Being the team to beat is big. It not only commands the respect of an entire league and sport, but the expectations are basically championship or bust, regardless of the circumstances.

This is the one team in the league that any player or team can get up if that specific team is on the schedule. Not only does it put a target on the back of that team game in and game out but every win and especially loss is looked at with an even finer comb. The same is true in the NBA. However, in basketball, unlike many other sports, the “team to beat” typically goes to the reigning champions.

This season, as crazy as it has been so far, has a weird thing about the team to beat; their simply isn’t a clear cut. Looking at past seasons there has always been a team that is above and beyond the superior team of the season (last year was the Spurs, the year before was the Heat and their incredible 27 game winning streak). However this year in my opinion the clear cut also happens to be a risky pick. That team is the Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors used a fairly weak first half of a schedule to jump out to a surprising start in the always competitive Western Conference. The thing with this team is, when you really examine the pieces of the team, they actually do look the best team in the league and the one teams should boast about if they can pull of an upset. If you were building a team that can win you a lot of games while still managing to keep some financial flexibility, the Warriors would be as close as it gets. Need quick scoring from behind the arc and a flashy point guard that can pass? Look no further than MVP front runner Steph Curry. What about a backcourt partner that can shoot just as well and can play defense on the opposing team’s best guard? Insert all-star Klay Thompson to form one of the most unique backcourts in the league. How about a nice dash of youth and athleticism in the front court positions? Starter Harrison Barnes and his much improved 3 point shot also keeps teams on their heels for one of his signature highlight reel dunks. Next at the Power Forward position is a bit of a needle in a haystack in late second round pick from 2012 Draymond Green. Green, who is in the running for defensive player of the year, has exploded on the scene this year to be the perfect complimentary stretch four the already deadly shooting team needed. Manning the Center position is 7-footer Andrew Bogut who when healthy is among the best shot blocking big men in the game. Off the bench they have two proven all-stars in Andre Iguodala and David Lee, both have lost their spot to younger players but are both still vital.

This team isn’t necessarily stacked at every position but each player compliments the overall team’s vision and the product on the court has certainly shown. Given the record they have maintained (the least amount of losses heading into the all-star break) has certainly proved this. So with the team make up there, and the record, it’s obvious that the Warriors have arrived. By arriving they also are now the team to beat. However, this doesn’t mean they are favorites for a championship that would still go to the Spurs, simply out of respect. This is because Curry’s Warriors have never been past the 2nd round of the playoffs and also had an early 1st round exit last year. Without real playoff experience, it’s hard to favor that kind of team towards one that has played in big moments like that before. So what have we learned?

The Golden State Warriors are currently the team to beat in the NBA. This season is owned by the Warriors dominating in an all-time tough conference. However, that doesn’t mean this season will be remembered with the Warriors, because from a playoff standpoint they still have an uphill climb experience wise. Nonetheless, the Golden State Warriors have proven they are the team to beat and are currently sitting atop the league’s hierarchy. The way the season ends is up to them, but they certainly have a team that is built around winning. That winning includes having a target on their backs, alas the NBA has a new team to beat. Let’s see how long this lasts.