The Warriors only had three games this past week. I struggled to find a theme in trying to consolidate and assess those three games in one single article. I tried looking for one word to aptly describe the Warriors’ performances against their last three opponents, but writer’s block was being a big ol’ pain on the backside.
I gave up trying to come up with one word, so I thought of two words instead.
For the past five seasons, the Warriors experienced one of two possible outcomes: Either they won championship gold, or they came extremely close to winning the championship. Everyone expected them to be in the running for that Larry O’Brien Trophy each season, as well as those diamond-encrusted, gold-laden championship rings.
But those days of gold are long gone, relegated to nothing more than fond memories. Sure, these current Warriors aren’t close to winning an NBA title, but they aren’t a total lost cause if you think of how much potential their future holds. They still have promising prospects and reliable options that could be important rotation pieces in the future. They still have two surefire Hall-of-Famers waiting in the wings. recovering from their ailments and chomping at the bit to ruin the league once again.
This team may never win the gold this year, or even next year. But what they lack in gold, they are making up for with an abundance of silver linings.
Grade the Warriors’ week
The Warriors only had three games, but each game provided a strong lesson for the young Dubs.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Chase Center, the Warriors managed to build a 15-point lead, before succumbing to a 25-5 run and losing to Chris Paul and the Thunder for the third time this season. The main takeaway from this game: Once you get a huge advantage, never let go of it. It’s an important lesson for the baby Dubs if they want to experience more wins, because a 15-point lead at any point of the game is by no means a safe lead in a league such as the NBA.
They took that lesson to heart in their game against the Chicago Bulls, a team who did not possess the offensive tools to punish the Warriors’ league-worst defense. In the process, they learned another important lesson: They are full of talent, and they are capable of winning games. We often focus on mechanics, on basics such as shooting and passing, more nuanced skills such as making correct reads, knowing when to switch, sniffing out a play when you’re on defense, etc. But gaining self-confidence is as important as all of those, if not better. Knowing that you do belong in the NBA, that you do have a future as a professional basketball player, and that you can thrive in it is a huge matter. This win against the Bulls made these young Dubs believe in themselves a bit more, and that can only mean good things, both for themselves and for the team.
And yet, they got blown out again the following game against the Miami Heat. The Heat are a damn good team — their defense is ranked fifth in the league. There are bound to be more nights like these, and that’s acceptable. But on the other hand, they fell behind big against the Heat in the first quarter, 21-41. They outscored the Heat during the second and third quarters by a score of 58-54. They only lost the third quarter by 3 points, and the fourth quarter by 1 point. They’ve proven that they can keep up with these teams — it’s just that they need to not fall behind early. That was a harsh but important lesson they learned during that game.
So they finished the week with a 1-2 record, but it’s a 1-2 record full of progress, as well as lessons for them to learn and for them to improve on. I have faith in this team’s ability to learn from their mistakes. These games are now investments for the future, one where the Warriors will have their core back, with the added benefit of experienced youth and serviceable role-players who can amply serve as backups.
It’s been slow at times, but because they’ve been improving, I’m inclined to give them a solid C.
State of the Warriors offense
You’re probably expecting more of the same in terms of the Warriors offense, and you know what? You’re right — it is more of the same.
The Warriors continue to have an anomalous shooting split — anomalous in the sense that they generally still have a tough time shooting the ball during live possessions, ranking as one of the bottom teams in terms of field-goal percentage and three-point percentage. But when it comes to getting fouled and knocking down their free throws, they remain the best in the entire league. And that’s without two of their best free throw shooters in Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
They continue to be average in terms of assists, which means that they have been trying to adhere to their philosophy of moving the ball around, but they haven’t been generating as much assists as they would ideally want (mainly due to a lack of scoring talent and also facing defenses that are capable of stopping their motion offense). Amazingly, they continue to be consistent in taking care of the ball. You would think that with their offense that ranks in the bottom half, they’d be more careless with possessions, but that simply hasn’t been the case. They’re doing something right, at least.
The advanced stats continue to depict a Warriors offense that is on a downward trend. Remember, they were once ranked 15th in terms of offensive efficiency, but that was with a much smaller sample size. Now that they have had an ample amount of playing time, they are now trending toward a ranking that is more congruent with the current makeup of their roster.
In other words, they are still without Curry and Thompson, and the effects’ their absences have had on their offense are really starting to show.
State of the Warriors defense
Since we’re on the topic of silver linings ...
Well, look at this! The Warriors defense actually improved in some areas! Technically, they can no longer be called the worst defense in the league, since they’ve improved their ranking by two spots. But do take note: the difference between them and the worst defense in the league statistically — which belongs to the Washington Wizards — is minuscule. The Wizards possess a defensive rating of 114.8; above them are the Atlanta Hawks, which have a rating of 114.7. So the three-worst defenses in the league are more or less the worst defensive teams in the league collectively.
But at this point, any signs of improvement defensively, however minuscule they may be, is highly welcome. Remember the words of the week, folks: silver linings.
The Warriors’ upcoming slate of games
The Warriors actually have a series of winnable games for the upcoming week. Later this afternoon, they will be going up against the Orlando Magic, who are currently 8th in the Eastern Conference but possess a record of 7-11. Like the Bulls, the Magic have the dubious distinction of having one of the worst offenses in the league — as of the publishing of this article, they are ranked 30th in offensive rating (102.4).
Tomorrow, they go up against the Atlanta Hawks, and as mentioned above, they belong in that collective group of worst defensive teams in the NBA. Despite having a potential transcendent star in Trae Young, their offense is also nothing special, being ranked 27th in the league in terms of offensive rating (103.9).
On Wednesday, they will go to Charlotte to face the Hornets. If you remember, the Hornets were one of the games the Warriors almost won earlier this season. They’ll have an opportunity to avenge that defeat, as well as proving to everyone that they’ve learned their lesson in holding leads all the way through to the end.
To finish the week off, they’ll be having a rematch with the Bulls in Chicago on Friday. We’ve already seen how the Bulls offense is one big mess — even they couldn’t punish the Warriors’ Swiss-cheese defense. It’s safe to bet that the Warriors will notch another win over them.
Unless, of course, the tank commander intervenes.
How will the Warriors do against the Magic, Hawks, Hornets, and Bulls?
This poll is closed