Golden State Warriors: 3 Observations After Season’s 5-3 Start

SHENZHEN, CHINA - OCTOBER 05: Kevin Durant /

The Golden State Warriors are off to an up-and-down 5-3 start to the season — here are a few observations in the wake of that inconsistent start.

The Golden State Warriors are off to a 5-3 start. With predictions of 65 or more wins for the season, the inconsistent start is proving to be a little worrisome.

Here are three questions (and answers) to shed some light on what we know about this team after ten percent of the season’s schedule has been played.

Q: What is the Warriors’ biggest weakness to this point in the year?

Has to be defense, at least so far this year. The easiest metric for seeing how poorly the defense has played – and that the offense is still humming along at a championship level – is to use ratings provided by

The easiest way to think of the rating is how many points a team scores (offensive rating) or gives up (defensive rating) per 100 possessions.

After eight games, the Warriors’ offensive rating is tops in the NBA at 120.18, and it is not even close. The Los Angeles Clippers are second at 112.12. So things on the offensive end of the floor is fine.

To provide some context, last season, the Warriors’ offensive rating was a best in the league 116.26.

The defensive side of the coin tells a different story. The Warriors have the third worst defensive rating at 113.54, trailing only the Cleveland Cavaliers (114.40) and the Minnesota Timberwolves (113.90).

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Again, to provide context for, last year, the San Antonio Spurs led the NBA in defensive rating at 104.25, just edging out the Warriors and their 104.57 defensive rating.

The reasons for this nine point per 100 possessions drop in defensive rating since last season is something Steve Kerr and his staff are undoubtedly working on identifying and correcting.

It could just be the shortened preseason or the taxing trip to China in the preseason or a lack of focus. No matter the cause, pay attention to the Warriors’ defense as the season unfolds.

Q. Which of the “Core Four” is struggling?

A quick look at the numbers suggests it is Draymond Green, as his numbers are down in multiple categories. His blocks are down 50 percent from last season (1.0 per game, down from 2.0 last year) and his steals are off as well (1.0 per game, down from 1.4 last season).

As the season progresses, the smart money is on those numbers rising to near last year’s output.

A more concerning issue might be Green’s three point shooting. In Steve Kerr’s first season of 2014-15, Green got the “green light” on triples and shot 33.7 percent on 4.2 attempts per game.

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The following year – Green’s first as an All-Star – he shot 38.8 percent on 3.2 threes a game. Looking back, that season might have been an outlier, rather than a new sustainable level of performance.

Last year, Green’s three point percentage dipped to 30.8 on 3.5 attempts. And early this season he has plummeted to 24.0 percent on 3.1 threes per game. Will his deep shooting rebound? If so, to what level? Or will Kerr steer him toward shooting fewer three pointers? Time will tell.

The drop in steal, blocks and three point efficiency has decreased Green’s output, and is reflected in his Win Shares per 48 minutes.

The previous three years his WS/48 were: .163, .190 and .160. This season it is just .066. So, Green’s performance is worth monitoring go forward.

Q. Are any of the new players making a difference?

After eight games, the answer is: not really.

Free agent signings  Nick Young and Omri Casspi are averaging 12.7 and 7.8  minutes, respectively.

Young pumped in an eye popping 23 points – including 6 of 7 on triples – in the opener. But has reached double figures only once since. And since he adds little in terms of defense, rebounding or assists, his impact has been limited.

Casspi twisted his ankle in the opener and has appeared in just five games thus far.

The new player creating the most buzz is rookie Jordan Bell. But, keep in mind he has only logged 52 minutes so far this season, so the “small sample size” warning applies.

But Bell’s productivity (WP/48 a staggering .274) puts the onus on Kerr to see if there is a bigger role for him. Meaning, tracking Bell’s minutes between now and the All-Star break will be interesting.

As the season continues, these three topics – defense, Draymond Green’s play, and contributions from newcomers – will be fascinating to watch.