It is easy to look at the Warriors roster and just say “Splash Brothers.”
The duo single handedly saved Golden State from a poor effort Tuesday when Curry drained three 3-pointers including the game-winner against the Magic. That is the, ahem, magic this duo can provide. They are never out of the game so long as Curry or Klay Thompson can get up a shot.
That is not what is going to win a championship though.
Mark Jackson knew that when he turned this seemingly offense-first team into a tough defensive team. Jackson’s final Warriors team, eliminated in the first round mind you, had the third best defensive rating in the league at 99.9 points per 100 possessions. He was fired for failing to spark the team’s offense — a middling 105.3 points per 100 possessions which is fine except for the fact the Splash Brothers are supposed to make everything OK.
Steve Kerr inherited a lot. Somehow he has made it even better, although you cannot get the aw-shucks coach to admit it entirely.
“They have been bringing it defensively for the last couple years,” Kerr said last week. “It’s nothing I did. I showed up and inherited I think the fourth ranked [sic] defense from a year ago. This was already established here. It is one of the things that attracted me to the job because I think one of the hard things to do in the NBA is get a team to commit defensively.
“The fact that this team was already there has made things so much easier. This is a group that has grown together. There is continuity here in the roster. We’ve got talent on both ends of the floor.”
Continuity matters. The best teams are usually together for long periods of time. Kerr might very well be the kick in the pants to get them over the top and into the West’s elite.
The Warriors are fifth in the league in offensive rating at 107.1 points per 100 possessions and they now feature the best defense in the game with 94.7 points allowed per 100 posseissions. Kerr has to have something to do with that, right?
Maybe he is just getting out of the way, adding new offensive tweaks to free up his team more than making wholesale changes.
Golden State continued its tear through the NBA with its 11th straight win in a 112-85 win over New Orleans at Oracle Arena on Thursday. The Warriors bench took control when Anthony Davis was out of the game. The Warriors bench had good contributions from all around the roster.
It is that balance offensively that has the Warriors playing so well. This team moves the ball well and has that crazy spacing because of Curry and Thompson.
Surprising versatility should make teams afraid of the Warriors for more than just those two players.
“We’ve got a really good two-way roster,” Kerr said. “We’ve got multiple players who can score and defend up and down the line. Curry has become an excellent defender. Klay, people already knew was a good defender. Boges [Andrew Bogut] protects the rim, but generates offense at the other end. All of our wings — Andre [Iguodala] and Harrison [Barnes] and Draymond [Green] — they can all score and guard multiple possessions. It’s a really well constructed team.”
Kerr took over a team that was near the top of the mountain. But he has hit the right buttons early in the season to get his team going. And he has kept his head pretty level too. Kerr has started to raise the trumpet for his team has yet to face adversity. That means some tough times are coming. That will be the real test for Kerr and his team.
That calm has already added a lot to the Warriors. Their record is indicative of everything coming together and Kerr has added himself to that formula.