The all-conquering Golden State Warriors have created a fearsome squad that revolves around quick ball movement, interchangeable line-ups and an ability for (nearly) all on the court to drain three-pointers.
It has created a shift in the basketballing landscape, with more teams around the world modifying their game to be more perimeter-based, with smaller lineups that have multiple shooters.
No team in the NBL identifies with this philosophy more than the Melbourne United.
And it seems to be working. The United have won six straight games, and after a slow start, are tied for the best record in the league. Apart from one exception, Melbourne and the Warriors are eerily similar in the way they operate. Here is a comparison.
**Disclaimer – In no way is this article saying that the Melbourne United players are as good or talented as the Golden State guys. It is stating that the way their respective sides utilise each team’s players is similar.**
Point Guard – The Scorer that can Pass
Casper Ware vs Stephen Curry
Having a point guard who is a shoot first, pass second kind of player seems to work in the NBL (see Cotton, Trice, Sosa, Randle) and it works here. Ware is second in the league in assists per game but still looks for his shots, as he is second on the team in both points per game and field goal attempts. Steph Curry may be known as a point guard that is a phenomenal shooter, but he still averages 6.3 assists per contest.
Shooting Guard – The Sharpshooter
Chris Goulding vs Klay Thompson
Klay Thompson is a much better defender than Goulding is known for, but they are both known as sharpshooting threats from outside. Goulding started the season slowly but has picked up his game immensely. In Melbourne’s six-game winning streak, Goulding is averaging 18.7 points per game, hitting 28 three-pointers on 50% from downtown.
Small Forward – The All-Around Superstar
Casey Prather vs Kevin Durant
After two years in Perth, there were high hopes for Prather with Melbourne. He hasn’t disappointed. Just like Durant spent many years in Oklahoma City before jumping to the Warriors. Prather is fifth in the league in points per game, fourth in PER and second in DRtg. That last statistic is important because just like Prather, Durant has evolved his game to be a great defender as well as a punishing offensive force.
Power Forward – The Jack of All Trades
Tai Wesley vs Draymond Green
With all the scoring power at the first three positions, there is a need for a player who can do everything else: rebound, pass, play defence and hit the occasional three-point shot. Draymond Green and Tai Wesley have shown that they can do this constantly. Both players are the heart and soul of their respective teams, passionate about the game of basketball and aren’t afraid of showing their emotions. Behind their jack of all trades is a talent that has come to the forefront, with some media outlets naming Tai Wesley the best power forward in the league.
Centre – The Rebounding Defender
Josh Boone vs Zaza Pachulia
This position doesn’t quite fit the narrative of the Melbourne-Golden State similarities, but it does warrant a mention. Josh Boone is the best big man in the competition, being a walking double-double machine who can dismantle opposing front lines. Pachulia is a big body that fills in enough minutes until Golden State’s “death line-up” is activated.
A good comparison would be when Andrew Bogut was lining up for the Warriors. Bogut brought toughness, rebounding and a defensive presence that Boone brings to the United, demonstrated by his 101.5 DRtg number, the best in the league.
Bench – Quick Fire Scorers
David Andersen/Kyle Adnam vs David West/Nick Young
Both team’s benches don’t have as much influence as other squads in their respective leagues, with Golden State in the bottom half of bench points per game and Melbourne dead last. What they do have are quick shooters who can heat up rapidly, giving their team a burst of offence when the starters are getting a rest.
Again, this is not a comparison of the two team’s talents, as the Warriors have some of the best players to lace up the basketball boots. But when broken down, it seems that the game plan and team makeup of both teams are very alike. For Melbourne fans, they should be hoping that this similarity extends to the success that the Warriors have had in the recent future.