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Warriors not alone at top of the NBA

By: Kyera Stinson

Statistically, the Spurs are better than the Golden State Warriors and Las Vegas says they have a better shot to win the title.

Statistically, the Spurs are better than the Golden State Warriors and Las Vegas says they have a better shot to win the title.

The Golden State Warriors are the clear favorite to win the Western Conference and 2016 NBA title, but has their success as they look to defend their title made to ignore the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder?

If you ask Las Vegas odds makers, the Spurs have a 45.2-percent chance to win the NBA title, the Warriors have a 39.6-percent chance. The Warriors might have the better record, but there are plenty of reasons why they should not be overly comfortable right now.

The Spurs have outscored their opponents by an averaged of 17.8 points per 100 possessions. They allowed only 89.6 points per game per 100 possessions, which is the best in the league. Golden State gives up a whopping 102 points per game per 100 possessions. History shows that teams that out-score their opponents by a double-digit margin usually go on to win the NBA title.

With the adjusting integration of LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs have come just as dominant as an all-around team was the Warriors have. Three-pointer’s might win games, but they don’t win championships. Rebounds and free throws matter more in the long run since they come all the time and three’s are just so much harder to hit consistently.

Golden State has amazing depth, but the Spurs occupy a more solid second unit. San Antonio’s bench holds an averaged of 40.4 points per game, putting them third overall in the league. The Warriors’ bench has fallen to 17th in the league while averaging only 34.3 points per game. The Spurs’ bench also leads all second units in both offensive and defensive efficiency, field goal percentage and assists.

Having Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant healthy at the same time makes the Thunder as dangerous as any team in the league.

Having Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant healthy at the same time makes the Thunder as dangerous as any team in the league.

And while the Thunder has become a forgotten team, it is impossible to ignore the talent that team has. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook alone have the abilities to take down both the Spurs and Warriors in a postseason showdown, but the inclusions of Enes Kanter and Dion Waters and emergence of Steve Adams give them remarkable scoring threats after the two MVP candidates. Serge Ibaka is a big player on the defensive side of the court but is also capable of having good offensive games.

Healthy has been the Thunders’ biggest battle.

While the Warriors have the league’s best record, the Spurs and Thunder have proven that it is far from a one-team race in the Western Conference.

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Kyera Stinson

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