Targeting Zero: The Golden State Warriors’ Treacherous Quest to Beat the Odds

In professional sports, numbers make a huge difference in the outcome of a game, a season and a team’s championship aspiration. Whatever the sporting gods bring to the table at the end of the journey, crunching a long list of stats can be tedious and fulfilling all at the same time. For the Golden State Warriors, the obliteration of years – maybe decades – worth of frustrations all boils down to this season.

Ever since sweet-shooting point guard Stephen Curry shrugged-off nagging injuries and fully embraced the leader role before the start of the 2012-13 season, the Warriors became a sports bettor’s apple of the eye. They knew Golden State can torch the net and put up impressive numbers across the board, as long as number 30 is healthy. In short, they were a rather easy team to bet on because they’d always go as far as where Steph Curry will take them. Punters were fully aware about the capabilities of the fiery tandem of Curry and backcourt running-mate Klay Thompson in the scoring department – thus, the moniker “Splash Brothers” stuck to the general basketball populace. However, there’s still that missing piece in the Warriors’ rotation: a bona fide big man.

Even with Curry and Thompson’s constant assault last season, Golden State seemed to fall short of glory; having been eliminated in the Conference Semifinals by a more complete and veteran-savvy, San Antonio Spurs. That being said, it’s safe to say that the glaring difference between last season’s somewhat impressive playoff run and the 2012 season, didn’t solely rest on the shoulders of neither Curry nor Thompson, but it also fell on the broad shoulders of Australian center, Andrew Bogut.

Coming into the current season, odds-makers still put perennial Western Conference powerhouses, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the aforementioned San Antonio Spurs, at the top of the heap in terms of making it to the NBA Finals. Betfair‘s spread generously puts them at (8.4) and (14.0) respectively; miles ahead of Golden State’s 28.0. Not to put pressure on Andrew Bogut, but he has a huge chip on his shoulder to anchor the team’s defence and exact revenge from their conference rivals.

In 32 games last season, Bogut averaged a measly 5.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.7 BPG; a far cry from his impressive numbers in his former team, the Milwaukee Bucks. But this season, he is slowly returning to his old self posting a stat line of 8.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG and 1.7 BPG. He provides the Warriors a legitimate threat on defence; an area they’ve been seriously focusing over the past couple of years. If he’s not swatting away shots, his long reach alters the drives and dishes of opponents; in short, the Australian behemoth is a force to be reckoned with inside the paint.

Looking at the numbers, Bogut, along with newly-acquired swingman Andre Iguodala inject a sense of toughness to a young Warriors lineup. But beyond the stats, the odds, and everything in between, the focal point still lies in the overall attitude of the team. Because in hindsight, they’re a solid group of individuals aiming for one common target: the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Ultimately, the most important number for the Golden State Warriors this season is zero. They have to have all their key players on the court, zero injuries – fingers crossed – throughout the remainder of the season. They can’t afford to miss Steph Curry, just as much as they can’t afford to lose Andrew Bogut, because at the end of the day, no one can win on pure offense just as much as no one can win on defense alone.