Fact: The Golden State Warriors are good.
Other Fact: It's likely they'll be good not just last year, not just this year, but for several years to come.
Third And Final Fact: If your favorite team plays its cards right, it could be just as good as Golden State.
Of course, every team will tell you that's what it is trying to do. Question: Is it really? The Warriors have laid out an obvious template for building a historically successful dynasty-in-the-making, and given the copycat tendencies of professional sports, it's surprising other teams aren't overhauling their own strategies to follow the mold cast by Golden State.
Sure, things can go wrong. That's Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. And to that philosophical law, I submit an addendum: Unless it doesn't go wrong.
That's the first thing you need if you're trying to be the Warriors. Then you only have to follow these six simple steps.
1. Select a transcendent, once-in-a-generation star with the seventh pick in the NBA Draft.
This is the trickiest step, but if you can nail this part of the plan, everything else gets easier. In 2009, Golden State waited patiently at the NBA Draft while impressive names like Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn came off the board. With the seventh pick, the team chose Stephen Curry, the best player in college basketball that season and a lights-out scorer -- for the Davidson Wildcats.
Curry had the NBA pedigree, and he had amazing scoring instincts. He also had the body of a 12-year-old. For the first few years of Curry's NBA career, his talent and potential was compromised by ankle injuries. Golden State managed to sign him to a four-year, $44 million deal that looked like a risk at the time.
It was not a risk. Last year, Curry made $10.6 million in salary while winning the MVP award and leading Golden State to the NBA title. That modest salary figure will come in handy later on.
2. Pick up three other All-Star-caliber players in the next three drafts.
For a long while there, Golden State was terrible at the draft. Between 2002 and 2008, the team cast its fate with draft picks named Ike Diogu, Stephane Lasme, Patrick O'Bryant and Steve Logan. Of its seven first-round picks, the best decision the team made is a toss-up between drafting Mike Dunleavy third overall in 2002 and picking Andris Biedrins 11th overall in 2004. (The Warriors did snag Monta Ellis in the second round in 2005, by far its best pick over this span.)
It was the recipe for boring, unsuccessful basketball. And then, in 2009, the Warriors' draft fortunes turned a complete 180. During the next four years, the team picked up four All-Star-caliber players among its eight draft picks. After Curry in 2007, the team got Klay Thompson in 2011, and nabbed both Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in 2012. The Warriors even threw in rotation reserve Festus Ezeli in the 2012 mix, capping off a four-year run in which the team loaded up on promising talent working on cheap rookie contracts.
3. Trade one ball hog and two worthless players for an underrated defensive anchor.
Nowadays, Green is regarded as the defensive and emotional anchor of the team. But before Green's ascendance last season, Bogut was the man clogging up the middle while lending the young team a much-needed veteran presence.
In his first full season with Golden State, Bogut tallied 4.0 defensive win shares, a figure that would rank 16th in the NBA this season. His DWS has dipped as the players around him have improved their defensive games -- Stephen Curry had 4.1 this season, and Green ranks second in the NBA with 5.2 DWS -- but Bogut provided a crucial presence down low when the Warriors had nothing else to build around.
The cost for acquiring Bogut (and Stephen Jackson) from the Bucks? Monta Ellis, Ekpe Udoh and Kwame Brown.
4. With all that cap space freed up by cheap rookie contracts, sign a smart, talented veteran willing to come off the bench.
Even with a core of Curry, Bogut, Thompson, Barnes and Green under contract -- the latter three still working on their rookie deals, mind you -- you still have space to carve out a critical veteran addition. Golden State unloaded a combination of draft picks and expiring contracts in a trade with Utah, clearing space to sign a free agent that became Andre Iguodala.
Iguodala eventually took on a lesser role for the good of the team, coming off the bench all season -- until Game 4 of the NBA Finals against Cleveland. He ended up becoming NBA Finals MVP for the huge difference his presence made in the series.
Oh, one other small detail: You'll need Iguodala to take a pay cut. He turned down a four-year, $52 million deal and a five-year, $60 million offer to join the Warriors at an efficient $48 million over four years.
5. Find a guy with no head coaching experience who turns out to be fantastic.
Mark Jackson had his flaws as a head coach, but it's easy to forget that his firing two summers ago was somewhat controversial. He'd led the Warriors to the Western Conference semifinals in 2013, and the team had lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round in 2014.
More importantly, Jackson had the fierce support of Curry, who seemed rankled that the front office dismissed Jackson. In came a guy with a great basketball background but no head coaching experience: Steve Kerr, who arrived after a stint in the broadcast booth. It didn't take long for Kerr to prove himself: He brought innovative offensive and defensive strategies, and did an incredible job managing a deep roster with not enough minutes to go around.
6. Ask the league for an unprecedented hike in the salary cap so you can afford to keep your team together.
Granted, the Warriors didn't ask for this, but the league handed a cap hike to them at the most perfect time -- and the team could leverage it for a sustained run of success. Last summer, the league raised the salary cap 11 percent to a record $70 million. That gave the Warriors enough money to re-sign Green. If not for that huge jump, it's very likely another team would have outbid Golden State for Green's services. Instead, Golden State kept the band together.
This summer will be more of the same: The cap is expected to explode in the territory of $90 million annually, giving every team an extra $20 million in annual salary to play with. And the Warriors will need it, because Barnes is set for free agency and figures to command a pretty penny. Can Golden State afford to keep its valuable swingman?
If it does, you know who to thank: Next season, Curry is slated to make a tidy $12.1 million. Not bad for a likely two-time MVP winner.
And that's it! Congratulations, you are now the Golden State Warriors. See, that wasn't so hard, was it?