The Golden State Warriors serendipitous 2015-16 season has them on track to set a new mark for the best overall record in NBA history, surpassing the Chicago Bulls 72-10 season from the 1995-96 campaign. The Warriors currently rank first in the NBA in offensive rating, scoring 113.1 points per 100 possessions, and rank second in the league in defensive rating (99.2) and net rating (13.9), trailing only their fellow juggernauts the San Antonio Spurs in the two latter categories.
This level of dominance has rightfully vaulted the defending champions into the discussions about the best teams in NBA history, a list which includes the "three-peat" Los Angeles Lakers from the early 2000's. Those teams were led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, but forward Rick Fox was also a vital contributor to that run of success. On "the Jim Rome Show" on Tuesday, Fox told host Jim Rome that he would give those Lakers teams a chance to beat the current iteration of the Warriors:
"I'm going to fight for the Lakers. I'm going to fight for our team to at least have a fighting chance," Fox said. "But what [the Warriors are] doing this year is beyond impressive. I'm rooting for them [to break the Bulls' record].
The numbers agree with Fox that his Lakers would certainly have a chance, at least at the peak of their powers. The 2000-01 Lakers are widely considered to be the best iteration of those team's, posting a 15-1 playoff record en route to the second of their three titles, flipping the proverbial switch in the postseason after a mediocre regular season.
The Lakers posted the best offensive (108.8), defensive (95.3), and net ratings (13.5) in the playoffs that year, numbers on par with what the Warriors are doing now. This feat is made more impressive by the fact that in the playoffs there were no bottom feeders to pad their stats against, despite the fact that the league as a whole is arguably more talented now than it was that year.
Those Lakers likely would have difficulties defending the Warriors fun-and-gun attack, but on the other end it's hard to not see Shaq getting the type of "barbecued chicken" he loves to boast so much about on TNT. Derek Fisher (51.5 percent) and Robert Horry (36.2 percent) could have credibly spaced the floor from behind the arc during that playoff run, although the Warriors roster probably boasts more depth and their bench would have scored like gangbusters. The Dubs also boast a wing rotation with as good of a chance at defending young Kobe as any in NBA history.
The most interesting stylistic clash would be to see whether Phil Jackson or Steve Kerr blinked first when the Lakers closing lineup of Shaq-Horry-Bryant-Fisher and Brian Shaw (based on most 4th quarter minutes during that playoff run) went up against the Warriors' "lineup of death" featuring Draymond Green at center flanked by Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes. Would that spread attack do the unthinkable and force Shaq off the floor? Or would a prime O'Neal prove far too much to handle for Green on the block?
We will never get a definitive answer, but wow is this match-up way more fun to think about than the current Lakers against the Warriors, whom they unfortunately still have to
get blown out by play one more time this season on national TV (Sunday, March 6th on ABC.)
All stats per NBA.com. You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.