Ladies and gentlemen, the NBA Finals hangover is real. After defeating the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors have begun their 2022-23 campaign just 6-8. With high expectations rolling into the season, there have been some disappointments for the reigning champs.
With a primetime matchup against the Suns tonight, it's time to look at what fans should actually be concerned about for the Warriors moving forward.
As always, the Warriors revolve around Stephen Curry. Coming off of a Finals MVP, Curry has started off scorching the NBA with 31.5 points per game to begin the season. Curry is also averaging 6.6 rebounds per game and 6.4 assists per game, putting him right in the middle of the NBA MVP discussion.
But, Steph Curry is not the issue. The Warriors have been struggling mightily on defense, something that a Steve Kerr led team rarely struggles with. In the past, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson have anchored the Warriors defensive unit. However, with Thompson still regaining top form, and both he and Green entering their mid-30's, Golden State may be in the market for some new defensive stoppers.
So far through the first month of the season, Green is averaging a career low in blocks and steals per game. The same applies for Klay, who normally draws the assignment of the opposing team's top guard, while Green locks down opposing bigs.
With the elder Warriors struggling to stop the ball, players like Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman have been tasked with defending the wings and paint more often. Although Wiggins has always been touted for his athletic ability on the outside, Wiseman has been struggling inside. Despite his size and athletic ability, Wiseman is not even averaging .5 blocks per game.
Golden State boasts the second best offense in the NBA, with an impressive 117.4 point per game mark. On the other side of the ball, the Warriors are the fourth worst defense in the NBA. The saying is "defense wins championships" and the Warriors are not playing championship level defense.
Not enough can be said about Kerr and company missing Gary Payton II this season. Not only did Payton II post some knock down three point shooting splits, but his tenacious defense allowed the entire Warriors defense to play at a much higher level.
The Warriors are very good at finding diamonds in the rough to fill around Curry, Thompson and Green. With the offense flowing, the Golden State front office will have to scour the G-League and bottom of other NBA rosters to find their next defensive stopper. If they don't, there may be trouble for the defending NBA champs.