The Golden State Warriors offense is deadly. By many accounts, it’s the greatest offense in NBA history. And while it’s easy to assume the success is merely due to their personnel, that’s not quite the case.
The Warriors run a dynamic offense that creates and capitalizes on mismatches, beyond the talent mismatches that they start the game with. It’s calculated but unconventional, and it goes without saying that it works.
At The Athletic, Dylan Murphy broke down how the team is able to punish defenses that rely on switching - the same tactic that makes Golden State’s defense impenetrable.
As a defense, the Warriors have long been known for their switching. With many like-sized players capable of guarding multiple positions, they dismantle the utility of opponent screening actions to force one-on-one basketball as the shot clock winds down. The Warriors' defensive possessions end in an isolation 10.4 percent of the time, with a scoring rate of 0.85 points per possession (according to NBA.com), which is good for the second-highest and fifth-lowest rates, respectively . . .
. . . When facing the Warriors, opposing defenses tend to throw a switching scheme right back at them. Even though Curry (who is currently out with a sprained ankle) and Kevin Durant are two of the league’s most dangerous offensive players, defenses gamble that the isolation-heavy basketball that proceeds from both on- and off-ball switching is less dangerous than letting the Warriors democratic offense flow freely. This is especially true in the playoffs, when defenses really lock into individual player tendencies.
To coach Steve Kerr’s and the players’ credit, they do not fall into the same trap they set for opponents. From a statistical standpoint, we can see this clearly: only 7.2 percent of the Warriors' offense is derived from isolation, according to Synergy Sports. That's the sixth-lowest rate in the NBA.
The article goes on to describe why the team runs pick and rolls so infrequently (they run this popular motion far less often than any other team). It also gets into the type of actions that the Dubs’ cutters use to take advantage of switches and mismatches.
If you’re wanting to get a better feel for the technical side of Golden State’s historic offense, you’ll want to read the full article.
Jordan Bell: well worth the dough
This really should come as no surprise, but Jordan Bell has been worth what the Warriors paid for him. Golden State paid the Chicago Bulls $3.5 million for the rights to draft Bell in the second round of the draft, and it’s already looking like a steal.
For Sporting News, Scott Rafferty dove into Bell’s game on both sides of the floor, and explored where the rookie will get better. It’s a fun reminder at just how good Bell is.
I particularly liked this note about Bell’s rebounding:
Bell currently ranks 17th in the entire league with an offensive rebounding rate of 12.7 percent, putting him alongside the likes of Cody Zeller, Jonas Valunciunas, Dwight Howard and Kenneth Faried. He also ranks fourth among rookies who have played at least 10 games this season with 4.8 offensive rebounds per 100 possessions.
It’s too bad that Kevid Durant is number 35. Bell trolling the Bulls by making his price his number would have been great.
The top players at the quarter mark
The regular season is about a quarter of the way through. That means it’s time to check out who the best players have been.
The staff at The Ringer put together a list of the top 25 players this season. Not surprisingly, four Dubs showed up: Klay Thompson at 20, Draymond Green at 12, Kevin Durant at 5, and Stephen Curry at 4. John Gonzalez had a great line about Curry, stating, “He was playing really well because he always plays really well.”
It’s a really fun read, even if I have no clue how Russell Westbrook was listed at all, let alone 11th.
Kevon Looney’s future
It’s a little unknown how the Warriors will approach Kevon Looney going forward. After Golden State declined his option, Looney will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Still, the Warriors are likely interested in retaining him. He’s earned minutes this year, looked pretty good, and made marked improvements. And the team will still have a chance to keep him around.
Danny Leroux outlined the Dubs’ options with Looney in a piece for The Athletic. There’s some great information in there, especially when Leroux notes that “if Looney returns to the Warriors, he cannot make more than $2,227,081 next season, even if both sides agreed he was worth more.”
Kawhi is coming back
The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the best teams in the league so far, and have remained within shouting distance of Golden State in the west. Yet they’ve done so without their All-Star, superstar, and two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, who has been out all season.
Well, that’s about to change. Leonard is hoping to return to the court on Tuesday, which is great news for basketball fans, and horrible news for Spurs’ opponents.
The next Golden State - San Antonio matchup will be must-see TV.
Changing the sports journalism game
If you’re wondering about how The Athletic became so popular so quickly, and grabbed so many top sports writers (including many who cover the Warriors), Ryan Lindsay of Oakland Magazine has you covered.
Lindsay talked with Marcus Thompson II and Tim Kawakami about what made them switch from paper to the internet, and how that process is going so far. It’s a great look into the direction that sports journalism is headed in.