With 10 games in the books and a long rest week ahead of us, now is a great time to take a look at the first 10-game chunk of the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors' season.
You already know the basics: the Dubs are off to their best start since approximately the McKinley administration, the team is 8-2 and leading the Pacific Division by two games, and they keep spanking the Los Angeles teams like it's their birthright.
But there's more to this start that you may have missed. The goal here is to take a look behind that closet door and see what the laundry looks like. So without further ado, the last 10 games.
Best Storyline: Klay Thompson has taken a step forward from "really good shooting guard" to being, perhaps, the best shooting guard in the league. And that includes perennial All-Stars Dwyane Wade and James Harden. So how'd we get here?
Yes, Klay is a phenomenal shooter, but it goes deeper than that. Klay is getting to the rim more frequently, and he's not settling for bad shots quite as often. Per Basketball-Reference, he's upped his field goal attempts inside of 10 feet from 22% a year ago to over 30% this year. Closer shots are better shots, right? And on the flip side, he's slashed the mid-range game from a 35% share to under 29%. Mid-range shots are the least valuable shots out there, since they're nearly as difficult as three-point attempts with only two-thirds the value. Cutting those out of his game and attacking the rim has upped his free throw rate, PER, True Shot percentage and points per game to All-Star levels.
It's tough to ask Klay Thompson to do more given his incredible growth. If the Warriors want to win an NBA Championship this year, they simply need Klay to stay nearly as good as he is now. Also, seeing Stephen Curry step up when asked to guard Tony Parker would help.
Worst Storyline: Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers! Yes, the Warriors are dead last in turnovers at 19.7 per game. And yes, for a while they were on an all-time record-shattering pace of 22.5 per game. And lastly, you are correct, they continue to be an area for improvement. After all, how many points would the Warriors score each game if they had six more possessions? (That was supposed to be a rhetorical question but we can answer it: about 115 points per game.)
The turnover situation is helped, slightly, by the Warriors' defense, which ranks sixth in opponents' turnovers per game. This figure is helped by the Dubs' pace, which forces more possessions on opponents (and more opportunities to screw up). Still, Warriors opponents are getting three extra possessions each night to make up for Golden State's outstanding shooting. That doesn't hurt the team against the league's rank-and-file, but against a well-oiled offense like San Antonio, it's a death sentence.
Most Underrated Storyline: Offensive rebounds, a problem that might be even more alarming than the turnover situation! The Warriors are 27th in offensive rebounding rate this season, getting just 22% of available rebounds on the floor.
Compared to our opponents' offensive rebounds per game (12.4 to 8.5 offensive boards per game), we're giving up a net of four possessions a night via boards -- we only give up three due to turnovers. Surprised? That combined net minus-seven creates a huge hole for the team to climb out of each night. The turnovers and offensive rebounds are sapping our otherwise elite offense of opportunities to score. That's pretty much the only way an offense this talented isn't dominating the league.
Some of this is scheme (we tend to focus on getting back on defense), some of this is injury-related. But the bottom line is just ugly.
Most Overrated Storyline: Draymond, Draymond, Draymond! Let's all take a deep breath and realize a couple things: whether he re-signs in Golden State or not, it probably won't happen in the 2014 calendar year. While he's starting, Draymond Green's value couldn't possibly be higher. The ownership group has proven a bit too shrewd to fork over cash right this moment -- especially considering how long they made Klay sweat out what really was a no-brainer in hindsight.
Secondly, while it's true that Draymond's new contract could put the team in the luxury tax, Bob Meyers and company still have all season to figure out ways to avoid that tax through other player trades. They have time to watch this play out, and the only possible upside is that Draymond Green turns into Chris Bosh and gets locked into a below market rate contract. We all love Day-Day, but this is not happening in the next few months. So let's stick a fork in this topic and revisit later in 2015, okay?
Most disappointing player: Andre Iguodala has been a black hole offensively, posting an offensive rating down there in the neighborhood of Shaun Livingston and Festus Ezeli. A player this athletic on a roster full of shooters should have no trouble getting to the rim. Getting Iggy to come off of his passive streak will be one of Kerr's biggest challenges this year.
Sarcastic Small Sample Size Stats: Marreese Speights leads the team in PER, is second in offensive rating and he's third in defensive rating. It's quite clear that he should be starting the all-star game in February. Remember when we thought Kevin Love was a good idea?
Best Brazillian Guard Award: Leandro Barbosa, where have you been all these years? The Brazilian Blur has given the Warriors a reliable scorer off the bench at the guard position -- something they've missed since Jarrett Jack left town. Barbosa is getting to the rim over and over, which is why he's shooting a stupid 58% on two-point field goals.
Next Big Game: The Warriors host the 5-3 New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, December 4. It will be a match up of two MVP candidates as Anthony Davis and his ridiculous 35 PER come to town. And the Pelicans are fourth in the NBA in SRS! Get your popcorn.
Stephen Curry MVP watch
What should happen: Second place (behind Anthony Davis)
What will happen: Tied for fourth place behind Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis (tied with James Harden)
10-game Progress Report
Offense: B+ (Turnovers and offensive rebounds drag this number way down. Just 7th in offensive efficiency)
Defense: A (Arguably the best defense in the NBA -- 'nuff said)
Hoops IQ: B (The turnovers are a pretty huge stain, but this is team plays smart basketball for the most part)
Coaching: A- (The team still has bouts of Mark Jacksonitis, and the unforced errors are really piling up)
Championship Outlook: A- (San Antonio, and then ... ?)
*All statistics from basketball-reference.com