draymond Green. Stephen Curry would only play 5 games of the 2019-20 season due to injury, Klay Thompson would suffer consecutive devastating injuries and miss the entire 2019-20, and 2020-21 seasons.
In those two dark seasons, the Warriors would finish 15-50, and 39-33.
Finally however, the 2021-22 season would see the Warriors return to form. The squad was largely intact, and the core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green now had some young complementary pieces that were starting to come into their own. They would finish with the 3rd best record in the Western Conference and would win the NBA Finals once again. Not a single series would go to a game 7 that year.
With players like Jordan Poole, and Andrew Wiggins making meaningful contributions, and with young talent like Jonathan Kuminga still in tow, it seemed like the Warriors were still reasonably set up to contend in the present and the near future.
However, the 2022-23 season would see the Warriors teether on the brink of mediocrity, finishing with 44 wins, good for the 6th best record in the Western Conference. The first red flag that they were no longer a championship team was the fact that they were pushed to seven games in the first round by the Sacramento Kings, a team that performed well during the regular season, but not a team that anyone would mistake for a contender. At least not yet.
The nail in the coffin came in the Conference Semifinals, where the Warriors did put up a valiant last stand, but ultimately fell to the Los Angeles Lakers. Almost fittingly, a Los Angeles Lakers team that was led by the Warriors’ old nemesis, LeBron James.
Whether or not this is the end of the Golden State Warriors as a dynasty, the Warriors had a truly special run for a decade that all started with a coach believing before anyone else, that he had the best shooting backcourt in basketball.