Golden State Warriors: Lee, Udoh in the Post, Ellis' New Role and Other Trends
Five games may be too few to really explore trends, but with a new coach in Mark Jackson and new additions like Kwame Brown, Dominic McGuire and Klay Thompson, it is worth trying to glean how this year's Warriors team may be different.
New Kids On the Block
Coach Mark Jackson had suggested Monta Ellis would spend more time in the post this year. Through only five games it seems as though both Monta and his teammates will spend considerably more time out of the block this season. Monta has posted up six times so far, scoring six points.
Last year the Warriors posted up on only 6.6 percent of their possessions. So far this season they have gone to the post on 9.9 percent of their possessions. The Warriors have also improved their average points per possession when posting up from .76 last year to .88.
The change in the number of post opportunities can be partly attributed to playing lineups with two real big men more often. Vlad Radmanovic was not going to give you many opportunities in the post. But individual Warriors are also doing more work in the post.
David Lee is posting up 24.7 percent of his possessions while last year he did so only 15.6 percent of the time. Ekpe Udoh has increased his percentage of post possessions from 30 percent to 41 percent while getting more offensive touches as well.
Improved post play should be very beneficial to a Warriors roster full of three point shooters and athletes who cut to the basket well.
Monta the Passer
Through four games, Ellis has assisted on 40 percent of Warriors' possessions, far higher than last year's average of 23 percent. This may be some combination of fluke, Monta looking to pass more due to his shooting slump and/or teams doubling him more.
Ellis has increased not only his number of assists, but quality of assists. More of his assists have gone towards high percentage, close shots and dunks and efficient threes instead of passes to two point jumpers.
The change may be connected to him acting as more of a playmaker so far since Curry has not been at 100 percent. More of Ellis' minutes have come with Curry off the floor and the debate will continue whether they are best suited playing together.
The Warriors as a whole, however, have only increased their percentage of assisted baskets from 57 percent to 58 percent. Curry's assist numbers have not gone down though. Both David Lee and Dorell Wright have significantly lower assist numbers this year.
It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues and if it's the result of a structural change in the Warriors' offense.
The Warriors are getting out in transition slightly less this year (11.5 percent of possessions vs. 13.4 percent last season), and are not doing so as efficiently, averaging only 1.07 points per possession compared to 1.20 last season. I believe the larger lineups, as well as the injuries of Stephen Curry, can explain this change. Hopefully, this is one trend which will not continue.
A team with Curry, Ellis, Dorell Wright and relatively mobile big men should get a lot of points from the fast break. On a positive note, the Warriors have grabbed 76 percent of defensive rebounds up from 69 percent. Bigger lineups and few guys leaking out may partially explain the declining transition play, but if it means not getting killed on the boards it may be worth it.
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