Quietly, the Golden State Warriors have peeled off eight straight wins, including four straight on the road. Five of their 10 wins have come by 20 points or more. They only had two such blowouts last year through 12 games.
The most interesting stat so far for the Warriors doesn’t center around Kevin Durant, even though he’s taking the fewest shots of his career, while shooting better than ever (56% on FGs, 42% on 3FGs), and averaging career highs in blocks and steals.
Nope. So far, the key number for me is 6.1. That’s how many blocks the Warriors are averaging per game. That’s 4th in the NBA, behind three teams with losing records (New Orleans, Indiana, Miami). Draymond Green, who seems to be cool with a diminished offensive role, leads the Warriors with 1.7 blocks per game, and Durant is right behind him at 1.3. Both are in the Top 25 in the NBA.
The Warriors blocked 10 Pacers shots Monday in a 37-point romp.
Last year, guess how many blocks the Warriors averaged per game? With Andrew Bogut in the middle – playing about 23 minutes a night – the Warriors blocked … 6.1 shots per game. (For those who love to talk rim protectors … the Cavs were tied for 26th in the NBA last year in blocks per game at 3.9.)
But obviously rim protector means more than blocked shots!
So how about the stat from NBA.com that charts actual rim protection, as defined, “field goals defended at rim percentage.”
The Cavs are 6th in the NBA, at 49.7 percent field goals allowed … the Warriors are 7th, at 49.8.
If you want to argue the Warriors aren’t better defensively, you’d be right – they’re 15th in defensive efficiency after being in the Top 5 the last two years (and going to the Finals each year).
The counter to that, though, is the Warriors overhauled their roster in the offseason, and of their top 11 players in minutes per game last year, only six are back. Two starters – Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut – and three key reserves are gone.
So Steve Kerr and the Warriors are still tinkering with the team defensively, and toying with rotations. Other teams that had significant roster shake-ups – Indiana, Miami – are struggling to start the season. The Warriors are so loaded, they’re 10-2 while figuring things out on the fly.
Please pack up your “lack of a rim protector” narrative and put it in a box in the attic. You’re not going to need it for awhile.