The 1986--87 Lakers, directed so brilliantly by Magic Johnson, have stood as the gold standard for devastating offense. But the Showtime Lakers' 115.6 offensive rating—a modern record—is in serious jeopardy thanks to Kevin Durant's arrival in the Bay Area. Last season Steph Curry guided the Warriors to a franchise-best 114.5 offensive rating, the 12th highest in the three-point era.
Golden State's rating should only climb in 2016--17 now that Curry has been paired with Durant to form the most potent duo since Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. The Warriors' new supertandem has combined to win the last three MVP awards and five of the last seven scoring titles. Throw in Klay Thompson, and coach Steve Kerr has three legitimate 50/40/90 shooting candidates in his starting lineup.
Durant shouldn't be overly concerned about getting his touches. Under Kerr, Golden State has led the league in assist rate for the last two seasons—while the ball-stopping Thunder never ranked higher than 15th during Durant's nine seasons. "There's a lot I need to learn," Durant said this month. "I'm not as smart as I thought I was about the game. It's played a different way here."
PROJECTED LINEUP | 2015--16 stats
COACH STEVE KERR (3rd season with Warriors)
2015--16 RECORD 73--9 (1st in Pacific)
PG STEPH CURRY
30.1 PPG; 6.7 APG; 5.4 RPG; 45.4 3FG%
SG KLAY THOMPSON
22.1 PPG; 3.8 RPG; 47.0 FG%; 42.5 3FG%
SF KEVIN DURANT*
28.2 PPG; 8.2 RPG; 50.5 FG%; 38.7 3FG%
PF DRAYMOND GREEN
14.0 PPG; 9.5 RPG; 7.4 APG; 49.0 FG%
C ZAZA PACHULIA*
8.6 PPG; 9.4 RPG; 1.7 APG; 46.6 FG%
SF ANDRE IGUODALA
7.0 PPG; 4.0 RPG; 3.4 APG; 47.8 FG%
PF DAVID WEST*
7.1 PPG; 4.0 RPG; 1.8 APG; 54.5 FG%
PG SHAUN LIVINGSTON
6.3 PPG; 3.0 APG; 2.2 RPG; 53.6 FG%
A rival scout sizes up Golden State
No way they beat 73 wins. They'll go through some growing pains in terms of figuring out the lineups and shot distribution. I could see them starting slow. They get one of the best players in Kevin Durant now, but they have to redefine everyone's role.... Durant is more of a ball-stopper than Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but I think Steve Kerr will make it a priority to use that as a strength by giving him a package of isolation plays. They have the luxury of using Durant as a hammer: If he gets a good matchup or if they're coming out of timeouts, they can just force-feed him to put pressure on the defense.... I used to think Carmelo [Anthony] was the toughest one-on-one matchup, but Durant has taken that place. How do you guard him? Durant played high-level defense during the 2016 playoffs. He's such a good offensive player that it still gets overlooked, but he has game-changing ability on defense.... They took a big step back at center. Andrew Bogut is an elite defender, and Festus Ezeli was proven. They will have to adjust their defensive scheme with Zaza Pachulia and Anderson Varejão.... They'll miss Bogut more than anyone they lost. His injury in the Finals was one of the main reasons they fell apart. If he was a 10 on a 1-to-10 scale for rim protection, Zaza is a 3 or 4. But they can always close games with Draymond Green at the center, so it's not the end of the world.... Green is a top 15 talent. He's their best interior defender by a long shot now. But that small lineup is vulnerable on the glass, as both Cleveland and Oklahoma City showed.
TELLING NUMBER 115.6
Just a hunch: They won't struggle to score points. A second title in three years looks inevitable.