1 advantage the Warriors have over each Pacific Division team

The Pacific Division may be the toughest group in the NBA, with five legit contenders. But the Warriors have at least one meaningful advantage over each opponent.
May 10, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots
May 10, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots / Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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1 advantage the Warriors have over the Lakers: Chris Paul

The Warriors struggled with the Lakers as much as any team in the league last season. They won just one of their four regular-season matchups and then were eliminated by Los Angeles in six games in the Western Conference semifinals. However, their struggles in each were for different reasons.

In the regular season, the Warriors were hammered by some unsustainably bad shooting. Across the four games against L.A., they made just 32.5 percent of their open and wide-open 3-pointers — shots on which the defense essentially has no impact on whether it's a make or a miss. In their other 78 games against the rest of the league, the Warriors made 40.1 percent of those same shots.

The Lakers defense presented a challenge but the Warriors had not problem creating good shots. They just missed many of the ones they normally make, across a small four-game sample. They made a much more respectable 37.0 percent against the Lakers in the playoffs and that might have been the difference if they hadn't been absolutely pounded at the free throw line.

Across the six-game playoff series, the Lakers were relentless at attacking the paint and keeping the Warriors on the perimeter, more than doubling up Golden State in free throw attempts (168 to 80). The Warriors just couldn't get into the paint and they couldn't do anything effective once they got there.


The Lakers will be returning the same defensive core that so disrupted the Warriors but Golden State now has Chris Paul to help orchestrate things.

Paul isn't just one of the greatest point guards in NBA history, he's also one of the savviest and more under control, capable of bending a game to his design with stubborn will. The Warriors will be working hard to integrate him into their system this year and he will be adapting, working more off the ball and in concert than he ever has. But he also gives the Warriors a failsafe they didn't have last year, a completely different mode of attack.

If the Warriors offensive system gets stymied again, they can pivot hard and let Chris Paul run his well-spaced, exacting pick-and-rolls and give the Lakers an entirely new challenge to solve.