So how are the Golden State Warriors in their new big three era? Just fine. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant are scoring, Draymond Green is doing everything else, Klay Thompson is coming to terms with his role and getting more touches. If they could only fix their leaky defense… but with this kind of offense, maybe it doesn’t even matter.
The thing about a team like the Warriors is that things so rarely go wrong. However, when it does happen, it’s blown out of proportions. Last season had a similar feel. The Warriors barely lost, but whenever it did happen, it looked like a bigger than life event. In the regular season, when most of their losses were blowouts when their shots simply wouldn’t fall, and obviously in the NBA finals, a loss that’s probably with some of the players to this day.
The Warriors have lost twice this season (out of 10 games), both of the losses blowouts, by 20 points or more. When something like that happens within the first month of the season, compared to how they started the season last year and their 73-9 record, it’s not that surprising that there’s some sort of overreaction to their defeats, especially when there are a couple of teams with a better record at this point.
But looking at things objectively, the Warriors are doing fine. They’ve had two four-game win streaks, including the current one they’re on. They led the NBA in offensive efficiency, both Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are scoring over 27 points per game and shooting above 40% from three, and Klay Thompson is catching up. Over the last four games he’s averaging 23.3 points per game while shooting over 53% from beyond the arc.
Draymond Green is averaging less than 11 points per game but is helping out in every other way, including 10.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.6 blocks per game, leading the team in all four categories. He has an 11.1 net rating, and the Warriors are better off by 8.2 points per 100 possessions when he’s on the floor compared to when he isn’t. Green might have the highest potential for causing problems and going off the rails, but he’s also the team most important player. Someone has to do the dirty work and not mind getting less shots, and do it for 35 minutes a game.
One thing the Warriors have slipped at is defense. They’re only 17th in defensive rating, and although they should get better, it might not be one of those things that improves back to the previous levels. Not having Andrew Bogut and filling in with Zaza Pachulia just isn’t the same Durant puts the team in a different mindset. The kind that tells the Warriors they can outscore everyone, which is probably true, but also leads to some slacking off defensively, which the Warriors have paid for twice.
This season isn’t going to be a cruise to a record like last one, at least it doesn’t look like it. The Warriors still have more firepower than everyone, maybe more than ever before, but it came at a cost. On most nights it shouldn’t matter, but there will be games when it does. The main goal for them from now until the playoffs begin is finding a way to hide that glaring weakness that isn’t going to suddenly disappear. Who knows, maybe pouring enough offense on it will make it go away.