Areas David Lee Needs To Improve On Defense

Despite his offensive contribution, David Lee’s overall value is limited.  Simply put, Lee is a very bad defensive player.  While the entirety of his defense could use improvement, here are the aspects of defense David Lee could feasibly improve that have the greatest effect on the Warriors.

According to, David Lee allowed 0.94 points per possession against isolations, 277th in the league.  At this point in his career, it is highly unlikely that Lee becomes an above average defender.  He is limited by athleticism and mobility.  Despite his physical disadvantages, many of Lee’s defensive issues are a product of poor fundamentals.  His footwork and initial positioning is often flawed and he has a tendency to bite on most pump fakes.

Here David Lee is defending a big man, LaMarcus Aldridge, in an isolation situation.  First off, Lee’s initial stance is problematic.  He is completely vertical on the catch and barely bends his knees once Aldridge turns to the basket.  Lee’s positioning is also an issue.  He is positioned as if to force Aldridge to his right towards the baseline, as most defenses would.  Lee has his body oriented correctly but is not actually denying Aldridge any lane.  He should be a step closer to the elbow, completely preventing Aldridge form getting to the middle of the court.  There is not enough space for Aldridge to turn the corner going right.

Instead, Lee allows Aldridge to go left into the middle of the lane.  Lee is not quick enough to cut off Aldridge’s progress, displaying his physical deficiencies.  As Aldridge turns back, Lee reveals another one of his defensive flaws.  When he should simply hold his position, Lee jumps forward.  This could prevent Aldridge from taking a shot, though Aldridge had a nice counter move, but moving into rather than holding position against an offensive player generally results in a foul.  According to, Lee commits a shooting foul on 8.6 percent of the isolations he faces.  This, along with non-shooting fouls, increases individual foul trouble and brings opponents into the bonus.

Lee’s positioning and footwork issues also affect him against perimeter players.

Here, Lee is switched onto Tony Parker following a pick and roll.  Against Parker, he should focus on not allowing an open jumper.  Parker will be able to get a relatively easy jumper regardless of Lee’s defense, while allowing him into the lane allows a layup and opens kick out opportunities to higher value threes.  Once switched onto Parker, Lee should immediately sag towards the paint, as it is highly unlikely that Parker takes an off-the-dribble three.  Also, Lee does not position himself well to keep Parker out of the middle of the court.

Lee follows Parker towards the sideline, allowing Parker to cross back over and get to the middle of the key.  This is obviously easier said than done, but Lee should attempt to force Parker to drive baseline, where Parker can be corralled without forcing help defenders to leave wide-open shooters.

Despite several years in the league, Lee does not have the defensive recognition and fundamentals necessary to compensate for his limited athleticism.


In post up situations, Lee’s poor defensive awareness and positioning is the main culprit of his struggles, while limited leaping ability serves to exacerbate these issues.  According to, Lee allows 0.84 points per play to post-ups, 159th in the league. Lee’s on ball post defense is poor.  He does not have the length to contest most shots and, as his unnecessary step towards LaMarcus Aldridge shows, he generally practices poor individual defensive technique.  He commits a shooting foul on 12.2 percent of post up situations and often will place both hands on the back of an offensive player, warranting an automatic whistle.

However, despite his significant on-ball struggles, David Lee’s post-up weakness is likely a product of poor positioning and off-ball defense.

On this possession, the Warriors’ are playing zone.  Though many defenses utilize weak side zone principles anyway, a zone defense typically requires increased defensive awareness from big men, who must now deal with baseline cutters and post movement in addition to help responsibilities.  Here, Lee loses track of Kosta Koufos as he stands out of bounds (an action that may soon be disallowed).  Even after noticing Koufos, Lee does not fully engage, allowing Koufos to cut to the middle of the lane for ideal post position.

Even in man-to-man defense, Lee often allows deep post position, especially to roll men and after cross screens.  He does not often appear to recognize the importance of post position and is rarely gives the effort necessary to force opponents out of this position.  Again, Lee’s effort and positioning lead to defensive struggles.

Pick and Roll: 

According to, Lee allows only 0.6 points per play to roll men, 10th best in the league!  However, this disguises the damaging effect of Lee’s pick and roll defense.  In the last couple seasons, the Warriors have reconstructed their defense to compensate for Lee’s poor pick and roll defense.  I covered the reconstruction of the Warriors’ pick and roll defense when describing how assistant coach Mike Malone affected the Warriors:

“To limit the damage wrought by their big men’s lack of lateral mobility, the Warriors often defend pick and rolls with the “Ice “coverage.

In Ice, the guard attempts to prevent the ball-handler from using the screen, while the big man stays below screen-level on the side to which the ball handler is being forced. Notice how Stephen Curry has jumped in front of Tony Parker to prevent him from using Tiago Splitter’s screen while Andrew Bogut stays in the paint to contain penetration. Miscommunication may lead to wide open driving lanes and more defensive pressure is placed on the guards, but Ice allows the Warriors’ big men to effectively contain pick and rolls.

Another addition to the Warriors’ pick-and-roll defense under Malone’s tenure is increased help from wing defenders.  In the image, Klay Thompson has dropped into the paint, leaving his man in the corner open, in an attempt to contain Splitter’s role. This strategy has been effective in limiting the productivity of opposing roll men.  According to, the Warriors allowed only 0.9 points per play to role men, the second-best rate in the league.

The results of this strategy are entirely beneficial.  The commitment to shutting down role men often leaves opposing shooters open in the corners. Imagine Parker driving a few steps towards the left elbow, forcing Bogut to commit to containing him. Parker could then pass to a rolling Splitter. Thompson would attempt to deny Splitter’s path to the basket, and Kawhi Leonard would likely be wide open in the corner. That and similar scenarios play out several times per game versus the Warriors, who surrendered the most three-point attempts and corner three point attempts per 48 minutes this season

David Lee is slow laterally and practically immobile when changing direction.  He often struggles to contain ball handlers in “Ice” coverage, a strategy used to limit his weaknesses, and is slow to recover to his man, forcing the Warriors to compensate by having help defenders rotate down to the roll man.

Though a lack of athleticism may be the root of his defensive issues, much of Lee’s defensive futility is generated by poor positioning, footwork, and awareness.  It may be unlikely that any significant changes occur at this point in his career but even minor improvements to the non-athleticism based components of defense will increase David Lee’s value to the Warriors.

Could The Warriors Have Beaten San Antonio With A Healthy David Lee

(Written for Blue Man Hoop)

For the many eliminated playoff teams, the weeks after elimination are a time of regret.  With the draft lottery looming, 14 teams are hoping for the fortune that eluded them during the regular season, leaving now-eliminated playoff teams to reflect on what could have been.  While many Warriors fans may be looking forward, eagerly waiting to build on this season’s playoff success, some may still be mired in frustration.


Among more enjoyable trends, injuries have been a central theme of this postseason, and as anyone reading this article has heard, the Warriors were not left unscathed.  David Lee tore his hip-flexor during Game 1 of the Warriors’ first round series against the Nuggets.  Lee was expected to miss the rest of the season, but played limited minutes versus San Antonio.


Lee did play a role off the bench, generally as an offensive interlude to begin the second quarter, but was drastically limited in role and effectiveness.  Playing almost entirely without their lone all-star, the Warriors lost 4-2, but contended in nearly every game.


The Spurs played consistently excellent defense on Stephen Curry and seemingly benefited from a severe injury to Curry’s ankle.  A healthy Lee demands defensive attention that may otherwise have been focused on Curry, and could have helped in freeing Curry offensively.  Lee is a very good offensive big man.  The Curry-Lee pick and roll was the staple of the Warriors’ productive regular season offense.  Per, 20 percent of the Warriors offense was finished by a pick and roll ball handler or roll man.  This would be a significant portion without considering Lee, Curry, and other Warriors’ passing out of the pick and roll to other players after forcing defensive helping help.


So, it stands to reason that adding a fully healthy Lee would have drastically increased the Warriors chance at upsetting San Antonio, right?


Well, maybe not.  During the regular season, the healthy David Lee played in all four of the Warriors games versus San Antonio, totaling 155 minutes, about 38 minutes per game.  Though this is a small sample size, and the playoffs are a different situation, Lee did nothing in these minutes to signify that San Antonio would struggle with him in the playoffs.  The Spurs held Lee to a far below average 47.3 percent true shooting percentage, and Lee was not compensating for this in other areas.  Lee rebounded 17.8 percent of available rebounds, only slightly above his regular season 16.8 percent rebound percentage, and his assist percentage dropped from 16.8 percent to 12.1 percent.  Furthermore, Lee’s inefficiency and lack of creation did not come in a decoy role similar to Curry’s post-injury, but at a greater usage than his season average, meaning Lee’s offensive struggles had an increased impact.

With Lee on the court in the regular season versus San Antonio, the Warriors surrendered a respectable 101.1 points per 100 possessions, but only scored 99.6.  With David Lee off the court, the Warriors allowed only 98.9 points per 100 possessions, and scored 104.6.  While these sample sizes, especially the 42 possessions with Lee off the court are too small to be determinant, they do not suggest that a healthy Lee would have helped the Warriors.


In the series against San Antonio, the Warriors scored 101.9 points per 10 possessions, and allowed 105.9.  The Warriors had an offensive rating of 106.5 and a defensive rating of 105.5 during the regular season.  Their offense struggled against San Antonio during the playoffs, while the defense was only slightly worse than average.  However, in their two victories, the Warriors held San Antonio to 92 points per 100 possessions, and scored 102.7.  Elite defense, rather than elite offense seemed to be the Warriors winning formula versus San Antonio, and though David Lee helps an offense, his defense is damning.


Though some may find his precise passing majestic, Lee earned the nickname “Golden Gate” for a different reason.  Interior help defense is arguably the most important singular role in NBA defense.  Defenders, generally big men, must prevent opposing offenses from getting easy looks at the rim and finishing when they do.  Simply put, Lee protects the rim worse than almost every big man in the league.  With David Lee on the court, the Warriors’ opponents attempted 27.4 percent of their shots from zero to three feet, and converted 64.2 percent of those opportunities.  With Lee off, 25.8 percent of opponents’ attempts came from that range and only 60.8 percent were converted.  According to HoopData, the league average field goal percentage from three feet and in was 64.6 percent.  When David Lee came off the court, the Warriors improved from slightly above league average to fourth in the league at opponent field goal percentage within three feet.   If further evidence of Lee’s defensive deficiency is necessary, along with coining the name Golden Gate, Kirk Goldsberry detailed and attempted to explain this phenomenon for Grantland.



Lee’s poor defense extends beyond rim protection.  While the Warriors help schemes protect Lee in the pick and roll, Lee struggles to defend other offensive attacks.  Lee’s slow lateral speed leaves him vulnerable to drives, often forcing him to compensate by giving his man a wide-open jump shot.   According to Synergy, Lee allows 0.94 points per play to isolations, 275th in the league.  Lee’s poor positioning and effort have effects just as adverse as his foot-speed.  Lee rarely positions himself well to defend post ups (along with most other plays), allowing 0.84 points per play to post ups, 143rd in the league.


Though Lee’s offense is beneficial, a team like San Antonio is well prepared to exploit any and all defensive flaws presented by their opponent.  In Game 1 of the San Antonio-Memphis series, Tony Allen, widely considered an elite defender, was victimized by San Antonio’s ball movement as they repeatedly took advantage of his inconsistent off-ball defense.  The Warriors best performances versus San Antonio were more a result of productive defense than offense, and while a healthy Lee may have given the Warriors a new weapon against the Spurs offense, he often creates many more holes in the Warriors own armor.


Stephen Curry: How Can He Get Back On Track?

Stephen Curry’s hot hand may be limited to the court, but over the last month he has set the basketball world on fire.  After suffering through the Curry experience in Game 1, the Spurs began experimenting new defensive strategies to be used on Curry.  Amid the cries of “top five point guard!” and “best shooter ever!” Gregg Popovich was focused on slowing the newly anointed star.


Though likely helped by an ankle injury, the Spurs have greatly limited Curry since Game 2.  In three games since the Game 2 victory in San Antonio, Stephen Curry has a true shooting percentage of only 47.9 percent, far below of 58.9 percent true shooting during the regular season and 57.1 percent for the playoffs.  These struggles have not simply been a matter of scoring efficiency.  Curry’s assist percentage (percent of teammates field goals assisted while on court) has dropped from his regular season 31.1 percent to 24.1 percent, and his usage rate has dropped from 26.4 percent to 22.6 percent.  Along with dramatically limiting his efficiency, the Spurs have pressured Curry out of his typical rate of creation.


In Game 1 Tony Parker was Stephen Curry’s primary defender.  Since then, Curry has primarily faced Danny Green, with intermittent spurts versus Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard.  Tony Parker is a match-up liability versus the Warriors’ large wings, but the Spurs are clearly willing to surrender this in exchange for the ability to keep Green consistently matched up with Curry.


In his second year in San Antonio, Danny Green has developed into a very good perimeter defender.  Warriors fans may recognize his ability to use his length to his advantage after recently admiring Klay Thompson’s defense.  Green also has the strength, quickness, defensive instincts, and understanding of help-schemes to be a very good defender both on and off the ball.


Green’s willingness to pick up James Harden so far from the basket does not suggest he would ever give Curry the space to take an uncontested jump shot, as Harden is a far greater threat to attack the rim than Curry.


Green will not willingly surrender an inch of space on the perimeter, and in the pick and roll, the Spurs big men have been more committed to hedging and trapping Curry since Game 2.


Green, assisted by Curry’s shift to an off ball role, has done very well in limiting Curry’s space and denying any shooting opportunities.  Over the course of the series, Curry has shifted towards an off-ball role.  This off-ball role in Game 4 may have been induced by an ankle injury at the end of Game 3, but Curry’s shift began before Game 4, and continued through Game 5, when Curry appeared less hampered by ankle troubles.  This shift to an off-ball role may be due to a belief that Curry puts more pressure on the defense running through off-ball screens, or that Curry needs the structured spacing of these plays to find scoring opportunities, but regardless of the Warriors’ motivation, Danny Green, along with the entire Spurs defense, has been excellent in preventing Curry from performing well offensively in this role.


To get Curry “going” again, the Warriors can wait for some miracle shooting, or proactively create beneficial offensive opportunities.  They have attempted to free Curry for jump shots through off-ball action, but the disciplined Spurs have allowed very little space to Curry, often hedging or not-so-accidentally bumping Curry as he runs through off-ball screens.  Athletic defenders like Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard are able to chase Curry through these patterns without losing any significant ground.


Throughout the seasons, Curry’s primary method of on-ball attack was the pick and roll.  32.2 percent of Curry’s shot attempts, drawn fouls, or turnovers were generated through the pick and roll, far more than any other category tracked by  The Warriors recognize Curry’s proficiency in the pick and roll, and have developed a complex offense around the pick and roll.


Curry’s pick and roll are generally initiated from to locations, the top of key above the three-point line, or slightly above the break.  Against top of the key pick and rolls, the Spurs big men generally stay in the paint, leaving Curry open for mid-range jump shots.  Possibly because the athleticism of Green and Leonard makes these shots more difficult, Curry has been less aggressive off top of the key pick and rolls.  He made his way into the paint off several at the beginning of Game 5, but went away from this action as the game progressed.


With the Warriors seemingly committed to using Curry off-ball, especially when Jarrett Jack is playing, many of Curry’s recent pick and rolls have been initiated towards the wing.  Curry generally finishes off-ball plays in the corner or near the break, and drifts towards the wing.  As the primary ball-handler, Curry will often dribble to this spot to set up the pick and roll.


Throughout the season, the Warriors ran these “Hawk Angle” pick and rolls.  This action is generally preceded by a cutter running through the lane.


Against San Antonio, the Warriors have been reluctant to send this cutter when running hawk-angle pick and rolls.



In this play, Klay Thompson sets the screen for Curry, and rolls towards the right corner.  The Warriors spacing on this play allows Boris Diaw to defend and box out both Landry and Lee, leaving Tim Duncan free to cover any penetration, meaning Kawhi Leonard can hedge aggressively deny the jump shot before recovering to Thompson.


The goal of this pick and roll may just be to draw a Parker switch onto Thompson, but the Warriors have run the hawk-angle pick and roll without sending the cutter regardless of the screener during this series.  Even if Klay Thompson were on the opposite wing and David Lee was setting the screen, the  Spurs’ help defenders would be able to free Duncan by having the man in the corner step down to fill Duncan’s rotation, only punishable by an extremely difficult kick pass by Curry to the opposite corner only LeBron James has mastered.




On this iteration of the hawk angle pick and roll, Klay Thompson runs through the lane as Harrison Barnes comes to set the screen.  This forces the defense to account for Thompson running through the lane and coming off a screen on the opposite side, forcing Howard and Gasol to commit to help defense longer than expected, giving Curry more room to operate both in the middle of the court and on the right side.


Curry’s ankle injury may render any hope for Curry’s re-emergence as an offensive star a failure, but putting Curry in position to succeed is necessary if the Warriors hope to come back in the series.  Off-ball actions often devolve into simple isolations on the catch, and against the Spurs have rarely produced open looks.  Operating out of the pick and roll allows Curry to create or find his own space, and affects San Antonio’s defense much more than spot-ups and off-ball screens typically do.  Stephen Curry has become an elite offensive NBA player, and as any Knicks (or general NBA) viewer will confirm, putting an offensive talent in position to succeed involves more than simply getting them the ball.

Breaking Down Nerlens Noel’s First Half Versus Texas A&M

0:02    Texas A&M sets a high off-ball screen to free up Fabian Harris.  This leaves two Kentucky players to guard three Texas A&M players on the left side of the floor.  Noel, helped by the Texas A&M big man cutting early, likely in anticipation of a drive, remains in the center of the key long enough to force Harris to commit to the drive.  Noel displays good defensive technique, sliding with Harris and staying directly between him and the basket, and blocks the shot.  Noel was helped by Kentucky’s ability to completely disregard the screener.  In the NBA, that man will likely be able to take the mid-range jumper, but stopping the drive would still be Noel’s primary responsibility.

0:10    In case you didn’t realize, Nerlens Noel is extremely athletic.

0:15    Noel attempts to box out, which is good, but does not really seal his man as he cuts towards the key.

0:21    Again, Noel is much more athletic than his college counterparts.  He both his dive to the rim and jump well, and finishes the dunk.  While this was an offensive rebound, the hard dive to the rim and coordinated finish suggest potential as a pick and roll big man.

0:30    Noel is looking for the block, but the Texas A&M guard gets the shot off over him.  Noel was not in good position on this play, he was too close to the rim, and did not step up towards the driving player.  If Noel just waits at the rim, good players are able to time their shots to get over or around him.  A player like Marc Gasol steps towards the play, hoping to cut off the drive and prevent a shot from even being attempted, rather than going for the block.

0:33    Noel kicks out to Alex Poythress as soon as he is doubled in the post, and Poythress makes the semi-contested three.  This is a nice pass by Noel, who finished the game with 6 assists, however Noel’s post technique appears flawed.  He s leaning back off balance, and his legs are spread too wide for him to be able to make any on-balance move.

0:45    Here, Noel takes advantage of a smaller defender, pounding his way into the lane for a hook shot.  Though the shot goes in, you can see why Noel is not considered a dominant post scorer.  He turns his body before going up with the shot, and the hook appears is more of a throw towards the basket than an a smooth shot.  While he may be able to score on smaller, less athletic defenders, Noel will have to improve his technique before his jump-hook becomes a reliable NBA weapon.

0:53    Here is why Noel has such high defensive potential.  No, he will not be relied upon to guard guards above the three point line, but he shows his mobility and coordination.  Noel is no lumbering, Hasheem Thabeet style big man.  He is mobile enough to help across the lane, hedge and recover on pick and rolls, and guard smaller players on switches.

1:01    While this post move again may not be the smoothest, Noel clearly understands the value of deep post position, and finishes with his left hand, a valuable skill for any NBA player.

1:07    Noel clearly has affected the shot selection of Texas A&M.  Caruso realizes Noel is in position to challenge, and is forced to take a difficult up-and-under.

1:17    On this possession, Noel is not able to cut of Kourtey Roberson’s drive, but stays with him defensively and does not allow an easy shot.  Again, Noel’s mobility is key to his defensive impact.

1:43    Noel’s teammate does not take a very good angle on the screen, allowing the defender to go under without losing any position.  Noel rolls well to the rim, then seals his man in the post, but misses the hook.  Noel should look to move towards the basket and keep his man sealed on the drop-step, but instead steps out laterally from the rim, simply forcing himself off-balance.

1:52    Noel makes a smart pass to Willie Cauley-Stein at the far left elbow, then does a good job avoiding getting in the way of Cauley-Stein’s drive.  Noel could have gone after the offensive rebound, but by stepping back to allow space for the drive, he allowed himself to be boxed out.

2:00    Great anticipation by Noel, another sign of a good defender.

2:10    Noel allows his man to get in between him and the basket in transition, but realizes his mistake as the shot is released, and pushes the Aggie in the back without blatantly fouling.  Noel should have cut off his man’s path to the rim, though this mistake did no damage.

In this first half, Nerlens Noel displayed why he is such a highly valued defensive prospect while flashing potential offensively.  Noel could have been more assertive offensively throughout the game offensively, but made Texas A&M constantly aware of his defensive influence.  In the NBA, Noel could develop into a very good defensive big man, and could potentially fill a Tyson Chandler style roll offensively.  If Noel can develop his post up and passing game to Dwight higher levels, he may be used in the mold of a lower usage version of Dwight Howard offensively.

The Blueprint for Slowing Down Tony Parker

NBA: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs


(Written for Blue Man Hoop)

“Spurs basketball” has become synonymous with “efficiency”, and “playing to your strengths,” and, as much as even Tim Duncan, Tony Parker embodies San Antonio’s core values.  As control of the offense shifted from Tim Duncan to him, Parker has expanded his offensive game, but only within the boundaries of efficiency.  Though a late season ankle injury derailed his bid, Tony Parker was among the lower-ranking MVP candidates throughout the season.

Parker, along with most other Spurs, rarely attacks without advantage.  Of course, a player a skilled and quick as Parker finds himself able to create advantageous situations far more than most players.  According to Synergy, Parker ranks 14th in the league in isolation points per play, 24th off-screens, 15th in hand-off situations, 2nd on cuts, and 11th in the bread, butter, jam, plate, and accompanying glass of milk of his offense, the pick and roll.  The pick and roll comprises 46.2% of Parker’s offensive possessions, and is the main the central component of San Antonio’s offense.  San Antonio, which finished seventh in regular season offensive efficiency, either finishes or initiates many of its offensive possessions with a Parker-Duncan pick and roll, and generates opportunities for other players off defensive attention to this action.

Along with the high pick and roll, San Antonio uses a variety of sets to put Parker in position to score.

Here is the end result of a drag-screen/pin down play the Spurs often run.  Parker, a 47.2 percent mid-range shooter, is wide open for the jumper, but also has an open lane towards the middle of the key as his man recovers from the baseline.  If Pau Gasol steps down to help, Tim Duncan, a 43.3 percent mid-range shooter, will be wide open.  If Dwight Howard steps up to cut off Parker, a Tiago Splitter will likely have an open dunk as Parker’s defender chases Parker.  On this play, Parker takes and makes the mid-range jumper, but could have easily scored off the drive.  Parker’s touch around the rim, as well as the ability to find open looks in the paint based off his speed and hesitation moves make him one of the best finishing guards in the league, evidenced by a 67.8 percent field goal percentage in the restricted area.

Here, Dwight Howard covers the pick and roll the same way Andrew Bogut is expected to.  He drops into the paint, denying the drive, but leaving parker open for a mid-range jumper.  This is a better result for the Lakers than an open driving lane would be, but just as Ty Lawson did in the first round, Parker will be able to convert a high rate of these open opportunities.

Parker’s main flaw is his inconsistent shooting from behind the arc.  This season, he has made 37 percent of his left corner threes, an impressive 47.6 percent of his right corner threes, and only 21.1 percent of his above the break attempts.  Perhaps more telling are Parker’s limited attempts.  He has only taken 68 three-point shots this season.  Of course, leaving Parker open for jump shots is simply not a good strategy.  Though Synergy ranks him as the league’s 132nd best spot-up shooter, he still scores 1.01 points per play off these looks, a respectable points per-play (not to be confused with per possession: per possession factors in scoring opportunities off offensive rebounds, so per possession statistics for offenses will always show a higher offensive rating than per play) of 1.01.

The method for slowing Tony Parker has been in development since mid-season game against the Spurs, when, suffering from a fortunate bout of creative coaching, Mark Jackson started Klay Thompson on Tony Parker.  Though he lacks the speed of top defenders like the recently-overcome Andre Iguodala, Thompson’s size length allow him to disrupt point guards throughout possessions by forcing them to create more space for passing and driving lanes, and open shots.  In the first round, Mark Jackson showed a clear willingness to cross-match Thompson on to the quicker Ty Lawson, but did not fully commit to the strategy, as it often forced Stephen Curry to guard Andre Iguodala.  With Brewer in the game, the Warriors were generally able to switch without repercussions, but did not always take advantage of the opportunity.

Here, Ty Lawson cannot get around Thompson as he comes off the screen, and is pulls up for the three.  Thompson is long enough to contest the shot after sagging a couple feet off of Lawson to prevent the drive.

Against San Antonio, the Warriors should have an easier time switching Thompson on to Parker.  Stephen Curry will be able to guard Danny Green for many minutes, without fearing foul trouble, or giving up a significant size advantage to a main offensive piece like he did against Iguodala.

If the Warriors are to have any hope of stopping Tony Parker and the Spurs’ offense, Andrew Bogut will have to consistently be as physically active and mobile as he was during his best stretches against Denver.  Even if the series long exposure inspires Andre Iguodala level defense from Thompson, Tony Parker will find ways to the rim.  Against Parker’s calculated rim attacks, Bogut, the last line of defense, must constantly be in position to deny scoring opportunities without forcing extra Warriors’ to rotate down defensively, forcing Parker to kick to the perimeter, not to open shooters, but as an outlet from a contested shot.

Draymond Green’s offensive play in the final games against Denver makes another intriguing option possible.  So long is he is not too heavy a burden on the offense, Draymond Green may be the Warriors most effective pick and roll defending big man.  Unlike Carl Landry and David Lee’s defense often suggest, the four-year college player already has a high-level understanding of pick and roll defense, and has the mobility to act upon this knowledge.  Green saw more action as a perimeter defender than big man defender against Denver, but is one of the few Warriors who could effectively hedge and recover against Tony Parker off Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, or even Tim Duncan, who would likely take advantage of Green in the post.

The Warriors best option may simply be to force Parker to score and avoid compromising their rotations.   Parker scored efficiently against the Lakers in the first round, but by overcompensating, the Lakers played right into the Spurs desires.  San Antonio has put together a roster of shooters capable of taking advantage of any significant opening, and big men who can score in several situations.  When defenses focus their attention on Parker, they open many more scoring opportunities for San Antonio’s vaunted offense.