I could not be higher on the Warriors
If you wouldn’t mind, it’s time to gush about the greatest team in basketball, if not world sport, right now.
It’s not just because Steph is the front runner for the MVP, or because Andre Igoudala has transformed from walking corpse to prime Iggy, or because Jordan Poole is the new young hot boy taking a leap.
Of course, Steph is the most obvious factor in the Warriors early success. In their recent win against Cleveland the Dubs pulled off a 35-8 fourth quarter to close out the game – Steph was directly responsible for 33 of those points. It turns out offense is pretty easy when the entire defence only pays attention to one guy. Big shock, Steph is the best shooter of all time, that’s nothing new.
What I can’t get over is the defence, which is sitting comfortably at #1 in the league. This is where Draymond proves why a guy who looks like he’s wearing a backpack when he shoots can get paid $24 million because he’s able to keep Durant scoreless over a quarter.
As pick-and-roll offense has taken over the league it’s become the habit of teams to switch everything. This invariably leads to teams hunting out mismatches on switchy defences, and highlight reels of centres being embarrassed by point guards.
That’s not to say that a switching defence doesn’t work, it’s just that it’s not as easy as saying “switch everything” and hope your guys can cover. In the Warriors case, when they switch, they keep switching. Whenever the Warriors are stuck with a defensive mismatch, Draymond, Igoudala or Kevin Looney are scrambling off-ball to replace the assignment, shutting down the advantage. Draymond and Igoudala are especially impressive, covering gaps in each other’s coverage without even speaking to each other, going on mental connection alone.
More than anything, Draymond is playing with the renewed confidence of a guy who knows his team is good again. He’s the absolute leader of the team, the voice you can hear constantly from the on-court microphones, even when he’s on the bench. He’s using that presence to keep the rest of the team engaged. Even when up 20 against Brooklyn last week, Draymond was screaming at his teammates like it was a game 7 after they gave up an easy layup. The majority of the team being relatively unscarred by the playoffs, and not being Kevin Durant and willing to talk back to the team crazy, are conforming to his ways and maintaining an elite defence.
I know some people don’t like Draymond’s antics, he gets away with genuine referee intimidation – even last game after not receiving a foul call he yelled directly into the referee’s face a good 5 times “CALL IT EVAN”. Obviously, I’m biased but I love how he cares so much about winning every possession that he is willing to make himself look like the worst guy in the league.
On top of all this – hey good on you Andrew Wiggins. The guy who everyone thought would be the face of the league within 5 years of being drafted has been playing genuinely good basketball. He’s not expected to do anything outside the system, which is perfect for him; he just needs to get to his spots and make his rotations on time. When he does that, he gets the ball in easy locations to score. When he does it really well, he gets to score a lot. It’s nice to see him pick himself back up after a rough couple of years in Minnesota.
As we head towards week 6 we’re sure to see just as much drama. We might even see a real punch thrown soon enough. If I could put money on it, I don’t know who I’d bet on to actually throw the first punch, but I’d like a market on the victim being Mason Plumlee.