Skip to content

The Extra Pass: Warriors stumbling into the All-Star break

Feb 13, 2013, 2:35 PM EST

David Lee, Stephen Curry

The Extra Pass is a column that’s designed to give you a better look at a theme, team, player or scheme. Today, we look at what has gone wrong with the Golden State Warriors lately.

There has been no bigger darling of the first half of the NBA season than the Golden State Warriors. Pegged as a fringe playoff team heading into the campaign, the Warriors have surprised nearly everyone with inspired play on both sides of the ball and a firm place in the standings as one of the West’s better teams.

That success, however, has not been there recently. The Warriors have lost 5 straight games and 6 of their last 10, leading to a fall in the standings from 4th to 6th in the ultra competitive West. And if you listen to Andrew Bogut tell it, the Warriors seem to have too high an opinion of themselves as a team:

And we’re not there–we’re not who we think we are. I think we thought we were maybe a little better than we were.

Bogut has a history of not pulling any punches when critiquing his team (or himself) and his comments reflect the idea that while the Warriors have played well to this point in the year, they’re now struggling to adapt to the idea that they have to bring it every night. Complacency — especially amongst top teams — can be common in the NBA and it seems the Warriors, if you listen to Bogut, have caught that bug.

It’s one thing to talk about a mindset, however, and quite another to look at where the team is failing on the court; where they’re not executing. For the Warriors, it’s mostly been their defense that has been letting them down.

One of their keys to success this year has been a commitment to defending better. Head coach Mark Jackson has implemented simpler defensive schemes and has put players in position to succeed by drilling them on their responsibilities on any given action. With players understanding where they need to be and when they need to be there, Jackson has been able to turn average individual defenders into a group that was posting a top 12 defensive efficiency before their recent skid.

Lately, however, things are breaking down all over the floor. Individuals are allowing their man to beat them too often and that’s forcing the team into too many help situations. Once you force a team to help it only takes one breakdown from a secondary defender to turn a possession into a win for the offense. These breakdowns have become commonplace for the Warriors with individuals not only failing to stop their own man, but back line and secondary help defenders not doing their jobs to rotate and snuff out what the offense wants to do. Bigs have been late to stop dribble penetration and wings haven’t been digging down to the paint and still recovering back to the wing to contest shooters when the ball is kicked back out.

The resulting numbers have been downright miserable.

In their last 5 games Golden State has allowed a defensive efficiency of 117.1, a mark that would rank them last in the league by nearly 9 points per 100 possessions if given up over an entire season. Teams have been shooting 48.8% from the field and 43.8% from behind the arc during this stretch. Some of these numbers are surely opponent based. They’ve played the Rockets and Thunder a combined three times in those five games, both top 5 teams in offensive efficiency. However, in the other two losses they let the Mavs score 116 points and allowed a bottom 10 efficiency Grizzlies team to put up a mark a full 5 points (per 100 possessions) above their average. So it’s not as simple as chalking up these numbers to the excellence of the other team.

The Warriors have also seen a slip in their offensive performance. They’re scoring under a point per possession in their losing streak and have seen dips in every statistical category on that side of the ball. Most telling is their dip in three point shooting where they’re not only being held to fewer attempts per game but are also worse percentage wise. At the heart of these issues are the recent struggles of Steph Curry (38.5% shooting over the last 5) and Klay Thompson (40% shooting over the last 5), prompting questions about whether or not this duo is able to effectively play together long term.

And when you add the back court struggles to the dip in production from All-Star David Lee and the integration of Bogut (who, after returning from his ankle surgery, is still on a minutes restriction and unable to play on back to back nights), there are just too many things that have not been in this team’s favor lately.

In this regard, the All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the struggling Warriors. Their last game before the break was last night’s loss to the Rockets and they don’t play again until a week from now. That rest should allow them to recharge their batteries mentally and physically and reset their season.

That said, if they come back displaying the same lack of effort on defense while continuing to struggle to meet their season standards on offense, their slide will continue. They must get back to defending with purpose and finding ways to work better together on offense while integrating Bogut on both sides of the floor. If they can get that done, they’ll regain their form and compete for a top 4 seed come playoff time.

But if they don’t, their slip in the standings will continue and they may end up proving all those pre-season projections correct by being a fringe playoff team after all.

*Statistical support for this post from NBA.com

Latest Posts
  1. Rumor: Baron Davis planning an NBA comeback. Stop laughing, he’s serious.

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:00 PM EST

    Jordan Brand Melo M9 Shoe Launch Getty Images

    There is about as much chance of me getting a date with Emily Ratajkowski this weekend as there is of this actually happening.

  2. What’s the best way to defend Kings’ cherry-picking idea?

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:00 PM EST

    NBA teams are considering the question

  3. Daryl Morey believes two bad shots are better than one good shot (always), but data wasn’t significant enough for Jeff Van Gundy to change

    Feb 27, 2015, 7:59 PM EST

    Houston Rockets Draft Picks Press Conference Getty Images

    An interesting anecdote from Morey (speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference) about how the data showed an advantage, but not one big enough for his coach to change.

  4. Re-inventing the Wheel: Mike Zarren presents modified NBA-draft-lottery-reform proposals

    Feb 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EST

    the modified draft wheel

    Instead of 30-year plan, assistant Celtics general manager unveils five-year and 10-year plans

  5. Shane Battier: ‘I think a 60-game season would be perfect’

    Feb 27, 2015, 5:30 PM EST

    Shane Battier Shane Battier

    There are financial obstacles in the way of dropping 22 games from the schedule, but Battier makes a somewhat compelling case.

  6. Kyrie Irving has strained left shoulder, out Friday vs. Pacers

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:56 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers v New York Knicks Getty Images

    He’s day to day. (Insert your Keith Olberman joke here.)

  7. NBA to release “Last Two Minutes” officiating reports through end of season, playoffs

    Feb 27, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    Boston Celtics Vs. Brooklyn Nets At TD Garden Getty Images

    It’s not going to change most fans’ minds, but it’s a good first step.

  8. Report: Highest bid for Atlanta Hawks currently $800 million

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:45 PM EST

    Indiana Pacers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six Getty Images

    Don’t be surprised if another bidder comes in over the top.

  9. Report: If Ray Allen return to NBA this season it will not be with Cleveland

    Feb 27, 2015, 3:15 PM EST

    Ray Allen Getty Images

    Don’t expect him to return, but if he does Cleveland appears off the list.

  10. The time Michael Jordan asked Common to forge his signature (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:45 PM EST

    87th Annual Academy Awards - Red Carpet Getty Images

    Turns out Common was a Bulls ball boy back in the early Jordan era in Chicago, so he and Michael Jordan had some laughs together.

  11. Jeff Van Gundy to Daryl Morey when he flinched at using analytics to make a decision: ‘Either you believe in this sh-t or you don’t’

    Feb 27, 2015, 2:14 PM EST

    Game One Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Eastern Conference Finals Game One Getty Images

    The data said that Dikembe Mutombo was better than Yao Ming, but Morey wasn’t ready to make that call.

  12. Shane Battier says peer pressure is more valuable than coaching in the NBA

    Feb 27, 2015, 1:30 PM EST

    Shane Battier Shane Battier

    A team’s best players hold each other accountable, according to the former NBA player.

  13. Report: Phil Jackson to get fined for innocuous comment on Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell

    Feb 27, 2015, 12:48 PM EST

    Celebrities Attend Vancouver Canucks Vs New York Rangers Game - February 19, 2015 Getty Images

    Phil Jackson can’t just quietly sneak into a building and watch a prospect, so a reporter asked him a question. Jackson answered and will pay for that.

  14. Derrick Rose expected to return in 4-6 weeks. In time for playoffs.

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:58 AM EST

    Chicago Bulls v Houston Rockets Getty Images

    This makes the Bulls a lot more dangerous come the playoffs.

  15. Draymond Green drives for dunk, Timofey Mozgov isn’t going to stop him (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 11:28 AM EST

    draymond green Getty Images

    The Cavaliers’ rim protection has been infinitely better since the arrival of Timofey Mozgov, but he wasn’t stopping Draymond Green on this one.

  16. Kyle Lowry on his game of late: “I’m trash.”

    Feb 27, 2015, 10:44 AM EST

    Raptors DeRozan and Lowry against Hawks Getty Images

    DeMar DeRozan says he’s right next to Lowry on this.

  17. Eric Bledsoe, Russell Westbrook put on a show (VIDEO)

    Feb 27, 2015, 9:10 AM EST

    Russell Westbrook, Eric Bledsoe, Alex Len AP

    Westbrook had the numbers but Bledsoe was efficient.

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (7427)
  2. D. Rose (7165)
  3. S. Curry (7129)
  4. D. Howard (6584)
  5. M. Carter-Williams (6229)
  1. P. George (6193)
  2. A. Davis (5689)
  3. B. Beal (5505)
  4. C. Bosh (5304)
  5. K. Olynyk (5193)