Analyzing the Disappointing Teams Part III: Golden State Warriors

The third part of this series will take a look at the Golden State Warriors. After finishing 14 games over .500 last season, through Tuesday they were just 13-29. That mark puts them 11th in the Western Conference and far away from a playoff spot.

The point differential suggests the team isn’t as bad as their record indicates, but problems certainly exist. The often out-of-control offense has produced decent results, and the Warriors rank 11th in the NBA in offensive efficiency. They’re not terrible in any of the Four Factors and are especially adept at getting to the free throw line.

Unfortunately, if you’re going to make sacrifices the way this team does on defense, you’d hope to be better than just 11th. On defense they’re the second worst in the NBA. The biggest problem is defensive rebounding, and the fact that all of their players are anxious to get out on the break might have something to do with that (it also doesn’t help that Don Nelson uses some tiny lineups). The Warriors also rank towards the bottom of the league in effective field goal percentage allowed.

During free agency, Golden State lost one star but signed another. In my opinion, it was a bad trade. Baron Davis isn’t necessarily much better than Corey Maggette, but the Warriors have plenty of swingmen and not enough point guards. It also hasn’t helped that Maggette has underperformed this season and leaves the team regretting all the money they have committed to him in the future.

The acquisition of Maggette reminds me of the team’s biggest problem: redundancy. Do they really need Maggette, Stephen Jackson, Jamal Crawford, Kelenna Azibuike, Marco Belinelli, and Anthony Morrow? Not to mention Monta Ellis, who when he returns from injury will add even more duplication to the roster (As an aside, Ellis’ injury has also played a large role in the team’s struggles and is a legitimate excuse).

It also doesn’t help that Don Nelson loves playing a lot of these similar players at the same time. The Warriors have two pretty good big men in Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright and a decent one off the bench in Ronny Turiaf (Anthony Randolph may also qualify but he doesn’t strike me as a banger). Yet only Biedrins gets decent minutes. Why is Belinelli getting more minutes per game than Wright and Turiaf, especially given the team needs? Perhaps fouls are the issue, but that doesn’t seem like an unsolvable problem.

As fun as it may be to watch, in terms of winning games I am not a fan of the Warriors’ strategy. It’s one thing to promote fast breaks the way Mike D’Antoni does. It’s another to encourage inefficient play on offense at the expense of defense. If you’re going to go all-or-nothing based on one end of the floor, you’d better be good at it. The Warriors are not.

Is there any hope for the Warriors? As long as they have Ellis and Biedrins, they can’t totally give up. But they do have some pretty awful contracts owned by replaceable veterans. In my opinion, a makeover of the team’s overall strategy is in order.

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