Amidst all of the Big Threes in the NBA and whether or not the Lakers will meet the Heat in the Finals there is a young team in the Western Conference quietly becoming a relevant name in the playoff picture. As if there is not enough NBA drama in California with the LA Clippers and LA Lakers the Golden State Warriors have won twenty-two of their first thirty-three games and sit in fourth place behind Oklahoma City, the Clippers, and San Antonio.
The season is nearly half over, but will the Warriors tail off or keep surging to the top of the conference? Can they compete with the elite teams like the Thunder and the Clippers?
The Warriors are a young squad with a good deal of depth to be strong for a few years. With Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson averaging thirty-six points as a backcourt duo and David Lee pouring twenty points a night the offense is definitely not lacking. In fact, they rank ninth in the league overall in points per game as a team. They also rank in the top ten in assists and rebounds per game as well. The boards are kept clean each game because of Lee and Carl Landry as power forwards. And as far as the depth goes when you have players like Landry, Draymond Green, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, and Andrew Bogut (when he returns from injury) coming off the bench you are not losing skill when you give your starters a rest.
However, one player that is underachieving in my opinion is Golden State’s top pick Harrison Barnes. The former North Carolina Tar Heel may be a starter but right now he is only a role player at best. He only plays about half the game and only averages nine points per contest. Brandon Rush score seven points per night and plays half the time Barnes does. I personally thought Barnes would be a great small forward in the NBA. Maybe he still will be, just not in his first half of his first season.
If the Warriors want to be one of the best teams in the league, they must be able to beat the best. Of their eleven losses seven are to teams in the playoff picture. The other four are against the lowly Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic. But they have also done their job by beating the teams that they should beat. And they have knocked off the Miami Heat in their only match up so far this season and they have beaten the Brooklyn Nets and Clippers twice each. If the Warriors plan to start dominating they must make a more committed effort to clamp down on defense. They score 101 points but give up 99. That ranks them in the bottom third of the league in team defense. Center Festus Ezeli has the size in the middle to clog up the lane. Barnes has the length to defend pure scorers. They just have be taught how to play defense in the NBA. It may just be their philosophy to simply outshoot their opponents but (sorry for the cliche) defense wins the rings.
I always root for the underdog and I would love to see the Warriors make a run at winning the title. However, unfortunately there are too many strong teams in the West that I do not think they are a contender–yet. In one or two more years, as long as the team continues to improve and fill in certain pieces they could challenge the top teams not only in the West, but in the NBA.
Are the Warriors better than the Lakers? Who will win the NBA Finals? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter @Believelander.
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