There was a time in the 2012-2013 NBA season when the Golden State Warriors were sitting pretty in the four-seed in the Western Conference, and were being talked about as a dark-horse contender for the post-season. That seems like that was all a really long time ago.
Golden State started the month of February at 29-17. They are currently 30-22, and in sixth-place in the West.
One of the main reasons for their rise to success this season is their vast improvement on defense. Last season, the Warriors were one of the worst defensive teams in the league with a 106 defensive rating, and allowed their opponents to shoot 45.3 percent from the field.
This season, though, they’ve placed more focus on defense, as coach Mark Jackson promised when he arrived to the Warriors. They’ve improved their defensive rating to 103.4 and their rebound percentage to 51 percent, and they’ve lowered their opponent’s field goal percentage to 44 percent.
However, in the month of February, they’ve not only gotten back to their old ways defensively, but have actually gotten worse. For the month, the Warriors are tied for the worst defensive rating in the league at 114.3, have a 48.8 percent rebound percentage, and have let their opponents shoot a blistering 47.5 percent from the floor. That’s pretty indicative of why they are 1-5 in the month, and why they’ve lost their last five games leading up to the All-Star Break.
There’s no denying that the Warriors have a ton of talent and potential on their team. With a starting five of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee and the slowly returning Andrew Bogut, Golden State has one of the most talented cores in the NBA.
But if they want to be successful, they have to follow the plan that their coach has set before them and tighten up their defensive game. If not, they are destined to settle back into mediocrity and not make any noise in the playoffs, much less be a dark-horse contender.