For the first time in years, the Golden State Warriors showed signs of being a good defensive team. They finished last season with a 105.5 defensive rating. That is the average points allowed per 100 processions. That mark was 14th-best in the NBA, which is the first time in over 10 years that Golden State finished in the top half of the league.
Coach Mark Jackson has done a great job of getting his players to work hard on the defensive side of the court. He joined the Warriors two years ago and has been preaching defense since day one. Last year, management provided him a roster with capable defenders and he got them to succeed.
The first step of the Warriors becoming a good defensive team was moving Monta Ellis for center Andrew Bogut in the middle of the 2011-2012 season. There was a lot of risk in getting a big man with health issues, but it showed the team’s focus on defense.
Though he struggled with injuries most of last season, Bogut really proved his worth in the playoffs. When the defensive-minded center was off the court, opponents scored 8.5 more points per 100 processions. That is a huge difference. His defense was critical in the Warriors’ exciting playoff run.
Youngsters Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are still learning NBA team defense, but are long and athletic. They are able to disrupt passing lanes and use their bodies well to make it hard on the opposing player. As they spend more time in this league, they will understand more and more how to collectively defend a team. As long as they put in the work, they should be very good defenders.
Now add in arguably the best wing defender in the NBA in Andre Iguodala, and the Warriors are set to be a great defensive team. Not only is Iguodala a lock-down defender, but he is also a smart team defender. He and Bogut should work together beautifully and the Warriors’ team defense could be elite.
With all this going for them, it’s not farfetched to think that Golden State could end up with a top-10 defense next season. This is scary considering that they already have such an explosive offense led by star Stephen Curry. A true contender is a team that ranks in the top 10 on both offense and defense. The Warriors are capable of this because of the team’s mindset of getting better defensively in these last couple of years.