Golden State Warriors

Dunk city? Warriors prowess at the hoop could factor into NBA Play-In Tournament

While the Golden State Warriors have struggled on offense this season (yes, even with superstar guard Stephen Curry leading the NBA in scoring), they have a reason to be confident in their ability to notch easy field goals on Wednesday in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

As coach Steve Kerr prepares his team for superstar LeBron James and the Lakers, he’ll rely on his top-5 defense, as he has all season. But on offense, his motion system, starring Curry, is working better than it has all year, producing the eighth-best offense over the last 20 games, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. A lot of that is due to the fact that the Warriors actually lead the NBA in dunks.

Rudy Gobert led the NBA with 231 dunks this season. Nobody on the Warriors made more than 84. They didn’t even have a player in the top 17. Yet… as a team, the Warriors led the league in dunks: 370, spread all across the roster. That’s 45 more than Utah’s 325 dunks, despite getting 231 from Gobert.

Anthony Slater/The Athletic

That’s mightily impressive. It’s mostly due to the greatness of Curry, who pulls the defense — sometimes the entire defense — toward him consistently. But almost as importantly, new rotation players such as forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, G Jordan Poole and G Mychal Mulder have come to realize how to use Curry’s greatness to their advantage for easy buckets.

That’s especially true with the fashionable fake dribble-hand-off play at the top of the key, which forward Draymond Green popularized and Toscano-Anderson has nearly perfected. If Curry is involved in the action, it’s a absolute fact that another player will be open.

Against the Lakers, the dunk-fest has to keep up. It will force the defense to remain somewhat honest in guarding Curry. That’s how it’s gone for the last 20 games of the regular season, and now a new challenge awaits in Los Angeles.

(Photo credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

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