What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Monday, February 18, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for December: 8. Golden State Warriors

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of December 31st):  21-10 ,  second place Pacific Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of December 31st):

  • Points Scored: 101.3 (9th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.7 (19th)
  • Team FG%: .455 (9th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .429 (4th)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.8 (14th)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.6 (11th)
  • Turnovers per game: 15.3 (21st)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 13.7(25th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of December 31st):

  • Scoring (ppg): David Lee (20.1)
  • Rebounds per game:   David Lee (11.0)
  • Minutes per game: Stephen Curry  (37.6)
  • Assists per game: Stephen Curry (6.5)
  • Field Goal Percentage:  David Lee (.537)
  • Steals per game:  Stephen Curry (1.6)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Festus Ezeli (1.1)

Worst Player of the Month: Klay Thompson

After sporting a solid rookie performance much more was expected from the second year swing man; however, he has unfortunately started the season rather slow as he has shot rather poorly from the first tip off.  Although he boosted his scoring numbers, his shooting percentage took a major dip from.443 last season to under .400.  Thompson slightly raised his shooting percentages in December; however, he still remained rather inefficient on the offensive end as he shot under .400 for the majority of his games.  He finished December with a 9 game stretch where he shot an abysmal .362 from the field.    Fortunately the Warriors had not been affected by Thompson' s rather poor shooting stroke as they managed to go 12-4 for the month of March; however, once the Warrior start losing again, one target for pointing the blame would certainly be the rather erratic shooting of Klay Thompson
First Player of the Month:  David Lee

Forget about Kevin Love: David Lee is the player who should be considered as arguably the best power forward in the NBA.  Unlike Love, who has drifted further away from the paint settling instead to shoot three points, Lee has keep his game where  it should be: right in the paint with his back against the basket.   He may not grab as many rebounds as Love; however, that can be attributed to the fact that the Warriors run a far more efficient offense than the Minnesota Timberwolves thus making more shots and having fewer missing to rebound for.  Lee's only flaw is that his stellar play has been largely overshadowed by the equally stellar play of his teammate, Stephen Curry.  And unfortunately, as a result in the NBA's focus on style over substance, Lee's steady play rarely makes the highlight reel making him on of the league's top unsung heros this season.  

What the Warriors went 9-6 to start, it left observers pleasantly surprised and rather impressed; however, no one ever believed that this would last.  After all, these are the Golden State Warriors we are talking about--a team that has had three winning seasons and two playoff appearances in the past twenty.  Everyone was simply waiting for the Warriors to inevitably collapse and return to their usual practice of futility; however, something would happen that changed everything.  Instead of their usual practice self destruction, the Warriors actually continued winning shocking even their own fans as they too have been accustomed to their teams march through futility.  Now the Warriors, who were once an ongoing punchline in the NBA, have emerged out of nowhere to become one of the top teams in the Western Conference as they are off to their greatest start in what can be seen as eons.

They started the month of December by uncharacteristically winning six of their first eight games beating such notable teams such as Indiana Pacers (12/1/2012), Brooklyn Nets (12/7/2012) and the reigning NBA Champion Miami Heat (12/12/2012) on its very own home court.  They also went on to beat other high profile teams such as the Atlanta Hawks (12/15/2012), Utah Jazz on its own home floor (12/26/2012), and the veteran Boston Celtics (12/29/2012)--three teams that no one would have ever fathomed the Warriors to beat.  Ironically, the sole four losses that Golden State experienced came at the hands of teams that would have otherwise been considered their peers as two currently stand at the bottom of the NBA.  They lost twice to an Orlando Magic team that has been in the midst of rebuilding after sending away their former franchise player turned malcontent in Dwight Howard(12/3,12/14) and another against one time peer and fellow cellar dweller Sacramento Kings (12/19/2012).  Probably the most shocking loss had to be against the Los Angeles Lakers as there was a complete role reversal with the Warriors being the top tier team while the Lakers shockingly found themselves a the place that they were not used to being in--on the bottom looking up.

Certainly this has to be one of the most surprising happenings in not only the NBA, but also in professional sports as well.  Here was a team that has entered almost every season in predictable futility suddenly come out of nowhere and take the league in which they had been stepped upon for so long by storm.  And what is even more impressive is the style of play that the Warriors have used to earn these wins utilizing a word that has been a misnomer for most of the team's history--that of defense.  For a team that has been historically regarded as one of the league's softest defensive teams, the Warriors have instead turned that notion on its head by doing what would have been considered as unthinkable in previous seasons.  Through the month of December they had locked down their opponents on the defensive end holding their opponents to under 100 points in all but five of their games and were practically undefeated, except for one where they allowed just 99 points, but lost by fourteen against the Orlando Magic.

Credit has to be given to the team's head coach Mark Jackson for single handedly stemming the tide of history and completely changing the entire culture of an organization that had been so used to losing.  Here was a guy, in just his second season as head coach, who entered the team without any previous coaching experience whatsoever and has succeeded where his predecessors, who have had far more experience miserably failed.  Other than trading away long time veteran Monta Ellis last season, there were no major changes to the roster as the Warriors remained essentially the same team as last season resulting in the team having rather low expectation put upon them by fans and the media.  Sure, they bolstered they roster adding solid veteran contributors in Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry, Andrew Bogut, and Richard Jefferson to back up their young starter; however, that was brushed off as many expected the Warriors history of rotten luck to rear its ugly head thus negating their presence.  In a shocking twist, the Warriors have not only shocked the worse from rising out of nowhere, but have also had the added fortune of not getting the shaft by lady luck.

It seems that this impressive run by the Warriors can be the start of an new era in Golden State basketball.  After futilely and frustratingly searching and scouring in the darkness for more than twenty years, the Warriors have finally struck gold and look to cash in for not only this year, but next season and for the next few years as well.  With a crew of young talented players who have a new devotion to defense, look for the Warriors to remain a force to be reckoned with for years to come.  Along with the emergence of their fellow cellar dwelling counterparts, the Los Angeles Clippers, this can mark a new changing of the guard and a massive shift in the balance of power in the Western Conference.  Only time will tell if this shift will be permanent or , but hopefully for Warriors fans it is for they have suffered for oh so long and probably deserves this more than any fan group in the league.