The Warriors have begun the year with five straight losses. Here are five reasons why:
» Chemistry lesson: During their March-April run last season, the Warriors had a team full of players with defined roles. This season, who is doing what is anybody’s guess. The trade of Jason Richardson and the seven-game suspension of Stephen Jackson have taken their toll on the rotation.
Mickael Pietrus was the team’s starting power forward on opening night; Al Harrington began the season on the bench and is now starting; Monta Ellis started and is now coming off the bench; Kelenna Azubuike is a heavy-minute player who was in the D-League a year ago; Baron Davis is playing too many minutes.
The hope is that when Jackson returns, his teammates will slip back into more comfortable roles.
» Passion AWOL: There’s no way around it. A significant factor in the Warriors’ success from a year ago was their emotion. The Warriors thrived from some kind of inner fire that has yet to be recaptured.
MattBarnes was a leader in this regard, but his slow start has tempered his enthusiasm. Baron Davis has done what he can, but it’s obvious that the Warriors are missing Jackson from an emotional standpoint.
» Free-throw woes: The Warriors are shooting 67 percent from the foul line so far this season. The good news is that they will get better from the line. The bad news is … not by much.
Warriors fans need to face facts: Their team, as currently constructed, is not going to be a good foul-shooting team. Davis shot 74.5 percent from the line last season, but is at 68 percent for his career.
Pietrus, Harrington and Andris Biedrins are all below-average foul shooters. That’s not going to change overnight.
» The lost long ball: The Warriors are shooting 34 percent from 3-point range, not far off last season’s percentage.
The problem, however, is the Warriors haven’t hit any big 3s this season. They’re still shooting them, but they have yet to overwhelm an opponent with a barrage of them like they did at times last season.
Whether they need a 3-pointer to continue a run, take the lead or stop an opposing run, meaningful 3s haven’t been there this season.
» Perimeter problems: There may be some out there wondering why rebounding — or lack of it — didn’t make this list. Well, because while rebounding has been an issue, it hasn’t been the killer.
The real culprit is the Warriors are defending poorly on the perimeter, allowing guards to get into the lane with penetration.
By not keeping opponents out of the lane, it forces the Warriors’ big men to step up and help, which takes them out of rebounding position. Any time Biedrins is away from the basket area because he has to help defensively, the Warriors are in trouble on the glass.
No, the Warriors aren’t ever going to be agood rebounding team. But they will be better when defense on the perimeter improves.
Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.