One Team, One Stat: Warriors Go From Worst To First On The Glass

From Media Day until opening night, NBA.com’s John Schuhmann will provide a key stat for each team in the league and show you, with film and analysis, why it matters. Up next are the Golden State Warriors, who are looking to build on just their second trip to the playoffs in the last 19 years.

The basics
GSW Rank
W-L 47-35 10
Pace 96.8 4
OffRtg 104.2 10
DefRtg 102.6 13
NetRtg +1.7 11

The stat

75.5 percent - The Warriors’ defensive rebounding percentage last season, a mark that led the league.

The context

One of the most amazing stats of last season was that the Warriors led the league in defensive rebounding percentage after five straight seasons of ranking dead last. They didn’t just go from worst to first, they went from worst to worst to worst to worst to worst to first.

In fact, before last season, Golden State ranked in the bottom 10 in defensive rebounding percentage in 12 of the prior 13 seasons, under nine different coaches. Just that part is amazing itself.

Somehow, they managed to turn it completely around last season, when the rebounding improvement helped the Warriors improve from 27th in defensive efficiency in 2011-12 to 13th. Better 3-point defense also played a part…

Warriors defense, last two seasons

Season Opp2PT% Rank Opp3PT% Rank DREB% Rank OppTOV% Rank OppFTA/FGA Rank
2011-12 48.0% 17 36.5% 28 69.1% 30 15.5% 14 .318 27
2012-13 47.3% 11 34.7% 7 75.5% 1 13.8% 28 .282 22

DREB% = Percentage of available defensive rebounds obtained
OppTOV% = Opponent turnovers per 100 possessions

One thing that was different was the way the Warriors defended pick-and-rolls. In Mark Jackson‘s first season, the big man defending the screener came out pretty high to stop the ball-handler. It wasn’t a hard hedge like the Heat or the Pelicans employ, but it took the bigs far away from the basket…

20131019_gsw_11-12

Last season, the Warrior bigs sagged into the paint more on pick-and-rolls…

20131019_gsw_12-13

That kept them closer to the basket and helped David Lee increase his defensive rebounding percentage from 20.0 percent to 24.5 percent. Also, ’12-13 Festus Ezeli (16.6 percent) had a better defensive rebounding percentage than ’11-12 Ekpe Udoh (11.9 percent) and ’12-13 Andrew Bogut (23.5 percent) was better than ’11-12 Andris Biedrins (20.0 percent). So was ’12-13 Andris Biedrins (24.6 percent).

Another result of the change in pick-and-roll coverage was that Warriors opponents took 28.0 percent of their shots from mid-range, up from 26.5 percent in ’11-12. Those are the shots you want to force.

The Warriors also got better rebounding numbers from their guards and wings. And one thing you’ll notice from these clips from an April 9 game against the Wolves is how the Golden State guards crash the glass to often put five guys in the paint when the ball is coming off the rim…


The Wolves, who were an above-average offensive rebounding team, missed 57 shots in that game and grabbed just six offensive boards.

We learned from the Spurs last season that contesting shots is much more important than rebounding, but the Warriors had to get better on the glass. When your opponent gets an offensive rebound, it’s more likely to score than it was on the initial possession.

You would think that sending five guys to the glass would hurt the Warriors’ transition offense. But they ranked ninth with 14.7 fast break points per game (up from 13.0 in ’11-12) and fifth with 2.13 fast break points per steal (up from 1.63). Stephen Curry ranked fourth in individual fast break points, while Klay Thompson ranked 19th, with both guys doing a lot of their damage from the perimeter. Curry had almost 100 more fast break points from outside the paint than any other player in the league…

Most fast break points from outside the paint

Player FBPs Outside paint
Stephen Curry 364 222
Kyle Korver 142 125
Russell Westbrook 463 120
Klay Thompson 260 119
O.J. Mayo 324 111

A healthy Bogut and the addition of Andre Iguodala should improve the Golden State defense even more. In particular, Iguodala will help force more turnovers and, as one of the best finishers in the league, will also make the running game more potent.

If the Warriors can match a Top 10 offense with a Top 10 defense, they can count themselves as serious contender in the Western Conference this season.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions

10 Comments

  1. jimbo says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Andylx. I am a Clips fan and I am worried that GS is going to give them a rough time this year. Just one question for AK… who is James HardIE and what article did you read ?

  2. Andylx says:

    I can see you have been reading reports and watching video break down on Lee’s defence. The real problem is the rotation and forcing him into a mismatch due to his team mates being a liability. In his career playing with the Warriors he has always been asked to do more he could handle. Players like Biedrins, Amundson, Gadzuric, Radmanovic, Brandan Wright, Kwane Brown, Udoh, Mikki Moore, Tyler and even Landry could not do their job.
    Finally there is a healthy Bogut, several backups and bigger bodies to gel with Lee. The front court of the Warriors has been a liability for the last 2 decades.
    Lee was never the weakest link to their defense like you said. The Warriors management has been the weakest link. The culture has changed and the pieces have been put together so Lee can focus on his game. Curry is the superstar that will win us important games, but David Lee is the heart of the team.

  3. GSPower says:

    It’s going to be a great season, and Iggy’s going to blow up. Let’s go Warriors!

  4. Gillsy says:

    The Warrirs if they stay healthy have the pieces and the experience to have a deep payoff run. You still have to remind yourself that Barnes was drafted last year and Thompson the year before, so they have room for improvement. It will good to see Bogut, Lee and Iggy on the floor together in defence. The good part to is with Lee, Bogut and Barnes Jackson has some options to play big and small at the 4 and 5, with Barnes adding some bulk over the offseason.

  5. AK says:

    Dwyane Wade is still a top 10 player in the NBA there was a reason James Hardie had such a bad NBA Finals and it was D Wade so Kevin Durant I totally disagree that D Wade is not top 10 when he had to give up some of his game

    because of the addition to the team

  6. damien says:

    nice piece, Bogut will be a force in the paint this year and lee will be there to pick up any rebound left. would love to see Bogut go 10p/11r/3a/2b. iggy and bogut is a scary defensive combination…inside/out defence

  7. Tim Ahmed says:

    Great piece! David Lee is a vital piece to their defense. His knack for getting rebounds and his hustle is so important. I wished New York never let him go. Now with Andrew Bogut looking better than ever since his performance towards the end of last season and postseason, Golden State has an interesting group of guys. Best of luck to them!