The 2021-22 NBA season was a dream for the Golden State Warriors. After a couple of down years with their stars dealing with injuries, including Klay Thompson sitting out for two full seasons, and missing the playoffs, the Warriors returned to the top with the 2022 NBA title.
Stephen Curry had a stellar postseason run. Andrew Wiggins revived his career in San Francisco. Jordan Poole broke out as a sixth man. Most importantly, Thompson returned to his usual self.
However, things have been far from perfect in the 2022-23 season so far. Golden State is just 3-7 and 13th in the Western Conference. While there is still a ton of basketball until the playoffs are even in sight, Golden State’s ice-cold start is raising some eyebrows. Can they repeat as champions or at least stay a contender?
For that to happen, some things have to change moving forward. The sooner those issues are addressed, the better for Curry and co.
Biggest Early Problem Warriors Must Fix in 2022-23
The Warriors are continuing their success on the offensive side of the ball. Curry is averaging 31 points on 49-41-94 splits. As a team, Golden State has the third-best offense in the league, averaging 117.4 points per game. The problem is that the Warriors are not performing well on the other side of the ball.
Through their first 10 games, Golden State has the worst defense in the NBA, allowing 121.4 points per game. For comparison, last season, the team registered the third-best defense, surrendering an average of 105.5 points per game to opposing offenses.
Most of their colossal downtick in defensive efficiency is due to the departures of Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II. Both were key players in the Warriors’ title run and played important roles on the team’s defense. Payton averaged a team-best 1.4 steals per game last season, and Porter had 1.1, while both were critical at locking down the perimeter, and Porter able to stretch down to the interior as well.
In the NBA Finals, both were responsible for guarding the best players against the Boston Celtics. Payton limited Jayson Tatum to just 36.7 percent shooting from the field. The Warriors only were down 2-1 before Porter joined the starting lineup. Then, the Warriors won three straight en route for the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
While the front office signed Donte DiVincenzo and other players to replace Payton and Porter, Golden State is still struggling to find those who can help the defense.
Even though it’s early in the season, the Warriors seriously need to keep an eye on how their defense is performing. Allowing 130 and 128 points to rebuilding organizations such as the Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons, respectively, is not acceptable if they want another shot at a ring.
Perhaps things can improve once Jonathan Kuminga is more developed and DiVincenzo gets healthy, but the window is closing with the veteran core. With Golden State aiming for a title, it would not be surprising if the front office signs another veteran with a defensive mindset since they have a roster spot open.
Avery Bradley and DeAndre’ Bembry are some free agents that would likely only require the veteran minimum to join the team. Also, the front office could be aggressive in the trade market later this season for expiring deals. Non-contending teams such as the Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers could make some defensive players available for a small price.
While Golden State has a good chance of turning its season around, the early struggles on defense cannot be ignored. If fixed, fans can expect a huge turnaround by the Warriors back to the top of the standings.