The Golden State Warriors are breaking basketball. Going into Monday’s match against the Atlanta Hawks, they have a 15-2 record and an 11-game winning streak. Last season, they were revolutionary. But this season, their offense has raised the bar even higher.
Warriors Offense Poised to Make History
In the off-season, Golden State pulled off one of the biggest free agent signings in history. Kevin Durant‘s move to the west coast provoked fear and fury in equal measure. Both of these types of reactions could be reduced to three words: It isn’t fair.
This statement is accurate regardless of whether Durant was right or wrong to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors had to give up some of their depth to get him, but the firepower of their unprecedented ‘Big Four’ more than makes up for it.
Combining so many great shooters means the Warriors have had to distribute their shots wisely. With a finite amount of shots, the key is efficiency. Just 17 games in, it already seems to be clicking for Golden State. Yet, after six games and a 4-2 record, there were signs that the super-team was struggling. Klay Thompson was shooting below 20 percent from three as he adjusted to being a third option on offense. However, Thompson’s slump was short-lived – in the 11 games since, he has shot 44.7 percent on three-pointers.
With Thompson’s improvement aiding Durant and Stephen Curry, the Warriors have exploded into life. Going into the Hawks game, the 2016-17 Warriors average 117.9 points per 100 possessions – the highest offensive rating in NBA history. They have the highest average margin of victory in NBA history. And their effective field goal percentage of 57.9 is – you guessed it – the highest in NBA history.
Pace and Space
To achieve such historic efficiency, the Warriors have continued to play with a progressive style. Their play off the ball is almost as dazzling as Curry’s handles on it. They make frequent cuts and convert them into points. They are the best in the league at scoring off screens. This is a team that moves quickly and economically without the ball. This is the future of NBA offenses.
The Warriors have utilized this regular movement off the ball through pinpoint passing. Again, their average of 31.5 assists per game is the most in NBA history. They also average 10.4 ‘secondary assists‘ – a further sign of their exquisite ball movement. The next best team has only 6.5 per game.
Looking Ahead to the Playoffs
This advanced strategy took the Warriors to a record 73 wins last season, but it was not enough to win the championship. They were unable to hold off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. This season, Golden State’s focus will not be on chasing regular season wins. Instead, the Warriors will focus on building a winning playoff scheme.
With Harrison Barnes gone, their original ‘death lineup‘ has been disbanded, but Durant can do everything that Barnes can and more. The Warriors have not used this new death lineup very often this season, but they have looked just as deadly so far. Head coach Steve Kerr is likely to use it more in the postseason. If they keep up this unparalleled offensive efficiency, don’t expect the Golden State Warriors to blow a 3-1 lead again.