Stephen curry’s absence and return prove the warriors are the only true superteam – sbnation.com eur j gastroenterology hepatology impact factor

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The Boston Celtics with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce were not a superteam. The Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum were not a superteam. The Miami Heat with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were not a superteam. The Cleveland Cavaliers with LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love were not a superteam. The Oklahoma City Thunder with Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony are (were?) certainly not a superteam. The Golden State Warriors with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and Klay Thompson were not a superteam.

The Celtics with Garnett couldn’t win championships — this was proved when Boston fell short when Garnett got injured. The Lakers wouldn’t have made it out of the West in 2009 or 2010 without Kobe. The Heat with LeBron were a mid-rung Eastern playoff team. The Kyrie-era Cavaliers without LeBron were quite possibly a lottery team. The Thunder — well, I included them as a joke, so let’s move on before I sprain my cerebral cortex. The Second Wave Warriors — that is, the Warriors of the era after Mark Jackson and before Kevin Durant — would never have sniffed 73 wins or a title without Curry.

What makes a team truly special — super — is that it is as strong as any other in the league, and then it adds capacity on top. A superteam is powered beyond what is traditionally possible in the NBA. A superteam is not simply a really well-built, powerful molecule: it’s a really well-built, powerful molecule with another impressive atom added on to make the whole thing a completely different, more powerful molecule. It’s not mere excellence. It is excellence evolved.

The Heat are an interesting case, in part because this is when the term “superteam” came into common parlance. A LeBron-Wade team without Bosh could have won titles. A LeBron-Bosh team without Wade could have won titles. But we can all acknowledge that a Bosh-Wade team without LeBron would not have gotten to that level. The Heat were not a championship-level team on July 7, 2010. It took adding LeBron on top to get them there. As such, in my opinon, that’s not a superteam.

Now if LeBron had joined the 2010 NBA champion Lakers that summer? That’s a superteam. If LeBron had joined the Celtics? That’s a superteam, assuming the universe didn’t cave in on itself upon Paul Pierce’s gasp of shock. LeBron makes this whole discussion a little difficult because he’s basically a really, really good team capable of winning championships unto himself. But it checks out. He’s never led a superteam. He’s been the centerpiece of a number of really, really good teams capable of winning championships that never would have sniffed that level of quality without him.

The Warriors with Curry, Green, and Thompson won a record 73 games, won a title, and almost claimed another. Those Warriors were a really, really good team capable of winning championships. Those Warriors added Kevin Durant on top. That’s a superteam.

Stephen Curry’s absence and return only reinforce the point. The Warriors pulled a gentleman’s sweep on the Spurs in Round 1 of the NBA playoffs and blew the Pelicans out of the water in Game 1 of the second round all without Curry. If Curry were to miss the rest of the season, the Warriors would probably remain favorites to win the title. (Interestingly, the Warriors’ favorite status would probably be even stronger if Curry were fully healthy and Durant went out of the season.) It wouldn’t be a guaranteed title by any stretch — is any title ever guaranteed? — but if Curry snapped his ankle and went under the knife, the Warriors would remain a really, really good team capable of winning the championship.

Curry ruled over Game 2 on Tuesday, scoring 28 points on 15 shots in 27 minutes. Without him, the Warriors likely would have lost the game. But no one would have truly feared that Golden State were in peril in this series. The Warriors were too good without Curry for his absence to matter at this point.

Against the Houston Rockets in the West finals — assuming it comes to that — it will matter then. Because the Rockets are also a really, really good team capable of winning championships. In the annual clash of titans between teams capable of claiming the O’Brien, that extra layer of excellence the true superteam has makes the difference. Warriors vs. Rockets without Curry or Durant in the picture would be a well-matched battle. That extra superstar tilts the field toward the Warriors in a real way.