As the NBA season lurches into full swing, and October baseball has faded with a World Series win for Boston, there are only four things sports fans in the North State care about: the 49ers, the Raiders, the Kings, and the Warriors. Unless, of course, you are a hockey fan—which any self-respecting sports fan should be. But I am going to put hockey off to the periphery for a moment. The Bay area teams and the recently stable Sacramento Kings offer up the lightning rods around which North State fans cheer for the NFL and NBA.
To Raiders fans, the news is not good. I think it is fair to say that the playoff picture looks dim.
For 49ers fans, the news is better, though I doubt another Super Bowl berth is in the cards this season. There is a very real possibility that San Francisco might not even win their division because of the juggernaut that is the Seattle Seahawks.
If you are a Sacramento fan, then you no doubt know that the Kings will be staying put, despite a concerted effort by Seattle to buy them out and move them north this off-season. As a Kings fan, you now have His Shaq-ness as a minority owner, which could be useful given the desperate need for the maturation of Demarcus Cousins—he of the recent max contract extension. I know that there are a few Lakers fans scattered in the valley and amongst the Sierras, but I would like to think that the lion’s share of NBA fans in the region support the Kings or the Dubs.
Of the four teams mentioned, I think the Golden State Warriors represent the highest ceiling in terms of how they might shake up their respective league. Don’t get me wrong: The return of Michael Crabtree in San Francisco will certainly propel the 49ers into a tug-of-war match with Seattle for the NFC West supremacy. I just think that when the dust settles and we are looking at a postseason field where a team like Seattle has a home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the possibility of the 49ers as a wild card on the road does not bode particularly well.
Back to the Dubs.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, and Andrew Bogut might be one of the strongest starting-fives in the league—right up there with the Heat and the Nets. Add Harrison Barnes off the bench and I think you have a very dangerous team come spring. The West is more wide open than it has been in a long time, and I think the tandem of Curry and Thompson (the affectionately nicknamed Splash Brothers) is the best shooting backcourt in the league. It is too early in the season to be talking about whether a team is going to make the playoffs, but I think the future is very bright for our Golden State Warriors. Damn the torpedoes, I’ll say it: The Golden State Warriors are making the playoffs.