Recent scuffles have set the Warrior’s offense back in terms of league rank. Their offensive efficiency, or points scored per 100 possessions, is at 104.2. This is only good enough for 12th in the NBA. For a team that possesses multiple scoring threats, it’s concerning to see this metric drop this low after watching this team score so easily during earlier stretches of the season.
What is the cause of this drop? The New Year has not been kind to shooters not named Stephen Curry.
After shooting 45% from the field during the 2013 portion of this season, Klay Thompson has started this year shooting just 39%. His scoring average per month has steadily decreased from 24.0 in October to 14.8 in February. In order for this offense to be potent, Thompson must punish teams for focusing, or doubling, Curry from behind the arc. If Thompson is not hitting his open looks, opponents will start to sag off causing lanes to constrict within the half court offense. The offensive efficiency of the Warriors will skyrocket if we see more games where Thompson is the leading scorer as oppose to Curry.
Andre Iguodala represents another struggling wing. Iguodala is no longer the potent three-point threat he was in 2013. After shooting an insane 45% from three through the end of December, he has cooled off to an unremarkable 29% since. The scary thing is we should expect Iguodala to shoot closer to his 2014 percentage than his 2013.
After seeing Kirk Goldsberry’s shooting chart for Iguodala, I would scream at the TV whenever he attempted a corner three at the beginning of the season. It was the one spot on the floor where he was truly awful by percentage. However, in the beginning of the season he was making these shots and further supporting an already scary Warrior offense. This recent stretch seems to be more of an indication of Iguodala’s true shooting abilities. If this is the case, the offense will need adjustments to put him in better positions than just sticking him behind the arc waiting for a drive-and-kick pass. Decreasing his reliance on jump shots by getting points off cuts, drives, and turnovers is a recipe for improving the offense.
With these two players currently struggling, Curry has done his best to pick up the slack. He is averaging 27.2 points per game while shooting 49% from the field in 2014. He is shooting 50% from behind the arc in February! This recent scoring flurry has vaulted him into the fifth highest scorer in the league, while still dishing out nine assists a game. As fun as it is to watch him score, high point totals for Curry does not necessarily breed success. ]
Curry is averaging 28 points a game in losses compared to only 22 points in wins this season. When Curry is forced to carry the scoring load due to the lack of contribution from Thompson and Iguodala, the Warriors become stagnant and predictable, increasing their chances of a loss. When Curry is able to facilitate and make plays without scoring, the team’s winning percentage increases due to a better overall quality of play.
This logic works the same way with Miami. If LeBron James is on pace to have a triple-double, you are in serious trouble. If you force LeBron to strictly score and limit his ability to get other players involved, your chances of winning increase.
The offense regaining consistency starts with opponents having to respect outside shots from players other than Curry. I expect some improvement from Iguodala, but he is not known for being a sharp shooting three-point threat. Thompson is the player under the microscope going into the break. Thompson improving his shot percentage will begin to create floor spacing that will improve the efficiency of the offense. The Warriors are too talented to be only the 12th best offense in the NBA.