Despite a recent struggle prior to the NBA All-Star break, the Golden State Warriors have had an impressive 2021-22 season to date.
The Warriors hold a 42-17 record, good for second in the league behind their Western Conference rivals the Phoenix Suns.
How have the Golden State Warriors procured their excellent record, and what aspects do they need to improve upon to bolster their title hopes?
Golden State has built its record behind an imposing defense that maintains as the best in the league. Although the gap between themselves and the league may have shortened, particularly due to Boston’s astounding defense over the last month, the Warriors maintain the number one defensive rating at 104.6.
The defense has been largely well-rounded, but they are particularly elite on the perimeter with the second-ranked opponent’s three-point percentage (33.4%). Much has been made of the Warrior’s lack of interior size, especially in the absence of Draymond Green and James Wiseman.
But Golden State has retained good interior defense and rebounding, giving up just the fifth least points in the paint while also allowing just the 12th least second-chance points.
Many thought Green’s injury would lead to a major impact on the Warriors’ defense, but it’s actually the absence of his offensive playmaking that’s negatively affected Golden State’s approach. They’ve slipped to 11th in offensive rating, a mark that likely won’t suffice if they want to win a championship.
Unsurprisingly, with the greatest shooting backcourt in NBA history, the Warriors rely on the three-ball immensely. 39.4% of Golden State’s points come from beyond the arc, more than any other team in the league. That statistic simultaneously leads them to rank second-last in percentage of points from two-point range, while ranking 26th in percentage of points from the free-throw line.
The Warriors’ 3-point reliance leads to great variance in their offensive production. Some nights they look unstoppable in putting up 120+ points, others it appears every basket is a mighty struggle.
Much of that also has to do with their game style, with their often beautiful ball and player movement equally leading to sloppy turnovers. The Warriors rank second-last in turnover percentage, with their ability to look after the ball a key element as they head towards the playoffs.
Ultimately, the Warriors have a championship-level defense capable of causing nightmares for opposition offenses. It’s the Warriors’ own offense that needs a spike, with the return of Green’s playmaking abundantly essential.