Dec 15, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) walks on the court against the Phoenix Suns in the second half at US Airways Center. The Suns won 106-102. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Where’s The D?


When Andre Iguodala went down, it was only natural to expect the Golden State Warriors to struggle on both ends of the floor. But since the announcement Iggy would be out indefinitely with a strained hamstring on Nov. 23, the Dubs have been in free fall on the defensive end. Without Iguodala in the lineup, the Warriors have gone 5-7 and are giving up 105.3 points per game. On the season, only the Philadelphia 76ers’ atrocious 111.2 opponent points per game is worse than that mark.

The Warriors have turned into the 2012-13 Denver Nuggets with the way they need to put up a ton of points to win games. The only problem is, Golden State’s defense is even worse and Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson can’t put up enough points on the offensive end to make up for it. Since Iggy went down, Curry has picked his game up a notch to make up for the absence of one of the best two-way forwards in the NBA. In his last 12 games, Curry is averaging 27.7 points, nine assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals while shooting 46 percent from the field and 41 percent from 3-point range. Curry may be leading the league in turnovers, but he’s also in the top 10 in minutes per game and usage percentage.

Klay Thompson is always a threat from deep, but his 19 points per game in the month of December haven’t been enough. That may be because Thompson’s field goal percentage has dropped from 46 percent in November to 42.2 percent this month as his shot attempts have increased by one per game. Andrew Bogut is shooting nearly 70 percent from the floor, but is still only posting 7.6 points per game this month. David Lee‘s numbers this month are nearly identical to his November numbers.

As for Harrison Barneswho has taken on the starter’s role at small forward, his numbers haven’t increased to correspond with an influx of more minutes. Barnes’ minutes per game jumped from 28.2 to 38.8 with Iguodala out, but his stat line has barely budged. Barnes is taking 1.5 more shots per game in the month of December, but his field goal percentage has fallen from 50 percent in November to just 42.9 percent.

Essentially, only Stephen Curry has elevated his game enough on the offensive end to make up for Andre Iguodala’s absence. And unless the Splash Bros. go off from deep (usually sometime late in the game after the Warriors have dug themselves into a hole), Golden State’s offense hasn’t been enough to make up for the now-porous defense that was only giving up 96.7 points per game before Iggy’s injury. The best example? Curry’s 43-point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats that still wasn’t enough to get the Dubs a dub.

Iguodala is expected to return sometime soon, although the decision lies in the hands of Golden State’s medical staff. His return will not only boost the defense, but it will take some of the pressure off of Curry and Thompson to produce on offense, something that requires the ball to be in their hands and can account for the Warriors’ 17.2 turnovers per game (28th in the league).

It’s not like the Warriors have been losing bad games. Their last seven losses have come to the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets (twice), Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns. Five of those losses have come on the road. All of those teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today, and every one of them has a winning record except for Charlotte.

At 13-12, the Dubs are currently a game and a half behind the Dallas Mavericks for the final playoff spot in the West. With a healthy Iguodala, this team is still expected to at least compete in the heated race for the Western Conference Finals. But with 15 of their first 25 games coming on the road and Iggy out for a nearly half of them, Golden State will have some ground to make up. Getting back that defensive focus will be a good place to start.

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