A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The Warriors dominance and good players

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The Warriors are off to a 14-0 start and a threat to beat the Bulls 72-10 record. They were 5 wins from the Bulls last year and now look more potent. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green have so far gone to another level.

Much has been made of the Draymond Green at center lineup with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes. The lineup is a +/- monster and won them the Finals last year. An excellent RealGM article by Jonathan Tjarks reveals how hard it is to match up with the lineup. If you have a lineup like Kevin Love-Timofey Mozgov or Lamarcus Aldridge-Tim Duncan playing both leaves them too slow to chase Barnes and Green on the perimeter or in transition. Going small with Kawhi Leonard or Lebron James at center means leaving all-star talent in Love, Aldridge or Duncan on the bench in place of perimeter players not talented enough to beat the Warriors. You have to break your own legs to match up with the Warriors small lineup.

This is all true. However perhaps why Green messes up the opponent so much is because that’s what elite players do. Against Anthony Davis or DeMarcus Cousins in a playoff series most teams won’t have a matchup either. Draymond Green was too short to guard Davis last year and he went off. The Warriors just had to beat them in spite of Davis’ numbers. Likewise for stars at other positions such as Russell Westbrook or of course, Curry himself.

As revolutionary as the Warriors style of play, the underlying reason for success may be the same as always. Having better players than the opponent. It’s just part of the reason why players such as Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson are great is the value of defense and spacing.

Consider the defensive talent of the Warriors. Draymond Green is a defensive player of the year caliber power forward. Andrew Bogut per minute has a case for the best defensive center in the league. He is blocked from DPOY conversations by not playing as many minutes. Green and Bogut finished top 2 in ESPN’s DRPM last year. Compare Green to some of the other best defensive big men of this decade: Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol, Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert, Serge Ibaka, Tim Duncan. Who had a better defensive partner than Bogut? Howard played with an offence-first player in Rashard Lewis. Noah covered for Carlos Boozer on defense half the time, when not paying with the excellent Taj Gibson. Hibbert and Gasol played with David West and Zach Randolph. Both smart responsible defenders, but not Bogut. Tim Duncan had a quality defensive partner in Tiago Splitter, but Duncan this decade is not quite as dominant as in his prime on defense. Ibaka played with Kendrick Perkins in the Thunder’s best defensive season, another quality defender but not special.

Add in a defense first backup center in Festus Ezeli and the Warriors may have the best defensive frontcourt in the last 10 years, since Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace in Detroit and Tim Duncan and David Robinson in San Antonio. Not that the Warriors defensive talent ends there. They have one of the premiere defensive wings of this generation in Andre Iguodala and plus defenders like Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Stephen Curry, Shaun Livingston.

This is a special defensive core. Most of us are not used to a defensive team who plays at the fastest pace in the league because we presume it limits their upside on the defensive end. But what if this defensive reduction IS happening to the Warriors, it’s just they’re so talented that after the reduction they’re still the best defensive team. Maybe if playing a grit and grind style and pace like the recent Pacers, Grizzlies and Bulls, they would be lapping any recent team on defense, not just matching them.

And with so much defensive talent they only needed so much offense to be dominant and they have more than enough. Curry who is playing at one of the great offensive levels of anyone in history. Klay Thompson’s combination of all-star level scoring and floor spacing makes him one of the most potent offensive SGs. Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green are providing efficient possessions of floor spacing. Of the two sides there is probably less dynamic talent on offense than defense. But as long as Curry and a full lineup of shooters is around it doesn’t matter.

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Written by jr.

November 21, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Basketball

Tagged with , ,

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