Steve Kerr and the Golden State Warriors are off to the best start in franchise history. 40 games in, atop of the west, Steve Kerr is not a fluke. Kerr has the Warriors playing the best defense in the NBA, but he also has improved their offense by smarter use of the massive talent at his disposal.
Guys like Bogut and Stephen Curry ave talked about the offensive changes, but it may be no more clear than what has happened with Harrison Barnes.
The breakout star of the 2013 playoffs who seemed to take a step back last season but has become a key starter for the Warriors averaging 11.6 points on 51 percent shooting plus is grabbing 6.7 rebounds a game. The Warriors are 15 points per 100 possessions better when Barnes is on the court, both their offensive and defensive numbers improve.
Under Mark Jackson, Barnes was asked to be a scorer. This was when Barnes was moved to the Sixth Man role after the signing of Andre Iguodala. Barnes’ role was to carry the offense for the second unit. But most of his action was isolations. That just didn’t fit his game.
Kerr discussed Barnes’ best spots on the floor, where he should drift, where he should cut and how he wants him to exist in the Warriors’ starting lineup. Plus, Kerr started Barnes with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and that opens the floor for Barnes to cut and find creases to grab offensive rebounds.
Now, instead of carrying the offensive load of the bench, being first option, now he’s the 5th offensive option in the starting lineup. With Iggy now being first option off the bench, it utilizes his facilitative and shot creating skills which were absent under Mark Jackson’s tenure.
Now, Barnes is at home in a starting lineup, with Curry, Thompson, Bogut and Draymond Green— that is +26.5 points per 100 possessions together. This is astounding. Brilliant move by Steve.
Another reason for Steve’s success is his neutral and fair delegation. Kerr is emphasizing a motion offense where the isolation play that was so prevalent in the past regime is discouraged and cutters who follow Bogut’s high-post lead are having their way with opposing defenses.
Running is highly recommended, too, and always easier with some much-needed rest. As Curry explained it after his latest MVP-caliber performance, Kerr’s managing of the minutes is a major factor when it comes to the Warriors’ ability to play with the necessary aggression and energy.
Curry is as good an example as anyone, as his minutes have dipped significantly (36.5 per game last season to 32.6 per this season) during this early-season stretch in which he’s being so routinely praised by the coaching staff for his improved defense.
The fact that Curry is still putting up the same sort of gaudy offensive numbers while enduring less wear and tear makes it all that much more impressive.