The Warriors are 13-5 since the All-Star Break—tied for the second most wins in the NBA in that span—including a 12-5 record since Steve Blake made his Warriors debut against Houston on February 20.
While Blake’s modest averages of 4.9 points and 3.5 assists in his 17 games with Golden State don’t jump off the stat sheet, he’s had a palpable impact on the Warriors that’s likely to become even more apparent in the team’s stretch run toward the postseason. Here’s a quick look at how the Warriors have benefitted from The Blake Effect so far.
Despite starting all 27 of his games with the Lakers before the trade, Blake was brought in to take command of a Warriors bench that has since seen improvements across the board. In 55 games prior to Blake’s arrival, the team’s bench had averaged 24.1 points per game. In 17 games since adding Blake, the reserves are averaging 34.8 points for a massive increase of more than 10 points per game. Likewise, the second unit averaged just 4.1 assists per game pre-Blake, a figure that has nearly doubled to 8.1 per in the last 17 games.
In 17 games as a Warrior, Blake has dished out 59 assists compared to 16 turnovers. Since his Warriors debut on February 20, that assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.69:1 ranks fourth among all point guards in the league, behind only Chris Paul, Pablo Prigioni and Brandon Jennings. Another nugget: Before Blake arrived, no Warrior had registered more than five assists off the bench in a game this season—a feat the newcomer has already accomplished three times. Four appears to be the magic number, though; when Blake dishes out four-or-more assists, the Warriors are 7-0.
The Warriors plan on playing more than 82 games this season, which requires that their key cogs are fresh and ready to go as the regular season slate comes to a close. The addition of Blake (averaging 21.1 minutes per) and the increased efficiency of the bench has given the Warriors the luxury of limiting minutes to their starters down the stretch. Since Blake’s arrival, Stephen Curry is the only player on the team averaging more than 31 minutes per game, and even he’s averaging nearly five minutes fewer than he had been (down from 37.6 to 32.9). Likewise, Klay Thompson (37.6 to 30.6), David Lee (34.2 to 30.5), Andre Iguodala (33.7 to 29.9) and Andrew Bogut (27.5 to 24.4) have all seen healthy reductions of anywhere from three to seven minutes per game as the team prepares for the NBA’s second season.
After helping Maryland to an NCAA Tournament championship as a junior in 2002, Blake has been to the NBA’s Sweet 16 in six of his first 10 seasons as a pro. In 38 postseason games with the Wizards, Nuggets, Trail Blazers and Lakers, the veteran point guard has hit a lofty 41.2 percent from three-point range while averaging 5.8 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 22.9 minutes, adding to a roster suddenly rich with playoff experience. The Warriors now have three players—Blake, Iguodala and Jermaine O’Neal—who’ve made at least six career trips to the NBA Playoffs.