(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)
The Weekly Dish
by Brian Witt
As the Warriors reach the quarter pole of the regular season, they're right where they want to be.
For the week of Monday, Nov. 27 – Sunday, Dec. 3
When the halftime buzzer sounds in the Warriors game tonight against the Sacramento Kings, the Dubs will have officially reached the quarter mark of the regular season. As such, they won’t have the league’s best record at that point like they did last season, but in most ways, the Warriors are right where they want to be.
After beginning last week with a loss in Oklahoma City to close out their four-game road trip, Golden State rebounded with two consecutive wins over the Bulls and Pelicans on back-to-back nights to tip off their current three-game homestand and improve their record to 15-5 on the season. That puts Golden State a half-game behind Houston for the top spot in the Western Conference, and two victories behind last year’s pace. But last year was…well, last year, and this season is its own entity. And if we’re assessing this season with that mindset, there’s plenty for Warriors fans to feel excited about.
For instance, the Dubs may be scoring 1.0 fewer points per 100 possessions through their first 20 games of 2017-18 than they did in 2016-17, but they’re also allowing 1.6 fewer points against per 100 possessions, meaning their current net rating is comparatively superior. In fact, Golden State’s current net rating of plus-13.4 points per 100 possessions is on pace to be the best mark of any team since the NBA began counting turnovers in 1977, just a slight hair ahead of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (plus-13.3). And, that impressive stat comes with two caveats.
For one, the Dubs struggled defensively at the start of the season but have since picked it up. Golden State has allowed just 95.1 points per 100 possessions during the month of November, easily the top mark in the NBA and considerably better than their cumulative defensive rating of 100.4 on the season to date.
The second caveat is a bit more subjective, but it’s relevant to point out that Golden State has been somewhat shorthanded throughout this November resurgence. Just this month, Stephen Curry has missed one game, Kevin Durant has missed four, and both former league MVPs are listed as out for tonight’s tilt against Sacramento. When you consider that Curry and Durant ranked first and second amongst all players that averaged at least 20 minutes per game in the NBA last season in individual offensive rating, and eighth and 12th in defensive rating, it’s easy to see why the Warriors are better when they have those two studs in the lineup.
Injuries happen to every team in the NBA, so Golden State shouldn’t be feeling sorry for themselves. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The Dubs have actually managed to win every game that either Curry or Durant has missed so far this season. Obviously Steve Kerr would prefer to have everyone healthy and available, but it’s a promising sign that the Dubs have performed how they have, given the context.
Standout Spotlight: Andre Iguodala
One of the main reasons the Warriors have been able to succeed despite being without some of their top players has been the fact that others have stepped up in their absence. Perhaps no player on Golden State is more exemplary of that fact than Andre Iguodala.
The Warriors depend on Iguodala for a lot more than just his scoring ability, but it certainly doesn’t hurt when he contributes in that department, particularly when the Dubs are missing any of their primary scoring options. Saturday’s win over the Pelicans was the latest example of Iguodala stepping up in that situation, as he totaled a season-high 14 points in a game Durant missed due to injury. It was the fourth time this season that Iguodala scored in double-figures, and not only is Golden State a perfect 4-0 in those contests, but those double-digit scoring efforts have all coincided with games Durant has missed. It would be too much to ask almost any NBA player to replicate the scoring Durant provides on a nightly basis, but when Iguodala can help chip away at that missing number, it makes life easier on everyone involved.
For the week, Igoudala averaged 10.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 1.0 block and 1.0 steal per game on 62.5 percent shooting from the field and 50.0 percent shooting from beyond the arc. His numbers are never going to accurately reflect the all-around impact he has on the game, as Iguodala’s contributions go well beyond the box score. Still, the Warriors have to be pleased to see their veteran swingman get going offensively a bit.
The Week Ahead:
Following Golden State’s aforementioned matchup with the visiting Sacramento Kings tonight, the Dubs will head back out on the road for their longest road trip of the season, a six-gamer that begins Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Lakers. That will be the shortest flight on the road trip, as the Warriors will then head back to the East Coast for games in Orlando and Miami on Friday and Sunday, respectively, to close out the week.
Till next week.