The Warriors are all too familiar with errant passes. The most cringe-worthy came in 2016 when a behind-the-back pass from Stephen Curry sailed out of bounds late in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, ultimately contributing to an unprecedented collapse on the game’s biggest stage.
But even a year removed from that soul-crushing loss, and having since captured a second NBA championship, Golden State still sees themselves as needing to improve on the elusive element of basketball that is the pass.
Head coach Steve Kerr said work has already begun three days into training camp:
“We’ve been doing drills, basic passing drills. Harping on the accuracy of passes as we go through practice. No matter what we’re doing there’s passing involved so we’re talking about that accuracy.”
Last season, the Warriors averaged the fifth-most passes in the NBA (317.2) while leading the league in assists per game (30.4). But they also ranked in the bottom third of the league (22nd) in turnovers last season, also averaging 14.8 giveaways per game.
In addition to the impact on the turnovers, some players believe that poorly executed passes have also taken their toll on shots taken that may have otherwise gone in.
Draymond Green alluded towards this on Monday:
“With the shooters we have, if you deliver the ball on time and on target, it keeps them in rhythm as opposed to you throw a ball and it hits somebody in the ankles … It could be the difference in between a game.”
Green’s remarks aren’t too far off. Considering the events that transpired in 2016’s Game 7, it’s fair to believe the outcome could have been very different had Curry not attempted his ill-fated pass.
Even though some flashy plays have come back to bite them in the rear, Kerr knows those plays are also a part of the Warriors’ identity:
“That’s my job all year; knowing when to snap and knowing when not to. So there’s got to be some humor in it but there’s got to be some acceptance. I don’t want to take away who we are.”
The good news for Kerr and his coaching staff is that the team is well aware of the issue and aren’t afraid to address it. Green made this clear after practice:
“It’s definitely something I know I need to get better at. I don’t really need to see no tape, I know I can be a lot better at it.”
For all of the strengths of the Warriors, including prolific shooting efficiency and a versatile lineup capable of playing any number of styles, Kerr says being fundamentally sound always holds importance:
“I’ll never forget one of my first practices with Michael (Jordan) and Scottie (Pippen) where Tex (Winters) had us line up at half court and throwing two-handed chest passes back and forth to each other. One-handed passes, left-handed passes, bounce pass. ‘What is this third grade?’ You got the two best players on earth throwing the ball back and forth to each other. It’s a good reminder that fundamentals matter no matter how old you are or how good you are.”