Monta Ellis is the one of the most exciting players in the NBA to watch. His 22 points per game are ninth in the NBA, and his quickness and off-guard skill set are second to none. He has made the Warriors one of the NBA's most exciting offenses to watch.
Yet the Warriors, like most losing teams, are being outscored by their opponents this season. They score 98.3 points per game while allowing 99.3 per contest.
But they shoot a .457 clip from the field, while their opponents shoot .445. Do Warriors opponents shoot the three better? Not at all. Golden State's .392 percentage from deep dwarfs their opponents' .368 pct.
The Warriors are also better than their opponents on free throws (.757 to .732). Obviously, shooting the ball is not a problem for this team. When you make a higher percentage of your shots, you should usually win. Miami, Oklahoma City, Boston and Indiana are the only other teams that shoot better than their opponents in all areas.
If the Warriors are getting outscored and the field-goal, three-point and free-throw percentages all favor them, then they obviously allow more shot attempts than their opponents.
But the Warriors nab more steals and commit fewer turnovers than their opponents. If the Warriors make more of their shots and turn the ball over less, there are only two possible explanations for why they are a losing team.
Rebounding and fouling.
For these two categories to counteract all those positive numbers in such a way that they make Golden State a losing team, the disparity must be bad. And man, it is.
The Warriors grab 40.4 rebounds per game while their opponents pull 45. They commit 22.2 fouls per game while drawing 17.8. Both ratios are second-worst in the NBA.
What does good guard play bring a team? Three-point shooting, perimeter defense, positive turnover differential. What about good forward play? Increased field-goal percentage, offensive rebounding.
What does good center play bring a team? Interior defense and defensive rebounding.
How much more obvious can it be?
With a decent starting center and reasonable play from the other guards, the Warriors would be over .500 this season. With an elite one, they'd be contenders.
The presence of an Andrew Bogut-type player literally turns this teams only weaknesses into strengths. A ferocious rebounder to go alongside David Lee, Bogut will make this team strong on the glass for the first time in years. Bogut's ability to defend the paint (he led the NBA in blocked shots last season) means that the Warriors foul totals will greatly drop, while his 245-pound frame on offense will force opponents into more fouls.
It's quite simple—Andrew Bogut turns the Warriors' two biggest weaknesses into strengths. The question then becomes: Will Ellis' absence turn former strengths into weaknesses?
The answer is no. As explosive a scorer as Ellis is, his .433 field-goal percentage and .321 mark from deep were well below the team average. In his absence, Stephen Curry and David Lee will become the team's go-to scorers. Both shoot over 49 percent from the field. Bogut, meanwhile, shoots 52 percent—mostly from close inside.
Of course, this will not all happen this season. Bogut may not even see the court before season's end, and Stephen Jackson will probably be around for the final 20-plus games. But the Warriors were simply not going anywhere this season with the basketball-challenged Andris Biedrins and greatly undersized Ekpe Udoh at center.
Heading into next season, the Warriors will have legitimate reason to believe they can win more often than they lose. The Ellis-Bogut trade made that possible. The numbers don't lie.
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