Warriors start second half of season right by blasting Bulls 146-109.
All Statistics Through 41 Games
As the Warriors looked surprisingly mortal over the past three months, many were quick to predict the demise of Golden State’s dynasty.
Such doomsday scenarios are funny to the Warriors, who have come to view the regular season as little more than an extended prelude to the playoffs. Asked after Tuesday night’s rout of the Knicks how he feels that Golden State had only 27 wins at the midpoint of the season, Kevin Durant bristled, shooting back, “Who cares?” before he explained that the “regular season is just to build your habits.”
The Warriors are in an enviable position, one game behind Denver for the Western Conference’s top seed. Next week, they expect four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins to return to action.
Most Valuable Player
Stephen Curry: Because his gaudy numbers carry the asterisk that defenses also must deal with Kevin Durant, Curry will have a tough time gaining traction in the NBA MVP conversation. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that Curry has played at an MVP-caliber level. In 34.8 minutes, he is averaging 28.9 points, 5.5 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 steals. If Curry can improve his shooting percentage (48.3) just a bit, he should make the 50-40-90 club for the second time in his career. Perhaps the best way to measure Curry’s importance, though, is to look at how Golden State did when he wasn’t available. The Warriors were 22-8 with him, and 5-6 without him. According to NBA.com, Golden State outscored opponents by a team-best 11.6 net rating with Curry on the court. That number plummeted to a minus-2.6 without him.
Draymond Green: It was difficult to find a deserving candidate for this award, which speaks to the Warriors’ defensive struggles. After posting a top-six defensive rating each of Kerr’s first three seasons, Golden State slumped to 11th last season. At this season’s midpoint, it’s 16th out of 30 teams. A big reason behind the Warriors’ defensive issues: Green has missed 14 games. Even when he has played, he hasn’t been the defensive force fans are used to seeing. Still, Green led the team in steals (1.7) and defensive rating (102.4), and he ranked third in blocks (0.96), trailing the much taller Durant (1.1) and Damian Jones (1.0).
Patrick McCaw: After McCaw had a disappointing 2017-18 season in which he sustained a scary spinal injury, Golden State expected the restricted free-agent guard to sign its one-year, $1.7 million qualifying offer and try to boost his value for free agency next summer. Instead, McCaw played hardball with the back-to-back NBA champions despite having no leverage. Less than two weeks ago, the Warriors declined to match Cleveland’s non-guaranteed two-year, $6 million offer sheet. McCaw has since been waived by the Cavaliers and signed a one-year, veteran-minimum contract with the Raptors. The whole scenario left Golden State saddened and confused.
Jonas Jerebko: In July, when the Warriors signed Jerebko — fresh off getting waived by Utah — to a one-year, veteran-minimum deal, they did so hoping he’d bolster their three-point shooting off the bench. What Golden State has gotten is one of its most complete, reliable reserves. In 20 minutes per game, Jerebko averaged 7.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Though his 36.4-percent clip from beyond the arc was down from last season’s 41.4, he has been an ideal fit for Kerr’s offense, playing multiple positions, moving off the ball and making decisions on the fly. Jerebko shot 84.3 percent from the foul line and a career-best 59.6 percent on two-pointers.
Alfonzo McKinnie: More than just the Warriors’ biggest shocker, McKinnie has been perhaps the NBA’s biggest surprise. In 2015, after an injurymarred career at Wisconsin-Green Bay, McKinnie didn’t even enter his name into the NBA draft. Following stints in Luxembourg, Mexico, the G League and a 53-minute cameo with the Raptors, he turned down two-way contracts from other teams to join Golden State as a non-guaranteed training-camp invitee. Now, McKinnie is a rotation player who averaged 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. His defensive versatility, knack for crashing the glass and ability to knock down an open three-point try make him a productive complementary player. The Warriors showed just how much they value McKinnie this week by guaranteeing his contract.
Team grade: B-
The Warriors were on pace for 54 wins, which would be 12 shy of the team’s average over the previous four seasons. Though injuries to key players have contributed to a surprising lack of dominance, its issues run much deeper. Roster flaws, locker-room turmoil, uneven effort and the disappointing performance of Green and Klay Thompson have factored into this underwhelming first half of the season.
Stephen Curry (center) is the Warriors’ MVP at midseason, Draymond Green (right) the defensive MVP and Kevin Durant is second on the team in scoring at 28.4 points per game.
Newcomer Jonas Jerebko (21) has been an ideal fit for head Steve Kerr’s offense, averaging 7.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game in the first half.