Kurtenbach: The Warriors ‘desperately’ need Draymond Green, but his magic might not fix this broken defense

The Warriors cannot win a championship without Draymond Green.

We already knew that, but the last few weeks have only reinforced that fact.

“We desperately need Draymond,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Thursday.

But as the Warriors continue to spiral — they have now lost seven of their last nine games — it’s fair to wonder if the Warriors can win a championship with Green back in the fold.

Even on a night when nearly everything was working for the Dubs on offense — Andrew Wiggins was engaged, Jordan Poole had a strong game, Steph Curry played well, Jonathan Kuminga looked good, and Moses Moody had 13 clutch, fourth-quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting — the Warriors still lost to the Mavericks Thursday in Dallas, 122-113.

This team’s defense is so bad at the moment that it requires a near-perfect offensive game to win. All it took for the Warriors to lose on Thursday was Klay Thompson being rusty in his first game back from an illness.

Great teams have a massive margin for error. At the moment, the Warriors have next-to-none, thanks to their malignant defense.

The defensive slide started with the smallball Warriors being beaten in the paint. But it has now metastasized to the entire half-court.

Green is a one-of-a-kind player. I think he’s the greatest defender in the modern history of the game. He does so many things for the Warriors that cannot be emulated, much less replaced; unquantifiable things that bring about winning for the Dubs.

But I’m looking at some numbers here and I’m having a hard time seeing how Green’s magic is going to pull the Warriors out of this hole.

Before Feb. 1, the Warriors had arguably the best defense in the NBA, as opponents had an effective field-goal percentage of 49.7.

That wasn’t luck. That was great, swarming, inside-out defense. The foundation of which was built around Green, but was maintained, in many ways, in his absence, which began on Jan. 9.

But the foundation is crumbling. Over the Warriors’ last 12 games, they have allowed the fourth-highest EFG in the league — 56.6 percent.

Opponents are making one more 3-pointer per game on roughly the same frequency of shots, so that’s not the cause of the incredible defensive downturn.

No, it was exactly what you expected: opponents are shooting 6.5 percent better from inside the arc over the last month-plus.

And the worst might be yet to come. It’s one thing to be owned by a team with a top-flight center. That’s been something the Warriors have dealt with for years. But the new-look Mavericks team proved particularly adroit at exploiting the Warriors’ defensive shortcomings on Thursday. Luka Dončić’s penetration at the point guard spot, paired with excellent ball and player movement and spot-up shooting absolutely embarrassed the Warriors’ defense on Thursday — it was a continuation of their fourth-quarter outburst on Sunday.

Right now, the Warriors are in a damned if they do, damned if they don’t scenario. They’re over-defending the paint — not that it’s helping much — collapsing from the wing to help out Kevon Looney and the slew of backup wings masquerading as NBA centers.

But that collapse is leaving shooters wide open for corner 3-point shots. Over the last nine games, no team has allowed more open 3-point attempts, per the NBA’s tracking data, than the Dubs. In fact, they’ve been lucky over that stretch — while the nearest defender is more than four feet away on those 17-plus 3-point attempts per game, they’ve only made 33 percent of those shots.

What do you think changes first — the Warriors stop allowing open 3-pointers or opponents start knocking them down at a better clip?

The Warriors still, somehow, someway, hold the NBA’s best defensive rating this season — a vestige of a time when Green was playing, as over the last nine games and since Feb. 1, they’re 24th in the league. The arrows are pointing down and it’s hard to see a turnaround coming for this defense.

Defense wins championships — there has never been an NBA title winner that does not have a top-10 defensive rating. But that means the Warriors’ title hopes are hinging on one man with a bad back.

And even then, with the book out on Golden State — beat them inside and they’ll become soft on the outside — can Green do enough to turn this currently sorry operation into a championship-caliber unit?

I don’t believe I’ve ever doubted Green. His magic is powerful.

But this would be his most impressive trick yet.

Contributed by local news sources

Next Post

'A big no': Huge, invasive parachuting spiders will begin to cover entire East Coast, experts say

Giant parachuting spiders could show up along the entire East Coast of the United States, according to some scientists. Originally from Japan, the 3-inch long Joro Spider made its way first to Georgia and has begun to slowly spread out. Georgia residents have not been thrilled by the news.“It’s disgusting,” […]