What Do The Golden State Warriors and the Democratic Party Both Have In Common?

Yinon Raviv
6 min readFeb 4, 2021

This morning, I saw two statistics that confirmed my beliefs.

I read that 78% of Americans support direct $1,400 stimulus payments, while 68% support the overall $1.9 trillion relief package. Meanwhile, in last Tuesday’s game between the Boston Celtics against the Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry scored more points than his other four starting teammates combined. This was his fourth time doing so.

Like every American, I don’t read anything on the internet to expand my worldview. I read it to confirm my existing biases and preconceived notions. And my core belief on what’s going in two totally separate worlds — politics and sports — share a common thread: the Warriors and the Democrats are getting in their own way.

With reports coming out that the Democrats are considering limiting the $1,400 stimulus checks only to those making under $50K in 2019, and with the Warriors stubbornly sticking to certain starting line-ups, they’re both minimizing their single greatest advantage in pursuit of a purely symbolic benefit.

The Democrats think that they can get 10 “moderate” Republican senators to sign on to the package with this income limit concession… but they don’t need to, because they have both the Senate majority and the ability to use the budget reconciliation process for this particular COVID Relief bill.

The Warriors are prioritizing defensive length, starting Kelly Oubre Jr and (up until recently) James Wiseman together with Curry, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins. All the defensive length in the world won’t matter when that particular combination of players is getting beat by 17 points whenever they step on the floor.

They’re not just limiting their own success with these decisions. They’re squandering a bona-fide generational opportunity in their respective domains.

The Democrats just won the Presidency and the Senate partially because the last administration so visibly screwed up the COVID response. They’re in the perfect position to step in and save the day, and with nearly 80 percent of the public supporting their plan, they managed to get the entire country united on their agenda. In this day and age of hyper-partisanship, heavy polarization, and a crisis of misinformation… it’s as unlikely as an NBA team lucking into the greatest shooter of all time while he’s still in his prime.

At 33 years old, Stephen Curry is averaging 29.1 points on nearly a 50–40–90 clip (excluding the first two games). Defenses are sending triple and quadruple teams at him, and he’s still nearly leading the league in scoring. But in the ten Warriors losses so far, it’s clear that opposing teams are daring the other Warriors to shoot the ball or make a play. The starting line-up of Curry, Draymond, Oubre, Wiggins, and Wiseman has struggled mightily to do so — to the tune of a -17 point differential through their 270 minutes together so far.

Now, Steve Kerr and Joe Biden are much smarter than me. They both possess exponentially more experience on the NBA and Senate floors than yours truly, an armchair analyst with a moderate Twitter addiction. They deserve credit for recent moves — the Democrats have swiftly and decisively moved forward to the reconciliation process, proposing a big, bold package and expressing urgency, while the Warriors recently benched Wiseman for Kevon Looney, which made the Warriors go from getting beat by 16.5 net points per 100 possessions to winning by 28.3 points, a net 44.8 point swing in the right direction.

But it’s not enough. That the Biden administration confirmed that they’re negotiating on whether the stimulus payments will be limited to people making under $50K in 2019 is deeply concerning, as is the Warriors not further embracing Damion Lee and Mychal Mulder — two 40% three-point shooters who’ve registered over +30 in the minutes they’ve played.

The premise of limiting the stimulus checks based on what people made before the pandemic — you know, the thing that we’re writing a multi-trillion dollar stimulus package to help mitigate — is so absurd and nonsensical that I’d rather not devote a single minute of my readers’ precious time on it. The idea that $50K means the same thing in rural West Virginia that it does in New York and Los Angeles (where over 30 million Americans, ten percent of the country, live and pay bills) is so disconnected from reality that it’s almost insulting.

Yes, there is a lot of analysis that shows the stimulus checks going toward savings rather than consumption, especially with more affluent Americans, but that’s a good thing. People need that money. It’s damn good politics, as shown by the 78/68% poll. It’s worth getting called “partisan”, because voters don’t care for the process nearly as much as they care for the results.

The Warriors have pushed a similar line — preaching patience to the process, holding out hope that Oubre and Wiseman can eventually figure out how to play together next to Steph Curry.

The problem with Wiseman and Oubre playing together on the starting line-up is more than just not hitting enough open shots. Neither has shown enough playmaking IQ, constantly getting in the way of Steph’s off-ball movement while failing to find him with the right pass. And if only one of Wiseman or Oubre is on the court with the starters, that’s doable, especially when Looney is on with Oubre (with the other three starters, that line up is +28.3) or when Lee is on with Wiseman and the starters (+18).

Despite being average defenders (at best), both Damien Lee and Mychal Mulder are much better shooters, passers, and off-ball playmakers than Oubre and Wiseman. Those two, along with reserves Kent Bazemore, Brad Wanamaker, and Juan Toscano-Anderson, can make defenses pay for selling out on Steph with triple/quadruple coverages.

When you make the defense pay, you unlock Stephen Curry.

And when you pay Americans while forcing Republicans to vote against something supported by nearly 80% of the country, you unlock the good graces of an American generation.

Instead of worrying about coming off as partisan, they should worry about controlling what they can control: passing one of the most impactful pieces of legislation of our lifetimes. The COVID relief bill, in its boldest and most impactful form, can do so much more than just a short-term boost in approval ratings and polls. This kind of move — a bill passed, a check sent, and a promise kept — showcases a government that actually does things for everyday people.

Once the Biden administration gets us all past the summer, with regular life coming back and the economy rebounding and everybody hugging their families again… they can claim credit to the most dramatic one-year improvement any of us have ever seen. That matters much more than the fleeting political theatrics of bipartisanship.

If anything, let the Republicans vote against this massively popular policy while they struggle to put out the fires that Trump started. Let the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world become the face of their party while voters all across the country hold up checks signed by Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. Let Tim Ryan, John Fetterman, and Val Demings go into next fall with confidence and momentum.

Instead of getting in their own way, the Democrats can forge an entirely new way forward into the 2022 midterms and beyond. And as the Warriors walk the tightrope between maximizing their present while optimizing for the future, they can kill two birds in one stone by simplifying Wiseman and Oubre’s roles.

With an unlocked Stephen Curry playing in a shooting/playmaking oriented line-up, Wiseman and Oubre will come off the bench to a game with less pressure, less chaos, and less confusion. Their roles will simplify, the game will slow down, and they’ll make the most impact while slowly developing their feel for the system. Together, Wiseman and Oubre might get in each other’s way today, but playing apart, they can start developing their own ways that may one day converge.

It’ll pay dividends for this season and it’ll plant seeds for the next, when Klay Thompson comes back and the floor will really open up.

And when that day comes, I’ll use every last dollar of my stimulus check to buy tickets to the first home game.

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