The perimeter shooting duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson has been spectacular to watch. The pair set an all-time NBA record with making 483 three-pointers made, surpassing Orlando Magic’s Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott record with 435 made. And let’s not forget Curry’s single-season record of 272 three-pointers. The previous owner was Ray Allen.
Three-point shooting is a quick way to put points up on the board and widen a lead for the Golden State Warriors. With an efficient shooting percentage from the arc (38.8 percent for the team), shooting outside is the Warriors’ forte.
However, there will be nights where either Thompson or Curry, or even both, are cold. In the second round, Thompson was non-existent on the offensive end when his shots were not falling, and Curry was barely able to get a shot off with a lengthy Danny Green guarding him.
If the Warriors want to be considered a legitimate title contender, they must improve on other parts of their game. The motto of “live and die by the three” has to be tossed out, and they have to find other efficient ways to score the ball.
The first part of their offense that must be addressed is the interior scoring. David Lee is a superb inside scorer, but one player cannot get it done for the Warriors. Andrew Bogut averaged a dismal 5.8 points per game (Bogut’s career low) on 45.1 percent shooting. Granted, he is a passing big and was injured throughout the season, but having another low-post option would benefit the Warriors.
Another option that can be vital in the post is Harrison Barnes. With the absence of Lee in the starting lineup for the playoffs, Barnes showed he can play the power forward position. He has the strength to battle against most power forwards in the league. Since he’s smaller, his speed gives him an edge.
Even with a healthy Lee on the court, Barnes can find opportunities in the low-post. Opposing teams may opt to put their bigger defenders on Curry and Thompson, leaving smaller defenders on Barnes. Like in the Spurs series where Tony Parker guarded Barnes, he went straight to backing him down. If Barnes can consistently knock down the hook shots, Golden State will be more versatile on offense.
On the other end of the court, the Warriors have improved defensively, showing a decline in opponent’s points allowed per 100 possessions (from 109.1 DRtg in the prior season to 105.5 DRtg this season). However, they were ranked 19th in the league for points allowed and will want to improve on the defensive end.
With the young team that the Warriors have and a defensive minded coach in Mark Jackson, it is promised that they will continue to improve defensively. Thompson has shown that he can defend the elite stars of the league. He has the size and athleticism to keep up with any guard. His main problem is staying out of foul trouble, which can be easily fixed.
Lee has stated that he wants to work on his defense in the offseason. After being called a subpar defender, he wants to prove his peers wrong by stepping up to challenging more shots. Lee has always been a blue-collar worker, so it is expected that he will fulfill his promises on becoming a better defender.
The return of guard Brandon Rush may be a stimulus for the Warriors’ defense. His seven-foot wingspan is definitely something that is needed for guarding the perimeter. He was arguably the best perimeter defender on the team before he tore his ACL in Golden State’s home opener against the Memphis Grizzlies.
We have seen many athletes return to top form after an ACL tear, such as Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson and Indiana Pacers’ David West. Every case is different, though.
This offseason, the Warriors’ players will seek rest and recovery from their injuries. Lee, Bogut, Curry and Rush all plan to get healthy for the start of training camp. Some players will continue to play basketball in the summer. Thompson and Barnes were invited to participate in the Team USA minicamp this summer.
All signs show that if all goes well this offseason, the Warriors will be a force to be reckoning with in 2013-14.