After starting the season at a horrid pace of 3-7 in their first ten games, the Golden State Warriors have begun surging. In the past 11 games, they have gone 8-3 while picking up their first two road wins of the season.
This turnaround has had many factors, not the least of which is the stellar play of Klay Thompson. While he struggled to begin the season, he has put together a string of games averaging 24 points on elite efficiency since their loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Head Coach Steve Kerr has also adjusted with his rotations, especially in their win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green now share minutes alongside the bench duo of Donte DiVincenzo and Jordan Poole. That group also features Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Lamb, and Occasionally JaMychal Green who has started to figure out his role in the Warriors system after a slow start.
Is their recent turnaround enough to suggest the Golden State Warriors are poised to make another Championship run this season?
Many fans pointed to the correlation between James Wiseman being reassigned to the G-League and the turnaround of the Warriors, but this simply is not true. Wiseman Barely played in some of the worst losses of the opening stretch and contributed some great minutes in their opening night win against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Warriors may be looking at a lower seeding than what they are used to because of their slow start and their need to rest the golden trio on back-to-backs. They could very well land at the fourth or even the fifth seed in the west, such is the competitiveness of the Western Conference right now.
Due to this change, the road to the NBA Finals will be difficult and will likely see some series’ without a home-court advantage. This doesn’t make the idea of a repeat Championship impossible though.
The Warriors are typically solid on the road with the exception of this season. This showed in the Playoffs last season as they won a road game in every series while simultaneously doing a great job defending their home court. This largely comes through their defensive prowess which has wavered and caused them problems this season.
In order for the Warriors to have a chance at adding another Championship to their history, they need to figure out their defense. This is where Draymond Green becomes incredibly valuable. For most players, their value on defense typically goes down during the postseason. This is true for big men like Rudy Gobert who really can’t switch onto guards, but Green is different in this respect. He may just be the most versatile defender of all time — being able to guard any player on the floor at any given time.
There are endless highlight reels of Green’s defense, and in nearly all of them, you’ll see him switch between bigger and smaller players. In the switch heavy environment of the modern NBA playoffs, this makes Green invaluable to any team, but especially to the Warriors.
The final premise is that yes, Golden State are still title contenders. However, they have a lot of work to do to make their dream a reality, and much of this will be led by the defensive expertise of Green.