GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
PACE: #6 97.3
OFFENSE: #12 105.5
DEFENSE: #26 107.6
In the first season after the end of the “Nellieball” era in Golden State, the Warriors gave the keys to Keith Smart and the primary objective of the organization last season was pretty clear: improve the defense.
Indeed they improved on the defensive end: from the second worst to the fifth worst defense! Other than that, the Warriors defense was atrocious: #26 points in the paint allowed w/45.5ppg; Worst defensive rebounding team allowing the opponents to grab 30.72% of the boards; 2nd worst team in allowing the opponents going to the FT line w/33.3% FT/rate allowed and they were also the 2nd worst team in defending at the rim by allowing 69.1% FG on that particular area.
The Warriors signed David Lee in the offseason and supposedly he should be the game changing player that the Warriors were really needing. But that didn’t happen, as with David Lee on the floor, the Warriors were still a bad defensive and rebounding team. However, note that Lee suffered a bad elbow injury in New York and since then, he didn’t look to be the same player all season long.
You won’t win many games especially on the road with such bad defense and rebounding issues and that explains why the Warriors went 10-31 on the road. However, at home the Warriors were a really potent team as of all the losing teams of the league they ended up having the best home record by going 26-15.
The biggest change of the Warriors under Keith Smart curiously happened on the offensive end. With Don Nelson, the Warriors were always on the top 3 fastest teams in the league, however with Smart, the Warriors were only the “6th fastest team” of the league. That was why the Warriors allowed 6.7 fewer points per game last season than they did in 2009-10, as they simply played in a slower pace.
Also the Warriors were used to be an aggressive team in the Nellieball era, where they were an undersized team, but a fearless team that attacked the paint aggressively, but last season the Warriors by having FT/rate of just 24.1% were by far the worst team in the league in that department.
The Warriors front office didn’t like what they saw and for this season, they decided to hire former color commentator Mark Jackson to coach the team. Jackson doesn’t have any NBA coaching experience, but he certainly knows that they need to improve their defense in order to be a competitive team.
In this offseason, the Warriors signed Kwame Brown and by maintaining Andris Biedrins in the roster, it is clear that Jackson wants to play with a big lineup the majority of the time. This evidence is inevitable when you have two small players in the backcourt in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.
On an offensive standpoint, this duo worked really well as both averaged more than 5 assists per game and they have great skills in shooting the ball. The problem is on the other side of the floor, so head coach Mark Jackson has to find a way to protect his backcourt.
One of the possible solutions to solve this problem is to use a good defensive SG/SF on the best opposing backcourt offensive player and maybe that’s why the Warriors recently traded for former Pacers Brandon Rush, who is a serviceable player that plays some nice defense and he will be a valuable piece for Mark Jackson’s puzzle.
Guard Klay Thompson was selected in the first round of the draft from the Warriors and he fits exactly on what I’ve said before: a big guard (6-foot-7) that contrast with Ellis and Curry.
We can also expect a better season from David Lee. In his first season as a Warrior, Lee saw his numbers regress all across the board, however in my opinion, his elbow injury was a big factor for such regression. The sample is small but before he got injured in November 10 against the Knicks, Lee was averaging 11.7 rebounds per game!
In the first year of Mark Jackson’s era I don’t expect the Warriors to be a playoff team. It is extremely complicated to improve an awful defensive team with basically the same core of players but this is the way that Jackson needs to cross to improve the team.