What Happened To The Warriors’ D?

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Golden State Warriors were the feel-good story of the first half of the season. Mark Jackson was a Coach of the Year candidate, David Lee and Stephen Curry looked like All-Stars, and the Dubs had a top-10 defense … without Andrew Bogut.

On Jan. 2, the Warriors beat the Clippers for the second time this season and stood at 22-10. They were just percentage points behind the 20-9 Grizzlies for fourth place in the West and a full four games ahead of the Houston Rockets, who stood in fifth.

As the Warriors prep to host the Rockets tonight (10:30 ET, NBA TV), they still have a four-game lead over Houston in the loss column. But they’ve been passed by the Denver Nuggets for fifth place and they’ve lost sight of the Grizzlies, who haven’t exactly been tearing it up of late.

So what happened? Well, that top-10 defense turned into a bottom-five defense.

Warriors efficiency

Timeframe W L OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
Through Jan. 2 22 10 104.8 9 100.2 9 +4.6 6
Since Jan. 2 8 11 102.8 17 108.4 26 -5.5 25

OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

For the season, the Warriors now rank 16th defensively, allowing 103.2 points per 100 possessions. And a deeper look at the defensive numbers shows that they’ve basically regressed across the board …

Warriors defense

Timeframe Opp2P% Rk Opp3P% Rk DREB% Rk OppTOV% Rk OppFTA Rate Rk
Through Jan. 2 46.3% 7 33.1% 3 75.5% 3 14.0% 26 .300 26
Since Jan. 2 49.7% 21 36.3% 17 72.9% 19 12.9% 29 .267 16

DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
OppTOV% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions
OppFTA Rate = Opponent FTA/FGA

Curry (five games) and Jarrett Jack (three games) have each missed some time in the last month, but not enough to really affect things too much. Bogut has returned, but hasn’t yet played many more minutes than he played at the start of the season.

The regression does seem to be somewhat schedule-related. Just nine of the Warriors’ first 32 games were against top-10 offensive teams. Of the last 19, another nine have been against those same top-10 offensive teams, with six of those coming on the road.

And on the road is really where the issues have been. In fact, the Warriors have allowed less than a point per possession in home games since Jan. 2. They’ve just turned into an absolutely atrocious defensive team away from Oracle Arena.

Warriors efficiency

Timeframe W L OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg
Home through Jan. 2 11 4 105.4 98.6 +6.8
Road through Jan. 2 11 6 104.2 101.6 +2.6
Home since Jan. 2 5 2 102.6 99.9 +2.8
Road since Jan. 2 3 9 102.9 113.3 -10.3

Those 12 road games in January and February have included visits to the Clippers, Nuggets, Spurs and Thunder. And another four have been the second night of a road-road back-to-back. But the Warriors have been blown out in a handful of games (they’ve actually been outscored by three points for the season) and the contrast between their 2012 road defense and their 2013 road defense is too stark to dismiss as just a schedule thing.

The good news is that the Warriors are home for 19 of their final 31 games, and that they’ve got Bogut back to help stabilize the D. The bad news is that they’re probably going to start the playoffs on the road, and will have to figure some things out in the next two months.


  1. WeBeliever says:

    Agree that the arrival of Bogut has hurt the team defensively, but only slightly. Coach Jackson has elected to play smallball a bit much, and we’ve lost Ezeli as a stopper as a result. Sure, Ezeli will get outquicked by many bigs on the pick and roll, and this has hurt. However, the Warriors need a shotblocker to change shots and protect the paint since the guards so often get outquicked on the wing. High skill, low athleticism guards necessitate a stopper inside. During their skid we’ve seen increased minutes for Biedrins, which is a big problem. Even though Biedrins has made some defensive stops, he is no shotblocker, and his presence does nothing to deter players from the paint. His blocks tend to occur on players in poor position and off-balance, compared to Ezeli meeting players at their peak and sending their shots away.

  2. gdmoney says:

    this is a team that has to share the ball and get every body involved. in doing this it makes them less containable. teams in the league are going to take away curry and thompson.the problem on defense is at the point. curry has to be more aggresive in his defense and do a better job of containing his man in doing so it willtake pressure offf the rest ofhis squad. i have spoken

  3. Game Time says:

    Wearing those tight Dwight Howardish Jerseys would make me feel like I lost my D too.

  4. mg says:

    Bogut came back, Barnes started feeling his oats, and they forgot they are a team that’s built around Curry’s and Lee’s scoring, supplemented by some outside shooting, and everyone else playing D and rebounding. If they don’t get back to that mentality, they will be a mediocre team. They don’t quite have the talent to go out and play undisciplined ball and consistently win, even with Bogut (who isn’t really that huge an upgrade over Landry, who was their main option in his absence, anyway). To an extent, they’ve been lucky so far, and their record was better than they are, but they ought to be better than they’ve been over the past few weeks.

    • slider821 says:

      well said.

      Bogut has replaced the minutes of Ezili and some of the minutes of Landry. If he’s not producing the defense and rebounding of Ezili AND the efficient scoring of Landry, he is setting the team back.

  5. Kamote says:

    yeah, might be schedule-related, but still, GSW has to step-up in containing the top offensive teams in the league. That’s what defense is all about, stopping what’s really good in offense. They should be wary because there are still 3 teams (POR, LAL and DAL) outside the top 8 looking in for a kill.

    • slider821 says:

      I don’t think it’s schedule related. Ws played one of the toughest pre-break schedules in the league and did fine until recently. They lost intensity on defense, combine that with too many quick, contested shots and no rebounding, teams have no problem beating the Ws.

      Case in point: last night Harden/Lin combined for 10-33 and the game was in Houstons control the entire night. THose 23 misses would have been 20 possessions and 20 points for a team playing good defense, rebounding well, and executing an efficient offense. Ws did none of those things and haven’t for the last handful of games.

  6. Joel Anthony 4 MVP says:

    2nd half of the season is separating the boys from men..

  7. Save Nash Please says:

    If they wear their new clown Jersey, They’ll lose for sure… That thing(sleeves) could bother you during the game, That might get more trouble on offense and defense…

    • slider821 says:

      As a warriors fan, we all think the new jerseys look stupid. The oversized, pinstripe, shorts with mismatched color make it look even worse.

      As a bay area native, I can explain why they’re doing this. I would guess Ws hired some hip, new age marketing group from SF/South city, the social media marketing hotspot of the US. Same reason they are blowing up twitter activity, wearing twitter shirts, having all these social networking nights.

      It’s all about the buzz, as long as it’s being talked about, they consider it a good thing. Drive business. Drive website hits. Drives search engine activity. Drive awareness. All these things happen even more if the event in question (new jerserys) is hated and puts a bad taste in peoples mouth. There’s a saying in marketing: ‘a pleased consumer tells no one, an upset consumer tells 10 people’. That’s what this is all about.