There has been a realignment of the top NBA teams in the Western Conference this season. It’s still too early to tell what the outcome will be, though, as the season wears on through 82 games.
But, the Golden State Warriors have dropped five of their first six games of the season, and as of Sunday, November 3rd, they are sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference.
The best online sportsbooks had the Golden State Warriors at +1200 to win the NBA title as of October 7th.
However, since then, the Dubs have moved to +5000, more than quadrupling their price. But, through the first games of the season, it’s apparent that the defense is lacking and on-court leadership (is lacking) as well.
The Warriors are allowing opponents to score 120.83 points per game. This is near the bottom of the league, at No. 27, and is a new low for this Golden State team.
On offense, even without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors are still putting up 109 points per game, which is good enough for a middle of the road ranking in that stat: No. 16.
That brings us over to the topic of splash. Steph Curry is out with a broken hand. That fourth game against the Phoenix Suns would prove to be the dagger in the heart of the Dubs’ season.
In the third quarter, Steph broke the second metacarpal in his left hand. Now, after having surgery, he is not expected to return for three months. The latest word is sometime in late January.
On top of this, Klay Thompson is not expected to return to the court at all this season. His torn ACL is going to take a full season to heal properly. So, both players, who can act as court captains, will be off the floor.
The biggest effect that most people are probably not thinking about is how this neutralizes Draymond Green. The Warriors have been so effective over the last few years because of Green’s decision-making ability at mid-range.
If Steph passes him the ball and he’s only got an iso defense, he can choose to take the shot or drive to the hole.
If he moves towards the hole, and his defender gets some help from the baseline, he can lob the ball over to whoever is playing center under the edge of the key. Or, he can kick the ball over to Thompson in the wing, especially if help comes from that side.
The final option is to kick it back to Curry if Green opens a lane. The point is that Green almost always makes the right decision. But, now, he does not have the pieces around him to capitalize on those well-made decisions.
The Warriors were once the top team in field goal percentage, but so far this season they are No. 24. Without the Splash Brothers, they’ve also fallen to No. 19 in threes.
If they are going to survive the regular season and make the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference, they are going to have to rely on defense. But, they have no defensive identity at the moment. As we stated above, they are No. 27 in points allowed in the league.
It’s going to be a long few months. Steph Curry should be back sometime before February, but will it be too little too late? Will that have an insurmountable win-loss deficit?
For that matter, is just getting Steph back going to be enough, or is the lack of depth and distribution options, with Thompson out as well, going to be too much?
They have a tough schedule over the next couple of weeks, starting with the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday, November 4th. Then they have the Rockets, Timberwolves, Thunder, Jazz, Lakers, and Celtics.
The Warriors have to establish themselves by at least getting a couple wins off the other middling teams, like the Thunder and the Rockets. If not, it’s going to be a very long season for the Dubs fans, indeed.