With each year that passes, the youthfully confident Golden State Warriors continually find ways to become more formidable and competitive than they were the year before. Although the offensively supercharged Warriors were stifled consistently in the Western Conference semifinals last year, they didn’t let this bitter defeat compromise their belief that they would be back better than ever next season. Sure enough, the vivacious Warriors regrouped and have since surpassed their impressive 47-win season of yesteryear. While the Warriors triumphant mentality has been their essential attribute for their regular season successes, they’ll need to continue to utilize their versatile skill sets if they hope to surpass last year’s playoff performances.
What makes the Warriors particularly dangerous is their unpredictability when it comes to the inevitable shooting barrage from Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. Not only are both of these lethal shooters supremely accurate from beyond the arch (Curry shoots 41.8% from perimeter while Thompson shoots 41.9% from the perimeter), this dynamic duo also puts up 41.9 PPG between the two of them. When both of these tenacious shooters are red hot from the field, it’s not unheard for the Warriors point totals to be in the 120’s or even 130’s when both of these guards are zoned in. Even if the opposition finds a way to shut down Curry or Thompson individually, one will simply compensate for the other by shooting quickly and accurately from all areas of the court.
Yet, even with the Warriors nearly unstoppable offensive capabilities, their overlooked defensive improvements have also been a critical part of the Warriors consistent triumphs. Overall, the Warriors only allow the opposition to score 98.8 PPG (8th in the NBA) while using their unwavering vigilance and physicality to garner 45.3 RPG (2nd in the NBA). Thanks to the contributions of power forward David Lee and the exceptional growth of center Andrew Bogut, the Warriors have taken pride in more aspects of their game than simply their impeccable offense. Since last year, Bogut has clearly worked on his rebounding proficiencies while discovering a secondary set of offensive skills. While Bogut’s rebounding has only gotten better since last season (10.1 RPG this year), his shooting efficiency has likewise shown signs of improvement (shoots 62.8% from the field, career high).
Although the Warriors starting roster deserves immense praise for their perseverance, their bench players have also been just as vital to their teams success. Since David Lee’s untimely hamstring injury, the Warriors have been without a dominant power forward and have been forced to use small forward Draymond Green to fill the void left by Lee. While Green may not be the flashiest shooter or rebounder on the Warriors roster, he has hands down been the Warriors most valuable sixth man as he his capable of being both an avid rebounder and clutch shooter. Despite Green’s erratic tendencies when it comes to shooting, he can easily make up for this discrepancy by using his size to garner crucial rebounds while putting up the occasional momentum changing three point shot as well. While Green isn’t the only dynamic small forward on the Warriors roster (Harrison Barnes has also been a reliable stand in at times), Green has shown the most improvement while becoming a reliable and efficient starter when the Warriors need his abilities the most.
Even with these innovative improvements and well-developed team unity, the Warriors playoff fate is still very much an intriguing inquiry that has yet to be definitively revealed. While the Warriors are much improved over last year, they also have the misfortune of playing in the unforgiving Western Conference. Assuming the current standings remain inert, the Warriors will have a tough first round match up against the ruthlessly athletic Los Angeles Clippers. Although the Warriors proved that they could go toe to toe with the Clippers during the regular season, going up against them in a playoff series is an entirely different matter. While the Warriors defense can easily match up with the stout Clippers, their offensive dominance will have to be predicated on more than lights out perimeter shooting. Luckily, Curry and Thompson has used their smaller stature to their advantage, as they have been known to fake out their defenders one way only to drive to the basket uncontested for an easy lay up.
When all is said and done, the Warriors have the discipline and versatility to go up against anyone in the Western Conference. Although the road to a highly coveted conference final berth will be an arduous journey, the Warriors have proven that they can remain resilient in the face of adversity while using their unique skill sets to dominate the opposition. If the Warriors can continue to fight valiantly as they have all season long, they could easily send the over confident Clippers home during the first round of the NBA playoffs.