After beating the Chicago Bulls on November 12, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors improved to 11-1 on the season. They have the best record in the NBA and look like championship contenders again after missing the playoffs in 2020 and 2021.
Before the season, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were pegged as the favorites to meet in the NBA Finals. Not many pundits picked the Warriors to win the championship since Klay Thompson is still out with an Achilles tear, but Curry and Co. are playing elite on both sides of the ball, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith is hopping on the Dubs’ bandwagon.
Stephen A. Smith believes Warriors will win 60 games
Before the Warriors beat the Bulls, Smith said he believes they’ll be the only team in the NBA this season to win at least 60 games. It was a bold claim by the veteran ESPN analyst since no team has won 60 games since the 2018-19 Milwaukee Bucks, who lost in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals to the Toronto Raptors in six games.
“I believe there will be a 60-win team,” Smith said. “It’s gon’ be the Warriors. You got perimeter shooting. You got free-throw shooting. More importantly, there’s plenty of dudes that take nights off, and these guys hit free throws. When you consider all of those things, and you consider the fact that plenty of teams take nights off … I can see plenty of situations where without Steph Curry being on his A-game, they find a way to win a few games.”
The Warriors lead the NBA in points per game (116.2) and are second in opponent points per game (101.5). They shoot 36.7% from beyond the arc, 79.5% from the free-throw line, and have four players averaging more than 11.0 points.
Curry is playing like an MVP again and looks like he’s in the best shape of his career. To make matters even better for the Warriors, Thompson could play in games just before the Christmas holiday.
Stephen Curry and Warriors could have Klay Thompson back before Christmas
Curry is averaging 28.4 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.4 assists through the Warriors’ first 12 games. While it’s been fun to watch him carry the load offensively, he could be getting help soon.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Thompson is making good progress in his Achilles rehab and could return to action before Christmas. The All-Star shooting guard has missed the last two seasons and is eager to play again.
“I’m told if he continues on his current course right now in rehab, that a target date for his return will be set probably within the next couple weeks,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown. “There’s optimism it could be as soon as December 20, December 23.”
The last time Curry and Thompson played an entire season together, the Warriors made the NBA Finals. While Thompson will undoubtedly be rusty after missing two years, Golden State’s offense will become even deadlier once he gets into a rhythm. After all, the California native is one of the top shooters in NBA history. He’s a career 41.9% shooter from beyond the arc.
While the Warriors do have good depth, the team will only go as far as Curry can take them. The two-time MVP is looking to win his fourth championship and add on to his already banner year.
Stephen Curry passed Ray Allen for most combined regular and postseason 3-pointers made in NBA history
Against the Bulls, Curry passed Hall of Famer Ray Allen for the most combined regular and postseason 3-pointers made in NBA history. The three-time champion finished with 40 points while shooting 9-of-17 from beyond the arc against Chicago.
Allen finished his career with 3,358 made 3-pointers. Curry, who is in his 13th season with the Warriors, hit Allen’s mark in 585 fewer games. Steph still trails Allen for most 3-pointers made in the regular season, but he will eventually break that record as well.
It will be interesting to see if Smith’s prediction about the Warriors comes to fruition. The team looks in sync offensively and defensively and is playing unselfish basketball. Those are scary sights for the rest of the league.