The Golden State Warriors suffered a humiliating 130-77 loss against the Toronto Raptors on Friday.
The Warriors trailed by as many as 61 points in the game, and their eventual 53-point margin of defeat was the third-biggest in franchise history and the biggest since 1973. They trailed by 52 points after three quarters, the biggest deficit in NBA history after 36 minutes of play.
The Warriors have lost 11 of their last 15 matches and have slipped to 10th in the Western Conference standings. The Warriors have been in free fall for over a month and it seems they have finally hit bottom.
Five reasons for the Golden State Warriors' poor form
The Golden State Warriors have slipped to three games below .500 and face the prospect of missing the playoffs for the second year running.
Fans and analysts had predicted that the Warriors will be a play-in team in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. But their current form suggests they would do well to hold on to that final play-in spot at the end of the regular season.
Klay Thompson's absence is undoubtedly a big reason for the Warriors' poor form. But what other factors are hindering the team this season? Let's assess.
The Golden State Warriors are below-par in cleaning up the glass. They rank 26th in total rebounds and their average of 7.9 offensive rebounds per game is the lowest in the NBA. They have also allowed the most offensive rebounds to opposing teams this season.
The team scores decently from the field, shooting 37% from beyond the arc and 46% overall, but the lack of second-chance opportunities has hurt them. Although James Wiseman has shown potential, the rookie has struggled against veteran big men, who have exploited his lack of experience this season.
The Golden State Warriors admittedly needed size on their roster and they made a good decision to draft Wiseman. But a 20-year old rookie cannot be the primary threat in the paint on a potential playoff team.
Curry has always been an underrated rebounder and Draymond Green rebounds as well as a 6'6" forward could. But the team as a unit lacks cohesion in the paint and that has been a big problem this season.
#4 Perimeter defense
Despite their record and injury woes this season, the Golden State Warriors have been decent on the defensive end. They are ninth in the league in defensive rating, allowing the 10th-fewest field goal attempts.
The likes of Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre Jr., Draymond Green and Juan Toscano-Anderson have been valuable on the defensive end. However, one area they significantly need to improve is perimeter defense.
Their defense beyond the arc is subpar compared to their overall defense. They rank 13th in three-pointers allowed and 11th in assists allowed. Their inability to lock down guards is costing them on the defensive end.
#3 Substandard second unit
One of the primary reasons for the Warriors' success before 2019 was their terrific bench strength. The likes of Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston played at an extremely high level and were key contributors in the Warriors' championship-winning seasons.
But since last year, the Warriors' options beyond the starting five have been underwhelming. The Warriors have the ninth-highest scoring bench in the league, but their +/- ranks 19th in the league. Without Stephen Curry or Draymond Green off the floor, the Warriors can neither hold on to their lead nor cut into opposing teams' advantage by relying on their bench players.
The lack of a bonafide sixth man has cost the Warriors significantly this season. Eric Pascall was the most-played bench player until he was replaced in the rotation by Jordan Poole. Kent Bazemore, Damion Lee and Juan Toscano-Anderson saw increased minutes in the past few weeks while Kevon Looney replaced James Wiseman in the starting lineup.
But a few games ago, coach Steve Kerr said that Wiseman would be the starting center for the rest of the season and Looney would come off the bench again. The inconsistent bench rotation isn't helping the Golden State Warriors, and teams have exploited it when Curry and Green are off the floor.
Even with starters on the floor, the Golden State Warriors have turned the ball over a lot this season. Their ball movement is just as good as it was in the past and they are 1st in the NBA in assists, but they rank 24th in the league in turnovers. The Warriors have lost several games this season because of their careless and unforced turnovers.
The worrying sign is that their assist-to-turnover ratio is getting worse as the season progresses.
In 22 of their 49 games, the Golden State Warriors have had more than 15 turnovers, which is not ideal.
#1 Over-reliance on Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry is a two-time MVP and arguably the greatest shooter ever. It's no surprise that he is the focal point of the Golden State Warriors' offense. But he cannot be the only option the team can count on against a formidable opponent.
Despite being the oldest player on the team, Curry averages the most minutes per game. He is the most efficient player on the roster and the only one averaging over 20 points per game.
At 32.6% this season, he has the 3rd-highest usage rate in the league among 450+ active players.
Due to his constant off-the-ball movement, Curry ranks quite high in the distance-covered metric almost every season. His increased usage and minutes coupled with his playing style could lead to an unexpected injury. It would be catastrophic for the Golden State Warriors if Curry were to get injured again for an extended period of time.
The Golden State Warriors need to figure out a lot of new things before the play-in tournament and make some changes to their roster ahead of next season. The team simply cannot afford to waste another year of Curry, Thompson and Green's prime.