Are the Warriors cooked? Examining Draymond Green’s defensive impact, decline of Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins

The Warriors looked like they could join the ranks of contenders to start the year, opening 6-2 in their first eight games.

Since then, they’ve been in total freefall, losing eight of their last 10. 

Stephen Curry is still as dynamic as ever. He’s averaging around 30 points per game and shooting 43.5 percent from 3. Chris Paul has even been solid as a sixth man. The rest of the team has let Curry down, however, and they’re trending in the wrong direction. 

Here are the main things that have gone wrong for the Warriors, and how much they should be worrying. 

MORE: How Chet Holmgren has emerged from Victor Wembanyama’s shadow

Is it too soon for the Warriors to panic?

Klay Thompson doesn’t look the same

Thompson has started to play better over the course of the last week, but his season-long numbers are still well below what we’re used to seeing from him. He’s averaging 15.3 points while shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3. Those are the worst shooting percentages of his career. 

Thompson’s shot selection has been a growing problem for a while now. He’s taking heavily contested 3s that would have been questionable during his peak shooting days and are flat-out awful today.  

Thompson is still a great catch-and-shoot 3-point threat. He’s shooting 39.2 percent on those looks this year, per NBA Stats. But the other bad shots and his decline defensively have turned him from a star to a good role player on a $43.2 million contract.

MORE: Draymond Green and Klay Thompson offer strong responses to team’s early struggles

Andrew Wiggins has completely disappeared

It’s hard to believe that Wiggins is only two seasons removed from starting in the All-Star game. He’s had a handful of good games and been invisible in the rest.

Wiggins had become a reliable 3-point shooter for the Warriors, shooting 38.9 percent over the previous three seasons. He’s all the way down to 26.7 percent from 3 this year. His free throw percentage has dived as well, from 71.8 percent for his career to 59.3 percent this season. 

Wiggins’ problems extend further than not being able to make a shot. He’s been blowing defensive rotations, setting tons of illegal screens and making other mental mistakes throughout the flow of games. 

Wiggins’ conditioning may also be an issue. In a recently published piece from ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, it was revealed that Wiggins’ “lack of physical conditioning [has] annoyed some within the organization.”

Wiggins’ play has been getting a little better as of late. He’s also had stretches like this throughout his career, so there is hope that he can turn it around at some point. 

The Warriors defense has suffered without peak Draymond Green

For all the focus on the Warriors’ offense, it has been their defense that has been the consistent bedrock of their dynasty. But there was slippage on that end of the floor last season, and it’s continued into this year. After their first 18 games, they rank 17th in the league

There are many reasons for that decline, but the primary one is Green. Not having him on the floor has been a problem — he’s already missed eight games due to injury or suspension and was ejected less than two minutes into another. 

Even in the games Green has played, the team hasn’t looked quite right. Per Basketball-Reference, they have actually guarded better with him off the court versus on it. That’s largely a result of opponents getting lucky on their 3s in those Draymond-on minutes, but the Warriors need to stifle opponents with him and it has not been happening. 

I had Green ranked as the best defender in the league coming into the season. He has been great but is failing to reach those elite expectations. He’s been just a half step slower guarding out on the perimeter, and that small decline has been exacerbated by Wiggins, a defensive stopper during their championship run, falling apart on defense. Thompson is also no longer able to keep up with guards on the perimeter as he once was. 

There are too many holes in this defense for Green to plug. With the recent loss of Gary Payton II due to a calf injury, even more is falling on his plate.

The Warriors were the best regular season defense in the league when they last won the championship in 2022. They’re looking far from that these days. 

Source : ESPN.com

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