Stats and surface-level numbers scream that the Warriors are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. But a deep dive exposes the true reasons for their defensive struggles thus far.
The only reason the Warriors have been able to win games thus far this season is because of Stephen Curry’s brilliant play.
Steph has carried the Warriors through most of their wins. He has been on a heater to start the season, averaging 32.8 points a game on 53.1% from the field, 44.7% from three, and 92.9% from the free throw. But regardless of Steph’s insane efficiency, the Warriors continue to lose games.
The offense is hardly the issue. The Warriors are currently scoring 117.5 points a game, which makes them the fourth-best scoring team in the NBA. The problem comes down to the team’s effort and discipline on the defensive side of the floor.
The Warriors are allowing 118 points a game. This puts them in 29th place in the entire NBA. The only team worse is the San Antonio Spurs. This is a stark difference from typical Warriors teams of the past. They usually sit in the top 5 of any defensive numbers, but this team is different. They are an undisciplined bunch that lacks toughness on both ends of the floor. When comparing the current squad to the past, this is a terrible defensive team. But if we compare it to current NBA teams, they’re about average.
Despite allowing 118 points a game, the Warriors are in the middle of the pack in terms of opponent shooting percentage. (Opponent shooting percentage (14th), two-point field goal percentage (13th), and also three-point percentage (19th)) The Warriors aren’t necessarily a bad defensive team, they’re just mid as the kids say.
But one of the most glaring issues is the free throw disparity. The Warriors get to the line just 20 times a game, while they allow their opponents to live at the line 27.5 times a game. They are dead last in both categories. Free throws stem from a number of issues within the team. It could be from late rotations, bad chemistry, or flat-out laziness. While 7.5 free throws may not seem like much, it can get scorers going. It’s giving more chances for the opponent’s offense to see the ball go into the basket.
In all nine of the Warrior’s losses this season, their opponents are averaging 29.7 free throws a game (268 total). In four of their losses, the Warriors allowed 30+ free throws. The most being 46(!!) free throws to the Orlando Magic. The Warriors averaged just 19.4 free throws in those games (175 total).
In their six wins, the Warriors averaged 20.8 free throws a game (125 total), and their opponents averaged just 24.3 free throws a game (146 total).
On the bright side, since James Wiseman has been benched/ sent down to the G-League, the Warriors have been fouling less. In the past three games, they allowed 21 free throw attempts, which them in ninth place.
The Warriors are turning a corner on the defensive end it seems. It may not seem like it after giving up 130 to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, but they are. In the past three games, they are ninth in opponent field goal percentage at 46.3%.
The Warriors clearly miss Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. at the moment. They were hoping for Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to take steps forward to ease the departures of the two key players from last year’s championship team. While they’ve both shown flashes, their inconsistencies have definitely shown. They can still reach that point at some time in the season, but it is clear that it’s going to take time.
The fact remains, the Warriors will have to become a more disciplined, aggressive bunch if they want to succeed. But if this Warriors team can teach fans anything, be patient with this team as they figure out their collective complications.
“We lack collective grit. And when you don’t have grit, the game is easy for the other team,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s a Drew League game. We’re playing a Drew League game.”Marcus Thompson II
Categories: Hot Takes, NBA News Blog, Warriors
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