The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook's Jeff Sherman told Nick Friedell of ESPN.com the Warriors, led by star Stephen Curry, would be 12.5-point favorites over the Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers from 2001.
On Wednesday, O'Neal expressed confidence in a hypothetical matchup with the Warriors, per USA Today's Scott Gleeson: "I think we'd easily win. Other people might feel different, they (the Warriors) might feel different. But we had one of the best teams of all-time in 2001 when we went 15-1 in the playoffs. We would've gone 16-0 but A.I. (Hall of famer Allen Iverson) went off on us and stepped over (former Laker) Ty Lue."
The 2000-01 Lakers won a solid but unspectacular 56 games during the regular season, with O'Neal and Bryant combining to miss 22 games. As Shaq noted, however, L.A. hit its stride in the postseason, losing only once en route to the second of three straight titles.
That team had one Hall of Famer (O'Neal) and another destined for Springfield, Massachusetts (Bryant), while boasting one of the greatest coaches in basketball history (Phil Jackson). Still, the Lakers would have their hands full with the Warriors, regardless of what Shaq might think.
The Warriors have three and potentially four future Hall of Famers among the quartet of Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Assuming Bryant would match up with Thompson, imagine Rick Fox trying to guard Durant or Derek Fisher attempting to slow down Stephen Curry.
Granted, Golden State wouldn't have anybody to counteract O'Neal inside, but Shaq might find life difficult against an opponent that plays at a much quicker tempo and constantly runs him around the floor on defense.
Although a 12.5-point spread between the present-day Warriors and 2000-01 Lakers might at first sound a bit favorable to Golden State, the Warriors more than warrant such a strong endorsement.