Why the Golden State Warriors' Slow Start Should Be No Cause for Concern
Bay Area basketball fans are starving for a Warriors playoff berth after the Dubs failed to qualify for the 18th time in 20 years last season. First-year head coach Mark Jackson has the team and fans reeling coming out of the gates with a 2-6 record. Here's why their slow start to 2011 shouldn't be too much of a concern.
The Warriors' Team Defense Is Improving
Jackson stressed upon his hire that the Warriors were ''going to be a defensive team." So far his squad has fared okay in improving their defensive prowess, allowing 96.1 PPG (22nd in the league), down from last season's obscene 105.7 PPG tally.
Granted, the Warriors have a long way to go in becoming a defensive force to be reckoned with, especially in the post. The Dubs will need to find a more physical presence down low, a void which could be filled by sophomore power forward Ekpe Udoh, should he produce more efficient minutes on both ends of the court. The Warriors also need to start forcing more turnovers like they did a year ago, (13.9 per game to last season's 16.1), if the team wants to continue to improve.
Curry, Ellis and Lee Will Eventually Get Healthy
The Warriors trio have been haggled by various maladies all season, most recently with franchise point guard Stephen Curry re-aggravating his left ankle sprain. The Warriors have flopped without Curry, Monta Ellis or David Lee in the starting line-up, going 0-4. Should the Warriors stay healthy, the team should start to play competively again.
The Offensive Struggles Are Sure to End
The Warriors' early-season scoring slump comes as a surprise to a team that averaged 103.4 PPG last season. The Warriors haven't broke the 100 point-barrier in eight contests this season, which can be attributed to injuries and the early-season struggles of small forward Dorrell Wright and rookie swing-man Klay Thompson.
Both were expected to play large roles in Jackson's system this season. Wright is averaging just 5.8 PPG while playing 29.1 MPG as a starter and is shooting just .185 percent from three-point range.
Wright's shooting woes are sure to end for the career 36-percent three-point shooter and Thompson's continued progression should bring the Warriors' explosive offense back in ensuing fashion.
Learning a New System Takes Time
Not every coach will have instantaneous results like Jim Harbaugh.
By implementing his will to play strong defense, Jackson is trying to change the culture in Oakland. Sometimes, learning a whole new system takes time, time that the Warriors did not get in the lockout-shortened season.
The Warriors are still young, and it will take some time for this team to figure out their rotations and learn new schemes as well as build chemistry and find a team identity. It's too early to write off Jackson or the Warriors, so until we see how this team performs at full strength, basketball fans by the Bay should not be too alarmed.