It’s Monday which means that all of the Internet’s largest publications have released their weekly power rankings. It also, of course, means that we’re here to take a look at those rankings. To no surprise, the Warriors have fallen off a bit, both on the court and in the realm of the Worldwide Web.
No publication has the Warriors lower than Sports Illustrated, which has the Bay Area’s squad at no. 11, five spots lower than it was just a week ago. ESPN has the team at no. 8, three spots lower than last week and CBS sports is riding strong, placing Golden State at no. 6.
The Warriors went just 1-2 last week, losing a predictably tough encounter against Indiana and dropping a winnable game against the Timberwolves, with Harrison Barnes missing a wide-open jumper at the buzzer. That slip was halted by a big, defensive win against the offensive-minded Blazers.
Is it time to worry? Yes. Golden State has its frustratingly stagnant bench lineups and has given up more than its share of points on the defensive end. Losing games in the last two weeks in which the offense scores 116, 120 and 121 is not fun and points to glaring defensive issues.
Is it time to panic? No. There’s a difference between worrying and panicking. Lowering the Warriors to no. 11 is borderline panicking. Ranking the Grizzlies ahead of them, a rising team none-the-less but one that will struggle to make the playoffs, is unfair. Memphis has hit a defensive groove with Marc Gasol returning to the lineup, but it hasn’t done enough to leapfrog a Warriors team that is undoubtedly playoff worthy.
In all, 17 teams posted a positive 100 points per 100 possession net rating last week, via NBA.com/stats. Of those 17 teams, only two finished with a losing record, both at 1-2: the Warriors and the Spurs. In fact, Golden State actually finished with a net rating that would rank no. 8 in the NBA last week–a week dialed in as one of the weakest of the season and one of the most disappointing since the full squad became a thing.
The defense, you know, the one that gave up 122 points to Minnesota, ranked no. 8 in that span, giving up 103.2 points per 100 possessions. That’s because Golden State plays with such a frantic and fast pace that the number of possessions per game spikes whatever raw points per game figure that appears. It’s why analysts and forward thinking basketball minds are moving towards defensive efficiency rather than raw numbers without context.
Admittedly, the defense has failed to get stops when it needs to and giving up a wide open corner jumper to Kevin Martin ended up being the final difference–sans Barnes’ missed jumper–between a win and a loss. But, over the course of a game, or the hectic horse race that is Oracle Arena, the Warriors haven’t actually played that bad on that end.
There were set backs: the Warriors’ True Shooting and offensive rebound rate dropped below league average last week. Those are concerns, of course, but this isn’t a team broken, rather a team that is losing games because it’s basketball and sometimes you lose. A close loss to a solid Timberwolves and one to the league’s best team shouldn’t be a major concern.
Golden State gets a offensively challenged Wizards squad before playing the red hot Clippers. After that it’s to Utah to play an encouragingly improving, yet not threatening Jazz team. A 2-1 record might not ease the minds of any worried Warriors fans, but it would be enough to get back on track, on the court and in the rankings.