Programming note: Warriors-Jazz coverage tips off tonight at 5:30 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territorial restrictions apply)
With the first 10 games in the books, the Warriors are 7-3 and sending a message around the NBA: Our pursuit of a championship is to be taken seriously.
No, they are not ready to win it all – nobody is in November. But they've taken the first step toward certifying themselves as legitimate contenders, which is to win every game they have no business losing.
If that puts them on schedule, what puts them slightly ahead is they've done it while integrating star wing Andre Iguodala and despite the absence of Harrison Barnes for the first four games.
They've done it through the first 10 by generally shooting well, usually defending superbly and, above all, playing intelligent and unselfish team basketball.
"We're only going to get better because we're only going to get more comfortable with each other," Iguodala said.
That statement is supported with sound reasoning. This isn't San Antonio or Miami or Memphis or the Clippers, to name four teams with a familiar three-man core. The Warriors are not tethered to two superstars, like Oklahoma City and Houston, nor are they as gritty and defensively rugged as Indiana.
The Warriors are unlike any other team in the league because they have a defensive-minded brute at center in Andrew Bogut, superior 3-point shooters at both guard positions, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and perhaps the league's most underappreciated two-way wild card in Iguodala.
"We're asking him to do a heck of a lot, but that's who he is," coach Mark Jackson said. "He's a guy that has the ability to comfortably do a lot of different things that put you in position to win ballgames."
How far have the Warriors come in 10 games? Far enough to reasonably conclude that David Lee is an important member but also the least essential starter, something that became evident during the playoffs last spring.
Any team that can say that about it's most recent All-Star is a team on the move.
On with the awards for the first 10 games:
MVP: Thompson. The third-year wing has been the team's most consistent standout since the start of training camp. He is exceeding expectations, playing terrific defense, has dramatically reduced his mental errors and is shooting well enough (51.5 percent) to obscure the fact that Curry ranks 47th in 3-point shooting accuracy.
The runner-up is Iguodala, and only because he is only slightly better than we thought he'd be, which is quite fabulous.
BETTER THAN EXPECTED: Team defense. No joke. Opponents are shooting 42.6 percent, 30.7 percent on 3-pointers. Opponents are averaging 97.2 points per game, outstanding considering the Warriors' uptempo approach. Allergic to defense for so long, the Dubs have become a posse of pests, protected by a junkyard wolf named Bogut.
WORSE THAN EXPECTED: Turnovers. Only two teams are committing turnovers at a higher rate and one of them is awful (Utah) and the other (Houston) leads the league in rebounding. Given the Warriors' dedication to ball movement, sometimes creatively so, there will be turnovers. But titles aren't won with such mistakes.
THE NEXT 10: Begin on Monday against the Jazz in Salt Lake City, the back end of a home-and-home initiated with a 102-88 Warriors win on Saturday at Oracle Arena.