The Warriors were 11-22 on the road last season, which was actually pretty good for them compared to recent debacles away from Oracle.
For instance: They were 10-31 on the road two seasons ago. And they were 8-33 on the road in 2009-’10 and 2008-’09.
And now, after last night’s victory in Charlotte, the Warriors are 8-4 on the road… and 14-7 overall, which happens to be the fifth-best record in the West and seventh-best in the whole league.
This does mean something. Even though we all know it’s early and many tougher tests lie ahead… the Warriors playing like this in a sustained period does mean something significant.
But stop, let’s go back to that road record, because that is the heavy-duty indicator here:
* After starting 4-0 on this pivotal 7-game roadie, the Warriors currently have the SECOND MOST road victories in the league, behind only San Antonio, which is a ridiculous 11-1 away from home.
Yes, you could say that the Warriors have taken full advantage of three of the easiest road games they’ll play this season–at Detroit, at Washington and at Charlotte, three dreadful teams, particularly on offense.
If the games are there for the taking if you can just don’t get in the way of constant bricking by Brandon Knight, Martell Webster or Ramon Sessions… well, that’s not exactly a test of champions.
(The toughest part is at the end: Miami on Wednesday and then Orlando-Atlanta back-to-back. But if the GSWs just steal one of those, this would be their best overall long trip in my memory.)
But road wins are too valuable to just dismiss like that, particularly for the Warriors, who have lost so many games to so many terrible teams over the last many years.
Road wins are NBA gold pieces–it really doesn’t matter how you acquire them, once they’re yours, they’re invaluable. If you can get to 16 to 21 road wins in a season… and the Warriors are easily on that pace now.. you set yourself up for a winning record, if you can blast through a big majority your home games, which I expect the Warriors to do.
This is how teams get to the .500 plateau–by picking off a large percentage of the easy road games and then winning a fair share of everything else.
And the Warriors are doing this because, yes, they are better than they’ve been since 2008. They also can get a lot better because of two names: Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.
Who knows, it might still all fall apart, but the team is giving indications that they can at least get into the West playoff race. They might still fall short playing decently, but it’s time to say it:
For once, the Warriors’ roster makes sense because the front office has added depth, some size, the players are blending, sharing the ball, really trying to play solid defense (though, again, I have some suspicions that the stats are a little skewed by playing some terrible offensive teams).
When your roster makes sense, you can wade through long road trips, get different bonus production from different players, and motor on through into January and February with a fighting chance–or more–at the playoffs.
I’m not going to over-do the analysis. I’ll save that for later. But I’ll toss out five fast elements of the Warriors’ obvious improvement:
1–No Monta Ellis. I don’t want to rip the guy who did so much acrobatic scoring for the Warriors over the years, but the reason they were unbalanced was because Ellis made them unbalanced.
All the Warriors have from the three-team Ellis trade right now is the pick that netted them Festus Ezeli–while they wait for Andrew Bogut to get healthy or figure out how to play while not quite healthy–and they’re better just because they don’t have Ellis dominating the ball, limiting Stephen Curry and keeping Klay Thompson from getting minutes.
Mark Jackson was a big fan of Ellis, but he’s a better coach without having to keep funneling the ball to Ellis.
2–Curry is playing beautifully, confidently, and combining with Thompson to give the Warriors a fearsome offensive back court that occasionally plays very good D.
Yes, this is connected to No. 1.
Admittedly, I wasn’t 100% on board with the $44M extension Curry got before the season (mostly due to long-term and short-term concerns about his ankle, but he’s been healthy all season).
A true measure of his value: Charlotte wanted him badly, and you watch that game last night: If Charlotte had Curry, the Bobcats would be immensely better. They would’ve absolutely offered him the max if he was on the market as a restricted F/A next summer.
That’s why the Warriors felt they had to extend Curry for almost full price, even with the ankle issue, and if he plays like this even, $11M per is a great price.
Curry isn’t always great, but he gives the Warriors flow and offensive explosiveness–and point guards who can’t do that are getting regularly destroyed by him.
3–Over the last few weeks, David Lee (leads the Warriors with a +60 season plus-minus) is playing very well and very efficiently–easily the best ball of his Warriors’ career.
I’ve been a Lee critic–I don’t give his defense a free pass and it shouldn’t get a free pass.
But when he shoots at this kind of clip (FG% is up from 49% to 51.4% over a handful of games) and feeds shooters and rebounds like a madman… Lee is a definite “plus” player and deserves praise.
Praise for good; non-praise when not good. Sorry if the multitudes of DLee fans don’t like that process, but it’s the one I follow.
Also, the front-office sensibility has helped Curry and Lee more than anybody, and it figures, because they are the two centerpieces of the team–Lee now has Carl Landry as a tag-teamer, which means Lee doesn’t have to do as much heavy lifting and though I don’t love when they’re in the game together, it’s a very effective offensive front court.
And that small line-up has faked it defensively fairly well so far.
4–Jarrett Jack is a player. And Draymond Green… if you like subtle, thoughtful, tough basketball, you’ve got to appreciate this guy.
Charlotte and Washington desperately need a guy like Green–or 5 guys like Green–but I’m not sure they’d know what to do with him; he doesn’t dunk or throw silly allez oop passes or pose like a body builder after a dunk when the team is down by 20.
Green isn’t a shooter–but the Warriors have plenty of those guys. He just guards people, cuts off angles, rebounds in traffic, passes to the right spot, cuts to the right spot, and helps the Warriors win.
Ezeli went 30th, and that’s a good Warriors pick.
Jeffrey Taylor went 31st to Charlotte, Tomas Satoransky went 32nd to Washington, Bernard James 33rd to Dallas (in a trade), and Jae Crowder 34th to Dallas (also in a trade).
Then the Warriors took Green 35th. He might be the 12th or 13th best player out of this draft, so yeah, that’s a steal. (Geez, that’s a long item all itself. Which I will do.)
5–Mark Jackson and his staff are doing a very nice job.
You can tell they’re focusing on offensive and defensive chemistry and stopping the opponent from doing the easiest things (offensive rebounding, races to the lay-up line) and that the players are listening.
Also, a very non-Warriors like thing: They haven’t felt sorry for themselves and have adjusted to the loss of Brandon Rush and Bogut for most of the season so far. Instead, they’ve integrated who they’ve got, identified Green as a key piece and kept moving forward.
Really, you can appreciate Jackson every time the Warriors face a team that is essentially un-coached–Washington would be the most recent example.
The Warriors don’t always play brilliantly, but there’s a structure there, the players clearly want to do the right things, and there is definitely more attention to the defensive end.
On offense, Jackson and his staff are consistently working a nice Curry-Lee pick-and-roll action… and that twins with the Jack-Landry chemistry.
On defense, opponents are having a very tricky time scoring vs. the Warriors and the GSWs often own the glass, which is new for all of us.
They’ve got LeBron coming up, and then the whole rest of the season and maybe things have been a little easy so far. Maybe opponents have assumed the Warriors were a bad team, and they’re not bad.
That’s a step, right there. The next few are tougher… but could be very entertaining to see.
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http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2 ... kes-sense/
I dunno. Pretty good I'd say. I don't read him as much as some of you on here do though.
Oh yeah. Just wanted to say that I'm really proud of this team. To the core-- I am very proud of them.
Hang on let me recatch my Raider breath to blast Kawakami on the Dubflip.
I got banned on twitter because he linked to a Steve Young offseason blog article on ESPN & i wrote to Kawakami
"Steve Young could fall asleep at his keyboard and bump the keys ehstuffnbsk & I'd still rate him as a better blogger then you"
It was clearly a joke, But he laid out the ban hammer & I havn't been able to read him since. :P
Joined: Wed May 19, 2010 4:21 pm
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Lol...good one Pawno! That's a well earned ban.
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I can't stand Kawakami, he festers in rumors, pushes a negative spin as soon as he can, and he is just a rude sob.
As far as his assessment of Monta, lets be realistic, majority already knew that a Curry/Monta backcourt was not working, its no suprise. Monta is not this, he is not that, but at the end of the day guess what ? Monta got us Bogut.
Everyone can agree Monta needed to be traded, but there was alot of impatient thinking about getting the right trade. There was alot of closed thinking about our roster, which was depleted, compare and contrast this years players with recent past. For me I understood the consequences, regardless of how poor the team played there was a reason for it, and I will never hold a grudge on Monta.
After the win in Miami, Kawakami had this to say about the Warriors:
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I am impressed by how well the Warriors implemented the zone defense vs the Heat, honestly.
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