Turnovers, toughness killing the Warriors
“We lack collective grit”
BY DAVID THORPE
After last night’s home loss to the Suns, the Warriors are now 6-9 overall. They are 0-8 on the road this year—the worst road start in team history. They currently sit tied for 12th in the Western Conference, between the upstart Thunder and the dumpster-fire Lakers.
Why do the defending champs look like a lottery team?
There are really only two kinds of successful passes: those that help with the fluidity of the offense (low-to-no-risk passes to open guys) and those that lead directly to a bucket (high risk, high reward). These two worlds coexist, so it’s a fair goal to enter a game expecting no live-ball turnovers if you simply move the ball—and then achieve exactly that.
Pass-move-pass-move is the essence of the Cuisinart; so as far as turnovers go, this one is particularly egregious.
Jordan Poole chooses to make a crosscourt pass with four Kings players between him and his target: Andrew Wiggins. A plethora of bad things could have happened to this pass on its journey. It’s a gamble, and the kind that would bankrupt professional bettors. In other words, it’s a high-risk, no-reward adventure—the biggest no-no of them all. Kings rookie Keegan Murray gets a “pick six,” a fair punishment for Poole’s decision.
The worst crime in basketball is fouling a 3-point shooter. Poole commits the second-worst: turning a pass into a guaranteed two points for the bad guys.
Sports websites are brimming with articles analyzing what’s wrong with the Warriors defense, but to my eyes it’s their famed offensive system that’s killing them.
The Cuisinart, as we like to call it, has always been a turnover machine. But this season those turnovers are pushing the defending champs down in the standings. This year’s Western Conference is the most competitive this Warriors dynasty has faced. Unless something changes, the system that helped turn Curry and his teammates into legends will be the same that prevents them from contending.
For all of Stephen Curry’s gravity, Klay Thompson’s long-range shooting, and Draymond Green’s brilliant facilitating, passing has always been the crux of the Warriors’ offense.
Since the 2016-2017 season, the Warriors have been near the top of the NBA in passes per game:
So far this season, the Warriors lead the league with 323.4 passes per contest, nearly six more than the second-place Pacers. Unfortunately, the same can be said about their turnovers: the Warriors were 24th in turnovers per 100 possessions two seasons ago and are 23rd this season after being second-worst overall last year at 29th. Only the lowly Rockets were worse; yet last year the Warriors had won more games by December 8 (21) than Houston would all last season.
How could the Warriors be so sloppy and still be so elite? We will get to that.