The Golden State Warriors started out the 2011-12 regular season with some promise. Gone were the days of the team endlessly running up and down the court all the while ignoring defense. Instead, this installment of the Dubs was going to execute in he half court to create high percentage shots, get back in transition and stifle opponents on defense and if the occasion was there, get out on the break for easy baskets. And should things bog down late in the shot clock, the team would have Monta to bail them out…

That’s how things were supposed to be.

Instead, the Warriors treated fans to good if not great offensive nights with impeccable outside shooting — Golden State was 11th in the NBA in offensive efficiency and second in the league in 3-point shooting — but their defense failed to carry its weight.

The Golden State Warriors surrendered 106 points per 100 possessions, good for 26th in the NBA. For the sake of perspective, the Phoenix Suns as well as the Washington Wizards offered better defensive figures.

Part of the problem can obviously be attributed to the Monta Ellis trade.

The franchise essentially starting waving the white flag on the regular season and giving minutes to younger players who failed to grasp the team’s defensive concepts. Rotations were slow, players were often out of place and on several occasions players looked at each other because they weren’t exactly sure which one of them had blown their defensive assignment.

But to be fair, the defense was less than stellar with Ellis in the lineup as well. The Warriors’ poor man-to-man defense often got exposed and thus forced the hand of Mark Jackson to rely on zone defense as a wrinkle to slow down opponents. At times it was successful, and in other instances it was a complete failure because players failed to get out on shooters or rebound their area.

Further exacerbating the problem, David Lee has limitations on defense. Big men can back him down, drive by him and muscle him out of rebounding position. The end result was the post-Ellis Warriors instead had to rely on Dominic McGuire’s grit, hustle and strength to defend the interior given that Andris Biedrins (the team’s biggest big man) spent most of the season playing a corpse in the morgue of CSI: Miami.

Have a look at the top five lineups in terms of playing time last season and their plus-minus figures according to’s advanced stats tool:




Biedrins, Curry, Ellis, Lee, Wright



Jenkins, Lee, Thompson, Tyler, Wright



McGuire, Robinson, Rush, Thompson, Udoh



Curry, Ellis, Lee, Udoh, Wright



Biedrins, Lee, Robinson, Thompson, Wright




For those of you scoring at home, out of the five most utilized Warriors lineups last season, the one that featured four offensive minded players and a defensive anchor type of player (Udoh) was the most productive five-man unit from last season as evidenced by their plus-29.6 rating. If we dig deeper, the lineup of Curry-Ellis-Lee-Rush-Udoh (not featured in he above graphic) played 64 minutes and was a staggering plus-42.6.

Playing your best perimeter defender (Rush) with your best interior defender (Udoh) can do wonders for a team it seems.

But what does this mean for the Warriors going into next season given that Udoh and Ellis are gone?

Glad you asked.

It’s worth noting that Andrew Bogut only appeared in 12 games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season, which is an extremely small sample size; but it is still worth looking at.

According to’s advanced stats tool, when Bogut was on the court for the Bucks last season, Milwaukee projected over 48 minutes to surrender 88.1 points per game on 41.7 percent field goal percentage (both figures would have been tops in the league by the way). Take the big man off the court, and those figures balloon to 100.4 points per game on 46.1 percent field goal shooting when projected over 48 minutes.

What this means for the Golden State Warriors is that a healthy Andrew Bogut will help shore up the defense. His ability to occupy the paint and contest shots with his outstretched arms will certainly help a Dubs team that allowed the seventh most points in the paint per game last season.

Once again, we are relying on a fairly small sample size, but with Bogut on the court, the Bucks only allowed opponents to shoot 53.7 percent at the rim, and 30.5 percent in the paint (non-restricted area part of the paint). When he was off the court, those numbers climbed to 57.7 percent at the basket, and 43.1 percent in the paint (non-restricted area part of the paint).

Granted, Mark Jackson still has to walk into training camp and figure out his rotations for next season as well as which lineups gives him the best balance on both sides of the ball; but a one certainly has to think that a unit of Curry-Thompson-Wright-Lee-Bogut is going to be problematic for opponents.

And if one truly wants to turn up the defensive pressure, Brandon Rush can take over Dorell Wright’s spot. This group would offer great perimeter shooting, the ability to put the ball on the floor as well as post up options in both Lee and Bogut.

Aren’t both lineups exciting to think about on paper?

Injuries notwithstanding, this version of the Warriors already projects to excite on both ends of the court…

Statistical support provided by

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3 Responses

  1. steve

    How many players stop Kobe? If that’s your measuring stick you’re never going to be a happy camper.

  2. joshua citrak

    how many over .500 seasons did bogut lead the bucks to? how many playoff victories? not trying to be snarky here, but the guy hasn’t exactly been a winner. david lee got pounded for that when he came from the knicks, but no such treatment of bogut. and we don’t even know if he’s healthy enough/still has the ability to play at a high level.

    call me unconvinced about the team as it currently stands. there’s a lot of holes, not much money to spend filling them.

    additionally, saying rush can take over wright’s spot is just silly. neither of those guys are starters in the Association. neither of those guys are first or second off the bench. recall in your mind the lakers game when kobe took over and rush could do nothing to stop him. rush is a decent player, but c’mon man.