Warriors

Steph, Looney discuss Warriors' defensive progress in '20-21

Warriors

Warriors coach Steve Kerr surprised some when he spoke before the 2020-21 NBA season about aspirations of his team being a top-10 defense in the league. 

And even with Klay Thompson not expected to play the entire season and Draymond Green forced to miss the Warriors' first four games, the Warriors have the ninth-best defensive rating in the league so far this season through 20 games. 

"It's a commitment every night, even when it doesn't all the way click, you might have certain segments of the game that you can create momentum or really blow a lead out the water and win a game with just the talent that we have on the defensive end, obviously Andrew (Wiggins) and Kelly (Oubre) have been awesome," Curry said Monday to reporters. "Andrew especially in terms of protecting the rim at the guard spot, it's pretty crazy how he's been able to do that, but like you said, Draymond being the anchor, Loon (Kevon Looney) coming in doing his job, Wise is picking up things in terms of where he needs to be on the floor and verticality, we obviously have things we gotta work on in terms of rebounding and fouling. It seems like if we don't foul and its a one-shot possession, our field-goal percentage is really really strong, so those two things we've gotta correct and we can get to another level."

The Warriors still rank second in the NBA with an average of 23.3 fouls committed per game, trailing only the Washington Wizards, which occupy the cellar of the Eastern Conference standings. However, the Warriors only have topped that average once in the past five games.

 

With James Wiseman being out of the lineup for at least a week after spraining his wrist in Saturday's win over the Detroit Pistons, Looney is poised for a significant increase in minutes over the next handful of Warriors games. The big man also has noticed a team-wide improvement on the defensive end since the season began.

"I think we made a big jump, the first two games we probably gave up 130-something points, 120-something points and we got better each game, we're starting to learn each other on that end, we're starting to become more of a unit," Looney said Monday. "Guys are talking, Draymond is talking, Kelly, Wiggins are making a big impact on that end, James has made a huge jump from the beginning of the season, so we're starting to play defense on a string on that side of the ball, and our goal is to be a top-five, top-10 defense on that end, but I think we're taking steps in the right direction."

RELATED: Steph knows Warriors need 'all hands on deck' with Wiseman out

Allowing an average of 131.5 points over the Warriors' first two games, even sans Draymond, had fans and pundits worried. But since a Christmas Day loss to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second game of the season, the Warriors haven't allowed a team to eclipse the 130-point mark.

Kerr's group still is 23rd in points allowed per game (113.3), but the Warriors rank third among NBA teams in pace, so elevated final scores are to be expected.

Wiggins and Oubre, who have handled defensive assignments featuring several of the league's best wing players already this season, will have their hands full over the next few games with the Boston Celtics' All-Star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown on Tuesday, followed by back-to-back games against young phenom Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks.

Wiseman's absence will make things more difficult, but if the Warriors can get solid minutes from Green and Eric Paschall at the five to spell Looney while the rookie remains out, this team should be able to maintain its top-10 defensive pace.

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