Golden State Warriors: 5 Issues the Team Needs to Address
Now in jeopardy of failing to even make the playoffs, the Warriors must figure out how to turn their season around and return to the top of the Western Conference.
Of the numerous issues they must address, here are the five most significant.
Reliance on the 3-Pointer
Friday night was a perfect example of the pitfalls of the Warriors’ dependence on their three-point shooters. They likely would have won the game if either Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson had shot well from beyond the arc.
However, the two combined to make just two of their 12 three-point attempts, well short of their average combined total of 6.6 per game.
What matters is that they didn’t have a good shooting game, a possibility on any given night. With nearly a third of the Warriors’ points coming via the three, they must rely more on their big men.
Center Andrew Bogut is averaging just 5.8 field-goal attempts per game, yet he makes 60.2 percent of them. Going to the post more often is a must for Golden State going forward.
While this is not necessarily an issue the Warriors can address, it has proven to be a major problem this season already.
Warriors fans knew one of the keys to their team’s success this season would be staying healthy. With a lineup full of talented but injury-prone players (i.e. Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry), their success depends on those players’ ability to avoid injury.
Lack of Depth
The Warriors have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA when healthy, plus one of the better sixth men in Harrison Barnes. Draymond Green has also been fantastic coming off the bench this season.
After that, however, there are questions. Jermaine O’Neal believes his recent wrist surgery will not end his season, but it does mean he will miss quite a bit of time. Marreese Speights, despite his strong performance against the Rockets Friday night, is not an ideal option going up against the Western Conference’s top big men.
Even the Warriors’ backcourt bench players have struggled. Toney Douglas is not a reliable distributor like Stephen Curry, tallying only 11 assists in 131 minutes.
For the Warriors to improve against top teams, they must learn to keep pace when their starters leave the game.
The Warriors turn the ball over 17.1 times per game; only Houston and the Philadelphia 76ers are worse in that category. Coach Mark Jackson has already called out Curry for this, but it is really a teamwide issue.
The Warriors must take better care of the ball going forward. It is an easily corrected problem, as they simply must maintain their focus. If the Warriors eliminate their turnovers, the rest will take care of itself.
Getting to the Line and Making Free Throws
The Warriors shoot an average of 22.3 free throws per game, 19th in the NBA. Even worse, they make only 73.4 percent of those attempts, good for 22nd in the NBA.
The Warriors are bound to be below-average in this category due to the nature of their play. They shoot jumpers and three-pointers more than almost any other team in the league.
However, they still have plenty of room to improve in this category. In particular, Harrison Barnes must drive to the basket more often. According to Vorped, Barnes takes only 53.7 percent of his shots in the paint. He needs to use his athleticism more effectively to drive to the rim and draw fouls at a higher rate. He shoots just 2.95 free throws per 36 minutes, 99th in the NBA. Thompson ranks just behind him at 106th (2.64 per 36).