The Warriors added prized free agent Kevin Durant this offseason. But in order to accommodate him, they had to let centers Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli go.
Those are big losses in the middle of the defense, so it's up to assistant coach Ron Adams to figure out a defensive scheme designed around the new players on the roster.
“We lost some really fine gentlemen off this squad, and we lost a lot of rim protection. [Andrew] Bogut and [Festus] Ezeli really were tough in that regard. We probably will not have that same kind of dynamic. I think the two fellows we signed, [David] West and [Zaza] Pachulia, are different kinds of defenders and very skilled. I’m looking forward to them, but we did lose a lot," Adams told the Fresno Bee on Saturday.
Despite an NBA-record 73 wins, Adams wasn't thrilled with the Warriors defense last year, and offered his honest assessment.
“I thought last year, with the ease we won at times, we probably took a step back defensively. Play a couple really good quarters, then fiddle around. I’d like to see a change in that mentality," Adams said.
During the 2014-15 season, when the Warriors won 67 regular season games, they had a defensive rating of 98.2, the best in the league. A season later, they dropped to fifth in the NBA with a 100.9 defensive rating.
After allowing 99.9 points per game during the 2014-15 season, the Warriors gave up 104.1 points per contest this past season.
Adams, who coached Durant from 2008-10 in Oklahoma City, spoke about the 2014 MVP's growth as a defender.
"I’m elated we’re getting Kevin. We have a great connection, no question. We had some good times together trying to get him to be a better defensive player," Adams said.
“Kevin is a guy who wants to be better. He wants to be great, and at that time he was already very good. He wanted to be challenged. Defense wasn’t his strong suit at that point, but he’s continued to grow. I thought he was outstanding in [the Western Conference Finals].”
“There’s this young adult now and he’s thought through things. He’s thought both sides of this decision, and that’s what’s really delightful for me to see. People grow and they become the men they’re capable of becoming," Adams told the Bee.