Keys to the Golden State Warriors' Recent Resurgence
Since the return of Andre Iguodala, the Golden State Warriors have had a recent resurgence. Iguodala was the missing ingredient, but other factors also weighed into the Dubs moving from a .500 team to challenging for the division lead.
The team has transformed itself with the recent stretch of play, as the offense is operating a lot more efficiently and the defense is doing its job by holding opponents below the century mark in the past four games through January 14.
The Dubs are building confidence in this team, as the #FullSquad, prompted by David Lee, is healthy. The bench still needs a lot of work, but players like Harrison Barnes and Marreese Speights are contributing.
With that being said, let’s take a closer look at the biggest factors in the recent resurgence.
The Return of Andre Iguodala
The Warriors hit the wall hard when Andre Iguodala limped off the court with a hamstring injury against the Los Angeles Lakers. The team went 5-8 without the services of Iguodala (including that Laker contest).
The defense suffered the most, as the team gave up more than 100 points in 11 of the 13 games when he was on the bench.
Since his return, the team is 12-2 (through January 14) and has allowed 100 points or more in only six of the 14 contests. He is the defensive catalyst and can slide over to help out the less-abled defenders.
Iguodala does all of the little things, but his play against the Boston Celtics in the first game back from the 6-1 roadie showed why he is so valuable. He carried a tired team against the struggling Celtics by putting up 22 points, seven assists, five boards and three steals while shooting 64 percent from the field.
While the Warriors currently rev their engine, Iguodala can find additional ways to maximize production while his hamstring continues its journey back to 100 percent.
The Reemergence of David Lee
David Lee came out of the gate playing improved defense and showing his quickness with a lighter body frame. Along the way, he lost his touch with his jumper and the double-double nickname.
Fans cringed each time Lee posted up and would run the isolation play. Although he is very creative on offense, he got swallowed up with static moves.
After being called out by the fanbase and mentioned in trade rumors, Lee quieted the disapproval by playing the way we remember.
He broke out of his slump in mid-December and has been playing at an All-Star level. During the week of December 30-January 5, Lee was named Western Conference Player of the Week.
Through the current 11-1 run, Lee is averaging 22.1 PPG and 9.8 RPG while shooting 60 percent.
He is trying to work his way back into All-Star Game consideration.
Recently Favorable Schedule
The Warriors have had the roughest go at the NBA schedule so far this season. The Dubs have played the most road games out of any team (23) and had only four games against the weaker Eastern Conference until the recent roadie.
Although the Dubs had to face the Miami Heat, they swept through the Eastern teams until running out of gas in Brooklyn. Although the Dubs were on the road, they took advantage of the weaker teams and solidified some of their holes.
After an upcoming two-game sojourn in Oklahoma City and New Orleans, the Dubs will play 11 of the next 14 games at home, where the team is dominant in front of one of the most boisterous crowds in the Association.
The Warriors will have to face a few top-tier teams, but I expect them to be on top of the Pacific Division at the end of that stretch.
Defense Is Key
When Andre Iguodala went down, the Warriors defense looked like it took a vacation. The once-solid D began to give up more than 100 points on a consistent basis.
The team could not cover up the holes provided by Steph Curry and David Lee. Andrew Bogut was a factor, but he couldn't cover three athletic players at one time.
However, when the team got healthy, it was a completely different show.
Not only did the Warriors return to limiting teams in scoring, but they also clamped down on opponents' shots. The team has held 15 teams under 40 percent shooting through January 14.
Mark Jackson’s top focus is on the defensive side of the ball, and if the Warriors can be consistent in this area, the team will be tough to stop.
When the Warriors have their starting five healthy and playing, they are a true contender. Through January 14, the Warriors are 20-4 with the starting lineup, good for an 83.3 win percentage.
That record is the best ever by a Warriors squad, and each of the five brings such a diverse skill set. On top of that, the group understands each other on the court and can anticipate opportunities.
The only drawback to the starters is the bench, which is not carrying the load this season. The bench is last in the league in PPG (22.8), APG (3.9) and field-goal percentage (38.7).
Seeing the huge hole, Warriors brass made a progressive move by trading away defensive-minded PG Toney Douglas for PG Jordan Crawford and SG MarShon Brooks, per NBA.com.
The move was necessary because it will definitely give Steph Curry the extra minutes he needs to make it through the entire season.