The Warriors aren’t a traditional fast-breaking team. Golden State ranked just outside the league’s top 10 in percentage of points (14.6%) scored via transition in 2012-2013, but you had to look hard to know it. They lacked a singular ball-handling blur the likes of Ty Lawson or John Wall, not to mention a high-flying finisher other than Harrison Barnes. The Warriors just weren’t built like one of basketball’s best fast-break teams.
That’s hardly changing this season. Andre Iguodala is an absolute terror with a head of speed and the ball in his hands, but his physical influence alone won’t morph the transition and secondary break finesse and skill of Golden State into the speed and power of Oklahoma City. That might seem disappointing on the surface. The new reality, though, is anything but. Golden State is perfectly natured and nurtured to take their unique open-court prowess to whole ‘nother level in 2013-2014.
Warriors play-by-play man Bob Fitzgerald said it best during the third quarter of last night’s 125-94 win over the Lakers in the 2013-2014 season-opener: “It’s a different kind of showtime!” Oh, indeed.
Where are the lobs? The dunks? The uncontested breakaways? You won’t find many in the Bay this season, and the Warriors are better for it. They don’t have the defensive thieves or offensive horses to create opportunities of the traditionally “easy” sense in transition, but that hardly matters. Golden State will feast all year long with the defense retreating regardless, and that’s owed as much to its three-point shooting as it is an all-encompassing willingness to make the extra pass and the unique versatility of its big men.
Or, more simply, a wealth of playmakers and ball-movers.
The offseason loss of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry saps the Warriors bench of firepower, to be sure. Not even Harrison Barnes can match their productivity in isolation when a play breaks down, but the lack of such scorers won’t matter as much as many anticipate. Golden State will get into fewer situations this season where movement bogs down and possessions stall; its physical and idealistic makeup ensures it.
In Steph Curry, Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors boast some of the most underrated passers at their respective positions in the NBA. And while Klay Thompson and Barnes have growing to do in that department, their primary skills – effortless shooting and powerful finishing, respectively – serve as the perfect end-game for Golden State fast-break chances. All of that passing manifests itself in the halfcourt too, of course; the Warriors assisted on a whopping 70.8% (34) of their 48 baskets last night, a mark that would have comfortable led the league in 2012-2013.
But where we’ll get the chance to see that universal playmaking – and the other aspects that make the Warriors a “different showtime” – really shine is in transition. How many extra passes were made in the video above? Skips to the open man? Open three-pointers? Breaks led by big men?
When Bob Myers and Mark Jackson tasked the entire Golden State roster with shedding weight this offseason, this exclusive identity is what they had in mind. The Warriors played fast last season – their 96.8 pace factor was the league’s 10th highest – but it wasn’t fast enough. To best utilize the awesomely uncommon skill-sets of this roster’s best players, they’ll take it up a notch in 2013-2014; last night’s blistering 121.2 pace factor and 22 fast-break points are just the beginning.
*Statistical and visual support for this post provided by nba.com/stats.
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