Talking the undefeated Warriors with Dub Nation on BART
The fanbase is coming out of hibernation with eyes on the prize.
This morning on BART on the way to ye olde job I was sleepily perusing through my phone notifications, my GSW “We Believe” themed backpack filled to the zipper with work-related accessories, swiping between pressing work emails and reactions to last night’s Golden State Warriors victory. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-99 in Staples Center, making the Dubs 4-0 and La La Land 0-5.
Anyone who is riding Bay Area Rapid Transit these days knows it's pretty weird. Everyone’s masked up, the general vibe on sitting next to another person feels like “this may be a federal crime but my legs are tired”, and strangers seem hella distant even though they’re inches away. Disappearing into my phone normally feels like the safest choice to briefly escape from this dystopian science experiment; humans crammed together in silence, hampered from even reading each other’s facial expressions.
So when I felt someone tap my shoulder, I had the delayed surprise of someone deep in Bear Country hearing a twig snap in the brush. I shot a side-eyed glance over my shoulder to see some sleepy pink eyes peering out over a black mask with a Warriors logo on it. Dude was clearly stoned, and a fellow member of Dub Nation.
“Yooo,” he exclaimed as the other riders curiously looked up. “Are you Daniel Hardee?”.
Not knowing whether or not he was here to serve me a summons for those parking tickets I racked up at UC Berkeley in the early-2010s, I gave a cautious nod. He stepped closer.
“Duude, I love your work! Warriors are looking hella good this year, right?”
My guard dropped and my heart opened, because I love nothing more than shooting the breeze with Warriors fans. We started a warm conversation about the Dubs prospects this year, with more and more fellow patrons chiming in. Here’s a quick rundown of what my fellow Baydestrians were glowing about on the eve of the season starting.
Jordan Poole is going to be an All-Star
WOW this guy is quickly capturing the hearts of Dub Nation. 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in 19 minutes on a night without Stephen Curry on Draymond Green on the floor? That’s exciting. I got the feeling from Dub Nation Bart Edition that the people are seeing him as a Steph Curry 2.0, which is a damn near blasphemous thing to say with most comparisons to the greatest point guard alive. But with Poole, you can’t help but see the signs of the student learning in his third year under the master’s tutelage.
It also echoes what DNHQ member Asher B. commented when I asked the community for a Poole comp:
In search of a Poole comp? Well, we're looking for a guy who is a great shot, keeps the ball moving in the Warriors offense, willing passer, can catch and shoot, create off the dribble or finish at the rim, but pretty short and not that athletic, so defense will be a challenge.
Ladies and gswdawgs: Stephen Effin' Curry.
HOLD ON A SEC. I didn't say he was *as good* as Steph. No one ever is. This is a comp. A particular type. He's not a Steph clone, he's just in that lane. But if you're thinking he'll be due max money it'll be because he's become elite. And what elite player would you compare him to? He's not junior Giannis, he's not junior Kawhi, he's not junior Durant, LeBron, Tatum. He's not junior Klay because Klay's much more catch and shoot and much better on defense. Steph, or maybe Lillard.
Poole shot 2-of-8 from beyond the arc last night, but still put pressure on the defense with his new-and-improved ball handling and decision making. He has defenders on a yo-yo out there, and he’s beginning to become the type of weapon that has the advantage no matter what his opponent tries to take away. EGADS!
The Depth Is Real
I was amazed at how many different players BART Dub Nation could mention that would launch an excited conversational tangent. People were shouting over the noises of the train screeches to get in their two cents about guys like Otto Porter Jr. or Gary Payton II.
Last night OPJ was a real problem for the Lakers, lighting them up for 16 points in 20 minutes on 5-of-11 shooting (4-of-8 from downtown). This guy has a fluid shot and the veteran savvy to know where his shots will come from in Coach Steve Kerr’s offense. I heard one rider refer to him as “our Robert Horry”, a guy who can defend multiple positions while hitting 3PT daggers when left open.
Damion Lee had 16 points and 9 rebounds as a starter, reminding us that he’s a viable component to the Warriors playoff hopes. Andre Iguodala was in full glue-guy mode last night, tallying up 5 assists and 3 steals. He’s a master at making his teammates look good and filling in the gaps when needed, an underrated skill in the era of box score stuffers.
For those who were low on Iguodala’s return to the Warriors because it was a “nostalgia signing”, prepare to be reminded of what true professionalism and basketball savvy is as Dre leads these newer Warriors to glory.
But it was GP2 that received plenty of shine on that train conversation. IDK if this matters to Warriors GM Bob Myers, but we had a consensus in the traincar; Payton II needs to be on the 15-man roster this season. He’s an athletic freak with defensive chops, and a hunger to terrorize.
There was also quite a bit of #TownBiz pride involved with Payton II being the son of Oakland legend Gary. “He’s got that dog in him” was a phrase I heard repeated, a sure sign he’s already won over the blue-collar fans who grew up watching dudes get their souls taken at Mosswood Park. Even though this was GP2’s first preseason game after his hernia issues, he already had his synergy going with the squad. 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in 11 minutes? Yeah, that’ll work.
We’re not afraid of the Lakers…but should we be?
The dismissive hand waves and the eye rolling from those folks about the Lakers was almost too much hubris even for me. I can’t blame them for their arrogance; L.A. looks like a frankenstein of a team, big names and little spacing. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook combined for 11 turnovers and shot a combined 10-of-25 from the field.
BUT C’MON. I sincerely doubt these Lakers are going to be this wack during the regular season. LeBron has taken much worse teams to the NBA Finals, there’s too much talent there to not be sitting pretty once the postseason hits.
But it did amuse me that the small sampling of Warriors fandom I polled feels like the Lakers will be ripe for the taking once Klay Thompson and James Wiseman return, giving the Dubs their #FullSquad.
As I got off at my stop, I told them I’d be writing an article about that morning chat. It felt good to see people breaking out of their weary work/pandemic zombie state and tap in with the folks around them. It’s great to see Warriors baskeball bringing smiles to people’s faces, even if I can only tell they’re smiling by the light in their eyes and the joyful crinkles they made above their mask as they imagined just how dominant their Dubs could be.
Dubs. Stop a moment and think about how JP3 has grown in these two seasons. Consider how other young players that moved from the Bay, have disappeared. Now think about the work ethics of a kid that learned Mandarin Chinese, and that of a kid that for love of basketball, spent years without seeing his family. Think how much these two are going to grow up, in the same, joyful, professional, charismatic Dubs environment. And now realize that after all, another, new dinasty may being born in front of us.
Anybody following the rest of the first year draft class? Any standouts and/or surprises?