The Golden State Warriors were off to a 8-3 start and playing some of the best basketball in the NBA with Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup. Then the dreaded hamstring injury struck. Iguodala missed 14 games with a hamstring injury and the Warriors suffered drastically. They were just 5-9 in the games that he missed. That’s a really big disparity. So what’s the difference between Iguodala in and out of the lineup? A lot.
The first thing that suffers without Iguodala is defense. With Iguodala in the lineup in the early part of the season the Warriors were one of the top defensive teams in the NBA, holding teams to under 40 percent shooting from the field and under 100 points per game. However, once Iguodala went out with the hamstring injury ,the Warriors’ defense suffered drastically. They were consistently giving up over 100 points per game, high field goal percentages, and for good portions of the game looked lost playing defense, which isn’t supposed to happen.
An argument can be made that Iguodala is the Warriors most important player because he does so many things besides defense. He can also handle the ball and take some pressure off of Steph Curry. He rebounds and pretty much gives the Warriors the defensive identity that they need to be a competitive team in a crowded Western Conference. With him being able to handle the ball, it allows Steph Curry to come off screens as well as being able to play off the ball which makes him even more effective. Curry was asked to create on almost every possession without Iguodala; which took a toll on him physically and mentally, as Curry was averaging over 40 minutes per game during Iguodala’s 14 game absence.
Having Iguodala back at this point in the season is much needed as the Warriors looked like they were going to completely fall off a cliff without him. He gives them stability. However, there are still glaring weaknesses in this team that have been on display this whole season that need to be addressed and corrected. Otherwise, this will end up being a lost season for the Warriors after coming in with so much hype and confidence.
The first thing that continues to plague the Warriors is turnovers. They seemingly have over 15 turnovers every game, which is a number that needs to decrease significantly. The turnovers hurt the Warriors because if they turn the ball over they miss an opportunity to score and the turnovers usually feeds the other teams fastbreak. A perfect example was last night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs (B) team where the Warriors had 24 turnovers which led to 31 Spurs points. Both numbers are incredibly bad and the biggest reason why the Warriors lost last night.
Another key clog to being a playoff team is having a quality bench, which the Warriors don’t have right now. With Iguodala back in the fold, it forces Harrison Barnes back to the bench, which is where he started the season. It’s a role that he’s clearly not comfortable with yet as he’s a different player coming off the bench than he is as a starter. Backup point guard Toney Douglas and backup forward Draymond Green are good defensive players but they have their limitations offensively that make it difficult for coach Mark Jackson to play them consistent minutes. Backup big Marreese Speights is starting to show signs of playing better after struggling early in the season and backup guard Kent Bazemore is someone caught between two positions, who also turns the ball over and makes bad decisions at important times. The Warriors bench is filled with a bunch of question marks, and those questions need to become answers before too long.
The final concern is how inconsistent Klay Thompson is. He’s one of the top shooters in the NBA, but he seems to get lost in too many games. When he’s missing shots his body language sags, he stops playing defense and he becomes a detriment to the Warriors. If the Warriors want to go anywhere this season, Thompson needs to step up and play more consistently.
The Warriors are a talented team who are too talented to ultimately miss the postseason, but they have serious questions that continue to loom over them that coach Mark Jackson really hasn’t figured out a solution for yet. Jackson’s not panicking as there’s still a lot of season left to play. However, if the Warriors dig themselves a big hole it might be difficult for them to claim one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference which they felt was well within reach considering the way they finished last year.