When the Warriors’ struggles first began early in the season, the prevailing narrative was that the team had to be suffering from a “championship hangover”.
Such a suggestion implied the team would eventually snap out of it and return to their old selves. But with the Warriors still failing to inspire much confidence at 29-29 more than two thirds into the season, their players and coaches have had to confront the reality that something might actually be broken.
“I don’t think it’s a championship hangover,” Draymond Green told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s a will to want to defend. You’re not hungover at .500 60 games into the season. You’re a loser if you’re still hungover at that point. It’s no hangover.
“It’s the will to defend, to stop and guard your man, to sink and help and trap the box and rotate. Defense is all one or two steps extra. I’m going to take that extra step to get there or not. That’s all will. We don’t have that as a team. You can have that as individuals. I can have that myself. Loon can have that. But if you don’t collectively have that…”
Steve Kerr also spoke on the issue and broke down specifically what was going wrong on the defensive end.
“Point of attack,” Kerr said when asked what the team’s biggest problem was on the defensive end. “We’re getting beat on penetration. We’re giving up middle a lot. When you get beat middle, there’s too much to cover. Then we’re fouling a lot. We’re last in the league in free throw attempts allowed.
“… One of the reasons we made the trade for Gary (Payton II) is to shore up our perimeter defense. We were the No. 2 ranked defense in the league a year ago. I think we have it in us.”
Kerr has repeatedly said that offence has not been the problem, and the numbers back that up.
In fact, the five-man lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Kevon Looney is outscoring their opponents by 22 points per 100 possessions. For context, the 2017 KD Warriors outscored their opponents by 11 points per 100 possessions.
If they can get their defence to be even half as productive as that, they might finally be back in business.