The Golden State Warriors are on a roll to start the 2021-22 campaign, holding a 7-1 record, and much of their success involves going back to basics, Warriors style.
Though the team is known for its offense, and with good reason, with superstar guard Stephen Curry leading the way, Golden State’s defense is what powered its run of three NBA titles in the latter half of the 2010s. Led by coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors have the No. 1 rated defense in the NBA as of Sunday, just as they did when the franchise won its first title in 40 years, back in 2014-15.
Though Kerr has made defense pay dividends in Golden State by implementing a supreme, motion-focused offense, he gave his predecessor, former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, credit for the Warriors’ defensive culture when he talked to Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Kerr stressed that “it all began, 100%, when Mark Jackson coached the team (2011-14). The Warriors literally hadn’t been any kind of defensive team for decades, and Mark stressed that if you want to win a championship, you gotta start at the defensive end. I think Mark’s focus, along with the Andrew Bogut deal (sending Monta Ellis to Milwaukee) was the key to establishing what we have now. Mark really wanted that deal, and it coincided with Draymond’s arrival.”Bruce Jenkins/San Francisco Chronicle
Jackson undoubtedly deserves credit. As I love to recall, Curry once said on an ESPN telecast that Jackson brought the Warriors up “from the gutters.” And he’s right. Jackson stressed defense and that focus brought the Golden State franchise to relevancy.
Additionally, Kerr is right to point out the Bogut deal and how forward Draymond Green paired with Bogut to form the foundation of the Warriors defense. Each player could also move the ball downcourt themselves and pass the ball to open teammates with ease. As Kerr told Jenkins, it was “devastating” for opponents.
And while we’re at it, I was very much okay with trading Monta Ellis for Bogut, even though Bogut was injured at the time. It was clear to me that Curry was the Golden Child, and Ellis had to get out of his way. That Bogut turned out to be such an impact player, well that helped the Warriors win it all for the first time in 40 years. With that defensive culture — and Draymond — still intact, this current team appears dedicated to Warriors traditions, including winning championships.