The Golden State Warriors are off to a fast start to the regular season. A renewed focus may be the key to it all.
Joy is a word that often describes the Warriors. The players play for each other and are happy playing as a single unit, no matter who gets the credit. It is apparent that the team is playing with more joy this season than last. However, there is another attribute the Warriors are playing with and that is a renewed focus.
There is little doubt the Warriors have a supreme collection of talent with two former MVP’s, a gunslinger as a third option and a Swiss Army knife playing the point forward position. But often times last season, the Golden State Warriors played as if they were sleepwalking and their concentration and attention to detail waned.
Through nine games last season, the Warriors were 6-3 with three losses to the Houston Rockets on opening night on October 17, a road loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and an eight-point defeat to the Detroit Pistons on October 29.
This is a far cry from how the team looked through nine games last year, with the Warriors currently at 8-1 on the season and a loss at the Denver Nuggets being the only blemish on their record. It is not just the Warriors’ record that has improved, but their alertness and focus has gotten significantly better. The focus has improved with the attention to detail on cutting off the basketball on offense, finding the hot shooter and crisp defensive rotations.
Now, the focus will not be there every night. It is difficult for a team to get energized for every game, and the Warriors have had plenty of success in winning three titles in four years, so the focus will wane.
The concentration the Warriors have had at the start of the season has helped make the season more enjoyable for the team, rather than a slow grind as last year had that feel to it.
It helps that new players such as Jonas Jerebko and Alfonzo McKinnie are being incorporated to the Warriors’ unstoppable machine. Having new players on the roster gives the team more of a concerted focus to including them into a new system on offense.
In addition to a slight roster turnover, it is the last season at Oracle Arena until the Warriors move to a new sparkling palace in the Chase Center in San Francisco. This will provide an extra juice of motivation and focus for the players to go out and win as many games as they can for a loyal fan base of 47 years since the arena opened in 1966.
Thus far, the Warriors lead the league in scoring at 124.1 points per game, field goal percentage at 52.0 percent, three point percentage at 41.4 percent and several other offensive categories (all per NBA.com). When they are focused and alert, the Warriors can be one of the best teams in the league on both the offensive and defensive end.
The Golden State Warriors rank ninth in the league in defensive rating at 106.3 and 15th in the association in opponents’ second chance points at 13.2, so there’s some area to improve in these defensive categories. There are still positives on defense for Golden State, including being eighth in opponents’ field goal percentage at 43.8 percent and their opponents’ three-point percentage is good enough for fourth in the league at 32.3 percent, per NBA.com.
Golden State can be its own worst enemy at times. Turnovers have been a lingering issue since Steve Kerr took the reins over the team back in 2014. These giveaways can result in carelessness and a lack of focus. On the season, the Warriors are averaging a dismal 15.4 turnovers per game equating it to be 22nd in the league. Better attention to detail and awareness should help the Warriors decrease their turnover rate, thus giving them more opportunities for their snipers to bomb away from deep.
There are areas of improvement for the defending champs, but their focus level and concentration is what makes this possibly the most dangerous weapon the Warriors possess. When the team is locked in on an opponent or matchup, the Warriors are virtually unbeatable with the Armageddon combination of All-Star ammunition, coaching and newfound bench sparks.