Biggest Issue Golden State Warriors Must Solve before the Start of NBA Playoffs
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After the Golden State Warriors finished demolishing the Los Angeles Lakers in a 109-103 score that didn't nearly suggest the physicality in which they beat them down, there didn't seem to be any issue with a team that finally seem poised for a playoff run. Or at least in a first-round series that promised many fireworks, be it against Chris Paul, Andre Iguodala or Marc Gasol.
With the defense much improved with Andrew Bogut's healthy ankles, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson's shooting showing no signs of slowing down and Harrison Barnes steadily maturing as a scorer, the Warriors seem to have the major questions figured out.
If Klay and Curry can shoot enough to relax the defense for an attacking David Lee, followed by Barnes and Jarrett Jack slashes, the offense seems set. Even though Lee and Curry are average defenders on a good day, Thompson's improvements as an on-ball defender coupled with Bogut's interior nastiness appear to give them the makings of an upset-minded team.
But let's not get too reactionary to a couple great games by the Warriors. There is still a major issue to solve before the playoffs begin that coincides with a philosophical coaching strategy.
And that's the chasm between the innovative minds and theories in today's basketball compared to the shot distribution of the Warriors. Simply put, they don't shoot enough from the most efficient spot on the floor: the corner three.
According to ESPN.com, the Warriors are the most efficient three-point shooting team in the NBA, making them to a tune of 40.2 percent. However, they are middle of the road in attempts, coming in at 14th behind horrible shooting teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers (35.1 percent) and barely ahead of the Orlando Magic (33 percent).
The Houston Rockets, on the other hand, shoot 10.6 percent of their shots from the corners and average 28.9 attempted three-pointers per game. The Warriors, with two of the best shooters in the game, only shoot 5.6 percent of their shots from the corner three.
Besides Carlos Delfino (more a specialist) and James Harden, who else can really shoot it for the Rockets?
While most teams have one sharpshooter that plays heavy minutes, the Warriors have two that are dead-eye shooters—with Curry currently on pace to become one of the greatest ever. It doesn't make much sense to under-utilize that type of talent.
But one can argue the efficiency is the byproduct of selective shooting that keeps the opponents guessing. And since Klay and Curry shoot nearly 14 threes per game between them, where else do the shots go?
The answer lies in the philosophical difference between Mark Jackson and three-happy teams. He often runs pin-downs on "Horns" and flex actions to get Thompson a long two-point jumper, resulting in a lot of action for the least efficient shot on the floor.
The offense also stalls when Jack goes into isolation mode near the end of quarters. While it may seem like he stems opposing runs, it ultimately stops the offense from flowing. His patented step-back herky-jerky jumper is effective, but counterproductive to the team's strengths.
The team shoots 23.2 percent of its shots from the long two and 23.5 percent of its shots from distance. Of course, this comes with the caution that the Warriors don't necessarily have elite penetrators like James Harden or LeBron James to initiate the offense. But those offenses don't have David Lee and Bogut in the post, either.
They can play the traditional post-up game to open up threes for Thompson, Curry, Jack and even Barnes.
The Warriors are getting a little too accustomed to lulls in the offense—see the fourth quarter of the Lakers game—where the ball moves very little and there's a too much Jack dribbling and less efficient shooting.
If they can get their three-point shooting attempts up to about 35 percent and shoot less long twos off pin-downs, the Warriors offense can get better. Perhaps even good enough to take down the Los Angeles Clippers or Denver Nuggets in the first round.
Statistical support for this piece provided by NBA.com.
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