The Warriors are deep, like a submarine - and sometimes you get torpedoed
Normally, you’d expect a team to struggle mightily when trying to operate without a star player of Kevin Durant’s standing. But for these Golden State Warriors, it hasn’t been a problem - with last night’s 125-101 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Warriors have now won 14 straight games that Durant missed. That would be kind of astonishing, until you look at the rest of the roster - and then it all makes sense: the Warriors are really, really deep.
Warriors Regain Their Place Atop the West
That’s already their fourth 40-point quarter of the season with a season-high 44 point explosion. I don’t think anyone can reasonably talk about the Warriors struggling in the early season anymore, as per Anthony Slater we have recently beat the Clippers by 28, the Spurs by 20, the Nuggets by 19, the Heat by 17 and now the Wolves by 24. During this five-game stretch, the Warriors have posted an Offensive rating of 117, and a Defensive rating: 93 - I’ll help you with the math here, that’s a Net rating of +24.0. Also, it’s worthwhile to note that along with the NBA’s #1 offense, the Warriors Defensive Rating on the year has dropped (climbed?) to 9th best in the league - and steadily improving.
Much like Steph Curry’s breakout 2015-16 year, the Warriors are roaring out of the gate and looking like an outlier on all sorts of analyst graphics.
The @warriors are scoring 32.4 points per game in transition this season, easily the most in modern @NBA history and 8.9 points per game more than the second ranked Lakers. pic.twitter.com/OFV5UY7Asp— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) November 9, 2017
But about that 3rd quarter and the Warriors’ Depth
At halftime, this was a one-point game. “Was” being the operative word here after the Warriors eviscerated the Wolves by slapping them with a 44-26 point discrepancy in the 3rd quarter.
Kerr went with the starting lineup for the first half of the quarter - and the usual culprits contributed, of course: Curry played the entire quarter and stuffed the stat sheet with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block; Klay was the leading scorer in the quarter with 13 points - more than half of which came during this 71-second span:
.@KlayThompson with 8 points in 71 seconds pic.twitter.com/a2deeI4Jiu— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) November 9, 2017
Andre Iguodala got the start in place of Kevin Durant, and although his 11-point performance won’t change the world, it was by far his best showing of the season. Keep in mind that coming into this game, Iguodala was averaging under 5 points per game, hadn’t even broken double digits in scoring and was an abysmal two for eighteen from deep. This isn’t much, as far as a breakout game goes, but for a reluctant offensive player it was a very solid showing.
Omri Casspi came away with the coveted Warrior Wonder award based on his stat line of 13 point (on 71% shooting), 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. Fitting a sweet shooting wing into Kerr’s rotation shouldn’t be a problem, but Casspi has found himself behind Patrick McCaw and Nick Young in the early season rotations. It took the absence of Durant to clear out enough minutes to play all of those guys, but I definitely liked what we saw.
Nick Young made the most of his 20 minutes, finishing with a solid line of 12 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals(!!!). The all-around impact, more than the scoring, is probably Young’s best path towards more minutes, again, as per Anthony Slater of the Athletic:
“He's pretty good on the ball,” Kerr said of Young. “His defense on the ball is his strength. He's gotta continue to work on his off-ball defense. But I loved his energy, loved his intent tonight.”
Oh, and McCaw chipped in with 8 points, 1 rebound, and 1 steal in about 16 minutes of action; David West had 10 points, 3 assists, and a block in around 12 minutes; and Javale McGee poured in 6 points in 9 minutes including this beauty that put the Warriors up by double digits and heralded the beginning of the separation in the 3rd:
.@JaValeMcGee34 with the dunk to increase the lead to double digits pic.twitter.com/znpqKGd9kn— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) November 9, 2017
That’s what a first place team looks like
With the Warriors now hitting their stride and regaining their allotted position on top of the Western Conference hopefully any question about a lazy start can be put to rest. This team has the top-level talent that took them to two Championships over the past three seasons, and now we are loaded up with the deepest roster in recent memory.
Warriors return to action on Saturday, when they host the Philadelphia 76ers at Oracle. And remember, those weekend games start earlier this year - so don’t forget!
Who was your Warrior Wonder against the Timberwolves?
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