Grizzlies 108 Warriors 90: Growing Pains

Not going to recap this Warriors loss to the Grizzlies, as I found it to be a relatively uninteresting game. All those who are feeling pangs over these last two losses should bear in mind that they were practically pre-ordained to be losses — even before Curry got injured. First of all, I consider the Spurs and the Grizzlies to be the cream of the Warriors opponents in the West this season — the second and third best teams in the conference. Tough veteran teams that already know exactly what they want to do when they take the court. They have a huge edge this early in the season against teams that are working in new players and new systems. And that’s what the Warriors are, in spades. The Warriors are working in two new players in the first unit — Iggy and a healthy Bogut, who still has played fewer than 50 games in a Warriors uniform, and only 7 of those “healthy.” The second unit is of course brand spanking new. As is, to my eye, much of the offense the Warriors have installed to accommodate their new players.

It would be asking a lot for the Warriors to be ready to meet the Spurs and the Grizzlies this early in the season even under ideal circumstances. But under the circumstances they did meet — Curry out against the Spurs… Barnes just coming back, and unsure of his role… road back-to-back… at the end of a 4 game road trip… finishing up a 7 game stretch to start the season in which 5 games were on the road, with limited practice time….

Forget about it.

In fact, if I take anything away from these last two games, it is the certain knowledge that the Warriors are better than the Spurs. I won’t get in to why I’m so certain at this point — I’ll let the Warriors’ game speak for itself the next time these two teams meet.

As for the Grizzlies, they are clearly an extremely tough matchup for the Warriors. But let me just point out a couple of things about the way Mark Jackson chose to match up against them. Last season, Jackson cross-matched the front-line: He put Bogut on Zach Randolph and David Lee on Marc Gasol. And it worked — check the box scores. And why shouldn’t it work? Randolph clearly prefers the low block, and Gasol prefers the high post. Bogut can’t be bullied by Randolph, and his length clearly bothered him. Gasol can’t take advantage of his size against Lee in the high post  — heck, Bogut was nowhere near him when he shot anyway. If anything, Lee can use his quickness advantage to press up on Gasol and make him uncomfortable.

If you noticed, Jackson did crossmatch the frontline in the Spurs game — Lee on Splitter and Bogut on Duncan. To great effect.

So why didn’t Mark Jackson cross-match in this game? It’s a mystery.

The other matchup I didn’t quite get in this game was putting Iggy on the greatly slowed spot-up shooter Tayshaun Prince, and letting Klay Thompson chase Mike Conley. Conley is a far more dangerous scorer and playmaker than Prince. Iggy is quicker than Klay. Iggy is a defensive stopper. And Klay is not only bigger than Prince, but has no trouble staying in front of him.

And isn’t there a certain value to preserving Klay’s legs for the offensive end? Who would you rather have fresh in the fourth quarter, Iggy or Klay?

In short, Mark Jackson repeated the same mistakes in this game that he did in the Clippers game. The next time the Warriors and Grizzlies meet, if Jackson gets it right, the game could look completely different. Lee might not get in foul trouble, Randolph might struggle, Iggy might keep Conley from driving left, and… game on.

So, in other words, nothing about these last two games dismayed me. I remain confident that the Warriors have the best roster in the West this season. But to become the best team, they’re going to need help from their coach. Against the good teams, you can’t just roll out the ball. You need to game plan. You need to match up right, and get your rotations right. There’s a trick to beating the opponents that give you trouble, which coaches like Greg Popovich, Rick Adelman and Erik Spoelstra excel at:

Don’t match up the way your opponent wants you to.

It looked like Mark Jackson had developed a precocious understanding of this trick last season, and especially in the playoffs. But maybe he was just forced into it, by the injuries to Bogut, Ezeli and then Lee.

Maybe he was an inadvertent genius.

110 Responses to Grizzlies 108 Warriors 90: Growing Pains

  1. Also, NBA basics… why even closeout on non-shooter SG Tony Allen on the perimeter? Makes absolutely no sense to me. Leave Allen alone on the perimeter. Dare him to shoot. It’s what the Spurs do.

    And Mike Miller getting numerous open good looks on the perimeter three? Unacceptable IMO. He’s the most consistent three point threat on that team and never should be given an open look.

  2. the preacher appears to have a streak of arrogant obstinacy, deliberately and consciously not making the obvious substitution or cross match. looks like he’s role playing, pedantically attempting to demonstrate some point to his players. vs. SA, struggling to score in the fourth, it was just too obvious to give douglas an opportunity for a save — as if he’s still on probation and hasn’t earned the preacher’s complete trust. he seems to want his players to show they can defend without fouling, and keeps them out on the court in foul trouble even when the game has not reached a critical point. in this contest vs. Mem, either he was trying to demonstrate to lee and bogut they can succeed against randolph and gasol straight-up, or he was using the first contest against them as tests, reserving the change up for the next time through the order.

  3. Hou lost its second home game, while LA/sterlings pulled off what the lacobites still need to do — beat a playoff team on their court. I.Thomsen in his sixth man column on expressed his doubts about howard’s leadership and emotional commitment after the home loss to LA/bussies. howard might be incapable of understanding the three basic options for organizational behaviour — lead, follow, or clear the way. there’s no vet on the roster he’d defer to.

  4. Since they might be meeting Memphis in the playoffs, they might as well figure out the best way to beat them. The Warriors last night didn’t have a chance.

    To beat Memphis, you need one of two things, but ideally both, neither of which the Warriors have—an explosive guard who can shoot and penetrate and drive, and a center who can score against their front court. In fact the last time the Warriors beat Memphis was several years ago when Ellis went for 39 points, and they had a very close game that same year when Biedrins had that mysterious spike in his career and scored 28.

    Lee is going to get outsized and outmuscled by this front court, but if he were paired with a big who could score, they would better offset the difference. It doesn’t look like the offense will come from Bogut, so they have to see what they can get from O’Neal and Speights. Both will do best when they are surrounded by strong players, some mix of the starters, who can score themselves or facilitate offense.

    I wonder if they can’t spread their starters out better over the 48 minutes to optimize the potential in the bench. Barnes still has training wheels on, and will need all the support he can get to be effective, until he can take them off (let’s hope).

    The Memphis guards were able to go wherever they wanted last night, and Conley had his way. Douglas is a good defender, right? Could he have been brought in with the starters in spots, spelling Thompson and even Curry, giving them time with the subs? Lee/Igoudala/Klay or Lee/Igoudala/Curry should be able to run the offense, with Douglas largely bringing the ball up and passing off, or taking an opening if it appears. And if Douglas keeps up his offense, he should help spread the floor. Will there be times they could run Douglas/Curry/Klay to give Igoudala a break?

    Bogut can pass, but they don’t need that with the starting unit and it really gets in the way. But if he played with the subs more, he might be more effective in facilitating offense and might find more ways to score against the weaker units. He might be an effective bench player.

  5. I’m with you, FB, I don’t get a couple of the starting matchups. Even more, I don’t get the lack of coaching adjustments when those matchups got slaughtered.

    Jackson looked hopeless/helpless out there during the game, and sounded that way in his post-game presser: “We have to find a way to beat them. We have to find a way.” Wow. If I’m playing for that coach, I’m offering suggestions during timeouts. Loud ones.

    I don’t get the Harrison Barnes Project either. They plug him in with barely any practice time, get him the ball, and expect him to score on clearouts (aka Barnes-on-5). They even had him try to play point forward, a complete disaster. Not hating on Barnes here, just stating the obvious that he’s neither a shot creator nor defender on par with Green or Iggy. I don’t get it. Does Jackson or someone in the FO believe their own hype about the guy? Dumb.

    Green did good things when matched up against Randolph. A Mighty Battle! Green did all his work early, literally muscling Randolph away from the hoop. Z still scored on him, but at least he had to work for it. Would have liked to see more of that, from everyone assigned to guard Randolph.

    Coaching aside, it’s not too surprising for an exhausted visiting team to struggle against the Grizzlies. Still, Jackson let the Griz set the tempo and style of the game, a huge mistake. We are NEVER going to beat them at BigBall. As Nellie once said, “their bigs are better than our bigs.” Whenever that happened, Nellie played smallball and hit the gas pedal.

  6. the media drinking the kool aid have assured us that Malone has been capably replaced, but is there someone on the bench capable of getting the preacher’s ear and getting adjustments implemented during the game? the next two months will show us what kind of game coach they have.

    the boss tweeted about finishing w. green instead of barnes vs. SA ; my contention was, they might have been better with him inactive for the game. in some chess games you win by simplification, reducing the number of pieces in play.

    • warriorsablaze

      This implies that MJ made a lot of in-game adjustments last season with Malone on the bench. I don’t recall much of a difference last season…. in fact, I specifically recall yelling at the TV for MJ to make adjustments just as I have so far this season.

      • concur, the preacher was prone to staying too long with a losing plan last season, but if you’ve been here reading this site for a while, our boss felt was effusive at times in his praise of jackson’s adjustments. when lacob hired malone, they let the public get the impression that jackson’s lack of experience didn’t bother them because malone was also hired as one of the highest paid assistants in the association.

        the preacher never worked a day as an assistant coach. among the skills the trainees absorb in the apprenticeship, how to direct and best use the knowledge and skills of the staff. we can only have faith in the preacher’s innate leadership gifts.

        • Last season the team often came out blazing in the 3rd Q, presumably after Malone (or whoever) made adjustments. That was a huge change from the previous two seasons, and FB acknowledged that several times.

          But even last season Jackson had a tendency to stick with players who weren’t getting results, especially Barnes. Part of the reason was a lack of depth, but that doesn’t explain R. Jefferson’s lack of PT (Jefferson is now unleashed in Utah, and while not a world-beater, he’s doing better than Barnes).

          Jackson’s handling of Barnes this season is puzzling. Barnes is an OK outside shooter, but one of the best finishers on the team. So why doesn’t the team get him the ball on cuts to the hoop? They NEVER do that, they only pass it to him when he’s 20-30 feet away, and then run an iso for him create his own shot. Which he has never done well.

          My other question about Jackson’s rotations has to do with the bigs. Last season’s shortage forced him to often play small, WITH GREAT RESULTS!!!!!

          Now that Jackson has more bigs he rarely goes small, and I don’t see why. Green handled Z Randolph as well as or better than anyone who guarded him, and provided the added dimension of another long-range shooter on O. It seems like Jackson has reverted to too-conventional, too predictable – lazy minded – coaching.

  7. One would think that Jackson must have bet on Spurs by not having Douglas on the court in the fourth quarter after having a superb game. How do you lose a game when the Spurs only scored 9 points in the fourth quarter.

    And Jackson must have bet on Memphis given he played Douglas only 5 minutes for the entire game thus assuring a loss.

    Both games loses went way beyond just not cross-matching, although that would help. Not playing Douglas much in the fourth was a factor the first game, and not playing him at all was a factor in the second.

    I’m not for putting Iggy on a PG as that really exposes their real weakness inside even further given Bogut’s penchant for tripping over his own feet and delaying in moving to where he should be.

    The Warriors better get back to moving the ball and running.

  8. I rather like what I said @4, at least in broad principle. The Warriors do not have a single dominant player in the mode of Jordan or Kobe or Howard in their prime, one who can take on any lineup and score regardless of who else is on the floor with them, a center who can score over anyone or a player who can drive or shoot at will. That does not upset me at all, and the team only suffers by trying to make the starters something they are not.

    But that means they have to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of all players, assess the pluses and minuses on defense/offense, and put the best combination on the floor the entire 48 minutes. It also means they have to start developing now the players who might best complement whatever lineup they might use, specifically Speights, O’Neal, and Douglas—and Barnes, who is last on the list, whatever they can figure out will exploit his strengths vs his limitations, still considerable. To develop them, they need to surround them with a strong supporting cast, playmakers and scorers. They won’t develop in weak second units, and those units will only result in lost points and more time for the starters. They also need to make good use of their utility players, really only Green.

    Jackson, however, I fear is motivated by a system of status and reward—as well as the wishes and misconceptions of his boss—to decide who starts, who plays major minutes, and who finishes.

    I’m not sold cross matching Lee and Bogut on Gasol and Randolph would have made that much difference, that they wouldn’t have an overall gain tag teaming Speights and O’Neal against Randolph—or that Green wouldn’t have done a better job against Randolph than any of them. And Green might have helped more contain perimeter penetration, something Bogut and the others cannot do. The Memphis guards went wherever they wanted. On offense, scoring and playmaking, with Green they break even or slightly come out ahead.

    Klay will be much more effective sub time with a good supporting cast, and he will help the other players himself. I’m not sure many of Curry’s minutes are not wasted, especially when they play large units with limited scorers, that they couldn’t spread his time out more. He is a superior player when he has a strong supporting cast. In slow half court sets, his talents are neutralized. He has to have the lineup that will let him choose between playmaking and playing off the ball for open shots.

    Bogut, if the first games are representative, has limited abilities, but they should make best use of them. It doesn’t look like he can score against opponents’ starters and has limited range on defense as a rim protector. But he might help make strong second units. He’s really most effective against the big lugs many teams have as backup centers, and he might find more openings for shots as well as make use of his passing ability, which the second unit needs.

    And if he can’t improve the second unit. . . .

    • Sketchy support for my point:

      Mike Miller was +21 for the game, highest, while Klay was -20, lowest. Part of the reason for the high number was because Miller played against a weak unit who couldn’t score or defend well, who left him open. But he had a strong enough supporting cast—Prince, and both Koufos and Calathes were serviceable.

      Klay, however, struggled in prime time against the Memphis starters and couldn’t get good shots (and he did miss several open looks). He might have been more effective had he spent more time with good subs.

      Game flow:

      • rgg, I love ya guy, but I can’t discern your point.

        “To beat Memphis, you need one of two things, but ideally both, neither of which the Warriors have—an explosive guard who can shoot and penetrate and drive, and a center who can score against their front court.”

        The Ws have shooting, penetrating guards. Iggy. Douglas. And Curry and Thompson do quite well at it too. The Ws also have a C who can put up good numbers against anyone, and has for years. His name is David Lee.

        That means it’s not a personnel issue. It’s a “use of the personnel” issue. It’s the game plan and matchups. It’s coaching.

        Game strategy is much easier and quicker to change than personnel. Changing it has an even greater impact than changing personnel. For verification of that, see last year’s Lakers team.

        In the heat of a season, you either win with what you have or you lose with what you have. Wishing for missing pieces is an exercise in somewhere-over-the-rainbow. That’s not terribly productive in a league where acquiring a new player can take months or years, while NBA games are played an average of 2-point-something days apart.

        Jackson needs to use his players better. If he did, he’d win more. It’s that freakin’ simple. When Thompson is facing someone who can stop his shot, either run plays for him (Jackson hasn’t) or move the ball elsewhere. When Curry gets nullified by traps, create escapes for him (Jackson hasn’t). When Lee can’t D a player, change his D assignment (Jackson hasn’t). And like that.

        The season is young, and no one wins every game. But I’m VERY concerned that Mark Jackson doesn’t seem to recognize and respond to adverse game conditions quickly, creatively and effectively. Compared to that, everything else is a non-issue. The games the Ws have lost are on the coach. Not the players.

        • The Ws have as many as SIX possible team leaders on their squad. If Mark Jackson can’t win with this team, Mark Jackson can’t win.

        • The Warriors don’t have anyone who can penetrate at will against a strong front court and overall defense as Memphis has, as the greats can, or as Ellis could at his peak, in the game linked. Lee has limited size, and can, will, and does get shut down by their front court and similar, as he did the other night. Biedrins in that one game had a hook no one could stop, and for some reason it went in. A lot.

          However, Lee would score better with a better scoring partner up front alongside him to tax the front court better. They didn’t have to play Bogut hard at all. There are a few options on the roster which might better help out, as I suggested.

          And Curry, Igoudala, Klay, and maybe Douglas could drive better if they had the court spread better, the defense better taxed.

          I believe my point was that they need to make better use of the players they have, in better combinations, with better strategy.

          Read da comment?

          • OK, so I re-read your comments, all of them, and I don’t find the words “coach” or “strategy” anywhere. I did find a lot of pronouncements about what our players can’t do.

            Even in this comment, I read this:

            “However, Lee would score better with a better scoring partner up front alongside him to tax the front court better.”

            Really, I can’t imagine who you think that player might be.

            The Ws are loaded with talent. It’s not about the players. No player can score “at will.” Every player has assets and liabilities. Even Bogut can score under the right conditions.

            It’s easier or harder for any individual player to score depending on strategy and play execution. That’s coaching, not player substitution or player trades.

            It sounded like you wanted to trade for more and better players. If that’s not what you meant, I guess I misunderstood. Maybe you could toss in a few words like “game plan” and “tactics” if that’s indeed what you’re talking about.

          • I think we can assume, as I did, that finding effective lineups over the course of a 48 minute game entails using the best strategy to exploit their talents and cover their weaknesses. No coach or strategy, however, can turn a lineup of Curry, Bogut, Barnes, Lee, and Igoudala into an effective scoring unit.

            Still not clear where you’re seeing I want a new acquisition. It would be nice but is entirely out of reach. Speights, however, could be the scoring big to play alongside and complement Lee, as I mentioned. He has, in fact, put up good numbers against high caliber teams, 21 points and 10 boards against OKC with Cleveland last year. Bogut, O’Neal, and Green will never be able to do that. With his limitations, he would be most effective playing center, where his size will help and his range and smarts not hurt as much.

            You, however, seem to be asking for another coach, which isn’t in the cards either. I’m not ready to bail out on Jackson. Very smart moves were made last year over the course of the season with good effect, and it’s hard to believe that he dumbly followed Malone’s instruction or that he didn’t learn anything.

          • “You, however, seem to be asking for another coach, which isn’t in the cards either.”

            I’m starting a groundswell here.

          • “No coach or strategy, however, can turn a lineup of Curry, Bogut, Barnes, Lee, and Igoudala into an effective scoring unit.”

            You’re right, it wouldn’t be easy. If I’m an opposing coach, I’m looking at only 3 scorers in that lineup. I’ll take 5-on-3 odds any day.

  9. Calling all the Van Gundys…

  10. That great Memphis team got beat by 16 points by Indiana tonight. Against the Warriors they shot 52%, against Indiana 41%. Would
    Lee on Gasol or Bogut on Randolph made a difference perhaps. But is what clear is that Bogut, JON, and Speights, are not getting it done inside against good teams. Gasol and Connolly shot above 50% against us, and less than 41% against Indiana.

    It seems clear the Warriors have only nine players who should be in the rotation-Curry, Thompson, Iggy, Lee, Bogut, JON, Barnes, Douglas, and Green. The team is as good as bad as those nine players. I think it’s fairly good. But the overall roster consisting of six extra players is not as strong as you contend. Unfortunately, Speights will be included in the rotation and get some playing time.

  11. The most interesting paragraph of Bucher’s piece on bullying in the NBA:

    Enjoying the leverage of the biggest contract “was the case for the first eight to 10 guys,” says Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. “Now it’s for everyone who is a first-rounder, because the GM and the owner want to prove they picked the right guy. It’s thrown the pecking order all off. You don’t have to prove yourself anymore to play. The vets are not as valued.”

    • The advanced stats guys are starting to game the arena issue:

      It’s interesting in the first article that former mayor Agnos states that the arena is merely a “trojan horse” for the mega hotel and condo deal that is attached. I hadn’t realized before that this a billion dollar real estate grab.

    • It






      Like someone trying to fit in but doesn’t. And that will be much more noticeable when you actually see it. The pictures disguise its intrusion, or extrusion.

      If this thing happens, and it probably will, I hope they get it right. They want to have some kind of windows on the bay so fans can look out from inside the arena, right? Let’s hope it doesn’t cause a glare that disrupts play.

    • the shills also mentioned Union Sq. in a comparison, as if either of the two open public spaces have anything in common with a huge commercial development dressed up with public spaces as access-accessories.

      part of the joy of a truly successful con — the mark getting fleeced feels good and believes he’s getting something valuable. if a collector takes pride and pleasure in a forgery, isn’t that worth a lot of the price ? the lacobites want the public to feel blessed to have the n.b.a. return to Babylon with a winner, an aesthetically harmonious pimple on the waterfront, and new public ‘park’ over the bay while they’re looting public resources and assets. a big pie in the sky with imagined revenues to the city thrown in, to boost the intoxicant.

  12. No recap tonight. Pointed towards the Thunder game on Thursday.

  13. TWolves entering “win now” mode:

    This wouldn’t be a bad model for the Warriors to follow, and they have a trade chip who is probably worth more than Derrick Williams.

  14. Why do I think @12 and @17 are related?

    Here’s one way to evaluate Barnes, not that I’m advocating the trade. If I had a choice between Mike Miller, assuming he’s healthy, and Barnes, I would take Miller. He would make a better team now and next year. He has a deadly shot, which they could use with the subs and at times with the starters. He has more experience and a greater overall skill set, which isn’t saying much.

    The only things they give up are Barnes’ potential development, about which I’m skeptical. The skills he needs should have been developed over his earlier career so has confidence in them now and can fine tune for the NBA. They also give up his speed and driving ability, but so many things have to happen to set him up to drive that I wonder how much we’ll see it. He can’t initiate it himself.

    And they give up his greater potential trade value, assuming he has that now.

    OK, Feltbot, cards on the table. Who would you trade Barnes for?

    • Has to be a stretch-four: Ryan Anderson or Jeff Green might be available.

      Or a healthy center who can actually put the ball in the basket: Omer Asik.

      Or a couple of young threes in his draft class, who actually defend: Jimmy Butler and Mo Harkless.

      Just about anyone, to be frank. I think Barnes’ trade value is at an all time high, and will go down over time. Particularly if played exclusively at three, as the Warriors are doing now.

      • Just to be clear, the only thing Barnes could profitably be traded for THIS season is a stretch-four. He fills too important a role at the moment.

    • a fairly amusing commentary there. bobby knight’s comment about preferring to watch a nature show to pro hoops is much more true today, with the myriad of video programs that can offer us better intellectual and aesthetic nutrition than the commercialized sports competitions, ncaa included.

    • warriorsablaze

      Growing up, college hoops was my favorite. I remember watching Villanova upset Georgetown on a little black and white TV and absolutely losing my mind at the tender age of 9. My friend and I knew all the big time players and would always “be” them whenever we played ball in the yard. Beyond the excitement of the March madness tournament, it’s pretty much unwatchable now. Sad.

  15. I’ve been asserting for some time that the roster is not balanced and seriously flawed and that Barnes should be traded for either a
    decent SG or PF. ( I would also include Bogut in the mix but that may be prohibited by the NBA CBA.)

    Which is our greatest need is hard to say. A three
    guard rotation of Curry, Thompson, Douglas, might work, but
    Jackson doesn’t want to go small playing Douglas and Curry together in the back court. Speights poor shooting, dumb play ,and turnovers supports his being replaced at PF.

    However, if Barnes can establish a consistent shot as he showed his first game back, keeping Barnes as either a back-up SG or PF may be warranted. I just don’t see the Warriors being open to trading him. Trading for Anderson or Green would be great. Asik would help since no one playing that position has shown the ability to score this year. Miller is the last player we need as we are stacked with SF’s.

    Just hoping that Iggy will shoot a lot to tonight and hit a high percentage of his shots.

  16. j.harden is the new d.lee for the bloggers. mahoney on the point forward blog for puts the spotlight on Hou’s invisible defender. surely, these things were apparent before, yet the howard kool aid was so compelling that the pundits considered Hou one of the top four in the conference. harden could lose flopping from his arsenal on offense as well — drawing those three free throw fouls contributed nicely to his scoring efficiency.

  17. If Barnes is to be traded, the Bucks John Henson would be a good PF to trade him for.Throw in Speights. Get him as he is shooting over 60% from field and netting three extra possessions for the Bucks.

    • won’t happen. henson was in the same lottery as barnes, seven places later. the barnes kool aid is very potent in lacobville.

  18. warriorsablaze

    Well, so far we’ve destroyed the teams we’re supposed to beat… which is good. I’m still waiting for a win over a playoff team. Not sure the Thunder are a good candidate for that first tough win, but maybe we’ll step up since we’re at home.

    • you might learn more about OK from tonight’s game vs. LA/sterlings, rather than what they muster up the following night in oaktown. the schedule has its way of tipping the balances.

      • Moto, totally agree. The Warriors should be able to, at the least, grind out a win over OKC which will have to go to war to beat the Clippers in Staples. You know Chris Paul is going to show up for that game.

  19. If the Warriors make it to the finals and meet Detroit, I think they’ll be in good shape.

    If they’re going to keep getting big leads, I’d like to see the subs play more minutes with many of the starters. As raw as they are, they aren’t going to learn anything playing with each other. Douglas, who looked bad with the second unit, responded very well when he stepped up in San Antonio. I bet Nedovic would look better taking Curry’s place when they have a lead. Let him handle the ball, give him some shots, find some openings for his drive. A point guard is only as good as his team.

    They may need him. It’s hard to believe Douglas’ stress reaction will go away in two weeks. Bazemore at point looks more and more to be a lost cause. Speights would benefit as well from such treatment, and they will need him. Green needs all the minutes he can get with the starters, because he will be able to contribute.

    And it wouldn’t upset me at all if he took all of Barnes’ minutes. He looks like a deer frozen in headlights.

  20. Warriors returned to establishing their offense, but committing 23 turnovers is simply terrible. Their defense was more the result of the
    Pistons missing easy baskets both inside and out.

    Very disappointed in both Bogut’s and JON’s defense last night. Time and time again Piston players got either open or garnered OR’s (6 more than Warriors), only to miss open shots. And while both shot well, Bogut 2-3, JON 7-8, their combined eight turnovers (4 each) is simply not acceptable. Bogut’s is more alarming in that he had virtually no plays called for him. His baskets came off the Warriors effectively splitting one defender who was guarding both Bogut and Lee under the basket.

    JON mostly commits turnovers off his dribble, Bogut has more variety ways, including throwing the ball away, charging, and losing the ball off the dribble. The Warriors outscoring their opponents by far was the result of other Warriors shooting well when he was on the court, than his own play.

    Bazemore is not a PG and Jackson even with Douglas out, should abandon playing him there. Really don’t want to see Nedovic on the court. Both Bazemore and Speights have low basketball I’Q’s. As a result, when either on the court, they should be limited to defending without fouling as much as the do, and on offense, Jackson should keep the ball out of their hands, and limit their respective offenses to them taking few shots.

  21. Bazemore should not be restricted in shooting 3’s, as this season he’s been an excellent three point shooter.

    Off the bench, would like to see Green given more playing time, Speights less.

    Unless Barnes is on fire, he should not be playing almost twice as much as Green given all the things Green can do that Barnes can’t do on the court.

  22. Watching the game last night, it felt like Detroit was a perfect example of the power of good coaching over bad. The team has talent, but they were not at all prepared to defend against the Ws. After that game, it’s hard to see why Mo Cheeks has a coaching job.

    On the Ws side, the Harrison Barnes project continues. It appears Jackson is trying to turn him into Iggy by giving him turns at point forward. I suppose a game like last night provided a good opportunity to experiment and develop players, but yikes. Setting up a player to fail spectacularly is not a developmental aid.

    Iggy 11 assists in 32 minutes, Barnes 1 assist in 26 minutes, on a screamingly stupid Detroit double-team. Barnes is a fine finisher, but it’s quite a stretch for him to be a playmaker.

    JON showed some life last night, but if he could start making assists he’d be better for the team. Ditto for Speights. The starters were all hugely +, the 2nd team generally -, and our two backup bigs were the most minusy. Maybe better team play will come with time, maybe not. Both players have a black hole rep, and for both it may be the biggest single reason why they’re both backups.

    • warriorsablaze

      Barnes bringing the ball up and initiating the offense makes me cringe. Watching him, it seems his ball-handling could improve exponentially with the simple act of learning the basic ball protection position…something most basketball players learn at 11 years old. He pushes the ball way out in front of himself while making a move, opening wide the eyes of the defenders who easily knock it away… how many times do we have to see Barnes try to split the double team only to end up on the floor scrambling for the loose ball before this issue is addressed aggressively?

      It’s perplexing to me that a non-big man who has been the primary guy on his teams since childhood is so lacking in a basic basketball fundamental.

      • it’s been my riposte all along to barnes’ fans who see him becoming a playmaker — very tough for mature players to improve ball control skills and the instant court reads that go along with it. learn it young, or always struggle with it. there probably will not be a more generous half court defense that what Det offered last night.

  23. Joe Lacob continues to irritate me, even in success. Here he is, taking credit for Iggy’s desire to join his pal Curry on the Warriors:

  24. It appears a very significant lightbulb went off for Mark Jackson in the Detroit game: Neither Bogut nor ONeill received a single postup. They got the ball out of the offense, while on the move. And the results were spectacular: uncontested dunks.

    The Warriors played absolutely beautiful basketball last night, completely dicing up the Pistons interior defense. As I’ve noted several times already, we have the highest IQ and best passing team in the NBA. And last night was an indication that Mark Jackson is making progress in utilizing those talents.

    C’mon guys, where is the enjoyment? That was truly killer stuff last night, and we will soon see it translate against the best teams in the league.

    Starting Thursday.

    • Cautious reserve here. How many blowouts were there last year? One or two? Even against weak teams, they had to play starters heavy minutes. Igoudala makes the major difference, but the play of O’Neal and Bogut helps. If they didn’t come out firing first half, this could have been a different game. Detroit took Memphis to overtime.

      But I’m hungry now. A good move or two could make a big difference the rest of the season. Step up to the plate, Lacob. The only way to justify hanging on to Barnes while he has trade value is if he might become the kind of team hub that Thompson has in the next 2-3 years. I don’t think there is a chance of that. What he offers the team now during those years can easily be replaced.

    • Felty,
      I was tempted to turn the game off after the third quarter because I knew the Warriors reserves were going to play a downright ugly game of basketball in the 4th. Outside of several nice plays from JON (who looks like found gold!), the reserves in their fourth game of extended playing time, looked like a mess again.

      Secondly, Bob Fitzgerald was terrible again last night with his pseudo analysis of Detroits talent. As a small man himself, he is totally enamored by big NBA players, and the lineup of Drummond and Monroe is his pipe dream…never mind that the Warriors were up by 25 when he was busy blubbering on about how good Drummond looks and how skill full Monroe is.

      All that being said, the passing last night was magnificent. Iggy’s behind the back to Lee on the fast break is about the prettiest play we’ll see all season.

      All that said, the starters were magnificent.

    • Yes, good stuff!

      Where’s the joy?

      Last night it definitely was on display, on the court. Unfortunately , that does not translate to competition against the league’s best. “Show me” isn’t pessimism, it’s realism.

  25. Joe Lacob informs everyone that he is the true GM of the Warriors:

    “I’ll make the decisions. That’s my job. I’ll be public as much as I need to be, but I’ve got people, like Mark Jackson, Rick Welts and Bob Myers who are great at being the public face.”

    • Lacob’s ego may well be the greatest obstacle to Warrior success.

      Give him credit for Klay and Igoudala—you have to—but he has wasted a ton of money on players who have not panned out or aren’t worth what they’re paid and filled the bench with players who have not developed and won’t develop, who have left or are in the process of leaving. Injuries forced the team to play a roster and style against his wishes that were, in fact, the best options for the team.

      He inherited a fan base that enthusiastically supports whatever team is on the floor, giving the team national attention and a home court advantage. If he hadn’t inherited Curry and Lee, I hate to think where this team would be now. I also hate to think what kind of team we’d have if his greatest dream were realized, getting Howard.

    • How important have your hirings been in the turnaround?: “Jerry West was an important hire, because he represented five decades of doing it right. He has done everything in the NBA. There is nobody who knows more about the NBA than Jerry West, whether it be as a general manager, a coach, a player or a business man.” — No mention of Bob Myers being an important hire.

      Later in the same article: “I’m very proud of what Jerry West, Bob Myers, Kirk (Lacob), Travis (Schlenk) and our basketball operations guys have managed to accomplished in putting together a great team for Mark to put on the court.”

      So Lacob lists Jerry West first in the hierarchy, his son Kirk third, and once again completely omits chief scout and former “GM” Larry Riley, who was responsible for drafting Ezeli and Green.

      Taking all of these statements together, I think Lacob has inadvertently made it absolutely clear that Bob Myers has very little authority over personnel decisions. If it weren’t clear already. This is something I found completely obvious from the beginning.

    • I don’t see much discussion of basketball here, except maybe this:

      “. . . maybe hiring Mark Jackson was in most people’s minds because he hadn’t coached before on any level. But what he represented to me was leadership and culture change. Those were the things we had to change first. The X’s and O’s came second.”

      You have to wonder if he respects any coaching decisions Jackson has made, or even understands them.

    • A couple of things: Recognizing his own limitations, Lacob has hired excellent people to represent the Ws, and to make him the one of the best informed GMs in the business. That’s not a problem, it’s excellent management.

      Myers’ role as “GM” is not to make personnel decisions, but to implement them. That’s actually a perfect role for him. Landing Iggy, JON and Douglas was nowhere near a slam dunk. As good a judge of talent as Riley might be, it’s an open question whether he could have accomplished it.

      It really doesn’t matter who makes personnel decisions, as long as the team ends up making the right choices. After that, acquiring those good complementary players takes a completely different skill set, and recognizing that fact that is quite clever. Kudos to Lacob.

  26. The Warriors are currently leading the league in SRS, which is point-differential adjusted for quality of opponent.

  27. Barnes’ college performance reviewed at DraftExpress:

    Barnes ended up leading his team in scoring as a sophomore and earning First Team All-ACC honors, but his season finished on a low note, shooting an atrocious 20 for 61 (33%) in the NCAA tournament, and leaving NBA scouts with a poor final impression as North Carolina lost to Kansas in the Elite Eight.

    His lack of an explosive first step prevented him from getting to the rim and creating easy baskets, and while he did get to the free throw line at a higher rate this season, he still seemed far too content settling for contested jumpers off the dribble, as he connected on an unimpressive 47% of his field goals inside the arc.

    From 3-point range, Barnes shot a respectable 36% and shouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the NBA line, but he’s not yet a prolific deep shooter. He has a tendency to be a bit streaky and miss shots badly on occasion, some of which he should be able to improve on with repetition and better shot selection.

    And note especially this:

    Another area where Barnes hasn’t shown much growth is with his ability as a passer and creator for others. His comfort level as a ball-handler looks to decrease dramatically after a few dribbles, and he doesn’t have the creativity or vision to find his teammates for easy baskets, as evidenced by his extremely paltry assist numbers (his 1.5 assists per-40 ranks him towards the bottom of all small forward prospects in our Top100), particularly for a player who has the ball in his hands as much as he does with the freedom to make plays.

  28. High school evaluation:

    That said, the question “How good is Harrison Barnes?” is an open one in my mind. I am not convinced that Barnes has the ceiling of an NBA superstar. I see a guy who should be able to score in the 20s, and be a mid- to lower-tier All-Star. But I haven’t seen much in the way of creating for others. He’s certainly not a selfish kid; I just don’t feel like court vision is a strength in his game. And while Barnes is a very good athlete, he doesn’t strike me as a guy with off-the-charts physical gifts.

    • Barnes has shown that he is not a creator, except to attempt to get his own shot off. He has shown that he can hit an open jumper, and he is confident enough to call his own number, even in pressure situations.

      However, his ball-handling is still below average, and his defensive smarts and will have to be questioned. On the defensive end, it does look like he is trying harder (buying into the preacher), but he does not have the instincts or footwork of an Iggy or even Klay. Maybe those things will come with another couple of years in the league.

      Do you trade him for a stretch 4? If the right player is available, yes, in a heartbeat. However, trading him for a less-talented player would be the wrong move, especially if he develops into a solid starter.

      • Obviously they have to get someone valuable in return, while his value is supposedly high. It’s had to see him as a starter on this team for the next three years, and the only reason he might start is to give Klay more minutes with the subs because they need someone to shore them up. He has a lot to learn to be a bona fide starter after that, and many here have voice skepticism he can pick up those skills this far into his career.

        Someone who has trouble seeing the floor and creating for others will also have trouble creating for himself. His rookie stats weren’t bad, but it has to be remembered that he played with starters who could set him up or draw defenders to leave him open. He had advantages other rookies didn’t have. During the regular season, he was given 8 plus shots a game, and during the playoffs about 14. Many don’t get those openings or opportunities. He was still only a 36% shooter from the arc, both regular and post season.

        • for those who aren’t imbibing the barnes kool-aid, it’s pretty clear that most decent n.b.a. wings would fare well if they had the advantages mr. barnes has enjoyed with curry, thompson, lee, and this season, iguodala and bogut on the court with him. remains to be seen if green is even given the same opportunities — he usually played with bench-heavy rotations last season, unless lee had foul problems or the preacher wanted d and boards in specific possessions. the buzz in the media a week ago when GS was second to Ind in defense, with talk about them being an ‘elite’ defensive team, came when Mr.Barnes was inactive, and green saw more time with the starters.

          • The other thing that has to be noted is that there isn’t a good way to evaluate rookies, especially in the rookie of the year competition. The rookies who put up good stats often are those who play for weak teams and get a lot of play their first year. Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans immediately come to mind, who led the ballot years ago (and Steph, for that matter, but he had real talent). Barnes got a break with the Warriors. Their shallow roster, plus the owner’s insistence, gave him playing time. On a stronger roster, he could easily have been relegated to the bench and not put up very impressive numbers at all.

          • “On a stronger roster”

            You mean like one that had former all-star Richard Jefferson on it? 22-3-4 with 1 TO last night.

          • Saw that. Jefferson looked awfully tentative when he played for us, but I do wonder what he might have been capable of. He wouldn’t have had to do much more to outshine Barnes, however. I’m curious to see if he keeps it up.

  29. From ESPN, The Painted Area, report on Nike Hoop Summit. For some reason the comment won’t go through with the link.

  30. From ESPN:

    Douglas, who has served as the primary backup to star point guard Stephen Curry, has been bothered by pain in his lower leg since the team’s trip to China last month.

    • Call me crazy, but I like that guy. My stat-driven head sez he got nuttin, but my gut says Nedovic has a better-than-average NBA career in his future (assuming the team keeps him on the payroll long enough to develop). Here’s why:

      Last night the camera did a number of sideline pans, probably because the game was kinda predictable after the first Q. On the first pass over the bench Nedovic was sitting between Bogut and Lee, engaging them both in a conversation, happily oblivious to their disinterest. The next time he was next to Iggy, diagramming a play with his hands swooping around while Iggy tried to ignore him. Later, he was bugging Bogut again.

      Those random camera passes showed a guy who is a guy who is actively, happily, aggressively working to figure things out.

      Nedovic never stopped smiling, never let anyone discourage him, and never stopped bugging his betters.

      In short, Nedovic is a winner. Lacking any insight into Nedovic’s abilities as an athlete, I’ll bet right now that he’s going to have a pretty decent NBA career.

      • thank you for those observations. those situations is how a smart reserve vet, the kind who has future coach potential, is quite useful to have on the bench. o’neal or speights don’t quite fit the profile — remember terry cummings, or cliff robinson ? having reserves like that has not been in the lacob/preacher m.o. — and it’s the preacher who has significant input over the bench’s roster spots. landry and jack will probably be anomalies as mid priced vet reserves, because lacob’s multi-year contract commitments (another coming soon for thompson) will push them to the brink of the lux tax, and the team was lucky the two vets were on the market for a single season window.

        of course one of the assistant coaches might be taking NN under his wing, and that could be critical for the euro rookie’s growth. nelson had an excellent assistant minding the young nowitski.

  31. FB – as much as I have enjoyed calling out Lacob over the years, I think you are letting your personal animosity cloud your view of Lacob. In the post at 30 you are irritated by Lacob’s taking personal credit for Iggy’s desire to join the W’s and you imply that it was his buddy curry that was the enticement. You have to give Lacob total credit for the dramatic turn around of this team. He has built an impressive record.
    1. During the purchase negotiation he gave the go ahead on the D Lee deal and has stuck by Lee the whole way. Given your admiration for Lee, I think you would appreciate this.
    2. He brought in West, obviously and totally for personal validation and credibility when he had none in NBA circles, but nonetheless a great move.
    3. He left the business side of the W’s mgmt in place i.e. Rowell and first addressed the basketball executive structure. He then cleaned up the business side. Good priorities.
    4. He made some early mistakes with Amundson and the Bell amnesty and tried to make more mistakes with DeAndre Jordan and Howard, but everyone makes mistakes, including Bill Walsh – the greatest general manager of all time – in any sport . Consider Sabean – he was roasted before the 2 series wins… Lacob has gone on to build in your own estimation – one of the best squads in the league, great IQ and passing abilities, and they are stocked with young exciting players and have some cap space left. That has to be one of the most dramatic turn arounds in nba roster history considering the cap space problems and roster he inherited.
    5. You have correctly and consistently pointed out that Myers is a figurehead. Lacob is calling the shots – so he gets the credit. You must admit that the signing of an all star free agent – at a discount to another team(albeit the kings) represents the complete transformation of the W’s position in the league hierarchy and is one of the most amazing personnel moves when you consider the players and salaries that had to be dumped..
    6. He hired an announcer who had never coached and the decision is looking great at this time. I have concerns about MJ’s coaching style(after Spurs/Griz – I am now worried that he only went small in the playoffs out of necessity and why haven’t we seen Barnes at the 4 and Lee at the 5 yet…), but you have been sporadically positive on MJ as well.
    7. He endured a personal moment of extreme humiliation in front of 15,000 people and then repeatedly in various media outlets and took the heat and kept on going after the job with full speed. He was gracious in humiliation and undaunted.

    Of course Lacob has an outsized ego, why else would he pursue nba ownership. I do not think his unseemly attempt to take personal credit for the Iggy deal is off base. I would prefer the, “gosh we were so lucky to get Iggy” approach – but he has earned his stripes. In addition to the transformation of the franchise – and despite Frank’s opines, I think the roster is well structured which is another aspect of the GM job which Lacob has handled well.

    By the way that article that you quoted struck me more as a total write off of Myers as Lacob is saying “ I did not have much to sell… “. It was his job to get Iggy on board – no mention of Myers in the strategy or execution… And then of course the part that bugs you – not much selling because of the great job he(Lacob) has done… But I think there is truth in that. Iggy wanted to join the warriors because of the new status of the franchise, Curry is a nice complement to a situation he wanted to be involved with because of the work Lacob has done…

    • Fair enough, B-roo. The argument has to be made, and one way to evaluate Lacob is compare him to other owners. Dolan and Kroenke make him shine. There’s not much good competition for comparison, however.

      But he does belong with those two. My objection is that a man who has limited knowledge of the game is making critical decisions about the type of players he acquires, the quality of the roster, and the way he wants them to play. The proof for the first claim is abundant. Just listen to him talk about basketball.

      The team has succeeded in spite of his desires, not because of them, as I argue above. And he represents a disturbing trend reported here, that coaches are being bypassed in the process, with dismal results. Look at Denver and the Knicks.

      Nor do we have much hope he will turn the team over to better minds. It’s hard to criticize Jackson, since there weren’t many good options at the time. Lacob preferred Sloan, who wasn’t available, and I think that would have been a mistake.

      It could also be argued that he has not succeeded that well at all. The team’s record last year needs to be adjusted for the drastic realignment in the west, as was done here, and a case could be made (and was) that the team that season wasn’t that much better than the one the previous, before the trade and the tank.

      It also has to be realized he is incredibly lucky, that he got bailed out for his bad decisions by being able to unload those horrible contracts (unprecedented?). But he still paid a price. The deal included an undisclosed amount of cash—anybody know how much? And draft picks were sacrificed.

      How much better would the team have been had they acquired a player similar to Igoudala years ago, along with some solid bench players and prospects? He had the resources. This season is giving us the answer. Instead, he kept sinking money and roster slots into questionable and expensive centers.

      Let’s hope he is handling the business end well, especially as he moves to his exorbitant—risky?—SF project. But making money with this franchise is not hard at all, given the fan support, the national appeal of a player like Curry. Steve Kerr said the Warrior franchise was a gold mine, which Cohan never saw.

      Sterling, the monster in the NBA, may also prove to be one of the best owners: he turned the direction of the team over to a superior mind in basketball, Doc Rivers.

      I am reminded of Victor Hugo’s story, “A Fight with a Cannon.” A sailor forgets to tie down his cannon properly, a dangerous mistake on rough seas. Another sailor is killed by its lurching mass. The first sailor goes back in, captures and ties it down, and is declared a hero. But he is both rewarded for his heroism and punished for his mistake and sentenced to death. The explanation:

      “Carelessness has compromised this vessel. At this very hour it is perhaps lost. To be at sea is to be in front of the enemy. A ship making a voyage is an army waging war. The tempest is concealed, but it is at hand. The whole sea is an ambuscade. Death is the penalty of any misdemeanor committed in the face of the enemy. No fault is reparable. Courage should be rewarded, and negligence punished.”

      Lacob shouldn’t suffer a similar fate, but I’m not going to make him a hero. Let’s hope Guber doesn’t try to make a movie of the story, though. He’d screw it up.

    • I have been utterly willing to give Lacob credit where credit is due Buck, right from the start. It just so happened that in the first two years the horrible moves far outweighed the good. I don’t think you can point to one single instance where I haven’t credited Lacob for a good move — usually far in advance of everyone else.

      The fact of the matter is that Iggy and Curry have been besties ever since team USA, and started talking even then about playing together — I remember reading it at the time. The fact of the matter is that Iggy is the Denver player who leaked the Nuggets’ strategy to bully Curry in the playoffs. And to many eyes, Iggy took that series off defensively against Curry. Now we hear that he directed his cousin to approach Lacob directly about coming to the Warriors, while the series was still being played.

      (Kind of reminds me of Bob Myers shipping his client Dorell Wright to the Warriors for peanuts.)

      It’s fine if you think players consider the Warriors a destination because of Joe Lacob, I won’t belabor the point. But I think that’s like Chris Bosh, Ray Allen and Shane Battier considering the Heat a destination because of Pat Riley. Iggy wanted to play with Curry, and also no doubt noticed he was the perfect missing piece in the Warriors lineup.

      Just one other point: I see you’ve bought into Lacob’s koolaid regarding David Lee. That’s been a talking point of his lately, that he brought David Lee to the Warriors. And it is just one more reason why I literally can’t stand the guy. The trade that brought Lee to the Warriors was engineered completely by Don Nelson and Larry Riley. Lacob was completely out of the loop. The deal that made him owner of the Warriors was not yet finalized. Riley brought the deal to Lacob as a fait accompli, out of respect (and doing so probably violated league rules). Lacob said “Ok.” (Do you think he would have said no if the player being traded for was Kwame Brown?)

      Again, if you think the Lee trade is something that Lacob deserves credit for, then go right ahead and give it to him. Me, I prefer the Don Nelson model: Credit the people who actually got it done.

  32. When one removes the onion peels one sees that under the Lacob regime that after three years, the players currently on the roster that he has obtained that arguably are of quality is Barnes, Thompson, Bogut and Iggy.

    Curry and Lee were Nelson’s guys. Lacob didn’t make the Lee deal, he only approved it, and that was no brainer, except for Adam Lauridsen, who took exception.

    Without getting into whether it would have been better to draft Drummond or Harkness, or K.Leonard, over Barnes and Thompson, in the final analysis his big trade was for Bogut and the signing on Iggy.

    The Warriors drafting Charles Jenkins over I. Thomas was another missed opportunity.

    One expects over three years of ownership for the owner to sign more than one bona fide star and Lacob has one, Iggy. Bogut is not.

    It should be clear to all that Bogut is a good center against average teams. No more, no less. And to sign him to a three year contract is insane given his past health problems and his declining performance- limited no offense, except for dunks. I won’t even mention his crappy foul shooting and 80 percent missed tip-ins. It’s difficult to see the Warriors in the finals with Bogut and JON, but stranger things have happened.

    And the Warriors have a flawed roster with no back up point guard that can distribute, and a bigger and taller stretch PF then either Barnes or Green.

  33. Utterly off topic, but I just bumped into this:

    I hope Guber doesn’t see this. He’ll want to install them in the new arena.

    I have seen the future and. . . .

  34. For some reason, I find this Spencer Hawes putback slam over Dwight Howard for the win intensely satisfying:

  35. Re Lacob and the team he’s built, it’s obvious that Myers doesn’t make personnel decisions. That’s a big departure from the usual GM role with most teams, but with West and Riley around, why would you have a rookie GM plan the roster?

    Having Myers focus just on making deals is actually kind of an innovative breakdown of the usual GM job. He’s very, very good at that aspect of the job. He has signed good role players, shed painful contracts like Biedrins (still not sure how he pulled that off) landed Iggy and has successfully managed the payroll budget in general. His deals for Curry, Bogut, and even Douglas were outstanding (assuming good health for all of them).

    Compare Myers’ payroll budgeting to Riley’s. Riley was/is good at identifying talent, but he stuck the team with some rough contracts (Lee), a poor amnesty decision, and some pretty awful players (Kwame).

    So who’s the “real” GM? Who cares? Myers has the title, but the role is different here from most places. If that leaves West and Riley as the main talent evaluators, that’s no problem at all. Go Bob!

  36. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    According to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN

    Golden State is NBA’s best team

    If you’re sleeping on the Golden State Warriors, it’s time to wake up.

    This isn’t your typical Golden State team — the one trying to score like mad without caring whether the other team does the same. As fellow scribe Ethan Sherwood Strauss pointed out last week, the Warriors haven’t ranked better than 10th in defensive rating in more than 30 years. If you think it’s absolutely nuts that Stephen Curry could be the face of a defensive-minded team, I understand your skepticism.

    But this is a new era in Golden State. For the first time in almost half a century, the Warriors are stifling opponents on that end of the floor. Just four teams so far have held opponents to fewer points per possession than the Warriors. Yes, the Golden State Warriors.

    In reality, the Warriors have probably played the best ball of any team in the early going. Look, get past the 5-3 record. Context matters here. They’ve opened the season facing a brutal schedule with five of their eight games on the road. Two of their losses have come as visitors against the Los Angeles Clippers (the second night of a back-to-back) and the San Antonio Spurs (Warriors lost by two). Their third loss came against the Memphis Grizzlies, also on the second night of a back-to-back.

    And through it all, the Warriors are the only team that resides on top of the NBA’s sacred soil, ranking top 5 in both points per possession and points per possession allowed. As suffocating as the Indiana Pacers’ defense has been, Indiana has scored at just a league-average rate, according to data. And, before you fall head over heels for that 8-0 record, let’s keep in mind the Pacers have yet to play against an above-.500 team. The collective record of their opponents thus far is a ghastly 24-40, with only one game against a team with a non-losing record, the 3-3 Chicago Bulls.

    Teams can only play the cards they’re dealt, so we should still applaud the Pacers for capitalizing on their cupcake schedule. But if you’re asking me who’s the best team in the NBA at this moment, I’m not picking the team with the best record; I’m siding with the beasts by the Bay. Indiana, the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State are the only teams to outscore opponents by at least 10 points per 100 possessions, but the Warriors have faced a much tougher schedule.

    Plus, in all likelihood, we haven’t seen the peak version of this team. The offense hasn’t even taken off yet. Golden State coach Mark Jackson has been conservative with Curry’s playing time so far as the shooting star has played just 30.3 minutes per game this season dealing with a gimpy ankle. Furthermore, the Warriors have played this well largely without Harrison Barnes, whose lingering foot issues have limited him to just 80 minutes this season.

    But the defense has been sensational in the early going. Golden State has held its opponents under 100 points in all but two games, both of which came on the second night of back-to-backs. (Back-to-backs tend to be killer on defenses more so than offenses.) As of now, just the Spurs and Pacers have been better on that end of the floor, according to data.

    But is their nasty defense a small-sample-size fluke? Probably not. This is what happens when you pair an elite perimeter stopper in Andre Iguodala with a dominant basket protector in Andrew Bogut. Yes, the 3-point defense has been mostly smoke-and-mirrors. Opponents are shooting just 27 percent from deep against the Warriors in the early going, which some might attribute to Iguodala’s arrival.

    But, after studying 3-point field goal percentage trends of the past 10 seasons, you’ll find that there’s absolutely no correlation between what we see in the first 10 games and the rest of the season. It’s essentially random. A team that starts out holding opponents to 27 percent from deep is just as likely to be average as a team that holds opponents to 40 percent in the early going. (For the stat geeks out there, the correlation coefficient is -0.0047).

    With this in mind, don’t expect Warriors opponents to continue clanking from downtown. But the paint defense? That’s another story. I also looked at whether we can trust early-season opponent field goal percentage in the restricted area where the Warriors have held opponents to just 55.3 percent so far, which is eighth-best in the league. And that has much more staying power. Statistically, what you see now is mostly what you’ll get.

    So, even though the 3-point defense might be an aberration, the team’s basket protection with Bogut manning the paint is legit. And that’s far more important. According to SportVU data, opponents have shot 45.2 percent when Bogut defends a shot at the rim, which is one of the better rates among regular paint defenders (Dwight Howard, for example, allows 49.4 percent so far). A healthy Bogut means a healthy defense. Throw Iguodala into the mix and the Warriors have integrated the necessary defensive stalwarts to compensate for their heavy 3-point attack.

    Don’t be fooled by their 5-3 record, folks. Account for their harsh schedule and the Warriors have been just as good as anyone this season. When fully healthy, the Warriors are deadly on both ends of the floor. And if Curry and Barnes round into shape, chances are Golden State’s best is yet to come.

  37. Too close for comfort. I hate to see them blow a lead like that. After a great half, OKC really tailed off.

    What exactly was the offensive plan 4th. Q? I think it’s a mistake to make Curry carry the load and work that hard to get shots. They have ball handlers—he should play off the ball more, as he did last season with Jack.

    • I think this 4th quarter was a lot different than past 4ths. The only reason Jackson kept going to Lee was because Durant and his 5 fouls were guarding him. It totally screwed up the flow of the game, but Jackson hedged his bet that Lee could score easily, or foul Durant out. This is the right move and Lee had his opportunities to ice the game. But!, Lee attacked Durant the wrong way. He tried to use his “quick” moves on the post ups. I kept waiting for a power move and a pump fake, bit it never came, thus the shots that rolled off the rim. During that stretch is when Durant and Reggie Jackson cut the 14 point lead to 3. If Lee scores twice out of four chances and hots a couple of free throw, this game is on ice.

      What actually happened was that Klay bailed them out with a couple of fabulous offensive plays….the and 1 layup, corner three and jumper over Westbrook on the baseline. It should be noted that the JON post IPS were worse than Lee’s.

      Felt, what is your evaluation of Harrison Barnes in this game. I saw him eat up a smaller defender multiple times. Maybe his ceiling is Rudy Gay/Danny Granger.

      • Good read on Lee. I forgot about the fouls. I’m still concerned about perimeter play and making best use of Curry.

        Give Barnes credit for scoring, but he was 6-14, against a small defender for many shots, as you say, which is not efficient.

        And rebounding. Mobile players like Ibaka put big stiffs on their heels.

        A bad night for Durant—they should have put this one away. I assume we’ll here shortly from the boss.

  38. warriorsablaze

    Great win… but what a bummer of a 4th quarter. I know Felty was all over Twitter complaining about Bogut being in the game, but he was hardly the problem. Why does our offense completely stagnate and fall apart in the 4th? It was the same last year. It’s as if MJ decides to play “prevent” offense and defense and we take our foot off the gas pedal. Just play the way we did the first 3 quarters and we’ll win most games… no need to get cautious and conservative. Of all my MJ pet peeves, this habit is the most annoying to me. Repeated David Lee iso’s just isn’t going to get it done. Move the ball and run the offense…it’s too obvious.

  39. Great game last night. The Warriors won mainly due to their garnering a net 7 extra possessions by committing 11 last turnovers than the Thunder did, and this was offset by the Thunder garnering four more OR’s.

    The offense was on fire till the 4th quarter when the Warriors ran the wrong plays for D. Lee that resulted in his shooting 1-6 from the field. He should have been shooting mid-range jump shots which he’s the best at rather than driving and shooting with his off hand on a few of his shots.

    Thompson, Curry, Iggy, and to some extent Barnes,were terrific last night.

    It’s now clear that neither Bogut nor JON are very effective defensively inside against good teams. Such resulted in the Thunder shooting 52 percent from the field. 52 percent shooting against us does not bode well.

    Bogut is having a terrible time moving his feet and providing weak side help. There may be due to Bogut having some residual adverse effect from his foot injury.

    Neither Bogut, JON nor Lee blocked out [particulary effectively last night resulting in the Thunder garnering 4 more OR’s. There may be residuals from his foot injury. On offense, his OR’s has dropped from 2.1 per game last year to 1.3 OR’s per game this year.

    JON was marginally more effective as the Warriors outscored their opponents with him on the court as compared to the Warriors being outscored just slightly with Bogut on the court. JON should have played more than Bogut in the critical fourth quarter.

    Jackson almost blew it by going small with 1:37 left in the game by placing Lee at center which resulted in Reggie Jackson successfully attacking the rim and scoring over Lee. Felty, this shows that going small in crunch time as you advocate can be exploited.