The Warriors really fouled up the 4th Quarter in loss to Hawks
Golden State is committing fouls at a very high rate this season; will they fix this problem in time to make a playoff run?
The Golden State Warriors couldn’t steal a win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks, falling 117-111 despite a 37-point outburst from the hobbled Stephen Curry. Time is running out for them to find winning ways with 22 games remaining; let’s get into this latest learning experience.
TOO MANY GOSH DARN FOULS
This game was there for the taking.
The Warriors had kept the Hawks bottled up through three periods, tying Atlanta in the first quarter and narrowly outscoring them in the second and third. The Dubs even added 29 points in the final frame, a number which would match the NBA’s top 4th quarter scoring averages.
And yet the Hawks surged by them 38-29 in the 4th, fueled by Atlanta going a preposterous 17 for 19 from the free throw line in the final quarter. Some of those fouls came when the Dubs desperately tried to extend the game in the final minute, but they had already given up 12 free throw attempts between the start of the period and the two minute mark!
The Hawks made 35 of 45 from the charity stripe last night, marking the second most FTA Golden State has surrendered in a single game during the Steve Kerr era.
Zooming out even further, the Warriors rank at the bottom of the league in opponent FTA per game and opponent FT rate. These Dubs have been doing more hacking than Anonymous!!
Now, depending on who you ask, the team’s biggest problems last night (and this season) were Kerr’s alleged strategic miscues. Some say NOT ENOUGH PICK-AND-ROLL, while others gasp that Kerr’s not playing (enter any Warrior player’s name here) enough. But I’m looking at a defense that was excellent as recently as February unraveling; last night the bench nearly had as many fouls (16) as points (19). That’s a deep hole for any team to climb out of, one that I’m not sure how much you can blame the coach for.
There’s still time to get it right
If you believe that this Warriors team will right the ship (barring more catastrophic injuries), then you’re taking the view that all of this frustration will help mature the team going forward. There’s no victory without opposition, amirite?
And if you believe the Dubs are finally paying for alleged sins of the front office/Kerr and will slowly die before our eyes with a bloated payroll like a beached whale gasping in the hot sun…last night’s game was probably further confirmation for you.
I love it. Despite all the injuries and new faces, the Dubs somehow are still in the Western Conference’s 10th spot and eligible for the play in tournament. They have 22 games left to outlast the…*checks notes*…Pelicans and Kings and gain some valuable experience going forward.
Kerr made an interesting remark comparing rookie James Wiseman to a young musician or artist trying to learn his craft under the public eye. “You don’t just become a brilliant musician five months into your field. He’s got the talent, and he’s got the work ethic, and now it’s just about time”.
That struck a chord with me. I grew up learning piano and vividly remember the frustrating embarrassment of struggling on a new piece with three little siblings around. My sisters would roll their eyes at me and slam their bedroom doors to block out the noise of my repeated miscues as I struggled through some rudimentary song. Thankfully, I eventually became good enough to finally play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” but the emotional scars still remain.
Now imagine the Warriors are learning to play a new piece entitled “Winning Without Klay”, and the world is standing behind them screaming at them every single time they hit a wrong note. This is the time for the Dubs to block out the outside opinions and focus on getting quality reps in the final stretch of this l̶o̶s̶t̶ transitional season.
If they fail, they’ll still gain valuable experience, with tantalizing draft possibilities and the return of superweapon Klay Thompson ahead. But if they do keep their current position and make the play in tournament, they’ll be following in the footsteps of the team whose spirit they resurrected (via branding) this season: THE WE BELIEVE WARRIORS.
Did “You Believe” then?
The Warriors current record stands at a paltry 23-27. That’s the same record the legendary “We Believe” squad had after 50 games in the 2006-2007 season. Now I’m no conspiracy theorist, but is that a coincidence considering the team is paying homage to Baron Davis’ band of marauders??
I wasn’t on the blog scene back in those days because I was in da streetz, but I checked the old GSOM blog to see how Warriors fans felt about that ‘07 squad at 23-27. It was a mixed bag of optimistic and pessimistic, kinda like today. Having the power of hindsight, I’d be curious as to what you think of this quote mentioning Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Matt Barnes, and Mickael Pietrus; pillars of that unforgettable squad.
Finally, don't be surprised if Nellie pushes Mullin to make another trade: we've likely seen enough to know that Al and Jack aren't difference makers -- at least on a consistent basis -- and don't appear willing to do the work necessary to become sufficient defenders. Barnes and MP are no better. Ideally, we can swap one or more of our swings for a true four and get away with playing Al at the three, where his defensive weaknesses can be more easily masked. There may be some pretty pieces on this team, but until we get some power down low it's going nowhere.
We know how the story went: that team of castaways got healthy, went on a crazy tear to sneak in the playoffs, and then upset #1 seeded Dallas Mavericks and put Oakland back on the NBA map. The most common retort I hear when a Warriors fan is accused of bandwagoning is “What? Me bandwagon? Bro I was there for We Believe”. That team will forever be cherished. Those Dubs are immortal despite starting out as underdogs.
This current squad has less time to right the ship during this Covid shortened season, but at least they can sneak in via the 10th seed if they win their play in game. They’ll have to embody the power of that We Believe branding (and stop fouling everybody). Dub Nation can only watch from afar as our team claws their way through this fascinating experiment. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were fans in the arena to give this team some of that We Believe spirit? Sigh.
What ails the Dubs? (draft history analysis)
Their is a formula used to assess value to draft picks (1-60) based on all sorts of historical data. For instance, Tankathon has a tab on their website that shows the value that all teams hold in the upcoming draft. I did a 30 team deep dive on the drafts from 2013 to 2019 (7 year period) and came up with a few mind blowing stats.
1. The total draft value of the Warrior's 2020 draft (picks 2, 48, 51) was GREATER THAN the COMBINED 7 year period of Warriors picks between 2013 & 2019.
Let that soak in.
2. The Warriors had 6 picks in 7 years (28, 28, 30, 30, 41, 58)
Not included: McCaw & J Bell (purchased) & Smiley (via Trade)
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Philly. 35 picks, including (1, 1, 3, 3, 10, 10, 11, 24, 24, 26, 26)
3. If you take the SUM VALUE of picks over the 2013-2019 7 year period, divide by 7 to get a yearly average, then assign each team 2 picks that would equal that annual value, then .... the following teams would have averaged the following picks (or equivalent) for 7 straight years:
PHI picks 1, 23 (not a typo)
PHO picks 2, 26
BOS picks 3, 36
ORL picks 4, 35
ATL picks 5, 48
and keep going until yours truly
GSW picks 42, 60 (if combined, and only one pick per year: pick 37 average)
These numbers represent the 7 year average were each team to have taken 2 picks only in each draft based on the sum value of each team's actual picks over that period.
Now, let that sink in.
4. The draft is like Monopoly. Pass GO and collect $200. Each year, you get to add 2 players, raw material, assets. Whether to keep and develop or trade, they remain assets. Imagine going around the Monopoly board 7 straight times and NOT COLLECTING $200 each time. The Warriors should rename the street in front of the Chase Center Baltic Avenue. (New Warriors bench nicknames: The Baltic Avenue Boys or the Mediterranean Players)
This is not meant to disparage the front office or the foul prone Substitutes, in fact, quite the opposite. Outside the Trio (Steph-Klay-Dray) and 2 NBA Starters (Wiggs & Oubre), the reason for the lack of depth on this team is smack in our collective faces. They are a bunch of good guys, all fit to be numbers 11-15 on your depth chart. But the Warriors are bereft of "Good NBA Players", the kind of players that you get when you draft higher than 28 over a seven year period.
We all had a great party, got a little hung over, then the bill for 3 titles and 5 finals appearances came due. I laugh (cry) any time I hear someone criticize Bob Meyers for his picks. WHAT PICKS? Seriously, WHAT PICKS are people talking about? And if you claim Meyers should have used trades instead, well, trades only really work when you have something of value to trade yourself.
What people just don't realize is just how massive the Warriors Draft Value deficit was from 2013 to 2019 and how, more than anything else, it explains the roster they have today. It's worth restating: their 2020 Draft Value exceeded the combined draft value of their picks from 2013 to 2019. That is nuts.
The Warriors are who they are because of who they were. Most people believe that the addition of Durant brought and end to "Strength in Numbers." That cost us a few vet players, but the real culprit has been the draft capital that was lost over those 7 years, a casualty of beautiful basketball played at the highest level.
My own belief. Screw the "ALL IN" movement. The better play is to capitalize on the draft value we have in front of us + 2020 draft additions. We have just walked out of the desert and a feast is laid out before us (Jalen Green, Kuminga, Wagner, Keon, Giddy etc). Some believe in a mirage, an Oasis, a sun stroke hallucination of Bradley Beale and another Banner, but they are tripping. We need the draft capital now, when we can get it, because from 2013-2019 the cupboard was bare.
Steph & Dray are like Miles Davis & Charlie Parker playing in a High School Marching Band. 90% of their turnovers are unforced, most often virtuoso passes that might work when surrounded by other highly talented musicians (Bogut, Livingston, Iggy, etc), but find nothing but empty court side seats when surrounded by pimple faced kids reading sheet music. If they want to hold Baze, D Lee and crew accountable for fouling, perhaps the accountability should start at the top with the team leaders. How about Steph and Dray lock in and cut down on their unforced turnovers. And Kerr could practice calling time outs before the game is over. The old saying is true, "It starts at the top." If they want to straighten out the ship, Kerr, Steph and Dray need to lead by example. If the leaders aren't going to set an example by being disciplined in their own play, how in the world are we to expect the likes of JTA, DLee, Baze, etc., to get better. Their is obviously frustration, but their is only frustration because Kerr-Steph-Dray have allowed it. It's time they all stepped up, play ball, and maybe give credit to the guys on the other side once in awhile for outplaying them.