|Andre Iguodala, Golden State's "Swiss army knife".|
Having watched a number of games from the lengthy winning streak, and penned my love for Andrew Bogut and the Dubs' defense here, I was after a slightly more expert opinion. I sent some questions and thoughts to J.M. Poulard, editor of ESPN's True Hoop Network Warriors World blog, and here's what he had to say in response:
Angus Crawford: The Warriors are fourth in the league for defensive efficiency, only conceding an average of 98.5 points per 100 possessions. That’s an improvement of roughly four points on last year’s mark. What would you attribute this elite defensive play to?
J.M. Poulard: I hate to answer with an oversimplification, but it will have to do: the combination of Andre Iguodala and a healthy Andrew Bogut. Last season, the Golden State Warriors did not have a great perimeter stopper (Draymond Green was great in spurts) and also, Bogut was injured for parts of the season. When the Aussie eventually got back on the floor, he was often rusty and out of position. He only truly regained his form late in the 2012-13 season.
This time around though, Bogut has been a game changer defensively all year and Iguodala’s defensive brilliance has certainly helped in terms of limiting the production of some of the league’s top wings.
JMP: Forget important, Andre Iguodala is an essential cog in the Warriors’ offense. His ball-handling and passing allow players such as Klay Thompson to simply concentrate on catching and shooting as opposed to being tasked with creating shots for others. He allows the team’s main scorers to get into position and simply wait for the ball to come their way. Even Stephen Curry benefits from this given his adoration for running players off screens for spot-up attempts. Iguodala allows Curry’s role to shift during the course of games, which creates advantageous matchups for the Dubs.
JMP: The need must absolutely be addressed because the team is sorely lacking in backup point guard play. Andre Iguodala does a more than adequate job of spelling Stephen Curry, however, in the event injuries occur, the Warriors will struggle once more. Golden State absolutely needs Curry and Iguodala to suit up in every game in order to have a chance at running what looks like a functional offense for 48 minutes. Take one out of the equation and the team looks somewhat average more than anything from an offensive standpoint.
JMP: To be perfectly honest, nothing. It’s as if the team’s parts finally came together to display just what the Warriors look like when the players are in tune with each other. People often get caught up in potential as opposed to production, and the 10-game winning streak highlighted exactly what the team looks like when its players are in concert with each other and rely on their collective strengths.
AC: Chris Paul (separated shoulder) and Eric Bledsoe (meniscus) were both recently announced to be expecting lengthy stints on the sidelines, putting a dint in the hopes of the Warriors’ Pacific Division rivals. Is it realistic to look for Golden State to take a hold of the division lead and, if so, how significant will a top-four seed and home court advantage be in the postseason?
However, Stephen Curry has narrowed the gap between he and Chris Paul faster than I anticipated and consequently, I would be inclined to pick the Warriors.
You can follow J.M. on Twitter @ShyneIV, keep up with the Warriors World blog @warriorsworld, and follow Jordan Ramirez of WW @JRAM_91. Also, Dubs fans can pick up a #FullSquad t-shirt here.