The NBA universe is filled with a myriad of truths and myths, some far more believable than others. One of those truths is that Stephen Curry is one of the most impressive scorers we have ever seen from the point guard position. One of the myths, however, is that the Golden State Warriors are still an offensive juggernaut.
At 103.6 points per game, the Warriors offense comes in at just 10th in the league. For a team that was supposed to rival the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers in terms of scoring and excitement, the offense has been disappointing to say the least.
When looking at their roster as currently constructed, it’s baffling that the Dubs have still not hit their stride offensively. Curry on his own gives them a boost, but the contributions from his supporting cast have been severely underwhelming.
Both Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes have not progressed as expected. After his impressive showing in last year’s playoffs, it’s fair to say that Barnes has actually regressed this season. He’s shooting just .430 from the field, and his passing has been nonexistent at just 1.3 assists per game, something Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group alluded to:
Defenses have a plan for Barnes after watching him exploit holes in schemes during the playoffs. The help is waiting in the paint, preventing him from victimizing another the way he did Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic on a dunk last season.
That’s why even though he’s averaging five more minutes than last year, when he started every game he played, Barnes is averaging only one more point (10.4). After shooting 57.8 percent in the paint last season, he’s down to 49.7. His rebounds are down, and his defense has regressed.
Thompson has not expanded his game in a single area, and while he has seen a slight uptick in both his shooting from the field and beyond the arc, a .432 field-goal percentage is simply unacceptable from your starting shooting guard.
For Thompson, it appeared early on in the season that he had worked on his post-up game in the offseason. With the All-Star Game now behind us, however, it would appear that the early signs were fool’s gold. Thompson is sporting a .265 shooting percentage on shots three to 10 feet from the rim, or in other words, from the block.
While obviously not all of those shots were post-up opportunities, his ineffectiveness from that area of the court severely hampers his overall efficiency. For a shooting guard that stands 6’7”, an effective post-up game would have taken not only his game, but also the Warriors as a whole to a different level.
Even more disappointing than Thompson, though, has been the Warriors’ new shiny toy, Andre Iguodala. Iguodala was supposed to be the piece that got the Warriors over the top, the missing ingredient in what was otherwise an already tasty treat. He’s been anything but that so far this season.
While it’s true that he has dealt with some injuries, the drop-off in his performance has been stunning. His scoring is as low as it’s been since his rookie season in the 2004-05 season, and his rebounding and assists have also dropped considerably, which Bleacher Report’s Matt Steinmetz addressed here:
Still, in 40 games, some of Iguodala’s numbers are startling. Despite plenty of playing time, Iguodala has taken 10 or more shots in a game just eight times. He’s scored in double figures in just 14 games. His field-goal attempts per game (7.4) are the lowest since his rookie season.
For a guy making $12,868,632 for the next four years, a line of 9.6 points, 4.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds is an absolute detriment to the team not only this year, but also in the future.
Expectations were high for Iguodala coming into the season, and thus far, he’s been nothing more than average. At this point, the Warriors might have been better off saving the money and using his minutes to help Barnes develop even more as a player. As it stands right now, the decline of Iguodala is one of the biggest factors in the disappointing Warriors offense.
The other big issue that has plagued the Warriors all season is the abysmal play of their bench unit. For a team that ranks 10th in the league in scoring, getting just the 29th-best production from its reserves is an automatic recipe for disaster.
Just like the Warriors as a whole, however, the subpar play from their bench is extremely puzzling, as it is a bench that is stacked with talent. Although he often finds himself sidelined with injuries, Jermaine O’Neal is the type of veteran backup center who makes teams salivate.
Jordan Crawford is also an intriguing piece because we saw early on in the season what he is capable of when given minutes. The silver lining with Crawford, though, is that while he has seen his scoring output cut in half since arriving at Golden State—14.2 points per game with the Boston Celtics, 7.1 with the Warriors—his efficiency has risen in his new role.
Guys like Draymond Green and Marreese Speights are also vital parts to a good bench. Green is the type of reserve who can be asked to do anything and get results. Speights has historically been an above-average backup forward.
Yet, despite all of the talent, the Warriors have still seen diminishing returns from their bench. And that brings us to the biggest problem with the Golden State Warriors offense: Mark Jackson.
Obviously, we must credit Jackson for turning the Warriors around. They were the laughingstock of the league for years before he arrived, and they have since become playoff contenders. Unfortunately for the Warriors, Jackson still has a lot of growing to do as a coach.
His biggest weakness is his dispersal of minutes. Far too often, we’ve seen him run his starters ragged and then throw in his reserves for a few minutes while they catch their breath. The result is that the offense stagnates, and the bench unit is dominated.
What Jackson must do is insert one of his playmakers, Curry or David Lee, in with his bench unit so that there is always someone in the game who can create shots for himself or others. Obviously, that would involve some tricky maneuvering with his minutes, but it’s something that has made Gregg Popovich famous over the years.
Jackson’s inability to do this has led to the Warriors’ lackluster 31-22 record, and he has rightfully found himself on the hot seat (lukewarm, perhaps?) because of it, despite Bleacher Report columnist Ric Bucher’s belief that it is unwarranted in the video shown here.
At the end of the day, the potential for the Warriors offense to perform to its lofty expectations is still there. The Dubs have sharpshooters in Curry and Thompson and a forward capable of getting his own shot whenever he wants in Lee.
With O’Neal now healthy and Crawford providing some playmaking ability off the bench, the bench unit should improve down the home stretch. The key will be Iguodala finding his role on the team. If he can be the guy the Warriors thought they were handing a lucrative multi-year deal to, the Warriors will be dangerous in the playoffs.
If they don’t come together, however, not even the brilliance of Curry will be enough to provide an extended postseason run.