Watch out – here come the Golden State Warriors!
No, that’s not a joke. These guys are legit and you should start getting used to the thought of a playoff series in the Bay Area.
Mark Jackson has the Warriors playing at a high efficiency level on both ends of the floor and deserves early consideration for Coach of the Year.
Who would’ve seen that coming? Oh right, that was me.
For the doubters and haters alike, here are 10 reasons why Golden State are here for the long haul:
1. Increased defensive rating – Under Don Nelson and Keith Smart, Golden State was known for their high-powered offense. With Jackson at the helm, Golden State’s defensive rating has increased dramatically from 109.1 (ranked 27th) last season to 103.8 (ranked 13th) this season.
2. Increased pace – Despite the increased focus on defense, Golden State has managed to improve the quick pace we’re all accustomed to them playing. Last year, they ranked 10th in the Association with a pace of 92.3. This year, that number has risen to 93.3, which is good for 5th.
3. David Lee – According to 82games.com, the Power Forward position is Golden State’s strongest advantage, where the average PER (17.7) is consistently higher than their opposition (16.0). A large reason for that advantage is the play of David Lee. He ranks 5th in the NBA with 10.8 rebounds per game, 15th in defensive rebounding % with 23.5%, 18th with 0.8 defensive win shares, and 20th with 1.9 win shares.
4. Carl Landry – The other reason for Golden State’s dominance at the 4 is the play of #7 – Carl Landry. He’s among the leading candidates for 6th Man of the Year and his numbers are off the charts: 5th in FG% with 57.3%; 20th with 21.2 PER; 5th with 63.9 TS%; 11th with 57.3 Effective FG%; 13th with 13.4 Offensive Rebounding %; 7th in offensive rating with 122.6; 14th with 1.5 offensive win shares. Readers of mine are starting to notice the importance I place on Win Shares per 48 Minutes. Landry currently ranks higher than any other player coming off the bench (11th) with .213.
5. Better rebounding – With the numbers that Landry and Lee are putting up, it should come as no surprise that Golden State are ranked 1st in defensive rebound %, grabbing 75.6% of all available defensive rebounds.
6. Allowing fewer points – The Warriors have also done a great job of holding their opposition to lower scoring totals. They’ve jumped ten spots higher in opponents points per game – 101.8 (28th) last year vs. 98.8 (18th) this year.
7. Easy December Schedule – The Warriors are about to embark on a seven-game road trip that’s not as daunting as you’d think. Four of the games are against sub-.500 teams (Detroit, Washington, Charlotte, Orlando), and two are against teams they’ve beaten this past month.(Brooklyn, Atlanta), and one who they’ve beaten the last time they faced off (Miami, last season). Following that trip are three more games against sub-.500 teams (New Orleans, Sacramento, Charlotte). If they can split the final four games of the month (Home to Lakers, Philadelphia, and Boston; plus Utah on the road), then Golden State could be entering 2013 with a winning percentage north of .676
8. Fatigued Competition – Check out the standings and you’ll notice teams that are littered with players who had short offseasons, due mainly to the Olympics. San Antonio – Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Nando de Colo; L.A. Clippers – Chris Paul; Oklahoma City – Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka; Memphis – Marc Gasol; L.A. Lakers – Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol. The Warriors did not make the playoffs last year and didn’t have a single player at the Olympics. They will be fresh all season long while teams like the Spurs have already started resting their players.
9. No Andrew Bogut? No Problem – Golden State’s success has all been performed without the services of, arguably, their biggest impact player. Bogut is a nightly double-double threat who has excellent shooting percentages (career 52% FG) and can provide a much-needed lift in the blocks department, where the Warriors currently rank 28th in the league.
10. Steph Curry – The un-questioned leader of this team is having a career year so far. Curry ranks 7th in FT% with 90.2%; 16th with 18.6 points per game; 20th with 6.1 assists per game; 18th with 1.6 steals per game. Most importantly, he’s played every single game this season. After struggling through an injury-riddled 2011-2012 campaign, Curry has returned to full strength and is hoping to lead his team to the playoffs for only the second time in the last 19 seasons!
Jay Rosales is a writer for Sir Charles In Charge. You may follow him on Twitter at @Rosalesaurus