Golden State Warriors Among the Elite?
The Golden State Warriors might just be the best under the radar team in the league to open up the season.
The Dubs have lost three of their first eight games and consequently, they are not getting much publicity in terms of where they stand in the league’s hierarchy of great teams.
Most of the attention has been reserved for the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. Miami has collected back-to-back championships and consequently, they will be in the discussion until they are dethroned.
The Thunder and Spurs are both the last two Western Conference teams to face off against the Heat in the NBA Finals and they have also opened up the season strong. The Clippers added some quality shooters and a head coach with championship pedigree on the way to securing some victories against both Golden State and OKC early in the calendar.
And finally, the Indiana Pacers have opened up the season by winning their first eight games and looking dominant in doing so. Clearly, these teams deserve the fanfare being thrown at them, but the Warriors are not that far behind, if at all.
The Dubs’ three early defeats have come on the road against units that participated in the 2013 playoffs. Indeed, Mark Jackson’s group has lost to the Clippers, Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies.
Their victories on the other hand have been impressive. They defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves on the road by double digits and blew out the Philadelphia 76ers in their own building. Furthermore, Golden State has looked unstoppable at home.
They have destroyed opponents that have come to Oracle Arena. Their home scoring margin is a healthy plus-60. In other words, they are beating teams by 20 points on average on their own floor.
More impressively, the Dubs have done this on the defensive end. They boast a top-five defense thanks in large part to Andre Iguodala’s perimeter stopping ways coupled with Andrew Bogut’s interior defense.
We wondered during the offseason if the former Milwaukee Buck would prove to be a huge impediment for the opposition and the answer has been an obvious yes. Keep in mind, Stephen Curry has been consistently committing bad fouls early in games, which has forced him to sit and yet, the Warriors have not really suffered because their defense has carried them.
ESPN.com’s Tom Haberstroh offers some more insights in the topic (Insider):
According to SportVU data, opponents have shot 45.2 percent when Bogut defends a shot at the rim, which is one of the better rates among regular paint defenders (Dwight Howard, for example, allows 49.4 percent so far). A healthy Bogut means a healthy defense. Throw Iguodala into the mix and the Warriors have integrated the necessary defensive stalwarts to compensate for their heavy 3-point attack.
If the Warriors are going to remain an elite defensive ball club, they will end up going places and one of them, is the elite ranks. Teams with great defenses and an above average offense typically have good regular seasons and advance in the playoffs.
Think of the 2010-11 Chicago Bulls, 2010-11 Heat, 2011-12 Thunder and last year’s Pacers and Spurs just to name a few; all of those teams advanced at least to the conference finals. Granted, it’s incredibly early in the 2013-14 campaign and it’s important not to get too far ahead of ourselves, but know that the potential is certainly there.
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