The Warriors' historic start to the season and unprecedented record after 25 games has fueled comparisons to the 1995-96 Bulls, a team that finished with 72 wins, the most in NBA history. Charles Barkley was the latest to chime in on how a hypothetical matchup between the two squads would go, saying the Bulls would "kill" the Warriors.
"That Bulls team would kill this little team," Barkley said in an interview Thursday with ESPN Radio. "Come on, man. Who is going to guard Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan? What about Dennis Rodman?"
Barkley is echoing the opinions of two members of that Bulls team -- Ron Harper and Dennis Rodman -- who have said very similar things. The knock on the Warriors is that they are playing against inferior competition and with offense-friendly rules that weren't in place when Jordan was around.
"Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman -- let me just start with those three," Barkley said. "First of all they would love playing the way the Warriors play. It's a much easier game now. Could you imagine how many points Michael would average if you couldn't touch him? Dennis would get so many rebounds against that team. They are a very small team."
The argument about Jordan thriving with the rule prohibiting hand checking is an old one. Rodman being a big factor, however, hasn't been discussed as much. The Warriors can go big and small, but it's their lineup featuring Draymond Green at center that makes them unique and has been their best weapon. The only weakness that unit has is an inability to control the boards on either end. They make up for the possessions they leave on the floor by rarely turning the ball over but their rebounding is a problem.
Rodman not only owned the defensive glass, but also rebounded 20 percent of the Bulls' misses in 1995-96, a ridiculously high mark. He was doing that largely against teams with two traditional big men on the court, too. In theory, he could keep enough possessions alive to give the Bulls more chances to score and he could affect the Warriors' pace by putting pressure on them to rebound as a team. In that sense, Barkley is right. Golden State's lack of size would hurt them.
On the other hand, the Warriors have Stephen Curry. Teams have tried to stop him with all kinds of defenders and schemes and he still averages 32 points in 52 percent shooting from the field, including a 45.6 three-point percentage. He's scoring more efficiently than Jordan ever did. He's not the only special talent on that team, as Klay Thompson and Green are legitimate All-Stars as well. The Bulls could beat them, but to say that they would "kill" them seems hyperbolic at best. Of course, this is Charles Barkley we are talking about.
Speculating about games that can't possibly happen is a fun, but ultimately pointless exercise. Barkley did say that he thinks the San Antonio Spurs will win the title this season. That's a more interesting thing to discuss, since the Warriors will likely have to face them if they hope to repeat as champions.
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