The Golden State Warriors Are Competing in Spite of Injuries

Simon FeldsparContributor IDecember 8, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 28:  Trevor Ariza #1 of the Houston Rockets goes up for a shot while defended by Andris Biedrins #15 of the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on October 28, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The six win and 13 loss Warriors are one of the best shooting and scoring teams in the league and yet they continue to lose close games.  The many injuries to would-be starters have left the team susceptible to matchup problems and over-using their healthy players. 

Numbers were initially a source of strength to start the season, but with half of the roster in street clothes, the Warriors are forced to play their remaining players heavy minutes and that has led to some late game collapses.

Rebounding Woes

Lacking front court depth due to injuries and a general size disadvantage, the Warriors are last in the NBA in rebounding rate, retrieving only 45.3 percent of missed shots.   

Sidelined center, Andris Biedrins, is a walking double-double who blocks shots and plays hard-nosed defense.

Last year he averaged 11.9 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, only 1.8 turnovers, and a strong 30 minutes per game (avoiding fouls at all costs).  Besides the return to full health of Biedrins (which hopefully is happening soon), the best option for more boarding would be to bump up Anthony Randolph’s 22.2 minutes per game. 

Randolph ranks ninth out of 82 power forwards in rebound rate, nabbing 18.0 percent of bricked shots.  His 14.9 rebounds per 48 minutes ranks 18th overall in the NBA. 

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The Warriors definitely need the help rebounding as their season differential of -7.7 per game is good for dead last in the NBA. 

Randolph was being held from major playing time in the lineup because of a lack of inside aggressiveness and poor shot selection.  To drive it home about Randolph’s shooting, courtesy of www.nba.com/hotspots/ ; check out his accuracy by distance from the goal.

Around the rim:  46-95, .484

Free-throw line extended:  15-33, .454

Free-throw through three-point arc:  11-30, .282

Three pointers:  1-5, .200

The more distance from the hole that Randolph gets, the less ability he has to hit the target.

More playing time may be on the horizon for Anthony, because Warriors coach Don Nelson was encouraged by Randolph’s break-out game against the Orlando Magic.

“Other than that one early jump shot he took, he played a perfect game”, said Nelson. 

Randolph went for 28 points, 13 rebounds and five assists in the 126-118 loss to Orlando.

His shot selection wasn’t too extreme, with Randolph converting 10 of 23 put-ups.  Within that same piece, there’s word that Randolph’s game stamina is still in need of some improvement.

Defensive Efficiency

The Warriors are second to last in the NBA in defensive efficiency or, put differently, they give up the second most points per 100 possessions.  Couple that with the league’s fastest pace (possessions per game) and you get a team that leads the league in points allowed, 114.2, going into Monday night’s game against the Thunder.

A Big Void and Some Mild (Mannered) Curry

The two main trouble spots in the Warriors lineup are at the point guard and center position.  It’s no surprise that the Warriors are getting beat down low with the absence of their tall guys: Brandan Wright, Ronny Turiaf, and Andris Biedrins.  Golden St. is getting worked by opposing centers in field goals attempted, effective field goal percentage, rebounds, and are getting outscored by 4.3 points per game. 

The Warriors got lit up by the Bucs’ Brandon Jennings enthralling 55 point performance earlier in the year, so it isn’t that shocking that they have negative production at the point guard position.  However, it is a fairly wide margin of a -6.5 PER.  The Warriors point guards have been out-passed by an average of 2.4 assists in each game and are being out-scored by a whopping 8.3 points.

The majority of five man units are led by Stephen Curry, with Monta Ellis and CJ Watson also seeing time at the one.  Growing pains are to be expected from a rookie that sees 31.6 minutes per game, particularly on defense. 

A huge positive about Curry’s game is his two-to-one assist to turnover ratio.  Check out this graph on Curry’s game-by-game ball-handling poise to begin his career (one game excluded):

Curry assists

He's had four outstanding games and has generally looked like the most fluent passer on the team.  His vision and touch are ideal for a pure point guard and playmaker.

His stats should improve if he gets more ball touches.  According to the following table on ball-handling, Curry should be controlling the rock with much more authority.

Player:     Usage,    Ass/TO

Ellis:            26.1,     1.20

Maggette:    23.8,     0.92

Randolph:     22.8,     0.60

Curry:          16.3,     1.93

In terms of scoring, Curry has continued his sweet shooting stroke from Davidson, scoring 10.4 points per game with a .434 field goal percentage, a .370 three-point percentage, and an .806 free-throw shooting percentage.

The question is whether Monta Ellis and Steph Curry can both control the ball for long periods of time while being productive. 

Ellis has been going all out with his tough play, accumulating 15 assists and 57 points in his last two games.  He’s worming through the teeth of the defense, trying to avoid being collapsed on too much while repeatedly getting through the key.  Ellis’ play is animated and he is adept at drawing fouls and getting to the free-throw line.   He's gotten there 41 times in the last four games, while converting 85.4 percent of his free-throws.