OAKLAND -- For the first time in four seasons, the Warriors after 29 games -- precisely halfway to the 2018 All-Star Break -- are not bosses, sitting atop the NBA standings, and it has created a thin undercurrent of anxiety within Dub Nation.
We get it. By getting hurt and blowing leads and losing to inferior teams, even on their beloved home court, they have yet to terrify the rest of the NBA.
Their sixth loss came before Dec. 1, for crying out loud. The last time they lost six games before January was in 2013-14. Loss No. 6 last season came on Jan. 6. The season before, it didn’t come until March, and it put them at an astonishing 55-6.
Still, their 23-6 record puts them one game behind their pace of last season. The Warriors have been special. Here is where we take a closer look, with the issuance of report cards for the first trimester of the season.
Though the criteria are largely subjective, we consider statistics, impact, and current performance relative to past standards. In short: How much more could reasonably be expected?
Jordan Bell: The rookie forward/center has been a revelation. The Warriors believed in him enough that on draft night they paid $3.5 million for his rights. He looks like a steal. He produces at both ends, in a variety of ways. His numbers are impressive for a vet, much less a rookie chosen in the second round. He makes mistakes, but rarely the same one twice.
Omri Casspi: The veteran forward acquired in the offseason has been solid, as advertised, displaying a well-rounded offensive game but some clear deficiencies on defense. He is a rather seamless fit with the team and has improved as his minutes have gone up. He’s shooting 60 percent behind the arc, but has taken only 15 treys per game. He’s playing well, but producing below his potential.
Stephen Curry: Curry is haunted by those two MVP awards, which set his personal bar north of Mt. Everest. By that standard, the veteran point guard has been average. Most stats are fine, but not the one for which he’s known: 3-point shooting. He’s at 38.1 percent, easily a career low. And just as it seemed he was finding his range, he rolls his ankle.
Kevin Durant: The numbers and the eye test say he was not as focused early this season as he was early last season, when he was a force of nature. His efficiency declined as his turnovers went up. The combo forward has raised his game in recent weeks. In Curry’s absence, he has reengaged the devastating KD we know he can be.
Draymond Green: He was, much like Durant, off his game early this season. His shot was off, but that’s not only the way to measure his game. No, it’s more that he seemed a bit harried and unfocused. The sixth-year forward pulled it together in recent weeks, approaching his usual standard, only to have his shoulder get cranky. He has more to give. We know it, and so does he.
Andre Iguodala: The veteran wing has played well in spurts, not so well at other times -- and that applies to both ends. Maybe the knees are barking. Iguodala still generally finds a way to make a positive impact. No one is more trusted with the ball. Though he’s not best measured by shooting stats, they still matter and his numbers are down across the board from last season.
Damian Jones: The young center has spent the season with the G-League Santa Cruz Warriors, having some tremendous games and some ordinary games. He’ll return later this season.
Shaun Livingston: It has been an odd season for the veteran point guard, as even his automatic turnaround J, normally a lethal weapon against mismatches, has been inconsistent. While the rest of his game has been fairly steady and reliable, it’s that half-court scoring ability that sets Livingston apart.
Kevon Looney: His career felt uncertain as recently as last season, the third-year forward is fighting to stay in the league and get playing time with the defending champs. His weight is down, his agility is up and he is finding ways to be effective. He can hold his own against beasts in the paint and doesn’t embarrass himself on the perimeter.
Pat McCaw: Unlike his rookie season, when the combo guard stepped in as if he belonged, McCaw started unevenly and it cost him playing time. His confidence dipped and he conceded that maybe he was thinking too much. He has had good moments, but seems so far to be a victim on the second-year wakeup call. His challenge is to find consistency.
JaVale McGee: No question McGee is playing at a level below from last season. The lob passes that worked so well are more often thwarted and the veteran center has not found another way to provide positive impact on offense. His asset-to-liability ratio, particularly on defense, has been less favorable. It’s costing him minutes.
Zaza Pachulia: It’s easier to live with the fumbled passes in the paint and the slow-mo layups when one considers his role as a low-minutes starter. He’s a hammer, a necessary tool for the Warriors to demolish opposing defenses. His 15 minutes per game are valuable against most opponents.
Klay Thompson: His scoring, which has gone up in each of his six seasons, is slightly down but every other aspect of his game has trended upward. His efficiency is at an all-time high; he’s within range of joining the ultra-exclusive 50-40-90 Club. These two months have been a sharp reply to the notion he might lose his All-Star status.
David West: For a 37-year-old who considered retirement, he has been incredibly productive at both ends. His PER is among the league’s top 10. His RPM is 25th in the league and third on the team. Averaging about 13 minutes per game, he’s shooting an absurd 67 percent from the field. He was good last year. He’s better now.
Nick Young: His start was slow and ponderous, as if he thoroughly enjoyed his offseason. He has improved his body and increased his stamina. Shooting is a given, and his 3-ball has been solid. As he adapts to new surroundings, other aspects (passing, defense) have been less catastrophic than they were in the opening weeks.
The next Trimester ends Feb. 14, when the All-Star Break begins.