The Warriors Defense is Tough to Crack

The Golden State Warriors are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and one of the main reasons is that they have three defenders in Draymond Green, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson that can all make a claim for a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive team. Green won Defensive Player of the Year last season, Durant has improved defensively since joining the Warriors, and Thompson has just missed out on making the All-Defensive team in the NBA the last two years. They each bring different skills to the table, Draymond with his ability to see the play before it happens, KD’s length allows to contest most shots, and Klay’s strength allows him to switch from guards to forwards seamlessly.

The Warriors have a defensive rating of 103.1, which is good for top five in the NBA; with Green, Durant, and Thompson on the floor together have a defensive rating of 102.6. The On/Off defensive ratings number for Thompson and Green show their importance, the Warriors Defensive Rating when Klay is on the court is 101.3 versus 106.9 when he is off for a swing of 5.6 points. The Warriors see a similar situation with a 3.9-point swing in defensive rating when Draymond sits. The On/Off numbers are not as favorable for Durant but his team-leading 2.1 blocks a night is good for fourth in the NBA.

  Defensive Rating On Defensive Rating Off Difference
Klay Thompson 101.3 106.9 5.6
Draymond Green 101.4 105.3 3.9

One of those 2.1 blocks came against James Harden in their last game against the Houston Rockets. Durant did a good job of staying in front of Harden after a Pick-and-Roll switch. Durant used his length to block Harden’s three-point attempt. Then later in the game, Durant showed off his defensive skills again on Harden. First, he stopped Harden’s drive and then contested the step-back jumper so well that Harden threw the ball out of bounds for a turnover.

Early in his career Thompson often was assigned the toughest player to guard in the backcourt for the Warriors. His strength is underrated; he was able to hold his position as Jeff Green from the Cavs tried to post him up; forcing him into a contest fadeaway jumper. Then in a tight game against the Raptors, he stopped DeMar DeRozan’s drive and gave a good contest on his jumper.

Green’s a special defensive player; he is capable of quarterbacking the entire defense when he is on the court. He constantly is anticipating what the offense wants to do and is able to break up many plays. Like on this lob play for Clint Capela, he recognized that Klay was hung up on a screen forcing Zaza Pachulia to step up onto Harden. That gave Capela a wide-open lane to roll down, Green immediately sprinted to the rim, getting there just as the ball arrived and caused a turnover.

What makes the Warriors defense so tough is that they always seem to be on the same page. In the first play, Green is on the weakside staring at the strong side action and is ready to provide help if his teammates need it. JR Smith came off a screen from LeBron James and beat the defense. Green slid over to stop Smith, then Durant dropped down to steal Smith’s pass to Dwayne Wade. Then in their game against the Rockets, Klay got hit with a screen from Ryan Anderson, forcing Durant to switch onto Harden. KD did a great job getting in front of Harden; Thompson hustled to get back in the play to put a hand on the pass that Harden threw to Anderson to force a turnover.

Defense wins championships; the Warriors thanks to the versatility, strength, and basketball IQ have three players who can do it all. They go about defense differently but when their powers combined they are extremely difficult to score on. Any team that is going to stop them in the playoffs is going to have to crack the code of their defense and that just doesn’t seem likely.

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