The ESPN.com 2013 Fall Forecast for the Western Conference predicted the Golden State Warriors to win 51 games and finish fifth in the West. Many though it was a mere formality that the team’s record would increase by five or six wins due to the addition of small forward Andre Iguodala and the natural progression of Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes, and Klay Thompson.But after 15 games, the Warriors are a mere 9-8 which makes them, at least record wise, as the 11th best team in the West behind the likes of the Nuggets, Suns, Lakers, and Mavericks.
But to this point in the season have the Warriors actually underachieved?
Injuries have plagued the Warriors early on. Curry has missed time thanks to both an ankle injury and a concussion, Barnes began the season on the injury report, and thanks to a hamstring injury, Iguodala has missed multiple games as well.
The absence of Iguodala has really diminished the productivity of the Warriors and because Barnes is now starting at the three, the previously vulnerable Warriors bench is even less productive now.
But they still have not underachieved, they just haven’t reached their potential quite yet. The Warriors have struggled down the stretch. When behind or tied by two points or less in the last three minutes of a game, the Warriors shoot a mere 35 percent from the field, a dismal 50 percent from the free throw line, and are yet to make a three pointer in this situation.
Not surprisingly,the Warriors are 1-3 in said predicament. For a team that prides itself on shooting, their shooting in the clutch has been a major reason for multiple defeats. As it compares to the rest of the league the Warriors are fourth in overall field goal percentage and are first in three point shooting percentage, but without Iguodala on the floor in crunchtime they have still struggled to find who their go-to crunch time scorer will be.
If you want to see the difference between a team that has been riddled with bad luck and a team that is flat out bad, these shot charts tell the story. Guess which shot chart is the Warriors and guess which one is the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz, for instance, have been flat our terrible this season and are first in the Tanking Rankings by far. The Warriors shot chart is almost all green except for areas in an around the basket where they are merely at the league average.
The Warriors have also been incredibly good on the glass and on the defensive end. They are seventh in team rebounding and fifth in defensive rating. Not surprisingly, the Warriors have struggled more on the defensive end in the absence of Iguodala. Take last night’s lost to the Thunder, for example. A point guard on the opposing team lit up the Warriors. Without Iguodala, the Warriors could not have Iguodala guard Kevin Durant and let Barnes guard Russell Westbrook, thereby hiding Curry on Thabo Sefolosha. Instead, Barnes had to guard Durant for most of the night, leaving Curry to guard Westbrook.
For all of the Warriors woes record wise, keep in mind that if they were in the Eastern Conference they would be the third best team in that conference. But thanks to a hot start to almost every team in the West coupled with injuries to the core of the roster the Warriors currently sit on the outside looking in.