Overall Team Performance
Team performance offensively, and in general, left a lot to be desired. They ranked 28th in points/game and 30th in offensive rating in the NBA. What contributed to this was their extremely poor efficiency. They ranked second to last in the league in both field goal percentage (43.8%) and 3-point percentage (33.4%). Although they had clear struggles there were some bright spots that couldnít make up for their lack of efficient scoring.
Oddly enough they were a top-3 team in the NBA when it came to free throw percentage (80.3%) and were able to rank in the top half of the league at getting to the line. They also put up surprisingly good numbers when it came to sharing the ball; averaging over 25 assists per game (10th in the NBA). This high assists rate in a poorly performing offense could be a positive sign for head coach Steve Kerr's offensive system. Despite boasting one of the leagueís worst offense there were some encouraging performances and important player development.
Key Individual Performances
Two players that stepped up and have potential solidified roles on this team when they once again become competitive are Damion Lee and Eric Paschall. Lee, the brother-in-law of Curry, used the increased offensive looks to turn his 27-year-old season into a breakout year of sorts. Last season, his first with the Warriors, Lee showed his potential as a floor spacer in limited minutes (32 games and under 12 MPG). This season Lee was able to average nearly 13 points per game and just under 3 assists per game from his two-guard spot.
These are definitely volume enhanced numbers, but he still was able to shoot 36% from beyond the arc and a team-leading 87% from the charity stripe. Obviously, these arenít eye-popping numbers, but Lee was able to produce surrounded by very little other talent and I believe he could provide a competitive Golden State team productive minutes as a 3-and-D wing.
Eric Paschall was the other player alongside Lee that made an impact despite a woeful team record. Paschall, who was as NBA ready as a rookie gets, was able to put together a potential All-Rookie caliber year. He ranked in the top ten amongst rookies in Point (14/game), Rebounds (4.6/game), and field goal percentage (min. 20 games) while playing in 60 of Golden Stateís 65 games. Paschall showed a versatile scoring profile and was able to take advantage of mismatches as a combo forward. As an undersized 4 (6-6, 255lb), he was able to take bigs off the dribble as well as overpower weaker defenders.
While Paschall is built big he does have the potential to bump down to the 3 too as he did in college at times. He also showed his passing ability averaging just over two assists a game and despite sub-par rebounding totals for the position he still produced one and a half offensive rebounds per contest. Just like every other rookie, there are clear areas that need improvements.
The main area that would take Paschallís offensive profile to the next level would be an improved 3-point stroke. He shot a poor 29% and still was able to keep his overall field goal percentage at right about 50%. A good sign is that he definitely does not lack confidence in his shot, which is clear by the fact that he still attempted over 2 3s per game. Paschall was also much more effective from deep in college shooting 36% and 35% (on 5.5 attempts per game) in his final two seasons at Villanova which were much improved from his Freshman year.
These two factors give me confidence that Paschall will improve the weakest facet of his offensive game. Other than these two contributors arising there isnít too many notable players that I expect to have an impact on the Warriors future outlook.
One factor worth noting is the offensive regression of Draymond Green. Draymond shot below 30% from deep for the second year in a row but the more concerning number is that his field goal percentage fell to just under 39%. The Warriors, when healthy, donít rely on Green as a score so there shouldnít be too much of a concern as regression is expected for the now 30-year-old. On top of this Draymond still managed to create for others (averaging 6 assists per game) and should benefit as much as anyone from the return of Curry and Thompson.
The last player I would like to highlight is Andrew Wiggins. He was putting together a bounce-back season prior to his trade to Golden State and continued that production once he was relocated. Wiggins averaged 19 points on 46% from the field while contributing a career-high 3.7 assists. The Warriors are bound to be back in the playoffs with the return of Curry and Thompson alone and not to mention the potential additions that are available in the offseason. I expect their offense to jump efficiency to jump back up next year as long as they can manage to stay healthy.
Overall Team Performance
Similar to their offense production, the Warriors have a lot of room for improvement based off their defensive performance this season. They arenít many metrics that favor Golden Stateís production on the defensive side, but they are rated slightly better than their offensive statistics. The Warriors gave up 115 points per game which put them at 25th in the NBA to go along with a miserable 113.8 defensive rating (26th in the NBA). The Warriors struggled especially with limiting opponents looks from deep.
They ranked dead last in the NBA in opponents 3-point percentage allowing other teams to shoot a blistering 39% from deep. Golden State also sat in the bottom third of the league when it came to opponents points off turnovers (25th), 2nd chance points (23rd), and fast-break points (25th).
Virtually the only area of positive performance defensively as a team was their ability to create turnovers. The Warriors were able to rank in the top 8 in both steals per game and opponents turnovers. Their record is enough to tell that they clearly didnít perform on either side of the ball, but these statistics show just how ineffective the Warriors were as a group this season.
Key Individual Performances
As far as individual performance goes there isnít as much to discuss. Draymond Green is still a top tier defender and the Warriors will greatly benefit from the return of Klay Thompson in terms of wing defense. Andrew Wiggins should an increased tenacity averaging over a block and a steal through 12 games with Golden State but will need to show more consistency to give this small sample size more weight. The previously mentioned Paschall showed he was a capable all-around defender but suffers from the same possible mismatches that he takes advantage of on the offensive end.
Lastly, Kevon Looney has displayed good tendencies in the paint and pick and roll but still will need to improve due to his lack of rim protection. Overall, losing defenders such as Durant, Iguodala, and Damian Jones from last year led to a lack of defensive efficiency and there will be holes to fill on that side of the ball, especially in the frontcourt.
Steve Kerr is one of the more difficult coaches to evaluate throughout his career as a head coach. He has had the benefit of stepping into a team developed by Mark Jackson that was ready to win. Kerr has proven to be an intelligent and great coach, but some would argue that many coaches would succeed with the incredible rosters he had the blessing of coaches. Despite this, I donít think you can argue against the fact that Kerr is still a top-5 coach in the NBA when it comes to every aspect (strategy, player management, etc.).
This past season once again makes it extremely difficult to evaluate Kerr. He didnít have much to work with even when Curry was healthy and then the roster became even further depleted with Curryís injury and the subsequent trades. Kerr will most likely have a lot more roster turnover in the upcoming months and I expect him to lead a healthy Warriors back to the Western Conference playoffís next year. Itís hard to argue with results and former coach of the year is still one of the best in the game.
Golden State Warriors Roster FAQ
How will the Warriors address their roster issues with over $130 million locked up between four players?
The Warriors donít exactly have ample space to improve their roster due to the fact that the large contracts of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins already brings them over the soft salary cap of $115 millions for 2020-2021. The luxury-tax threshold for next season is set at $139 million which Golden State is dangerously close to. This begs the question of whether or not the Warriors should try and shed the salary of Green or the freshly acquired Wiggins. It will be interesting to see how their front office goes about improving the roster with little wiggle room as of now.
Will health be an issue once again in the 2020-2021 season?
Health was a big issue for the Warriors this season and they will need their stars at full strength to compete next year. Curry has had previous health issue prior to this year, and I donít expect them to be resolved as he ages. One key for the Warriors could be taking the load management approach that the Clippers, as well as many other teams, have taken with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The load management of Curry and Thompson could pay dividends after they both missed virtually this entire past season. Golden State should be talented enough to secure a playoff spot while giving its key contributors the necessary time off.
How will the Warriors improve the roster with little cap space?
General Manager Bob Meyers will be tasked with an extremely difficult job of adding depth to a roster with little financial wiggle room. In my opinion, they would benefit from shedding the salary of either Green or Wiggins. It may be tough to move on from a franchise stalwart like Green, but it may be necessary. Draymond also has a 15% trade kicker that the Warriors would have to pay which makes his situation even more complicated.
I also think Wigginsí potential could be maximized playing with Curry and Thompson under Steve Kerr, but it shouldnít be at the cost of the rest of the roster. It should be very interesting to see how Meyers constructs this roster for another potential playoff run.
How will Wiggins fit next to a healthy Thompson and Curry?
As I mentioned above, I think Wiggins could maximize his potential in Golden State playing with two future Hall-of-Famers in Curry and Thompson. Wiggins was able to put together a true bounce-back year and I believe his slashing style of play could give a good contrast to the sharpshooters he would share the floor with. Itís still unclear whether or not the Warriors brass views Wiggins as a long-term piece but I believe he would be a solid 3rd option if they are able to manage his contract along with the various big contracts that are already on the books.
Who will end up as the starting center?
The Warriors have one clear whole in their lineup and that would be at the 5-spot. Kevon Looney has proved a valuable role player, but he struggled with staying healthy this year and lacks the above average rim protection that the Warriors desperately require. Marquese Chriss has the potential to bump up from power forward but he is far from a proven option.
There has been rumors recently that Tristan Thompson would take a cheaper to join the Celtics and if there is merit to this rumor, I think the Warriors should definitely explore that option, although the odds would be minimal. Three potential affordable options in my eyes are JaVale McGee, Bismack Biyombo, and Robin Lopez. All are UFA and offer a skillset that would create a potentially effective timeshare with Looney. McGee would be my first choice if I was in the position of Bob Meyers due to his defensive presence and previous familiarity with the team, but he also may have a price tag too rich for their blood.
How will Golden State user their multiple picks to address the various needs?
The Warriors will have three picks in the 2020 draft in the form of their own 1st round selection and two 2nd round picks (from the Mavericks and Jazz). This gives Golden State some more opportunities to fill out the roster without eating too much into cap space.
Pre-lottery they have the best possible odds of obtaining the 1st overall pick and canít drop farther than the 5th overall pick. Three potential targets could be SG Anthony Edwards, F Deni Avdija, and C James Wiseman. After their top selection they can use their two second round picks to add much needed depth and then reassess their needs during free agency.