Stephen Curry broke the all-time three point shots made in a season in 2012-2013. in his ascension to superstardom, the notion that the Golden State Warriors were this smoldering, scorching hailstorm of threes and functioning as this highlight-reel efficient machine paved the way for enormous expectations in 2013-14. In reality, the Warriors owned the tenth-best offensive rating in 2012-13, behind the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers. So what gave?
We've gone through this about a thousand different ways on this thread but it comes down to a David Lee injury forcing Mark Jackson to play a style that crippled teams like the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs. On a national stage, people witnessed and salivated over Curry explosions, Klay Thompson's dead-eye shooting, Harrison Barnes' athleticism and thunderous Andrew Bogut dunk. In reality, the Warriors were battling an identity crisis.
And it's apparently carried over to the current season, causing the Warriors to slip to 13th in the NBA in offensive rating.
In theory, the Warriors really do have a top-10 defensive team. And oddly enough, the offense might drop down a bit.— Andy Liu (@AndyKHLiu) September 14, 2013
There are essentially two reasons why this has happened. Whether the exterior hype exceeded the reality or not, the Warriors weren't supposed to struggle in this fashion.
The offense is stunningly atrocious without Curry on the floor, a statistic we don't need to feast our tired eyes upon. But perpetuating those struggles is because Barnes is mired in a sophomore slump and Draymond Green, Marreese Speights, Kent Bazemore, Toney Douglas (not with the team anymore) were put in positions to fail. Not one of the aforementioned players can create their own shot and when tossed together in the same lineup like dismembered Jenga pieces, the results were a catastrophic drop that left fans shaking their heads after another off-the-foot Bazemore turnover and Speights step-back jumper.
But is this Mark Jackson's fault? He was given these specific pieces to work with and while they haven't been put in the best situation (Douglas and Bazemore running the point for some reason only known to no one) the players are still performing at a rate less than the league average. The Bazemore-Speights combo essentially functioned as a crappier Derek Fisher-Kendrick Perkins combo. Without a Reggie Jackson, Nick Collison and Jeremy Lamb bailing them out, it's much worse out here in the Bay. Jackson can only do so much with what he's given.
As for the starters, they've functioned magnificently against any starting five in the Association. But when Jackson has had to stagger Andre Iguodala, Curry or Thompson with the bench units? Let's just say things have hit the fan and it's not pretty. Without a ball handler in Curry or even a post option release valve in Lee, the Warriors offense for long stretches turn into an amalgamated affair of isolations, post-ups, and wayward pick-and-rolls turned into failed Harlem Globetrotter-esque plays.
I'm not a coach. I don't pretend or aspire to become one. Mark Jackson knows more basketball than you and I could ever imagine. Passing angles, controlling tempo, players tendencies, and where players are situated when a play goes a certain way, are little things I'm sure he is privy to and that I'm only beginning and always will begin to comprehend.
That being said, there is some semblance of truth to the glaringly obvious notion that the Warriors run an inordinate amount of isolation plays for Lee, Thompson, and even Barnes. I'm willing to even throw in the midrange pin-down set to Thompson as somewhat of an inefficient play. Why waste valuable time to set up a long two when Thompson is so lethal behind the arc?
Without going into a video breakdown, what do you think are some better lineups, plays, or situational changes the Warriors can make on offense?
I personally think more pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops with Iguodala, Thompson, Green, and even Barnes would help spread the defense thin and force the second layer of defense to account for shooters and drivers. The Portland Trail Blazers run a flow offense where they play off screens on both sides of the floor, using LaMarcus Aldridge's excellent shooting ability to create for shooters dotting the three-point line is, in essence, a model to shoot for.
Of course, this means less Lee and more of a spread lineup with Bogut on the floor. Alas, we're drawing full circle and coming back to the postseason lineup that made the Warriors offense so lethal without losing much on defense. For all the shortcomings and underachieving the Warriors have gone through so far, they don't have to look too far around for the solution. They've already solved this equation before.
Statistical support for this piece provided by NBA.com, unless stated otherwise.