Bernucca: Why are Warriors the NBA’s biggest surprise?

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The empirical evidence is undeniable. The Warriors are 10th in defense at 98.9 points and eighth in opponents’ shooting at 43.4 percent. And Golden State has made unfathomable leaps in rebounding, going from worst to first in defensive rebound percentage (.752) and worst to fifth in rebound margin (plus-4.2). It is even up to 12th in offensive rebounding.

“We were getting stops last year, but the team would get the offensive rebound and put it back in,” said Lee, a recent guest on Sheridan Hoops Radio who sets the tone with 11.3 boards per game. “Those are the plays that break your back. We lost so many close games because of reasons like that last year. Meanwhile, this year, we’re doing a lot better job rebounding the ball and getting stops.”

The Warriors aren’t using any magic tricks, either. Bogut’s absence leaves them without a premier shot-blocker, they don’t gamble in passing lanes and they don’t change tempo with junk defenses. They are 29th in blocks, 26th in steals and 25th in forcing turnovers, which means their quantum leap has come from simple dedication on the defensive end.

“Last year we talked about playing good defense,” second-year guard Klay Thompson said. “This year we are actually doing it.”

Jackson says he never worries about the offense, which is slightly better than last season at 99.5 points even though Lee’s scoring is down a bit and Thompson is still struggling with his shot. But the Warriors have gotten boosts from Barnes, Curry and a much deeper bench.

Barnes is averaging 9.3 points and is capably filling the small forward slot hit hard by injuries to Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson. Curry’s troublesome ankles are finally healthy, and he put together a recent streak of four 20-10 games, prompting Jackson to call him “a bad man.”

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  1. i think it depends on which side of flint you live on. If you live west of flint, I -475 ploabbry doesnt help you much. But living on the north end or east side like myself I dont use I 75 hardly at all, i rarely maybe twice a year go to miller road. There is so much traffic especially when people are coming and going from up north. Unless you are in your 50′s or older you ploabbry dont even remember Flint without I475 and have become acustom to using it and unless you work downtown or go to college downtown most people in the suburbs dont go to flint and getting rid of the highway isnt going to bring more people downtown. Fix the crime rate first if you want more people to visit downtown Flint. You may not have Buick anymore but now you have the colleges and the highway is still much needed.

  2. Ben-Jammin says:

    An good, experienced NBA writer does not say things like “Last season, things got so bad that Jackson actually started five rookies in one game.” You know full well that the Warriors were in heavy TANK mode to keep their draft pick. That doesn’t support your argument – it just makes you look foolish.

  3. @A.J. Did you expect the Cavs to be good? If so, you might be the only one.

    I can’t say you are wrong regarding Golden State being the biggest surprise, but my vote would be for the Bobcats. I realize as of right now they are not in the playoffs, but the fact that they have been competitive is shocking.

    • The Bobcats have been surprising, but the qualification was the BEST team flying under the radar. And with the possible exception of Atlanta, I think that team has been Golden State. Thanks for reading

      • Headline says biggest not best!

        I’m just being jerk, I get what you are saying. And for best surprise I would agree, it is Golden State.

        But besides the Lakers, who is the biggest team letdown? Pacers?

  4. Nah. The biggest surprise are the Cleveland Cavaliers being this bad. How is it possible for one guy to leave, and then absolutely no improvement since their 26-game losing streak season. Can’t even blame Irving being “hurt” (with a minor injury on a finger on a non-shooting hand, but they’re looking to tank again so they’re sitting him), they were 2-8 before he sat. It’s like a poor man’s Sacramento over there.

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