Golden State Warriors' Top 10 Plays of 2012-13 Season Thus Far
The 2012-13 NBA season has been a thrilling one in the East Bay.
The Golden State Warriors are winning in a way that they have not done in over 20 years, and they are doing so with a special group of players. Along the way, these players are creating countless memories for their fans, both visual and emotional.
Narrowing down a season's worth of clutch threes, sick passes, powerful dunks, massive swats and sweet steals was no easy task. That being said, the list I came up with does represent as many different players and types of plays as possible.
So sit back and enjoy the most exciting plays from 2012-13 thus far. Watching each play multiple times is not only acceptable, it's required.
10. Richard Jefferson 180 Dunk Against Hornets
Richard Jefferson was once one of the league's premier high fliers. In 2003, he participated in the Slam Dunk Contest.
At age 32, Richard Jefferson doesn't throw down like he used to.
Still, Jefferson has started to play much better over the last several weeks, and a flash of youth bursts out of him every so often. The best example is this Jan. 19 dunk in New Orleans, where RJ drives the baseline, rises up, turns his body to elude a shot-blocker and gracefully throws it down over his own head.
9. Stephen Curry Makes Game-Sealing Steal Against Thunder
Stephen Curry will appear on this list later on for reasons you might expect: Deadly shooting, crazy ball-handling and show-stopping passing.
Those skills are what Curry is known for, but his game has become so incredibly well-rounded in 2012-13. While his defense is not elite, it's no longer a weakness—it's another asset in his deep arsenal.
On Jan. 23, the Warriors battled the great Oklahoma City Thunder down to the wire. It was a brilliant offensive display from Curry that led the Warriors to a 101-99 lead with 17.5 seconds left, but it was Curry's amazing steal on a beautifully drawn up Scott Brooks play that sealed one of the most impressive wins of the season for Golden State.
8. Harrison Barnes' Dunk on Aaron Gray
This is the first Harrison Barnes dunk on this list, but it will not be the last.
Still, while two other Barnes dunks outrank this monster jam, there are things that this Jan. 28 dunk has over the other two. Barnes drives by his defender with ease and soars to the basket, finishing with authority despite receiving a hard and dangerous foul from Toronto's Aaron Gray.
The foul resulted in a minor calf injury that kept Barnes out of the next game, but it wasn't enough to stop the rookie sensation from finishing the dunk and hitting his well-deserved extra free throw.
7. Jarrett Jack Throws Shoe and Hits Three
This play doesn't rank high on the degree of difficulty meter, the clutch meter or any other sort of criteria you may expect plays on this list to fulfill.
The reason that this play ranks so high for Golden State is that it exemplifies just how huge Jarrett Jack has been for the Warriors. No one on the team is as heads up, daring, engaged, competitive, clutch or funny as Jack, and this sequence shows off all of those characteristics.
The 2012-13 Warriors have an attitude and an edge that comes off as obnoxious and frustrating to opponents, but it is this same demeanor that makes them such a high-chemistry, tight-knit group.
6. Stephen Curry Undresses Jeffery Taylor
Here comes that shooting and ball-handling I alluded to earlier.
On December 10, Stephen Curry returned home to North Carolina to face the Charlotte Bobcats. Curry went for 27 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, but the highlight of his night came on this third-quarter play.
Rookie Jeffery Taylor attempted to guard Curry tight. This was a seemingly smart decision by Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap, as Curry was feeling it from deep and Taylor has the length to deny him space. Rather than just attempt to drive on the bigger Taylor like most point guards would, Curry committed what would be considered a felony in some states, dismantling Taylor before draining a wide-open triple.
The celebration doesn't hurt.
5. Andrew Bogut Saves Game with Block of Brandan Wright
On Jan. 28, Andrew Bogut returned from injury. In his first game, the 7'0" Australian completely changed the game with four blocks. He had three in his second game back against the Mavericks on Jan. 31, the final of which was the biggest defensive play of the season for Golden State.
Up one with under 10 seconds to play, the Mavericks got the ball in down low to Brandan Wright. Using his exceptional anticipation, timing and confidence in his own abilities, Andrew Bogut stayed down and held his ground, simply putting his long arms in Wright's face. He knocked the ball away, and the Warriors got the win.
The Mavericks complained profusely about the non-call, but unless great defense is a penalty in this league, the refs got this one right.
4. Stephen Curry's Pass to Jarrett Jack for Reverse on Fast Break
This Jan. 21 play is perfect for so many reasons.
First, the heady Jarrett Jack recognizes that while two Clippers defenders are back, both are focused on Stephen Curry, who is incredibly dangerous in transition. As Jack sprints down the court, Curry quickly realizes that his backcourt mate could have an easy layup.
Then things get crazy.
With two defenders on Curry, the window to get the ball to Jack is tiny. He could risk a pass overhead, but instead Curry delivers one of the prettiest, most powerful, highest degree-of-difficulty bounce passes I've ever seen. The ball leads Jack perfectly, coming into his hands right as he is in position to finish.
Here comes the kicker.
Blake Griffin reacted well to the pass and flies down for what could become a SportsCenter Top 10 chase-down block. However, Jack again outsmarts the Clippers transition defense, initially going up with his right hand (sending Griffin soaring by) before transferring to his left and finishing a beautiful no-look reverse layup.
Point guard to point guard.
3. Harrison Barnes Dunks on Ersan Ilyasova
Harrison Barnes is a mid-level player on this Warriors team. The rookie small forward is important, no doubt, but he's no Stephen Curry, David Lee, Andrew Bogut, Klay Thompson or even Carl Landry.
Yet, none of the aforementioned players will make an appearance in the top three plays of the Warriors season this far. Barnes will make two.
This is because the 20-year-old is as athletic and explosive as they come, and there are only a handful of guys in the NBA who can throw down like this kid can.
This Jan. 26 dunk against Milwaukee is just disgusting. Barnes catches the ball wide open in the corner. Rather than taking the open triple, Barnes uses the space in front of him to gain speed towards the rim. An open look at a three is bad defense, but giving Barnes this kind of momentum is a death sentence.
Harrison launches from the edge of the key and really just seems to float for about two seconds before flushing it down with extreme authority.
This would be the dunk of the year for most teams.
2. Draymond Green's Layup to Beat the Heat
On Dec. 4, 2012, the Warriors looked good. They were 10-7 and off to their best start in several years.
However, a seven-game Eastern Conference road trip loomed ahead, and the young Warriors had not yet been tested like this.
Entering their Dec. 12 game against Miami, the Dubs were 4-0 on the trip and flying high. With 11 seconds left, the ball and a tie score later that night, the Warriors were on the verge of truly arriving.
Jarrett Jack had milked almost the entire clock when Draymond Green made a brilliant backdoor cut with time running down. Jack delivered a sensational pass into Green, who jumped up, caught the ball and laid it up and it with less than a second remaining.
Arguably the two highest basketball IQ guys on the Warriors hooked up to beat the NBA's best and most athletic team. This still remains the biggest win of the season for Golden State, and the play is too perfectly symbolic of the 2012-13 to have been scripted.
Although, Mark Jackson stubbornly claimed that it was.
1. Harrison Barnes' Dunk on Nikola Pekovic
If you've been awake since November, you've seen this dunk. The rest of the NBA will be hard-pressed to top the dunk that Golden State's rookie small forward was able to finish over Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic on Nov. 24, 2012.
After great ball movement throughout the entire play, David Lee's final pass is just killer. He bounces a perfect no-look pass and finds a streaking Harrison Barnes. At this point, Barnes simply takes flight.
What makes the dunk so great is that there was no breakdown in interior defense. Sure, Barnes' man lost him on the perimeter, but Lee's pass was still hard to fathom. Even once the pass was made, center Nikola Pekovic was down low, ready to protect the rim as usual.
Unfortunately for Pekovic, Barnes had other ideas. The Minnesota center went up to challenge Barnes, but Barnes went up twice as high. Pekovic did use his body to keep Barnes out of the restricted area, but the lengthy Barnes still jams it home from where he was.
This play is everything a great posterizing dunk should be. Hopefully, it's only one of many highlight-reel hammers to come for Harrison Barnes in Oakland.