Welcome to Warriors Weekly as the team enjoys the second half of the All-Star break.
The Week that Was:
After a whirlwind stretch, the Warriors closed out the pre-break stretch with a solid win over the Rockets and an understandably closer than expected win the next night in Phoenix.
What makes this team different (and why I think they have a legitimate shot at history) is that they win games so often when they are not at their best. The Rockets had some nice stretches but still absolutely could not get over the hump.
In Toronto, Klay beat Steph in the finals of the Three Point Contest while Draymond lost to eventual champion and future Master of the Universe Karl-Anthony Towns in the first round of the Skills Challenge.
Stephen Curry Above the Break Three Update: Stephen Curry has made 207 above the break three pointers this year, more than two teams and tied with Milwaukee. Curry’s 45.3% shooting from there is better than every NBA team from mid-range and all but two teams in the paint (non-restricted area) without even accounting for the fact that 3 > 2.
Stephen Curry Total Three Pointers Update: Stephen Curry now has 245 made three pointers on the season, 7th all-time. He now has four of the top seven seasons in league history.
The Soapbox: The Four Factors at the All-Star Break
As some of you will remember from earlier this season, the “Four Factors” (shooting, turnovers, rebounding and free throws) were a part of Dean Oliver’s book Basketball on Paper. Having everyone off at the same point and a relatively similar amount of games played makes it a nice time to re-evaluate this historic team.
Shooting (40%)– While there are lots of different ways to evaluate shooting, Oliver uses Effective Field Goal Percentage, basically “normal” shooting % with threes having a larger value because they are worth more points.
Offensively, the 2015-16 Warriors are running circles around the rest of the league in eFG%. They are almost three percent ahead of the second-place Spurs, the same margin the Spurs have over the tenth-place Blazers. Their 56.4% blows away any and every team this millennium (I checked) so that could also mean some regression is in order.
Defensively, the Dubs are a percentage point behind the Spurs for first. Chicago is the only other team within half a percent and Boston the only other one within a full percent. The Spurs and Warriros going 1-2 and 2-1 in the most important of the Four Factors provides some measure of how incredible they have been so far.
Turnovers (25%)– Turnover Percentage: What proportion of the time a team turns the ball over. Pretty simple.
Golden State ended last season a respectable 14th and are 17th this season. Defensively, they have gone from seventh to nineteenth, which makes their offensive dominance a little more impressive since steals are one of the best ways to generate easy buckets.
Rebounding (20%)– Offensive Rebound Percentage for offense and its inverse is defensive rebounding because everything goes to one side or the other.
The Warriors are a surprising 12th right now in offensive rebounding considering it is not usually a priority for them. A lot of their success can be attributed to Festus Ezeli- the team’s 27.3% offensive rebound percentage when he is on the floor would be third in the league behind the Thunder (Kanter and Adams) and the Pistons (Andre Drummond). Without him, the Warriors get 23.7% of their misses, which would be 18th in the league.
The team finished last season 13th in defensive rebounding and sits 18th right now. Intuitively, having Bogut and Ezeli play a higher share of the minutes would help that number substantially.
Free Throws (15%)– Free Throw Attempt Rate– How many FTs a team attempts (not makes) per attempt from the field.
The long-standing weakness for the Warriors, largely because it is not their priority for completely fair reasons. They finished last season fifth from the bottom and are presently a more respectable 21st. This season has also marked an improvement on the defensive end moving from 20th to 15th. Since the Clippers and Thunder are both quite good at drawing fouls (the Spurs and Cavs are even lower than the Warriors), it could be a big help to keep that low in the playoffs.
The Week to Come:
With eight days off between games, even the All-Stars should be well rested when the season re-starts in Portland on Friday. The Blazers have been one of the league’s most pleasant surprises but their combination of talent leaves holes for the Dubs to exploit. Of course, Lillard and McCollum can go off (I am intrigued to see how Klay defends CJ) and make it a game.
In a brutal turn, the Warriors then have to play the Clippers on a back-to-back while the Clippers have a home day off immediately before. That could be one of the tougher games of the remaining schedule.
I will go with 1-1 with falling at Staples being a galvanizing force for the remainder of the road trip like the Detroit loss a month ago.