The Golden State Warriors boast a unique small-ball lineup that features point guard Stephen Curry, two shooting guards and two small forwards, but the scariest part is the unit’s effectiveness.
According to ESPN’s Sam Alipour, Curry asserted that Golden State’s lineup cannot be copied because the personnel is unmatched.
“You can try to copy it, but you won’t have the personnel. There isn’t another Draymond Green, another Klay [Thompson], another Andre [Iguodala]. If you put your small-ball lineup next to ours, we like our chances.”
That may come across as slightly arrogant, but the overall point is simply the truth.
Curry has poured in 32.2 points per game while shooting 46.3 from long distance more than one-fourth of the way through the 2015-16 season, and Thompson has netted 18.2 with a 44.2 percent clip beyond the arc.
While limiting Curry and Thompson is far from easy, it’s possible with the right personnel. A team like the San Antonio Spurs can contain the Splash Brothers because of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, but few teams have a pair of elite perimeter defenders.
Plus, Golden State has the ultimate mismatch in Draymond Green, who can defend any position, including center. No other NBA small forward is capable of handling that responsibility at Green’s level.
Having Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Green on the court simultaneously allows the Warriors to employ a rapid attack without sacrificing defense. Per NBA.com, the unit has recorded a 109.75 pace with a 154.7 offensive rating and 84.8 defensive clip.
Among lineups with at least 10 games played together, just one from the New Orleans Pelicans has a higher pace. That unit has been outscored. The 154.7 rating from the Warriors’ special group is No. 1 in the league.
Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but attempting to copy Golden State’s small-ball lineup is the quickest route to failure.