With an 18-10 record, the Warriors surely had a Merry Christmas on Tuesday. Mark Jackson has his team off to one of the best starts in franchise history, and there’s a solid possibility that Golden State could be contenders come April.
With that said, Jackson’s squad still exhibits some holes. Perhaps those holes were solved on Christmas Day?
Here’s what was on their wish list:
A More Consistent Klay Thompson
Thompson’s second year in the NBA has certainly seen plenty of bright spots. He’s averaging just a tick below 16 points per game, and nearly four rebounds per game as well. When clicking, he’s one of Mark Jackson’s best weapons in battle. If there’s one area of Thompson’s game that needs refining, though, it’s undoubtedly his wobbly consistency.
Well, Thompson is far from unique, as a bevy of young players struggle to grasp the consistency concept. Since he plays such a huge role in Golden State’s offense (35 MPG), however, consistency is virtually a must.
In retrospect, if Thompson was simply a role player, the Warriors wouldn’t necessarily need him to have an unchanging jump shot. But that’s not the case, as he is one of the Warriors’ top three scorers, seeing ample amount of open looks nightly.
Lately, Thompson has been better in the consistency department. The smooth-shooting guard has scored in double figures in all but six games this year. Still, he tends to have a string of solid outings immediately followed by a series of mediocre to bad outings.
For example, he averaged about 19 points over a four-game span earlier in the season. Over his next four games, though, he was far below his norm, averaging just 7.5 points per game. Instead of building on his success, he regresses, then repeats this cycle.
Following suit, he averaged 21 points per game over his next four showings. It’s really about as simple as that. Rarely does the former lottery pick stray from that trend. If he could perhaps avoid a down-spell after a good-spell, the Warriors would receive a gift that keeps on giving.
A Collapse-Free Season
The last thing the Warriors and their fans need is a collapse that puts them out of contention. Christmas essentially marks “go-time,” per se. The games start to matter a shade more, and everyone starts to take everything a bit more serious. And after a promising start to the season, collapsing right as the new year strikes would be devastating to the Warriors and their loyal fan base.
Unfortunately for Golden State, their next 14 games won’t contribute to their attempt to sustain their early season triumphs. They will face 12 teams that made the playoffs last year, and with the exception of a few of those teams, all are perennial contenders again this year.
Highlighting the 14-game stretch, are the Thunder, Heat, Clippers (3 times), Spurs, Nuggets, Grizzlies, and Bulls. All could easily give the Dubs are run for their money, and perhaps that’s the even likelier verdict if past results carry any value.
The Warriors will either coast into February on with a boatload of confidence, or slog into the new month with few hopes of reaching the playoffs. Either way, only time will tell how they will handle a tough stretch of games.
A Finishing Touch
Good teams finish games. Good teams hardly even blow double-digit leads with just a quarter to spare. The Warriors weren’t a good team on Friday night against the Lakers. The young and inexperienced parts held a 13-point advantage over Los Angeles with just a quarter remaining, and looked to be well on their way to an impressive win over the mighty Lakers.
Well, they didn’t, in simple terms. Golden State made frequent mental errors, while the veteran experience of the Lakers pounced on the opportunity to make a statement, which they indeed accomplished.
It’s not all that often does a team have a double-digit lead against a reputable opponent. The Warriors had one, and it was quickly erased.
This hasn’t been a theme of the Warriors’ season thus far, per se. Sure, they’ve had a few hiccups, but nothing major. But it’s something that a lack of experience can cause, which isn’t repairable. Still, the Dubs allow almost 25 points in the fourth quarter to opposing teams, which is the sixth worst mark in the league.
Maintaing leads is preventable, in retrospect. By simply making better decisions, and using the clock to your favor, the Warriors could’ve prevailed on Friday, for example.