Steve Kerr has elevated the Warriors to tons of success in his four years as head coach, and a lot of his innovations have proved almost unbeatable. Defensively, he’s perfected the Warriors’ switching strategy, and he’s built an unselfish offense that features smart cutting and passing.
But he has had his critics. In the 2016 Finals, his long rotation might have cost them the title, and at times with Kevin Durant onboard, he hasn’t unleashed his superstars. It’s a little annoying to see less of that transcendent individual play than originally thought.
The Warriors’ superteam functions differently than most, because it doesn’t rely on the superstardom of its key players. It works because the Warriors are smart passers who can adjust to almost every defense. Rarely do either Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, or Kevin Durant hunt for buckets: they usually find them through the flow of the offense.
This can be frustrating. Why don’t we see more of Curry or Durant taking over? It’s because Kerr believes that with this amount of talent, his system is more consistent than heroics, and he’s right.
The Warriors don’t force anything offensively: they adapt to what the defense shows. They usually play at around the pace their opponent dictates and plan their offense around the defense’s weaknesses. The Warriors are fine sharing the success.
I think this is why they struggle in the first quarter and find their footing in the second and third quarters: they adapt to what their opponents’ strategies are. Kerr empowers his role players and keeps his star players fresh, and usually his opponents tire out.
This system held this year. There were moments when the Warriors’ own complacency threatened its success in the regular season, and the system almost fell apart during the Warriors’ Game 4 and 5 losses to Houston in the Western Conference Finals. But against all the good but not great teams the Warriors faced, it consistently worked.
Kerr deserves a lot of praise, for working through his back pain and leading the team through a rough regular season. We’ll see how the system works next year if there’s great competition, but I’m confident in it right now. It needs some patience to appreciate, but it produced great results this year.