April 29, 2016
By Conor Langs
Twenty years ago, the Chicago Bulls accomplished something nobody thought possible: They set the all-time NBA regular season record of 72 wins. The record was untouchable for almost two decades, but then came the Golden State Warriors. In their final game of the regular season, the Warriors made history with a record of 73-9.
Despite this new record, many will still compare the Warriors to the 1995-96 World Champion Bulls, a team that has been widely thought of as the best ever. Scottie Pippen, a hall of fame forward from the Bulls team, has said he believes his team would “sweep” the current Warriors in a seven-game series. Charles Barkley, who played against the ‘96 Bulls, said that the ‘96 Bulls would “kill” the 2015-16 Warriors.
But are they right? I compared the two teams’ starting lineups by position to determine which team would win if we could bend time and let them play each other.
Stephen Curry (2015-16 Warriors) vs. Ron Harper (1995-96 Bulls)
A point guard’s roles of setting up the offense, play calling and anticipating how the play will transpire is why the position is the most critical. A team needs a good point guard to be successful. While both of these teams have a good point guard, this comparison is not even close, in my opinion. Stephen Curry wins the point guard position, and his stats back that up. Curry is well on his way to another MVP award, and his averages of 30.1 points and nearly 7 assists per game are far superior to Harper’s stats of 7.4 points and 2.6 assists per game back in 1995-96, respectively. While many could argue that Harper was a better perimeter defender, Curry’s ability to take over games with his mesmerizing shooting abilities overrides that statement.
Klay Thompson (2015-16 Warriors) vs. Michael Jordan (1995-96 Bulls)
With respect to both players, this is another no-brainer comparison in my opinion. While Klay has established himself as one of the best shooting guards in the league (22.1 PPG while shooting 47 percent from the field), he is no Michael Jordan. Case closed.
Harrison Barnes (2015-16 Warriors) vs. Scottie Pippen (1995-96 Bulls)
This is another “apples to oranges” comparison. Harrison Barnes has established himself as one of the best small forwards in the league on both ends of the court, racking up 11.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per night, along with being a great all-around defender. He is still very young, with potential to elevate his game even higher, but I think it is foolish to crown him above Scottie Pippen, who is one of the best to ever play the position. Pippen’s elite offensive talent (19.4 PPG and 5.9 APG in ’95-96) and reputation as a first-class defender puts him above and beyond Barnes.
Andrew Bogut (2015-16 Warriors) vs. Luc Longley (1995-96 Bulls)
These two giants’ play-types are very similar, along with their stats. Both use their height to an offensive and defensive advantage, but they use it more for defensive purposes. They are nearly identical, but there is really one thing that separates them: Longley (7 feet 2 inches) is two inches taller than Bogut. Two inches can be a huge difference in the NBA. When it comes to centers (unless they’re complete studs), I always pick the tallest one. Having more height as a center gives a better advantage on both sides of the ball, mainly because centers are positioned right under the basket.
Draymond Green (2015-16 Warriors) vs. Dennis Rodman (1995-96 Bulls)
This was a tough one. Draymond Green, an up-and-coming star, has positioned himself to be one of the best power forwards in the game. His ability to shoot from anywhere on the floor confuses defenses, along with his grit defensive playmaking by piling up nearly 10 rebounds per game. On the other hand, you have Dennis Rodman, one of the most feared players in NBA history. Rodman was known for getting in players’ heads and unfriendly play style. Although he was never an offensive-type player, he was a freak of nature on the defensive side of the ball. His expertise at locking down whoever he defended was second to none. Rodman was also a rebounding machine, averaging 13.1 per game in his career and 14.9 per night in the 1995-96 season. For this comparison, I think it’s a “pick your poison” type of situation. If you want a versatile scorer, then you should pick Green. If you want a shutdown defender who can also protect the basket, then you should go with Rodman. Personally, I would pick Rodman because I am a defensive-type of guy, and I think a lockdown post defender overshadows a post scorer.
The two teams can be compared in other ways, but I felt like comparing the starting five would be the most critical factor in making my final decision. It’s all opinion, but I feel like the 1995-96 Bulls would beat the 2015-16 Warriors in a seven-game series. Not only are the Bulls’ starting five better, but the bench, chemistry and coaching all look superior to Golden State’s. The ‘90s NBA was much more aggressive than today’s league, so I think the Bulls’ “street ball” style of play would be too much for the Warriors to handle. Plus, the ’95-96 Bulls had the greatest player to ever step on a basketball court.
Regardless of which is better, these two teams will still go down as two of the best to ever play the game of basketball.
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