5 Wild Stats Defining Golden State Warriors' Season

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 18, 2017

5 Wild Stats Defining Golden State Warriors' Season

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Golden State Warriors have made a habit of bringing statistical impossibilities into reality.

    Snapping a 40-year NBA title drought? Been there, done that. Eclipsing the all-time standard for regular-season success with 73 wins? That's in the bag, too.

    For the Warriors, wild numbers are more than just wild. Some carry historical significance. Others lengthen their lead on a basketball world trying—and almost always failing—to keep up.

    The current crew has already produced a new batch of "Wow!" figures, the following five of which are quickly coming to define their 2017-18 campaign.

Plus-12.7 Net Efficiency Rating

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    A cursory glance at Golden State makes it seem almost vulnerable—or mortal, at least.

    The Dubs' .793 winning percentage is their worst of head coach Steve Kerr's four-year tenure. They aren't occupying their customary No. 1 seed in the Western Conference standings, nor are they found at the very top of many power rankings. Their roster has become the walking wounded, and the injury report houses more than half of their starters.

    "This has got to be as beaten up as we've ever been since I've been here," Kerr said, per Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I don't remember having this many guys out, particularly our starters."

    Stephen Curry's ankle is back in the news, Draymond Green's shoulder is sore and apparently none of it matters.

    Golden State is once again steamrolling opponents, this time by 12.7 points per 100 possessions. If that sounds like a staggering statistic, that's because it should. It not only leads the Association by a comfortable margin (only Houston, plus-10.8, and Toronto, plus-8.2, are clearing plus-5), it tops last season's mark of plus-12.1, which NBA.com's John Schuhmann noted in April was second-highest in 40 years.

    In other words, the Warriors are—statistically speaking—again one of the greatest teams of all time, even as many don't yet paint them as the greatest club of this campaign.

50/40/90 Shooting...Maybe Better

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Dubs boast the NBA's best three-point conversion rate at 40.3 percent. Ho-hum, right? That designation kind of feels like a given, even if they finished third in the category last season.

    But couple that with the fact Curry is having his least-efficient perimeter campaign as a pro (38.1), and suddenly that mundane statistic gets interesting. That's because Klay Thompson traded his shooting hand for a flamethrower and is connecting on a searing—and easily career-high—47.2 percent of his long-range looks.

    Moreover, the All-Star 2-guard has simultaneously pumped his field-goal shooting to a personal-best 50.5 percent, potentially positioning himself to join the league's most exclusive marksmanship club. If he nudges his 88.2 percent free-throw rate just a couple of points higher, he could be enshrined with Curry and Steve Nash in the 50/45/90 club.

    "He's probably in his prime [right now]," Kerr said of Thompson, per CBS Sports' Brad Botkin. "Mentally, physically, he knows the league better than he ever has."

    Buoyed by Thompson's sniping—and similarly scorching rates from Kevin Durant (40.7), Nick Young (41.4) and Patrick McCaw (39.4)—Golden State owns the highest effective field-goal percentage in NBA history (58.8). In a vacuum, that might not sound absurd given this group's otherworldly standards, but with Curry's relative struggles in mind, this shooting display borders on unbelievable.

Most Efficient Bench

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    It's tempting to see the Warriors' unprecedented star power and think that's the reason this roster is so unfairly stacked. On some level, that's an accurate assessment.

    But it's the Dubs' depth that provides that final lift needed to sit head, shoulders and torso above their peers. Golden State's second unit has a stellar plus-10.1 net efficiency rating. That's good enough for the No. 1 spot in the category, and it's better than any Warriors reserve unit fared during the three previous Finals-bound seasons (almost twice as good as the 73-win outfit of 2015-16, plus-5.1).

    Their list of second-team success stories is limited only by the league's imposed roster restrictions.

    Omri Casspi, added for the criminally low veteran's minimum, is shooting 60.2 percent overall and 60.0 percent outside. Former All-Star David West is more than a dozen points above his previous field-goal high (66.9, was 54.5). Young and McCaw are collectively splashing 40.9 percent of their triples. Rookie Jordan Bell is shooting 74.6 percent while averaging 4.8 combined steals and blocks per 36 minutes.

    "Obviously coming off a championship run, they didn't need any more help," Bell said, per CBS Sports' Colin Ward-Henninger. "... I just tried to come in and just tried to really make an imprint on his team—just make sure I impact every game I play. I don't want to be a guy who just rode the wagon. I want to actually be part of some of the success."

    Bell is checking that box, as are all the other members of this bench brigade. There was a time when this team struggled to function without a leader. That time has passed. Curry has the lowest off-court net rating at plus-7.7, a mark that would rank fourth overall. Hence why the recent rash of injuries hasn't derailed its season-long eight-game winning streak.

League-Best Assist-to-Turnover Ratio

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    Ryan Kang/Associated Press

    For the most part, it's tough finding a Warriors weakness without nit-picking (bottom-third in offensive rebounding, perhaps a byproduct of shot selection and style) or imagining abstract obstacles (complacency).

    The one exception, though, is obvious. Golden State can't shake the turnover woes that have almost been as constant under Kerr as pace, space and all kinds of movement.

    "Turnover issues are nothing new to Golden State," Letourneau wrote. "Over the past three years, the Warriors have hoisted two Larry O'Brien trophies, reached three NBA Finals and won 207 regular-season games—all without ranking among the top 17 of 30 NBA teams in fewest giveaways."

    That part of the script has yet to flip. The Warriors are coughing up the fourth-most turnovers in the league (16.2 per game). And this isn't a pace-driven anomaly. Shift the focus to turnover percentage, and you still find this club near the cellar25th to be exact at 15.9 percent.

    But all those miscues only serve to make this discussion more incredible. The Warriors still have the league's most assists per turnover. And the margin isn't particularly close. They drop 1.94 dimes for every giveaway. The next-closest club is at 1.76 (Minnesota Timberwolves). The gap between them is the same size as the one separating Nos. 2 and 14 (Detroit Pistons, 1.58).

    No team distributes better than the Dubs, which probably shouldn't be possible with their top quarterback being Green, a forward/center tallying 7.3 helpers per night. But check every assist-related stat, and you'll find Golden State listed first—30.8 assists, 4.8 secondary assists, 53.8 potential assists, 69.8 assist percentage and 37.0 catch-and-shoot points per contest.

KD's Curry-Less Surge

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    There are different manners in which to dissect the ridiculousness of Golden State's abundance of riches. But being able to lose one MVP candidate only to have another grab the reins might be the best encapsulation.

    Like Curry did a season ago, Durant has used his superstar counterpart's absence to skyrocket himself into statistical wizardry. It's hard to raise a bar already set at an elite level, but Durant has found a way. Over the last four outings Curry has missed, Durant has poured in 33.8 points (on .537/.429/.955 shooting) to go along with 10.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 3.0 blocks.

    Durant kicked off this run with a 35-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in Curry's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, that had Kerr marveling during his post-game presser.

    "It was an 'I got this' type thing with the way he carried himself," Kerr said, per ESPN.com's Chris Haynes. "Clearly the best player on the court, the dominant player on the floor, and I think he showed, without Steph in particular, he almost had a different bounce to his step."

    There's a different impact in Durant's production, too. Before Curry went down, the Dubs weren't much different with Durant (plus-12.9 net rating) or without (plus-12.8). Since then, there's been a Steph-sized split between when Durant plays (plus-15.0) and when he doesn't (plus-1.4).

    Granted, when Golden State is at full strength, it doesn't always need Durant to dominate. But if he wasn't consistently capable of carrying the load, the Warriors wouldn't still be rolling without their fallen stars.


    Unless otherwise indicated, all stats are from Basketball Reference or NBA.com.

    Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @ZachBuckleyNBA.