5 Disturbing Trends Golden State Warriors Must Shake Before Postseason
Mark Jackson's Golden State Warriors squad is a bit of an enigma. On one hand, there is the team that ranks in the bottom third of a number of key defensive statistics.
On the other, on March 11, the Warriors held the New York Knicks to just 27 percent shooting and 63 points while putting up 92 of their own. David Lee had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
Lee has shown repeatedly he is one of the league's elite power forwards, but he is never given the same due as LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin.
The Warriors have the pieces intact—one of the league's best playmakers and pure shooters in Stephen Curry, a 2-guard with a great shot to boot in Klay Thompson and a host of role players from rookie Harrison Barnes to the undersized yet explosive Carl Landry.
Even missing Brandon Rush, the Warriors have more depth than most teams, and that's not even mentioning starting center Andrew Bogut and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jarrett Jack.
The Warriors are a team with weapons, but they are also a team with critical flaws. Determining the areas the Dubs need to improve in is rather easy when isolating a number of very telling statistics.
Statistics accurate as of March 12, 2013.
Per-36 and standard stats sourced from Basketball-Reference.com.
Team ranking statistics from TeamRankings.com.
1. Lack of Paint Touches and Dribble Penetration
The Golden State Warriors rank No. 25 in the league in points in the paint, with just 37.7 per game. That indicates that they are not getting the ball inside. But beyond that, it means they are settling for too many jumpers to rank so low in paint scoring despite having the league's ninth-highest scoring offense.
The Warriors do a lot of pick-and-pop plays, but they must find a way to more involve Andrew Bogut in the offense.
The Warriors are going to be a team that is built around its backcourt, but the inside tandem of David Lee and Bogut is as good as it is underrated. The potential is high enough that the fact it has been relatively untested isn't as disheartening.
People realize two-time All-Star Lee could pair nicely with a player who led the league in blocks per game in 2010-11.
The Warriors must make use of the interior power they have and dump the ball into Lee and Bogut rather than leave Lee only for pick-and-rolls and Bogut only for garbage buckets and the occasional post-up. They both must be featured in the offense more heavily.
2. Not Forcing Enough Turnovers
The Golden State Warriors rank No. 28 in the league in forcing turnovers and they are No. 25 in steals per defensive play (8.5 percent).
The Warriors do rank No. 23 in scoring defense, surrendering 100.8 points per game, but it's not just because they play at a high pace. The defense has also been bad. They're not getting their hands on balls, causing deflections or playing passing lanes well.
The net effect has been that opponents have been able to compile a 1.748-1 assist-to-turnover ratio against the Warriors.
Teams are having no trouble running sets and getting into the flow of their offense. The Warriors are preventing teams from shooting a high percentage, ranking in the upper third of shooting defenses, but they just aren't forcing turnovers.
3. Stop Fouling so Frequently
The Warriors foul far too frequently. The Dubs rank No. 22 in the league in foul percentage (19.9 percent) and teams shoot free throws on 22.6 percent of Golden State's defensive possessions (No. 28 in the league).
They're just not playing fundamentally sound defense.
Teams are getting Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green off their feet and committing silly rookie fouls. Ezeli averages 5.3 fouls per 36 and Green averages 5.4 fouls per 36. They're just part of the problem, as Andrew Bogut averages 4.2 fouls per 36, as well.
4. A Lack of Overall Team Health Is an Ongoing Problem
The main concern for the Golden State Warriors has to be the health of Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry. Curry sprains his ankle with frequency, and Bogut has battled a host of injuries, most recently his recovery from microfracture surgery. His recovery has been slow in coming, but Bogut is making the Warriors a much better team.
He's been limited to just 18 minutes a game as part of his rehab, but by the playoffs, he could be a huge difference-maker. Bogut at his best is arguably a top-five center in the league. At his worst, he's in street clothes.
Bogut has only played 70 or more games in two of his seven NBA seasons. Last season, he played just 12 games due to an ankle injury. Curry played just 26 games last year, but he's actually been far more durable than Bogut in most respects.
Either way, Curry's gimpy ankles are a bad sign at just 25 years of age (as of March 14, 2013).
Throw in the fact that the Warriors already lost Brandon Rush for the season with an ACL injury, and the Warriors are happy to have Harrison Barnes to step in and fill the role Rush would have occupied as the starting small forward.
Festus Ezeli filled in well in spot duty while Bogut was sidelined, but Mark Jackson is hoping Bogut can return to full-time duties soon. When Curry is unable to go, Jarrett Jack serves as a suitable replacement.
So, the Warriors have solid Plan B's. It's just that they'd like to finally be at full strength, and with injury-prone players, that just doesn't seem to happen frequently enough, nor necessarily at the right times.
5. Weak Interior Play and Poor Rebounding
The Golden State Warriors are not a good rebounding team despite having one of the league's best in David Lee. Lee's 11 rebounds per game are significant, but the Warriors rank No. 20 in the league in both defensive and offensive rebounding percentages. They rank No. 18 in the league in shot-blocking rate.
The obvious implication is that they need more boards out of their supporting cast. Klay Thompson, in particular, averages just four rebounds per game, which really is inexplicable for a guard who is 6'7" and a good athlete. He should grab at least five, if not six rebounds.
Stephen Curry needs to get better at chasing down long ones like Rajon Rondo does. The Warriors need more minutes from center Andrew Bogut.
The fixes are all there. It's just a matter of applying the remedies to the wounds, and it begins with better rebounding and other fundamentals like boxing out and contesting shots without fouling.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!