The Golden State Warriors didn’t need any help.
The Warriors — fresh off their third NBA championship in four seasons last month — are returning just about everyone. 3-point specialists Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both have time left on their deals with Golden State, and they reached a two year deal with two-time NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant earlier this week.
Yet after reaching a one-year, $ 5.3 million deal with four-time All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins on Monday, Golden State may have just created the best starting lineup in NBA history.
Yes, they’ll be that good.
Let’s take a look.
2018-19 Golden State Warriors
The stats alone are enough to put the Warriors up there among the best starting lineups in NBA history. Based on last season’s averages, Golden States’ starting five next year would average nearly 110 points per game — just two points shy of what their entire team averaged all season last year.
Granted, those numbers will likely fluctuate, but still.
Looking beyond the numbers, the accolades these five players have racked up is insane.
All five players were named to the All-Star team last season, and have done so a combined 25 times. They have three NBA MVPs, two NBA Finals MVPs and 11 NBA championships between them, too.
So, what’s the catch?
Yes, of course there’s a catch.
Cousins tore his Achilles tendon last season after playing in January after playing in just 48 games. While that injury has been known to sideline players for more than a season, depending on the severity, and often makes it extremely difficult to return to form even when fully healed, Cousins has shown positive signs during his recovery.
He has posted multiple workout videos to social media, and put one up on June 23 of him rehabbing and shooting in a gym again.
— DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) June 23, 2018
Take that however seriously you want, but its looking like Cousins will be back to full health in time for the NBA season this fall.
And if he does return back to prime form, he’ll be dangerous. In his last full season in 2016-17, Cousins averaged 27 points and 11 rebounds. Not only that, but he’s averaged at least 20 points and at least 11 rebounds per game since the 2013-14 season.
How do the Warriors compare?
So, we’ve established the Warriors are good. But just how good are they compared to the best starting lineups in NBA history?
They’re right at the top.
In fact, if you base it off of All-Star status alone, they’ll be the first team since the 1975-76 Boston Celtics to put out a starting lineup made up entirely of All-Stars from the previous season.
The last team to be able to put five players on the floor who were All-Stars in the previous season? Boston in 1975-76, according to @EliasSports
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 3, 2018
Those five Celtics in 1975-76 who were All-Stars the previous season: Jo Jo White, Charlie Scott, Dave Cowens, Paul Silas and John Havlicek https://t.co/IZd67UmBKV
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 3, 2018
Now, there are other incredible teams in NBA history made up of starting lineups not entirely full of All-Stars. Probably too many to count.
The 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, made up of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper and Luc Longley was probably the best Bulls starting lineup in the Jordan era. They lost just 13 games that season, and won their second-straight NBA title.
The Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers have fielded multiple teams throughout the years that deserve spots on the list, too — like the 1962-63 Celtics led by Bill Russell; the 1969-70 Lakers led by Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain; the Celtics in 1986-87 with Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale and Dennis Johnson; the 2003-04 Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone; and the Celtics in 2007-08 with Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins.
You can even throw in the 1991-92 Detroit Pistons, the 2002-03 San Antonio Spurs or LeBron James’ original “Big 3” team in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at its peak to the mix.
But the point still stands.
With a healthy DeMarcus Cousins, and a Golden State team that is showing no signs of slowing down as it builds up its dynasty, the Warriors have a real opportunity to become the best starting lineup in NBA history.
And if they win yet another NBA title next June — what would be their fourth in five seasons — it’ll be hard to call that starting lineup anything other than the greatest of all time.
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