The three-point revolution has led to a new era of NBA basketball. Teams are employing as many as five shooters on the court at a time, allowing for easier driving lanes to the hoop.
At the forefront of this renaissance is the Golden State Warriors.
Armed with arguably the greatest offense in NBA history, it seems like the Warriors are impossible to defend.
Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant? Seems pretty impossible, but there has to be some way to defend this team.
Essentially, it’s next to impossible throwing a team with this many options off. However, there are some trends that, if disrupted, could make the Warriors uncomfortable. The Cavaliers will have a chance to do so tomorrow as the Warriors visit after defeating Cleveland on Christmas.
- In their last 100 games, the Warriors are 96-4 when they score at least 60 points at halftime, even when they’re losing.
- The Warriors are undefeated (-) when Draymond Green gets a triple-double. He’s the franchise leader in triple-doubles.
- In 14 losses to the Warriors since 2006, the Cavaliers were held to under 100 points in regulation.
Here’s how one might go about it strategically on the basketball court.
The basic plot of every defensive scheme is that each shot is met with a hand to contest it. The assumption is that every single rotation needed will be executed in order to make sure there are no open shots.
If that means rotating around the perimeter while the ball is swung from side to side then so be it. If it means standing around while the offense plays hero ball, even better.
Against most teams, that strategy is fairly effective if executed properly. Most teams don’t move the ball quite well enough for multiple rotations to be made.
What makes the Warriors so hard to defend is that they have the talent of an all-time great team, but they move the ball like the San Antonio Spurs.
Steve Kerr has implemented a system in which the shooters are constantly in motion and the ball always finds the open man. It’s very difficult to defend.
Teams can rotate all they want, but the Warriors will eventually find the open man, whether it’s under the basket for an easy layup, or in the corner for a momentum-shifting three-pointer.
Opponents can’t control the ball movement, but they can control who shoots the ball more often than not.
Think about it.
If the ball is swung out to an open Andre Iguodala, and the next rotation would be off Klay Thompson, should the defender rotate over?
In a perfect world, another defender would rotate over to Klay, but again, the Warriors are excellent at finding the open man. So if not Klay then maybe Steph or Durant.
Teams always try to make sure every shot is a contested one, but against a team like the Warriors, they have to accept the fact that it just isn’t going to happen.
So, the question has to be asked: Who do you want shooting the ball?
If I’m guarding Curry and the ball gets rotated over to Draymond Green, Iguodala, or maybe even David West, I’m daring those guys to beat me from the perimeter. Those guys will have to drop 25 plus if they want to win.
Granted, Green and Iguodala can shoot from distance fairly well, so if their shots are falling, it becomes nearly impossible to beat the Warriors. But as the defense, you have to play the percentages, and that goes back to acknowledging that the Warriors will get an open shot.
If they’re going to get an open shot, wouldn’t you want the worst shooters to be the ones taking them?
And if those bad shooters hit those open shots, couldn’t you live with that instead of the splash trio raining down threes from every possible spot?
To reiterate, in a perfect system, every player would make the correct rotation at the perfect time. But anyone who’s watched an NBA game, let alone a Warriors game, knows that just doesn’t happen.
So against a historically great team like the Golden State Warriors, a team that features all-time great shooting and unselfishness, the defense has to funnel the ball to the weakest links and hope they don’t get on a hot streak.
Is it a perfect strategy? No. It’s based on risks.
But it’s the only chance anyone has to dethrone this virtually unstoppable offense.