Warriors

Warriors -- spotlight on statistics

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Warriors -- spotlight on statistics

Mike Kreuser
CSNBayArea.com

Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma City was the Warriors' 22nd game this season, wrapping up a third of this shortened 66-game schedule. At 8-14, the start has been less-than promising for coach Mark Jackson's first season, but how does it compare to Keith Smart a year ago?

In a normal schedule, a third is slightly more than 27 games. In 2010-11, the Warriors were 9-18 in their first 27. That's a .333 win percentage, so slightly less than Mark Jackson's .364.

Record aside, many of the team stats are remarkably similar. This year's team is shooting slightly better from the field (46.1 vs 45.3), but slightly worse from three-point range (38.2 vs. 38.8). The Warriors have averaged one more assist and one fewer turnover this season, but are also averaging just under two fewer total rebounds. One of the largest discrepancies has been offensive rebounding; this year's squad is averaging 3.2 fewer offensive boards (10.3 this season, 13.5 last).

Yet despite the many similarities, this is a different team defensively. Even with Oklahoma City's 119-point outburst on Tuesday, the Warriors are still allowing just under 6 fewer points per game (100.9 this season, 106.8 last season). The Thunder's 119 points upped that number by over a full point.

The Warriors are also scoring slightly less (98.5 this season, 100.9 last), but that number jumped 2.3 points after their last three games, when they've averaged 113.7 points per game. Part of that has to do with a slowing down of the game -- the Warriors are averaging just over two fewer possessions per game this season.

So despite the difference in total, they are actually really similar in terms of offensive efficiency (103.0 points100 possession this season, 103.2 points100 possession last). Defensively though, their efficiency has improved by 5 points per hundred possessions.

So how has Golden State been more efficient? The Warriors haven't forced more turnovers (TOs down .7 this season) and they haven't done better on the glass (opponents averaging .2 more rebounds).

The improvement has come from better rotations and some luck. The luck is free throw shooting. Last season, opponents shot 79.0 from the line and this season that number has dropped to 73.8. Since opponents average 28.5 free-throw attempts a game, that's a difference of a point a game without the Warriors having to do a thing.

But opponents are shooting worse from the field (45.2 this season, 47.3 last) and from the three-point line (37.0 vs 38.0). Opponents are also averaging 2.7 fewer assists per game. That adds up to better rotations on ball defense (which limits open shots created by a pass) and tougher looks at the basket. Those improvements demonstrate two things: Jackson's defensive emphasis and better effort from the players.

Unfortunately for Jackson, the improvement on defense has not made a huge difference in the win column. Right now the Warriors are on pace for a 24-42 season if they maintain their .364 win percentage. If Jackson's goal is to do better than a year ago, that's not going to cut it.

Last year's team took off after the first third of the schedule. After their 9-18 start, Keith Smart's Warriors went 27-28 in their final 55 games to finish with a .439 win percentage. The improvement was in large part thanks to David Lee and Stephen Curry getting healthy and an improved offense (106.6 points100 possession in the final 55 games). This year's team will benefit from a healthy Curry the rest of the way. With an improved defense, maybe it's time for Jackson to turn his attention to kick-starting that offense.

Mike Kreuser is a production assistant with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

LeBron reacts to Kyrie Irving trade: 'What a ride...'

LeBron reacts to Kyrie Irving trade: 'What a ride...'

The dynamic duo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving lasted just three seasons.

Despite making it to the NBA Finals in all three seasons, Irving wanted out of the partnership.

On Tuesday, he got his wish as the Cavs traded him to Boston for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and a 2018 first-round pick.

While the rumor was that Irving didn't want to play with James anymore, the four-time MVP had nothing but nice words to say about Irving on Twitter a few hours after the trade became official.

"That's the only way to be to the kid! Special talent/guy! Nothing but respect and what a ride it was our 3 years together Young Gode," James wrote in response to a short video of a fan placing a 'thank you' note on Irving's No. 2 Cavs jersey.

James and Irving won't have to wait very long to see each other again. The Cavs and Celtics face each other on Opening Night in Cleveland.

All the NBA deck chairs have been moved, but it doesn't even matter

All the NBA deck chairs have been moved, but it doesn't even matter

The Kyrie Irving-from-LeBronville Heights-to-Bahstin trade is rightly being called a blockbuster because it engenders so many concepts at once – making the second-best team in the NBA’s Eastern Conference seemingly better than the first-best team with one phone call and five shifted bodies.

At least that’s how it plays outside the Bay Area, because now that the Golden State Warriors have taken ownership of the entire league, Kyrie Irving’s whereabouts don’t actually change the balance of power – because there is none.

There’s the power, and there’s the other 29 teams.

Plus, and this is a forgotten element through all the machinations of the NBA’s Meth-Bender Summer, the league is fighting over individual pieces when the Warriors are preaching the virtues of the mega-ensemble.

Irving wants to be the focus of his team, which seems to fly in the face of Boston’s ball-movement philosophy. Paul George, who complained when he didn’t take the last shot in a playoff game this April, is in Oklahoma City with the master of the me-first game, Russell Westbrook. Carmelo Anthony is still in stasis but constantly mentioned as the next Houston Rocket, joining Chris Paul and James Harden in what would seem to be the living embodiment of The Total Is Less Than The Sum Of Its Parts ball.

Unless, of course, all these assumptions are wrong, and all the relocated stars suddenly find the virtues the Warriors displayed in boatracing the field this year and become not only unselfish offensively but more stridently devoted to defense. All these players are bright, determined, and seemingly open to new ideas (well, maybe not Melo, but even that is open to debate), but will they choose to be?

And even more compelling, will there be the immediate payoff in doing so?

On Question A, let us be charitable and suggest that they can do that. On Question B, however, such a return seems unlikely unless the Warriors either devote themselves to the pursuit of self or fail to avoid the medical department.

There is something worrisome about the sureness with which people are conceding 2018 – can all these self-absorbed morons be right? Things can happen to great teams, even in the NBA, which is the most hierarchical of sports.

But only the Warriors can beat the Warriors, because Kyrie Irving the Celtic does not seem at first glance to be better positioned for a parade than Kyrie Irving the Cavalier.

And that’s true of every roster move this summer. Deck chairs were moved for a better view, but the bridge is manned by the same captain, at least for the time being.