It started with what seemed like a pipe dream from coach Steve Kerr, but the Warriors are one of the NBA’s elite defensive teams in 2021, just as he called for.
But a closer look reveals a feat that’s even more impressive. It took some growing pains from new players, notably guard Kelly Oubre Jr., and a change at center, but the Warriors’ starting unit is the best of the best when it comes to stopping the opponent.
According to Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle, Golden State’s starters own the best defensive rating among all five-man lineups that have registered at least 100 minutes together.
[The Warriors’ starting group] has posted a 93.1 defensive rating in 106 minutes together, which, nearly halfway through the season, is the NBA’s best mark among five-man lineups that have played at least 100 minutes.Connor Letourneau/San Francisco Chronicle
They’ve played just above the 100 minute threshold, but still, 93.1 is an impressive rating. Letourneau’s article highlighted guard Stephen Curry’s above average defense, which is made stronger by his teammates — especially former NBA Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green. Starting center Kevon Looney and lanky wing players Oubre and Andrew Wiggins round out the starting unit.
The team is top five in overall defensive rating, surpassing Kerr’s pipe dream of a top-10 defense. It appears the Warriors can hang their hat on that side of the court as long as Green stays healthy. If that happens, you’ve got to figure the offense will come along for the ride soon, led by Curry. Next up, a chance against the Lakers in LA Sunday night.
(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)