The 2015-2016 Golden State Warriors are 60 games into the season and breaking the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls’ historical mark of 72-10 no longer feels like a dream but a foregone reality.
With 22 games remaining, the Warriors still have a trio of games vs. the San Antonio Spurs and two each vs. playoff teams Dallas, Memphis, and Portland.
However, six of their next seven matchups are against teams with sub-.500 records, and six of those seven are at the Oracle Arena where they are undefeated.
I’m not one for playing the hypothetical comparison game that you tend to see on Sportscenter once a week. They just bring a few ex-players on the show to guess whether or not Team X can beat Team Y despite layers of generational nuance. That’s a clown show, bro.
No. I like comparisons that are black and white. Give me two rosters side-by-side and let me determine that Harrison Barnes is the Ron Harper of the Golden State Warriors.
So that’s what we’ve done.
We’re comparing the roster of the 2016 Golden State Warriors to that of the 1996 Chicago Bulls, and I refuse to tell you who would win the game.
Michael Jordan = Stephen Curry
Here’s a GIF of Captian Obvious for obvious purposes.
Yes, Stephen Curry is the Michael Jordan of the Golden State Warriors. Mr. Big Shot, if you will. Aside from the fact the two are the faces of their historically good teams, their statistics are quite similar as well.
Steph: 30.7 points, 6.6 assists, 5.3 boards, 2.1 steals per game.
MJ: 30.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 2.2 steals per game.
That’s insanely similar, but it also makes sense.
At their core, both players are shooting guards — Steph a ‘2’ with point guard tendencies and Jordan a ‘2’ with small forward tendencies.
Scottie Pippen = Klay Thompson
So, if Steph Curry is the Michael Jordan that must mean Klay Thompson is the Scottie Pippen, right? I think so, but it’s not as clear-cut as you may think. Draymond Green has his case as Steph’s true right-hand man.
But in the end, public perception plays a role, and it’s Klay. They’re the “Splash Brothers,” just like Michael and Scottie were “Pip Airness.” I made that up, but you get the picture.
Klay also embodies a trait Scottie was well known for and that’s perimeter defense. Both are, or were, amongst the best in the entire league at on-ball defense away from the basket. It’s not perfect, but in terms of their scoring, defense, size (6’7 vs 6’8) and media perception; Scottie and Klay are quite a match.
Ron Harper = Harrison Barnes
By process of elimination amongst the five starters, we end up being left with a Ron Harper, Harrison Barnes comparison. This one may seem odd in the sense that Barnes is a natural SF while Harper was a point guard.
But Ron Harper was a 6′ 6″ point guard. He wasn’t exactly a midget. And with both Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen on the team it’s not like he brought the ball up every possession.
Size-wise and athleticism, there are some similarities. Both can guard on- and off-the-ball, so while the position match isn’t the same, Harper and Barnes are the best match amongst starters from these two squads.
Luc Longley = Andrew Bogut
Is there any other reason I need for this besides they’re both from Melbourne, Australia?
Didn’t think so.
Dennis Rodman = Draymond Green
I mentioned that Dray has a case of being the Scottie of the 2016 Warriors. But when you think about it, he’s more Dennis Rodman. Undersized and underskilled on the frontline, but banging on the boards with 7-footers regardless.
Green has an outside shot and impeccable passing skill. Rodman did not. But what they both share is the sliver of craziness and innate ability to be the emotional mouthpiece of the team. No one, and I mean no one, berates an opponent or referee like Draymond does. And no one scares me like Rodman did.
They’re the glue guys and serve an irreplaceable role on their respective teams, one you don’t win 70 games without.
Toni Kukoc = Andre Iguodala
Sixth Man Nation. Both Kukoc and Iggy play or played crucial roles off the bench, even though their minute distribution represent those of a starter.
Both are or were capable three-point shooters and playmakers on the fast break. All championship teams need depth, and as Iguodala showed by winning NBA Finals MVP last year – it doesn’t matter where you play to make a needed contribution.
He’s truly the Toni Kukoc of his team.
Steve Kerr = Shaun Livingston
This is the worst match of them all, but there’s a reason for it. The Warriors have the best guard play in the entire NBA despite the fact that only three, maybe four guards, get meaningful minutes — truly exemplifying the “less is more” idea.
Aside from the aforementioned Steph or Klay, 10th-year guard Shaun Livingston is the only one to write home about.
Livingston can’t shoot the three like his current coach and former Bulls’ sharpshooter Steve Kerr can. In fact, Livingston is a bad three-point shooter, but he maximizes his minutes on the court in a similar fashion to Kerr in his days on the Bulls.
Bill Wennington = Festus Ezeli
When Festus Ezeli is healthy, he, like Bill Wennington did in the 90s, fill ultra-valuable front court minutes off the bench. That’s the main comparison here. However, I want to point out a few awesome Wennington anecdotes.
He went to St. John’s. Without knowing beforehand, St. John’s is the most Bill Wennington school ever. Second, did you know that Wennington shot 86 percent from the free throw line in ’95-’96? That’s better than Michael Jordan.
A 7-foot white guy, he also averaged the same amount of personal fouls per game as rebounds. That’s probably the most impressive thing about him.
Dickey Simpkins = Marreese Speights
I just needed a way to sneak Dickey Simpkins’ name in here.