(Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Weekly Dish
by Brian Witt
After completing their first undefeated road trip of the season, the Warriors are rounding into form.
For the week of Monday, Nov. 5 – Sunday, Nov. 12
Slowly, but surely, it appears the Warriors are finding their stride. Golden State completed their first undefeated week and road trip of the season last week, defeating the Clippers, Spurs and Nuggets by an average of 22.3 points per game.
“What a great trip,” said Steve Kerr following Saturday’s win in Denver. “Three tough teams, and obviously we’re rounding into form and we kind of turned a corner on this trip.”
The three road victories brought the Warriors’ record to 7-3 on the year, meaning we’re just about an eighth of the way through the 2017-18 regular season campaign. As such, with 10 games under their belts, now seems as good a time as any to evaluate how the Dubs have been playing, particularly compared to their start from a year ago.
In general, Golden State has gotten off to an even better start than they did last season. Despite having one fewer victory in their first 10 games than they did last season, nearly all of the advanced metrics point to a superior Warriors team this time around. For instance, last season Golden State had the best offensive rating in the league after 10 games, averaging 112.9 points per 100 possessions. This year, the Dubs have stepped that up a couple significant notches, and have posted an NBA-best offensive rating of 118.2 points per 100 possessions. Golden State has been so far out in front of the pack offensively that the difference between their offensive rating and second-ranked Houston (108.4) is greater than the difference between the Rockets and the 28th-ranked Mavericks (98.8).
The Warriors have actually been worse defensively through their first 10 games compared to last season, allowing an average of 1.1 more points per 100 possessions. However, thanks to their high-powered offense, their net rating of plus-12.6 points per 100 possessions not only ranks first in the NBA, but is far superior to their net rating of plus-8.3 points at this time last year.
In addition to improved offensive and net ratings, the Warriors are also shooting a higher percentage from both the field and three-point range than they did through the first 10 games of last season. They’re also currently averaging 2.3 more three-pointers and 1.0 more assist per game compared to their start a season ago. The improvements aren’t solely on the offensive side, though. The Warriors, who ended up leading the NBA in blocks last season, are currently averaging 8.7 blocks per game – that’s 31 more blocks through the first 10 games than they totaled last season.
If there’s been one particular area of concern, it’s been turnovers, but the Dubs have shown some improvement in that category as of late. While Golden State is averaging 17.0 turnovers per game (and 1.1 more miscues per game than they did through their first 10 games last season), the Warriors produced their three lowest turnover totals of the season in their three road victories last week.
If Golden State truly has ‘turned a corner’ as Steve Kerr believes, that’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.
Standout Spotlight: Stephen Curry
Speaking of hot starts to the season, Stephen Curry has scored at least 20 points and made at least two three-pointers in every game thus far. However, last week, the two-time MVP was a model of efficiency.
In Golden State’s three victories last week, Curry averaged a team-best 24.7 points and 7.3 assists per game, while shooting 56.1 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from three-point range. He began the week by accounting for 31 points and a season-high seven three-pointers in the first three quarters against the Clippers, and concluded it by totaling 22 points, five treys and a season-high 11 assists in the first three frames of Golden State’s win over Denver.
For the week, Curry was a plus-83, the best plus-minus for any player in the league last week. A huge chunk of that came from his dominant performance against the Nuggets, in which he was a plus-44. That was the best plus-minus of his career, including playoffs.
The Week Ahead:
The Warriors have won six of their last seven games, but two of their three losses on the season have come at Oracle Arena, where they begin a four-game homestand later tonight in what could be the start of a redemption week of sorts. First, the Dubs host the Heat on Monday on Replica Trophy Night, before closing out the week with home games against the Timberwolves and 76ers on Wednesday and Saturday, respectively. Both Miami and Minnesota defeated Golden State last season, and the Warriors required a frenzied fourth quarter comeback to prevent Philadelphia from doing the same. Golden State hopes to keep their hot streak going in the week ahead, and based on recent history, their opponents are likely to have their full attention.
Till next week.