(Slightly douchy self-promoting note: I originally wrote this for a blog a buddy of mine and I started, Golden State Worriers. It's like GSOM, only worse and less fun! Come check it out if you like, no worries if you don't... we are no threat to the Mothership. And this is the only time I'll bore y'all by mentioning it here.)
Looking at the Warriors' league-wide ranks in various statistics is always pretty amusing, as we can be found near the very top or very bottom of most of the categories. Thus far, this season is no exception: we play the fastest pace of any team, we're the worst-rebounding team, we're the next-to-worst defensive team. We lead the league in steals and forced turnovers, but only Indiana turns it over more often per game than us. Only two teams get blocked more often per game than we do.
All of these rankings should sound pretty intuitive: we're a bunch of little fellas, scurrying around with no rhyme or reason. You can practically hear "Yakety Sax" when you watch us play. And while we may have the spunk of a half-naked British policewoman, we would need a brilliantly efficient offense to overcome our various deficiencies. We don't have one -- despite all the storm and fury and Montaness and Morrowing, our offensive efficiency is 15th-best in the league, dead average. Wussupwidat?
For help, let's turn to Dean Oliver's esteemed Four Factors, the four attributes that most contribute to a team's offensive success. Those factors: shooting, limiting your turnovers, offensive rebounding, and the frequency with which you score free throws. Defensive success can be measured inversely -- good defenses make their opponents shoot poorly, force a lot of turnovers, and keep their opponents off the offensive glass and off the foul line. But this is a Warriors blog, so let's not depress ourselves with talk of "defensive success". It'll be a while till we stop giving up eighty thousand points per game... let's just see where there's room for improvement on offense.
Per KnickerBlogger.net, our rankings in the Four Factors: 7th in shooting (51.6% eFG), 18th in turnovers (16.1 per 100 possessions), last in offensive rebounding (21.4 OREB%), 16th in converting at the line (23.4 free throws made per 100 field goals taken). At first glance, it's not clear that there's much room for improvement here. If you account for pace, we're not actually that bad at taking care of the basketball, and with a rookie and a pocket-sized two handling the playmaking duties, we're not likely to shoot up the rankings in that department. More sanely designed lineups would boost our offensive rebounding a bit (MORE RANDOLPH AND HUNTER, PLEASE), but we're basically screwed there until Biedrins comes back. Getting to the line more often? It'd be nice, but Morrow, Curry and Watson hang out on the perimeter for a reason, and in 300 minutes, Mikki has only gotten to the line nine times. Again, bigger and saner lineups would help (MORE RANDOLPH AND HUNTER, PLEASE), but we already knew that.
It doesn't seem like this exercise has brought anything to light. I mean, it's not like we can improve our shooting. We're already shooting pretty damn well -- in fact, if we maintain our current .477 field-goal percentage, it'll be the highest for the Warriors since Webber's rookie year. There's no real way to improve on our scoring efficiency... is there?
In fact, there is. There's something we can do, a simple strategic change that could go into effect as early as tonight, a change that would absolutely improve our offense and our chances of winning every night.
The Warriors need to shoot more threes.
I'm not saying they should take one or two more a game. I'm saying they should take, like, ten more a game. Twelve wouldn't hurt.
We currently take 17.8 threes a game, 18th in the league, and when you account for pace, we fall even further behind; only 20.5% of our shots are threes, putting us 20th in the league. The Magic take 35.1% of their shots from behind the arc. We need to be like them. Now.
The eFG% that denotes shooting quality in the Four Factors stands for effective field-goal percentage... unlike regular FG%, it credits you for the extra point your three-pointers give you, which is why it's the best way to gauge effective shooting. Making threes at a 35% clip is better than making twos at a 50% clip, so if you can shoot the three competently, it's a pretty effective shot. After the dunk, the layup and the free throw, the three-pointer is the most efficient shot in basketball. In fact, it's so useful that taking lots of threes is positively correlated with winning, even if you don't shoot them all that well. Yes, really. No, really. And that shouldn't come as any surprise to Warriors fans. We led the league in 3PA/FGA just two years ago, with a much worse array of shooters than we have now.
If there was ever a roster meant to go whole-hog on three-point shooting, it's this one. We're 5th best in the league in three-point shooting as it stands. Our few remaining bodies include C.J. Watson (career 3P% .392), Vladimir Radmanovic (.382), Stephen Curry (.370, .412 in college), and Anthony By-God Morrow (.481), who -- let's be perfectly clear -- is on pace to be the best three-point shooter in the history of professional basketball. Monta's got an above-average percentage so far this season. Even Maggette can hit 'em. Yes, it's gross when he shoots threes. But his career percentage is .321... Baron's is .322. I'd sure rather see Maggette shooting from 23 feet than from 20.
It's not like this requires much of a shift. We've been living on drive-and-dishes and jump shooting already... we just need to be more energetic about taking those jump shots from long distance. Monta DRIVES and either SCORES or kicks it out, Morrow, CJ, Vlad and Curry LET IT RAIN, Maggette perhaps occasionally LETS IT RAIN, Randolph and Hunter BANG DOWN LOW, Mikki SITS, and the Warriors PROFIT. Sure, teams will start to cluster around us on the perimeter and we'll get a couple threes blocked per game. You got a better idea?
Even in these darkest of days, there are adjustments that can be made. We can claw our way back a bit closer to respectability. All we have to go is gun more from the outside. We're the Golden State Warriors. Should that really be all that hard?