Rosen: A closer look at the upstart Golden State Warriors

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As the NBA season slowly  unwinds, there have been several unexpected developments:  The resurgence of the Knicks.  The Clippers winning streak.  The Lakers’ no-ring circus.

But one of the biggest surprises has been the success of the Golden State Warriors.

During last season’s truncated schedule, the Warriors could only win 34.8 percent of their games (25-41). After thumping the Clippers 115-94 Wednesday night, Golden State’s success rate is currently 68.8 percent (22-10)—second only to the Clippers in the Pacific Division.

So, then, just how good are the Warriors since the last time we checked in on them?

Are their accomplishments illusory?

Or do they have the stuff to assert themselves over the long haul as one of the elite teams in the tough Western Conference?

STRENGTHS

Heading the list is the dynamic scoring of fleet-footed Stephen Curry, who sports one of the quickest releases in the league. This guy can shoot the lights out from near and far, and his catch-and-shoot game is unparalleled. He’s a bona fide franchise player.

Then there’s David Lee, an aggressive sure-handed rebounder, who rarely misses uncontested mid-range jumpers (many of which are generated when he executes pick-and-fade maneuvers with Curry). His off-handed jump hooks greatly increase the effectiveness of his lefty assaults on the basket.  Where he used to be a stat-minded player, Lee has become one of the most alert, unselfish, and accurate passers on the team.

Given sufficient time and space, Klay Thompson is a bull’s-eye shooter.

Harrison Barnes is a strong, active rookie with star potential. Even as he’s learning the pro game, he shows quick hands and a dazzling change-of-pace handle.

Carl Landry plays strong-armed defense, especially when challenged in the low-post.

Jarrett Jack is a savvy veteran, a mite slow but rawhide tough. His leadership is a critical factor.

Andris Biedrins can still rebound, block shots, hustle and be somewhat effective in his brief rotations.

Rookie Festus Ezeli has an NBA body.

On offense, coach Mark Jackson (whose body is swelling into Michelin Man proportions) preaches a wide variety of iso situations. For sure, like most NBA offenses, the Warriors initiate their sets with multiple picks, but inevitably wind up with somebody going one-on-one. 

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Comments

  1. Man it is good to see Charley Rosen back writing regular basketball posts. Missed you Sir.

  2. Yeah, sometimes it helps to do a little actual research before venturing an opinion. Then again, there was probably a deadline.

    Here’s the thing, unlike past years, the W’s are winning now because they’re playing great team ball on both offense and defense. They do a great job of moving the ball and only rarely rely on isolation. Have you actually seen them play since the Monta Ellis trade. From your comments, I’d say no.

    Same is true on D, they’ve done an incredible job in improving their rebounding and help defense. They can actually shut teams down now, which believe me, I would not have said a year ago. When Bogut finally plays, they’ll be even better.

    Not saying they’re going to win a title, but hopefully they’ll start turning a few heads. These are not the same old clowns, time to give them a bit of respect.

  3. Wow, I have so many problems with this analysis, which seems like it comes from a very superficial look at this team. Have you really spent time watching the Warriors? As a fan of the team, I have. With all due respect, most of the “weaknesses” you mention are not accurate, at least when you dig a little deeper. I’ll just focus on a couple here.

    ” their team defense is mediocre—98.59 ppg allowed, 17th in the league.”
    – numbers aside, are you watching the way the team gang-rebounds, contests shots, and provides help defense? This team hustles, and while they may give up too many perimeter shots, their paint defense is solid; better to get beat on lower-percentage outside shots than easy inside ones. And all this without their best interior defender (Bogut) and perimeter defender (Rush). Both David Lee and Steph Curry have held their own at their positions, and get help when they can’t. Harrison Barnes, Ezeli and Draymond Green are playing terrific individual and team defense.

    “If their iso game plan attracts double-teaming, too bad the Warriors are one of the worst passing outfits extant.”
    – What? Have you watched Curry, Jack and Lee pass the ball? This is a very good, unselfish basketball team. Yes there is some iso, but that happens when the player knows there’s a match-up to exploit. Otherwise, there is plenty of ball-movement on offense.

    That’s it. I appreciate the write-up; I just wish you would watch a little more film.

  4. john steppling says:

    agree with the other comment. The same thing applies to stat analysis of denver. That said, i would add that Ezeli has been terrific. Ok, no offense, but who cares. His defense has been excellent. Really exceptional considering he is a rookie. Thompson is indeed one dimensional but I think useful………barnes is a problem for me as his defense is often atrocious. He can catch and shoot, he plays hard, yeah yeah, but he is lost on defense. David Lee has dialed up his game several ticks. His defense is respectable now. Its smart. He wont ever be a defensive giant, but he’s not bad. Carl Landry was a great pick up. The guy has always been underrated. The complaint about him being undersized is unfair, in the same way people complain about tyler hansbrough. Psycho T is still a guy you want out there banging people, doing what he does. Landry is the same. Tough, savy, and a winner.

  5. Rowan Geldman says:

    Nice article, however I’m not a big fan of your usage of points per game and points per game allowed as indicators for respectively offense and defense. As you might have noticed, the Warriors play their game at a higher pace than league average. This obviously results in more chances to either score or get scored on. Offensive and Defensive rating adjusts for pace difference, so it is a much better statistic to show the real offensive and defensive qualities of a NBA team.

    Warriors rank 9th in the league in Offensive Rating (107.0) and 9th in the league in Defensive rating (103.7) as well. This shows that the Warriors are a much better defensive team than you just pointed out.

    Source: Basketball-Reference

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