Rip Hamilton has made the transition from solid NBA player, to solid CBS Sports NBA analyst.
The Golden State Warriors’ 24-1 start had many already crowning them as repeat NBA champions. Golden State is still a heavy favorite, but Hamilton believes there’s another contender lurking.
Hamilton believes the Oklahoma City Thunder will be the team to end Golden State’s reign.
So does Hamilton truly believe the Thunder will finish ahead of both the Warriors and Spurs? “I do,” Hamilton says. “The reason I say that is because if OKC has to match up with Golden State, I think Russell Westbrook can put enough pressure on Curry to force him to defend and play both sides of the floor. Most teams, he doesn’t have to do that against.”
That seems to be part of the strategy most teams would love to unleash on the Warriors. Make Curry defend. It’s not that Curry is a bad defender anymore. While he used to be a bit of a traffic cone on defense and just gambling for steals occasionally, Curry has become a good defender over the last couple years. The strategy behind it though is trying to get Curry to wear down over the course of a game and the course of a series so that he’s not able to be as potent on offense in the big moments.
Fellow CBS NBA analyst Raja Bell agreed with that strategy laid out by Hamilton.
“Valid point though,” Bell said. “Russell Westbrook is the one point guard in the league who may be able to put enough pressure on Steph to wear him down.”
I think without a doubt — Russell Westbrook’s ability to make Curry work on both ends of the floor will be crucial to the Thunder’s chances.
Now how OKC deals with all that Golden State depth is another thing!