Sports Out West

Golden State Warriors: Fixing the 3 biggest problems

Curry Warriors Elijah Abramson

It’s no secret that the Golden State Warriors have been struggling mightily of late, especially relative to their expectations. While they have had convincing victories against a very good Los Angeles Clippers team, they have fallen to the Washington Wizards and most recently, the lowly Charlotte Bobcats.

Shooting 31 percent from the field is something that should not occur regularly, but there are some recurring problems that the Warriors must address in order to reach their maximum potential. That max potential is, as I mentioned in my pre-season playoff predictions, an NBA Finals berth. Here are three fixes that come to mind that could help generate consistency and better performances from the Warriors on a nightly basis:

Run the offense through Andrew Bogut more

For a seven-foot center, this guy is incredibly nimble on the perimeter. While he doesn’t have the jumper of big men that teams often run the offense through (Pau Gasol in late 00s or Kevin Love today), his ability to facilitate is impressive.

In this video, you see how what looks to the defender like a simple handoff to Curry becomes a flare which creates a quick, easy open shot for the best shooter in the game today:

Bogut’s playmaking savvy comes in the form of a guard in a much larger frame. You’ll notice this is essential a two-on-one game because Bogut’s defender is sagging off in the paint.

Here he shows his versatility after cutting and receiving the ball after a Curry pick-and-roll in which he knows (without looking) that Klay Thompson is on the weak side and is a deadly corner three-point sniper:

 Unfortunately for Bogut, Klay didn’t continue to the corner for what would’ve been a warm-up jumper, but he still managed to adjust mid-pass to get the other Splash Brother a relatively open shot. And then there’s this:

Getting their big man involved is key.

Use Andre Iguodala more as an offensive playmaker

Just like Bogut, Iguodala is a very capable offensive player. He did fall to injury earlier in the season, but Mark Jackson still refuses to utilize him as a point-forward and help get Curry more catch-and-shoot opportunities. The curse that’s also a blessing is that Curry is such an effective perimeter scorer that his poor shot selection is masked by his uncanny ability to hit 30-foot contested shots. Imagine if he was able to play off-the-ball sometimes instead of just on-the-ball? Then you have a guy who can give you 9+ assists a game and is also shooting a higher percentage because he doesn’t have to create his own shot every time.

Despite shooting nearly career-highs in field goal  and 3-point percentage, he is averaging single-digit points per game for the first time since his rookie year. While some of this come down to a lack of aggressiveness, it is also Mark Jackson’s responsibility to force his guys to run the offense through Iguodala (and Bogut).

Stop relying on isolation offense and careless passes

Offense is key to the Warriors success because when they can get back on defense, they play well. Andrew Bogut has locked down the interior and made his case to enter the discussion as one of the most formidable defensive bigs in the league. In a recent game recap, I highlighted that Klay Thompson is an often underrated defender. So while Curry’s small stature makes it difficult for him to be an elite defender (plus the Warriors rely on him for the bulk of their offense), if Klay, Iguodala, and Bogut can lead the defense, they will be fine. Their defensive rotations are quite impressive for a team that can score in bunches.

It’s when isolation plays (like Barnes or Jordan Crawford 1-on-5 ball; also Klay Thompson post-ups with no motion from the other four players) lead to fastbreak opportunities for the other team when the offense cannot get into a rhythm and they are forced to play rushed defense. And then there are passes like this that Curry often defaults to that need to be taken out of his repertoire:

 

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There are a host of issues surrounding the Warriors right now, and these are a sample of three fixes that could right the ship if they hope to compete for the ‘ship this year. It’s possible because none of these realms require additional player personnel. The caveat is that it might require different coaching personnel because Mark Jackson, Brian Scalabrine & Co. have not proven to be capable X’s and O’s guys.

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Elijah Abramson

Elijah Abramson is a Bay Area-based sports journalist who founded and writes for Bases and Baskets. He has covered the MLB, NBA, and NFL on his own site, and HoopsVibe, as well as for Bleacher Report, as a featured columnist. Connect with him on Twitter @ElijahAbramson for more discussion and opinions.