After a long period of expectation, the regular season is finally upon us. It’s safe to say that the offseason in the Bay Area was somewhat encouraging to the Golden State Warriors enthusiasts.
Interesting free-agent signings, promising rookie deals, solid preseason wins all headlined the team’s offseason. Yet, through these initial games, it’s evident how contrasting this Golden State Warriors team is compared to their last season, maybe even more than expected.
The Golden State Warriors’ current three-game win streak to kick off the season has significant points of emphasis which we’ll dive into below.
Return to the Warriors brand of basketball
First of all, the Dubs reclaimed their identity. It’s ironic since almost every team in the league tried to emulate their 73-9 pace and space style at some point, while the Warriors themselves struggled.
There’s no better place to run a fast-paced, ball-movement, unselfish offense like Golden State. The first games show how this brand of play is impacting the matchups. The Warriors are the 3rd pace in the NBA and the 4th team with the most assists.
They’re also the 3rd in the percentage of assisted points. The frenetic motion leads to open looks from the perimeter, while also spreading the floor. The Dubs are relentless attacking the basket, leading the league in free throws attempted.
All of those numbers are clear improvements when compared to the last season.
The evident improvement has a direct link with the personnel changes. New team additions such as Porter Jr, Bjelica, and Iguodala brought new standards to the rotation. High IQ players make high IQ plays, and the bench minutes have been difference-makers.
The team looks more cohesive even without Steph on the floor, which was a problem last season. The development of Jordan Poole has been maybe the most crucial factor. The lineup of Poole, Lee, Porter, Iguodala, and Bjelica has a +10 net rating when sharing the floor.
Deeper in the bench, guys like Moody and Payton II also have a strong feel for the game and can plug in to contribute, if needed. This roster is a solid foundation to build upon, even more so because Wiseman is returning in a couple of weeks and Klay Thompson is soon to make his long-awaited comeback.
Entering the season, the areas that needed improvement were clear: rebounding, interior defense, paint presence.
While short-handed in options – no other conventional big on the squad beyond Kevon Looney – Steve Kerr and the Warriors are trying to compensate by being very active on the perimeter, fighting through screens, switching, and even going zone in punctual moments of the matches.
The Dubs are the 2nd in the NBA in three-pointers contested, top 10 in deflections and one of the 10 teams that concede the least in the paint. Also, they are boxing out on offense, leading to improvements on the offensive glass.
Those are intriguing numbers for a small-ball team, a testament to how poised and clever this roster can be.
Steph is doing his thing. And a little more.
We all know what Steph can do offensively.
Yet, he is probably underrated when it comes to being one of the savviest, quick-thinking players in the league. He is one of the players who run the most miles per game on defense and he’s currently one of the NBA’s leaders in steals with 2.3, a potential career-high.
Curry has also been a beast on the boards, contributing directly with the team’s early offense and quick pace. Steph is currently sitting at a dazzling 9 rebounds a game, which is by far his career-best.
Of course, these numbers are going to normalize, but this is a huge indication going forward. He’s becoming even more physical, stronger, tireless. Steph seems to be always on the right spot, fighting off-ball on both sides of the floor. His defensive efforts are way underappreciated.
Still a turnover-happy offense.
That being said, the Warriors are winning games, playing entertaining basketball, and showing some grit down the stretch to close the duels. They just completed the California sweep, with three hard matchups against Lakers, Clippers, and Kings.
However, they are still a bit careless on the ball, which seems like a direct result of the constant passing and off-ball movement. While solid, the chemistry is not yet on 100%, so having a high turnover rate might be natural for a while.
It’s not yet a major problem as the team sits at mid-table when it comes to turnover rate, turnovers per game, and opponents’ points off turnover. However, if they are thinking about contending for a championship, this is a point of emphasis to keep striving for excellence.