Golden State Warriors’ stubbornness will either pay off or backfire

The Golden State Warriors may be a very different team than they were in the past, and they certainly aren’t winning games like they used to – but that won’t stop Steve Kerr and the front office from pushing the same style of motion offense they’ve been running for years.

Kerr has made it clear through his quotes and actions that the Warriors won’t be abandoning their ‘Strength in Numbers’ motto anytime soon. Even if they don’t have the strength or the numbers they used to.

While this has limited the team’s ceiling this season, it could end up paying dividends if the roster is bolstered during the offseason. However, there’s an equal chance this stubbornness backfires.

Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors are sticking to their guns with their motion offense. Will this continue to backfire on them?

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer highlighted the greatness of Stephen Curry while criticizing Kerr’s refusal to run pick-and-roll action. I won’t waste time recapping O’Connor’s article, but the main point is Curry is one of (if not the best) pick-and-roll ball handler in the league – yet the Dubs rank towards the bottom of the league in pick-and-roll frequency.

This isn’t anything new. The Warriors have consistently avoided screen-and-roll action, favoring motion offense that involves the whole team. Off-ball screens and utilizing everyone on the floor was always their game plan.

Warriors pick-and-roll frequency 

  • 2018-19: 30th 
  • 2017-18: 29th
  • 2016-17: 30th
  • 2015-16: 30th

The Warriors brand of basketball worked just fine throughout their title runs. In fact, they revolutionized the game entirely. So, why isn’t it working anymore?

Well, the game is constantly changing. What worked five years ago won’t be as effective in today’s game. The NBA has rapidly adapted a switch-everything mentality that has taken away some of the Dubs’ greatest tricks. Remember the iconic elevator doors play? It’s not as deadly when frontcourt players simply switch onto the shooter nowadays.

However, the most important thing to note is that in addition to defenses changing, the Warriors have changed. This roster isn’t built for all-around dominance. Sometimes, whether the Dubs like it or not, you have to give the ball to the best shooter on the planet and spam pick-and-rolls like it’s a game of NBA 2K. It might not be a basketball purists’ favorite type of game but hey, it would get you more wins.

Now, the core reason Kerr and the Dubs are sticking to their guns is that they want to keep the motion offense moving forward once Klay Thompson returns. They are envisioning a swift return to greatness with the Splash Brothers playing their patented type of offense.

As exciting as that sounds, it might take more than just Thompson to overhaul the Warriors’ offense. Adjustments need to be made and I’m not sure there’s a future where the Dubs compete for another title without utilizing the screen-and-roll more often.

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But, who knows. Maybe the Warriors really are ‘lightyears’ ahead and Thompson will click the entire team into place with his return. Either way, I’d bet on the Splash Brothers finding a way to keep the Dubs competitive next season.