In its preseason debut this weekend, the Golden State Warriors’ offense looked like that of a team which had four practices before stepping on the court. There was plenty of sloppy to go around, starting with Kevin Durant being 2-of-9 from the field. There were turnovers and missteps galore.
Nobody thinks that will continue. There will be some bumps as the Warriors figure this new lineup out, but nobody doubts this will be the NBA’s most dangerous offense in the NBA. Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and quality role players all around them. The will be a force.
How do opponents slow this team down? David Aldridge of NBA.com and TNT asked an NBA assistant coach and got an interesting answer. Starting with there are no good answers. Then going to the other end of the floor.
“I don’t have any answers,” he said. “You’ve just got to go play. You’ve got to go back at them. It’s not brain surgery. They’re talented and they have a couple of great players, but we’re just going to do what we do and try to do it harder and better than they do.”
“Defense starts with shot selection,” the assistant coach says. “If you’re going to take bad shots, if you’re going to allow them to get out in the open court, that’s not good. You have to manufacture the shots you want to get, and you have to make ‘em. It’s not rocket science. So limit your turnovers — turnovers are bad shots — get the shots you want, make sure your transition defense is rock solid, and if you’re good enough, you’re good enough. You can’t change your defense at this level. We’re going to play 28 teams a certain way and play them a different way? It doesn’t work that way.”
During the regular season, offensive and defensive systems get minor tweaks for each game to try to create mismatches or go at an opponents’ weakness. But for the most part teams are what they are. It isn’t until the playoffs, with more time and multiple games, where systems and rotations get overhauls aimed at an opponent.
So how do teams beat the Warriors? Take away the easy buckets, then hope they don’t start making too many of the harder ones. Which makes obvious sense, but is difficult to execute for 48 minutes — and a three-minute lapse is a 12-0 Warriors run. Especially if Curry starts hitting from 28 feet, or Durant is just having one of those nights. Or Thompson is, or… you get the idea.
There are holes in the Warriors that teams can attack. Depth will likely be one (at least during the regular season). There will be others exposed as the season goes along, and you can be sure teams will take notice. But being able to exploit those gaps will require a combination of talent and discipline few teams will have. You don’t have to like the Warriors, or the fact Durant chose them, but you can’t doubt they will be a force.