Through 11 games, the Warriors still seem to be trying to find an identity on offense. It hasn’t helped that their two best perimeter shooters have seen early struggles, or that they’re missing two players that a significantly better offensively than the guys taking their minutes. They’ve been able to survive those early struggles because of a much improved defense, but clearly, the offense has lacked the right chemistry so far.
Some things I’ve noticed, both good and bad:
-Harrison Barnes likes to score in the paint. He’s certainly not afraid to test the defense down low, or battle inside. He’s pulled down a decent amount of offensive rebounds and is doing a good job cutting baseline for easy baskets when he’s open.
-A second thing on Barnes, you’ve to love the confidence in the handle, both his own and the coaching staff’s. They’re daring teams to press him up top when they have him bring the ball down the court. With his first step and crossover he’s shown, his bringing the ball down has opened up the floor for Steph, who can now run ahead of the offense. He can now come off a screen early in the shot clock to get the ball back in his hands, and it’s even resulted in a some open shots.
-Steph Curry is much better when he’s penetrating. You’d think this would be simple logic, but maybe not. Steph is a great outside shooter. On a team with other players to break down the defense and get in the lane, he’s probably best out on the perimeter. This season, though, the team needs him to fill a void left by Monta Ellis. Both Steph, and the Warriors as a team look better when he’s attacking the rim.
-David Lee cannot handle double- and triple-teams. We’re isolating him far too much at the elbow and asking him to make things happen. Whenever he takes the ball inside there are 2 or 3 players waiting for him. He’s not a strong enough finisher for that to be a viable scoring option.
-Festus Ezeli boxes out. Looking at his numbers, one immediately thinks: “Why doesn’t he have more defensive rebounds?” Well it’s because he spends more time keeping the other team off the glass than jumping for the rebound himself. On this team, that’s sorely needed. It allows a the wings and guards to grab boards (this has especially impacted Barnes and Klay) and start the break. Doesn’t hurt that he’s equally good at grabbing offensive rebounds, either.
-This team misses Brandon Rush, not just as a shooter, but as a scorer and wing defender. He’s a big, strong wing that attacks the rim hard, and he’s a guy that makes the defense honor his cuts with and without the ball. With Klay not shooting well or getting to the rim, he’s only missed more.
-Draymond Green AND Festus Ezeli set good screens, and it helps David Lee. We already know that Lee isn’t always as aggressive as he should be, often choosing to pop for the 18-foot jumper rather than roll to the rim off of screens. Bringing Green or Ezeli into the high-post area has benefited Lee greatly, because when Steph or Jack come off those screens, the defense is paying attention to them, not Lee. More importantly, Lee has single or no coverage on the baseline, making him far more open on most of his other touches, and creating easy looks that he hasn’t been getting otherwise.
-Speaking of the rookies…More Charles Jenkins please. When he comes in the game, he’s doing exactly what the Warriors need: attacking the rim. Whether we’re going to play him at the 1 or the 2, he’s making a positive impact when he’s on the floor and should be getting more minutes.
-Klay is trying too hard. Clearly he feels pressure on himself to be a big-time play-maker, and it’s hurting his game. He’s taking contested shots off the dribble, shooting off-balance when he’s open, and seems to press every time he touches the ball. I’m not sure if some time off would help, but he certainly seems like he could use a break from the game to get his mind right.
-Richard Jefferson sucks. I’m really not sure what’s bothering him, but he’s significantly worse than he was last season. He’s not shooting well, not defending well, and not rebounding well. With Rush out, we could have used contributions from him, but now it’s looking more and more like Draymond Green and Charles Jenkins are going to start eating at his minutes. He might have already lost his chance to make a big impact on this team.
-Jarrett Jack knocks down jump shots off the dribble. He doesn’t have great range, and he’s not a particularly good catch-and-shoot player, but he does get good shots up in rhythm and can heat up quickly. What he doesn’t do, is get in the lane much. Especially with the loss of Monta, and the way Nate is continuing to play now in Chicago, I still wish we would have kept him. As much as he likes to shoot, he’s still really good at blowing by his defender and creating for his teammates. Still, Jack is showing why he was still a good pickup this off-season. The way he’s limited turnovers while still scoring, has been impressive.
-Biedrins is making a greater effort this season. It doesn’t mean much, as he’s still a terrible offensive player, and a foul machine on defense, but it does make me hate his guts slightly less. I like the energy he’s shown on the offensive glass in limited minutes this year. It’s not that he’s pulled down a whole bunch of boards, but he is actively after the ball, even if not securing it himself.
-I’m really not sure how much this team needs Bogut on offense. Especially at this limited stage in his recovery. The way Ezeli has pulled down offensive rebounds has made him a pretty valuable piece himself. Bogut would help our spacing with his passing ability from the post, but as it is now, I don’t think we’re losing much on offense. We may even be benefiting on that end because of how much it allows us to play Landry.
-And that takes me to my last bullet point. Carl Landry. Carl Landry is our leading per-minute scorer (Outside of Rush). Outside of Rush and Jeremy Tyler, he leads us in efficiency as well. We knew what he was going to provide this season, but actually seeing it happen has been better than I expected. The way he positions himself down low for easy baskets makes things so much easier for everyone on the floor. He’s the perfect safety valve, because he can put the ball on the floor from there and take it the rim or shoot the jumper. He’s not a passer, but we don’t need him to be. He may not actually be a better offensive player than Lee, but he has certainly outplayed him to this point. I think a big reason for that is how chaotic our offense has been. Landry thrives in chaos, where he can escape bigger and more athletic defenders, gain position, and then use his lower body to hold it. Once he has position, he’s a creative and strong enough finisher to finish the play. What I did not expect from Landry is the offensive rebounds. And 2nd-chance points might be his single biggest contribution to this team, despite all his other scoring. For the small amount of money we paid him this off-season, he’s been a heck of a player.