This season has not been too friendly to the Golden State Warriors. From injuries to inconsistent form from various players, they have had problems since day one. However, they seem to have recently turned a switch during their five-game homestand.
As most fans will note, Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Andre Iguodala, and Gary Payton II have all missed a significant number of games recently. Draymond Green has also missed two games during the recent stretch as well.
Despite this fact, the Warriors have managed to go from the ten-seed all the way to the five-seed in the span of a week and a half. They’re also only one game back from the four-seed, an insane feat that is only possible due to how strong and evenly distributed the league is at the moment.
How have the Golden State Warriors been able to make such a turnaround given the injuries they’ve dealt with recently?
Many aspects have elevated for the Warriors during their homestand. These last five games have featured four teams that were important in the seeding situation — the Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, and New Orleans Pelicans. These teams were all ahead of the Dubs recently and their losses have proven to be huge for the Warriors’ rise in the ranks.
The biggest factor for the Warriors recent play has been the improved defense. During this winning streak, they have yet to give up more than 105 points. Even more impressive, they have held opposing teams under 100 points in their last two games.
In addition to their improved defense, there has been a huge leap in rebounding numbers. Before the All-Star break, they averaged 43.7 total rebounds per game (9.9 offensive) and since then, they have averaged 51.4 rebounds (13.4 offensive). That’s nearly eight more rebounds per night, allowing the Warriors to gain a possession advantage. Starting center Kevon Looney has been a huge presence behind it, averaging 12 boards during this time.
The recent stretch also has a lot to do with the increase in minutes for second-year player Jonathan Kuminga, having gone from 19.9 minutes per game to 26 minutes. He has also seen a statistical explosion during this stretch.
Kuminga has always been an elite defensive wing, having the ability to switch one through five. But he is now seeing his offense catch up, and head coach Steve Kerr is finally trusting the young combo forward which is paying off effectively.
While Kuminga and Looney stepped up on the boards and defensively, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole have led the offense. Thompson is playing free and unlike someone who’s dealt with two major injuries, with Poole casually adding 20 points per game as well.
In this winning streak, Thompson has gone 16 for 16 from the charity stripe and has been unconscious from the floor. He is averaging 27.6 points since the break, shooting an absurd 49.1% from beyond the three-point arc and 48% from the field.
Not only has this been the best stretch of basketball the Warriors have seen so far this season, but the injury report is set to shrink soon. Stephen Curry is expected to be back on Sunday against the Lakers, and Andrew Wiggins could be back any day. They are already one of the hottest teams in the league and now they’re adding their two best players back into the rotation? This could get interesting.
While 50 wins on the season may be unrealistic for Golden State, they are still in the hunt for home court advantage in the first-round of the postseason. They may be beginning to prove they have a little more magic left to lead one more championship run.