Adding Kevin Durant to the roster looked like heaven to the Golden State Warriors, but it’s looks far from that in the first few games of the season. A team that’s been known for their high-octane offense and consistent defense has forgotten the latter.
Many people have pointed the finger at losing center Andrew Bogut, who is one of the best rim protectors in the league and was one of the defensive anchors for Golden State these past few years. And while Harrison Barnes wasn’t a favorite to Dub Nation by any means, he played the perfect role in their death lineup. He had open shots on offense but defensively, he was the ideal player in that rotation. With Andre Iguodala in the game and Draymond Green defending centers, Barnes was the one who would defend power forwards. He did it exceptionally well, using his 6-foot-8 frame.
In Golden State’s first five games of the season, they allowed 129, 114, 100, 104 and 96 points respectively. In their first five games last season, the Warriors allowed 95, 92, 120, 69, and 108 points to start the season. They were undefeated for the first 24 games of the year.
Zaza Pachulia has taken Bogut’s spot and he’s far from a great defender or rim protector. While he brings the same amount of toughness Bogut brought on a nightly basis, he’s not a smart defender and doesn’t have the same skill-set to contest shots. Bogut isn’t the same player he was at the start of his Warriors tenure as he is now in Dallas, but he’s certainly a better defender than Pachulia.
Durant is a much-improved defender and his length causes tons of trouble for opposing offenses. He has protected the rim pretty well in his first few games with Golden State, but his chemistry with the team is off. He’s missed a few rotations on defense and the team hasn’t been quick enough to react. To Durant’s credit, he’s not the only one. Stephen Curry has missed his spots and Klay Thompson, who’s widely regarded as one of the better defenders in the league, hasn’t looked like that at all. Thompson is a notoriously slow starter and his jumper hasn’t been there this year. It’s taken a toll on him on the other side of the ball too.
Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston both look a step slow right off the gates. Kevon Looney and Patrick McCaw are still new to NBA talent. David West looks like he’s still in San Antonio. All in all, the effort hasn’t been there either.
Draymond Green is the only Warrior who looks ready to defend every single possession. But even he has had his lapses. There was a play or two where Steve Kerr called timeout just to call out Green for not running back on defense because he was arguing over a call with an official. Outside of that, Green’s been generally great. There’s a reason why he’s been runner-up to the Defensive Player of the Year in consecutive years.
However, everyone else needs to pick up the slack.