Golden State Warriors Proving They're Much More Than Just Stephen Curry

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Golden State Warriors Proving They're Much More Than Just Stephen Curry
Rocky Widner/Getty Images

If Stephen Curry wasn't taking and making shots from all over the floor, the basketball world might still be sleeping on the Golden State Warriors.

But if it wasn't for the players around Curry, this would be a gimmicky blip on the radar—not a championship contender.

The Dubs have power and finesse, scorers and stoppers, flash and function. They're the hottest team in the business, showing no signs of cooling off.

Curry might have brought the national crowd to the show, but his teammates are keeping everyone glued to their seats.

 

Getting Defensive

Golden State's offensive firepower is loaded, well above the legal limit in most of the continental United States.

Believe it or not, though, this team secured its NBA elite membership cards at the opposite end of the floor.

This may not have the typical look of a suffocating defense, but it has all of the notable numbers. Former run-and-gun coach Don Nelson may have stained public perception, but each dominant defensive display moves the Warriors one step further from that tainted image.

There's been no shortage to choose from.

Golden State's Defensive Resume
Category Statistic NBA Rank
Def Rtg 98.3 Fourth
Opp FG% 42.9 Fourth
Opp 3PT% 34.6 T-Eighth
Reb % 52.5 Second
D Reb % 77.0 First
Blocks 5.2 Ninth

NBA.com/stats.

Headlines don't tell the whole story. Coverage might be slanted toward the team's offensive specialists, but this roster has more players that save their best work for the opposite end.

Andrew Bogut might be the leading face in this movement. He hits the hardwood with all of two objectives—protect the paint and clean the glass. That's his job description.

And he's mastered both crafts. He's holding opponents to just 43.5 percent shooting at the rim, 10th best among all defenders facing at least five such shots per game. He's tied for 11th in rebounding (10.2 per game) and ninth in blocks (1.7), despite playing less than 27 minutes a night.

He's a stone wall at the basket, for any opponent that's first able to get past Golden State's perimeter defenders.

First-year Warrior Andre Iguodala typically takes the toughest test. Even with this advanced curriculum, he's been passing his first season in the Bay with ease:

As hard as Iguodala makes things for himself, figuring out where to attack this defense is even harder. Saying to go right at David Lee is simple, but that's assuming that the Dubs are going to leave Lee on someone able to do damage.

Coach Mark Jackson has enough defensive weapons in play that he can take several options out of the equation. With Bogut at their backs, all four of the Dubs top four perimeter defenders have been doing work at their natural positions.

Iguodala is holding opposing 3s to a paltry 12.4 player efficiency rating. Klay Thompson is allowing opposing 2s just a 12.2 mark. Draymond Green has been harassing both 3s (11.8) and 4s (12.8), while Barnes has kept up the pressure when he's spelled Iguodala at the 3 (10.3).

If teams want to attack the Dubs at their weak spots, they have to get down to their third or fourth options to make those moves. Even if those players catch fire, it's rarely enough to keep pace with Golden State's high-powered offense.

 

Offensive Versatility

The Warriors don't overwhelm with offense like they used to. But this team can still dial up a dynamic attack when it needs one.

Curry is almost on another level when it comes to shooting. He can literally hit from anywhere inside the gym and coach Jackson actually gives him the freedom to prove that theory.

"One of the best shooters this NBA will see," four-time MVP LeBron James said, per the Associated Press (via USA Today.) "The light that he has, it's more than green, it's fluorescent — you just hope that he misses."

That defense is every bit as helpless as it sounds. If you're just hoping for a miss, then Curry will leave you disappointed nearly 40 percent of the time. That might not sound like the highest mark, until you remember that he's launching an eye-popping eight triples a night.

Not to be outdone, Curry's Splash Brother Thompson is taking aim 7.2 times per game from beyond the arc. Considering that he's connected on 41.4 percent of his chances, you almost wonder if he's shooting enough.

It's hard to speak in hyperbole about this tandem, even for a coach who knows no other language.

"I've watched the history of the game and as player, as a fan, as an announcer, as a young kid and I've not ever seen two guys in the same backcourt shoot as well as these two guys," Jackson said last season, via CSNBayArea.com's Kyle Bonagura.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Are Curry and Thompson the best shooting tandem the league has ever seen? Looking at their track records, there at least seems to be an argument to be made.

What makes the Warriors so dangerous, though, is that Curry and Thompson are just two of a number of offensive weapons.

David Lee has all but silenced the trade talk that surrounded him last summer. If he hasn't, that's our problem, not his:

The two-time All-Star followed up Western Conference Player of the Week honors with a 22-point, 18-rebound performance in Golden State's 101-80 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday. He's one of just five players averaging at least 19 points, 10 rebounds and two assists this season, and leading that exclusive group in field-goal (53.1) and free-throw (81.9) percentages.

Iguodala has shined on the offensive end, both for his play-making skills (5.0 assists) and wildly efficient run as a complementary shooter (.537/.481). Thompson (19.4 points) is evolving into more than a long-ball specialist. Barnes (11.6) and Bogut (8.0) are doing enough to keep defenses honest.

It just comes down to a numbers game. The Dubs have more scorers than other teams have stoppers. There just isn't enough water to contain this team's fire.

 

Sustainable Success?

The Dubs are rolling right now. As well as any road team ever has in fact:

Their defense has been razor tight and their offense has shown up when it's needed.

But is this simply a hot streak or the sign of something more? How can the Warriors ensure that these 10 straight wins (and counting) become an interesting footnote and not the defining moment of this season?

Do the Warriors have enough to make it to the NBA Finals?

Submit Vote vote to see results

Well, staying healthy would certainly help. Golden State is 19-3 on the season when its full starting five (Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Lee and Bogut) is intact.

Finding anything of value from the bench would be a huge boost, too. The Dubs have defenders on the second team, but this reserve group is the lowest scoring bench in the league (23.0 points per game, via HoopsStats.com.)

Talent won't be an issue. This team gets into trouble when it can't find the right focus, doesn't bring the right energy or leaves lesser opponents hanging around longer than they should.

Jackson likes to call his Warriors a no-excuse basketball team. Those words have never meant more.

If the Dubs aren't playing deep in the postseason, there will be no excuses.

 

*Unless otherwise noted, statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com.

 

 

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