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Looking at adjustments, because Warriors need something different
Critical outcomes as games come down to the wire - Golden State might want to jiggle the handle
The Golden State Warriors are trying to make the playoffs, just like they have all season. And just as it has been for the majority of the year, it’s looking iffy. Back at their lumpy but comfortable place sitting at .500, this is a big week of basketball for a team that still believes they can make some noise in the playoffs. Step one: get to the playoffs.
This week feature a “should win” and “should win for maximum safety.” First up is tonight’s should win game against the bottom-dwelling Houston Rockets.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (36-36) at Houston Rockets (18-53)
WHEN: Monday, April 20th, 2023 // 5pm PST
More of what works, please
I’m no expert. Though I dabble a fair bit in Warriors basketball, I’ve got a totally different day job than those fortunate to be employed by the team. But because I watch so much of this squad, I feel like these insights are worth slightly more than nothing. As the team struggles so much this season, I wonder if there are other ways to look at attacking the problems.
It’s more complicated than this, but this whole section starts with me looking at the team statistics and doing a double take when I realized that Jordan Poole, not Stephen Curry, leads the team in usage. Poole is in the 93rd percentile in usage (a measure of how many plays he is involved in while on court); Curry is somehow all the way down in the 80th percentile. A drop from his 84 last season.
Why is Curry’s usage so low?
Coach Steve Kerr was a role player, and it may be controversial, but it is his professional opinion that involving all of the team’s marginal players makes a big strategic difference. So the Warriors tend to not ride Curry overly hard as a default setting. Sure, crunch time in a critical playoff game could be different - but the natural state of this team is to treat Curry like an element of the system rather than the focus of it.
The problem is that this approach inherently hinges on the alternative edges being effective. Golden State has struggled in many different ways during this season’s campaign, and a lot of those difficulties are because guys not named Curry are having a tough time.
There’s also some aspects that are more of a macro concern. The roster issues are leading into this as much as the personal direct performances. Anyways, take a look at the efficiency now.
You’ll notice that Curry is way out off the edge of the curve. His ability to shoulder so much of the burden while also maintaining efficiency points towards a market imbalance within Kerr’s ecosystem.
Separately, it looks like Poole’s game is not weathering the demands as well. Both he and Klay Thompson are at the bottom of the Warriors’ scoring efficiency curve. It’s important to understand that this is all a spectrum, rather than a cold, hard reality. You can’t dial down one aspect and watch the other increase - but there is a relationship here. Each player’s game can waver from game to game, but it feels like certain individuals are better able to weather the demands than other.
My request to Kerr and the Warriors: just let Curry be the man a bit more.
The Warriors don’t win a lot on the road, but tonight will be different. Warriors pick up a much needed road win by smashing these rebuilding Rockets.