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Warriors have some stuff to figure out
No Draymond Green for the next couple games, and it's a tough schedule
The Golden State Warriors have hit some bumpy waters, but as Klay Thompson has recently told us, “smooth waters don’t make good sailors.” This was never going to be easy. Especially not in a season this crazy. Piling Covid on top of a normal season’s worth of bumps and bruises has led to some… well, it’s led to some bumps and bruises.
Draymond Green’s calf is going to keep him out for a while, complicating the integration of Thompson, and highlighting just how hectic this NBA season is. In a league where health is often the biggest corollary for winning, it’s no small wonder that the Warriors have hit a rough patch.
So remember that amidst all the angst and worries: we still haven’t seen the real Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green reunion yet. But it is coming, eventually.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (30-10) at Milwaukee Bucks (26-17)
WHEN: Thursday, January 13th, 2022 // 4:30pm PDT
WATCH: NBCSBA, TNT
Warriors have dropped three of their last four games, are we worried?
Like hairstyles, the amount of concern one feels about their favorite sports teams is a personal matter. But for me, I’m feeling like that scene from Braveheart where William Wallace is standing with his army facing a cavalry charge and yelling “hold” over and over.
The Golden State Warriors have a strategy in place. Everyone knew this was unlikely to be completely smooth. So for me, I’m standing pat waiting to lift those spears once the full roster is assembled.
But since we are here, let’s go ahead and pick at the scab. Whether there’s an actual issue underneath or not, it’s pretty clear that something(s) going wrong recently.
DNHQ member, Stopnpop did the legwork to investigate coach Steve Kerr’s comment and the findings are interesting, I think. Of course, it’s important to understand the vicissitudes of the season, but even so, this little downtrend that the Warriors are going through is noticeable. Here’s the breakdown for shot attempts against different levels of coverage:
The primary takeaway from this information is that since December 20th the Warriors are getting around four less “wide open” shot attempts, and instead are facing “tight” or “very tight” coverage.
The team just hasn’t been as successful at finding and/or taking the open shots.
As has been the case all season, when the Warriors are struggling this year, it’s due to the offense. The defense has stayed fairly solid.
Using Cleaning the Glass, we can actually see a game-by-game breakdown of the team’s efficiencies on both ends of the court, and sure enough the recent outcomes on offense have been a bit ugly.
The “Pts/Poss” column is showing the scoring rate per 100 possessions, with the team’s percentile rank shown in the colored boxes and the raw outputs listed underneath the “#” symbols.
So… not great. Those games against the Dallas Mavericks and the New Orleans Pelicans in particular were stinkers, but the last two games (with Thompson back but Green out) weren’t exactly putting the league on notice either. And look at the effective field goal percentage (eFG%). Golden State's shots just aren't falling recently.
It’s not that the Warriors are getting smoked in the 4th quarter. Despite some noticable late struggles, the team’s 4th quarter point differential hasn’t significantly changed from earlier in the season.
As with so many things, the root of the problem may lie with Curry. Because he carries so much of the team’s offensive load, any blips in his performance can be tough to overcome. This season, he’s noticeably less successful at the rim.
I love graphics like this because it is such a direct reminder that when we talk about a player’s shooting percentages, these are not static values. Game-to-game and year-to-year, there’s a ton of dynamic range of outcomes.
And with that in mind, I want to bring up one other point here that partially explains why the Warriors feel so much cooler now as compared to earlier.
Remember, these rating stats are a team rating, not an individual impact measurement. But while there’s not necessarily causation, it’s hard to not notice the correlation here.
The bench that was an early strength isn’t doing so well recently, and combined with some of Curry’s struggles, it’s just stacked up like a cavalry charge.
Hold, Dub Nation. Stand firm and wait for the plan to come together. If success was easy, everyone would achieve it. This was the same team that looked like a shoe-in for the Finals just a few weeks ago, and that was before adding Klay Thompson to the mix.
I got a little too deep into the Warriors section, but the Milwaukee Bucks are a legitimate championship-level team. It looks like Thompson will play tonight and then rest for the back end of this back-to-back when the team takes on the Chicago Bulls on Friday.
But with the Splash Brothers back, a return to the top spot in the West just feels like an impending reality. Just got to figure some things out first.