Golden State Warriors fans had it out with their beloved team in the forums Sunday night. I swear that I must have been the only person in San Francisco wearing team apparel today. At 13-12, this team that I still believe will win the championship this season needs an evaluation of what’s going wrong, so here it is:
Let’s start with the obvious: stats. If you’re not in the top 16 in the league in anything, you’ve got a problem.
Overall: Points in the paint per game (#19) 40.4, Assist to turnover ratio (#19) 1.3
Shooting: Free throw percentage (#22) 73.2%, Free Throw Attempts per game (#17) 16.6
Scoring: OT points per game (#20) 0.6
Rebounding: Offensive Rebounds per game (#20) 10.4, Offensive Rebound percentage (#19) 24.6%
Steals: Steals per game (#18) 7.4, Steals per play (#21) 6.7%
Turnovers: Turnovers per game (#28) 17.2, Turnovers per play (#29) 15.6%
Fouls: Personal Fouls per game (#29) 22.8, Technical Fouls per game (#29) 0.5, Personal Fouls per play (#25) 20.5%
Overall: Opponents Points per game (#18) 100.5, Fast Break Points per game (#21) 13.8
Shooting: Opponents Free Throw Attempts per Field Goal Attempt (#21) .31, Opp. Field Goal Attempts per game (#22) 84.7, Opp. Free Throws Made per game (#27) 19.5, Opp. Free Throw Attempts per game (#26) 25.9
Scoring: Opponents second quarter points per game (#18) 24.8, Opp. third quarter points per game (#22) 25.2, Opp. 4th quarter points per game (#19) 24.7, Opp. overtime points per game (#20) 0.9
Rebounding: Opponents offensive rebounds per game (#19) 11.1, Opp. defensive rebound percentage (#19) 75.4%
Steals: Opponents steals per game (#25) 8.7, Opp. steals per play (#24) 7.9%
Turnovers: Opponents turnovers per game (#18) 14.9, Opp. turnovers per play (#24) 13.4%
Fouls: Opponents personal fouls per game (#17) 20.6, Opp. personal fouls per play (#17) 18.6
There’s a point or two I’d like to make before I get started trying to remedy all of this. If you take a look at the Warriors playbook, what you won’t find is a set where Andrew Bogut is the distributor from the top of the key three. This season, Mark Jackson has been playing him in this role. The goals of this are obviously to use Bogut to take the opposing center out of the equation defensively, thus opening up the driving lanes, making it easier for shooters who might come around him for a hand-off three and it gives Bogut a better chance to get back defensively. The aforementioned stats will reveal why this particular set is backfiring big time!
Overall: As far as points in the paint go, there’s no arguing taller players shoot higher percentages from there. The assist-to-turnover ratio isn’t on Bogut by all means, but nevertheless, should be better. The Warriors aren’t finding all the open holes in the defense when they have cutters and should focus on getting those easy baskets. To get their opponents points per game down, the Warriors are going to have to start moving their feet rapidly in order to be ready as quick as possible to react to their opponents moves. Also, they must make the extra effort it takes to defend the three-pointer, which has been their undoing of late. Fast break points can be slowed by obviously taking better care of the ball, but the Warriors have to start trying to get back on defense when they do turn it over.
Shooting: The Warriors are struggling with their free-throw shooting, and it’s not just Bogut that’s causing this. The last two games, Stephen Curry has uncharacteristically missed big free throws with the game close. The Warriors need to think of something that makes them happy when they walk up to the free throw line. The Warriors are giving up a free throw for every three shot attempts; moving one’s feet as opposed to one’s arms will help. Standing ground as opposed to going for the steal will help. The Warriors opponents field goal attempts per game can be attributed to their fast style of play, but since that’s just another excuse, playing more aggressive perimeter defense will help with this.
Scoring: Overtime basketball should be a half-court affair and it hasn’t been. As far as getting creamed in every quarter but the first this season goes, the Warriors should have a little more faith in Kent Bazemore off the bench, especially since the starters are either resting or flat out don’t have enough energy to guard the oppositions ball handlers. Draymond Green and Bazemore need to be playing together more often. Hilton Armstrong is the team’s backup center as of today, and he needs to protect the paint — not Green.
Rebounding: Mark Jackson plays his big men 27-feet from the basket on offense… a lot. The Warriors have to get them closer than that if they want any chance at offensive rebounds. This team’s brand sacrifices offensive rebound opportunities for defensive concerns. A little adjustment would be all it would take to get more. If they crashed the boards when shots aren’t falling particularly well, they’d have a chance to be better. On the flip side, the Warriors are getting burned by opponents’ offensive rebounds per game. They are already back on defense most of the time…sorry, no excuse there. From what I see with my own two eyes, the Warriors do a good job of spacing out amongst themselves to fight for the rebound, but what they haven’t shown a passion for is boxing out. Change that and there won’t be a problem there.
Steals: Steals occur at any level when players get nervous. This Warriors team is a group of good character guys, but a little trash talk might just be what these players need to start doing a little more of… ask Gary Payton or Michael Jordan about that one. To cut down on steals, all I’m going to say is, “see it before you do it.”
This team can and does play “Showtime” basketball; it comes with the territory. “Showtime” basketball in practice should be the easiest solution to the problem at hand, as it’s actually more under control than you might think. Think of it as a simple behind the back pass at an opportune moment. What Jackson means by not always going for “The Home-Run Play” is: settle down, and it will come.
Turnovers: See Steals.
Fouls: The Warriors have to play harder, be more vocal, keep their eyes between the ball and the defender, and stand their ground. As far as not getting called for so many moving screens, the guards have to wait for their big’s to set the screen a little better.
Take every opponent seriously. This is the NBA.
Before the season started, I thought to myself, “If the Warriors need to ‘right the ship’ at any point this season, Bob Myers and Co. have the resources and the will to get it done.”
Every player in the NBA is available now. I was wondering if they’d make a move for someone when Douglas got hurt. At this point, however, I’d let it play out. I still have faith in the coach and the player, but they should consider these recent struggles their “wake up call.”
To conclude, here’s a little inspiration.
What if the season started today?