These aren't the Warriors that Steph Curry and Draymond Green are used to leading.
Golden State's 20-19 after Sunday's impressive win over the Utah Jazz, a game back of eighth place in the Western Conference as of this writing. Sure, the Warriors weren't a juggernaut in Curry and Green's first two seasons as teammates, but both players were at far different stages in their respective careers the last time the Dubs were trying to become a contender.
Curry and Green are embracing charting a new path to championship relevance.
"I think we've fallen in love with the challenge of trying to get back to winning basketball, and ... that brings the best out of us individually in terms of how we impact games and what we can control on that front," Curry told reporters in a postgame video conference Sunday.
Curry has been exceptional this season, averaging 29.3 points, 6.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game. That's not far off the 30.1/6.4/5.4 he averaged when he became the first-ever unanimous NBA MVP in the 2015-16 season, despite Curry having significantly more tread on his tires and playing with a lesser supporting cast.
Green's older, too, but he's no less important. He remains as confident as ever as the centerpiece of the Warriors' defense, telling reporters that there's "no question" he'll be win his second Defensive Player of the Year if Golden State climbs up the standings.
Golden State Warriors
Curry was asked if winning a third NBA MVP remains a goal this season, and he echoed Green by saying that team success determines who wins individual awards, not the other way around.
"It's always a goal to be at that level every year," Curry said. "The MVP is hard to win for a lot of different reasons, and Defensive Player of the Year [is] the same. I think you can talk about narratives and storylines throughout the year, but when you're winning, those awards follow."
Curry scored 32 points against the Jazz on Sunday, while Green recorded his 26th career triple-double. If Sunday's victory is the springboard the Warriors hope it is, Curry and Green's performances are the kind that awards voters remember.
Golden State must win more for either performance to matter, and that's a challenge Curry and Green won't back down from.