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BLOG QUESTION

“What will or can the Warriors do to address the lack of defense—worst in the NBA in terms of points scored by opponents? Is this a coaching issue or personnel issue? Or both?” – commish, danville

The most sure way of addressing poor defense is bringing in good defenders. The problem is, it is so rare to find a guy who can defend with consistent tenacity AND be capable on offense. The fact is, defense is such a hard thing to do well, it’s tough to find guys who can be adept on defense and score.
So, the Warriors are going to have to do it the hard way, which is make poor defenders better — via individual development and by masking defensive weaknesses with the scheme.
This is the hardest way to become a better defensive team. It doesn’t happen overnight, or even in a season. It takes time, patience, dedication, great coaching, chemistry, etc.
From my view, the Warriors have already taken step one, that’s becoming more athletic. The trade helped them drastically in this department, so now they have the tools to be better defensively. Another thing they have done, which I think was the right move, was identify what type of defensive team they want to be. The Warriors have properly determined where do they want to rest their defensive hat — creating turnovers and forcing opponents to shoot low field goal percentages.
The Warriors aren’t going to be a team that holds you to 90 points or fewer, because it requires a couple excellent man-to-man defenders, someone who can protect the basket and a slower pace. The Warriors defensive philosophy, ideally, is disruption. They want you to turn the ball over, they want you to take bad shots, they want the ball to end up in the wrong hands, things like that.
Now, obviously, they haven’t perfected their philosophy. While they are currently first in steals (8.77) and turnovers forced (17.79) per game, they are 22nd in field goal percentage defense. But because their scheme is so heavily reliant on chemistry and knowledge of the system, it’s going to take awhile. Right now, you have guys routinely out of place, rotation breakdowns, lack if hustling, poorly timed gambling, etc. Injuries and the trade haven’t allowed for cohesiveness and understanding to develop.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Under Montgomery, Monta Ellis made a contribution to the Warriors by pressing full court. He was a defensive specialist who harrassed opposing point guards and disrupted opposing offenses. Because of Richardson’s injuries, Ellis has been forced into a more prominent role on offense. They NEED him to score, to be a force on offense. So he can’t expend as much energy on defense or risk picking up fouls by applying.
You can say the same for Pietrus and Barnes, players who when this roster is healthy will be called upon for defense first. They have been too integral to the offense to yank them for poor defense.
A lot of things have to happen for the Warriors to become good at the type of defense they want to play. And guess what? They won’t happen this year.

Marcus Thompson