Everyone in the NBA is afraid of the Golden State Warriors. Again.
Since the All-Star Game, the Warriors are 10-3 and have surged to sixth place in the deep Western Conference. They are chewing through upper-echelon teams thanks to a high-powered offense and the league's third-best defense. With fewer than 20 games left on the schedule, Golden State is getting hot at just the right time.
Much of this success had has to do with Andre Iguodala's addition. While his individual offensive production has waned, his driving ability helps collapse defenses and keeps the ball moving. Iguodala is also one of the more formidable on-ball defenders in the league. According to NBA.com's stats page, the Warriors' defensive rating rises from 96.2 to 103 points allowed per 100 possessions when he exits the game, by far the biggest differential on the team. When Iguodala missed 12 games to injury in December, Golden State went just 5-7.
Andre Iguodala with the block at one end and the slam at the other, via @BenGolliver
The starters' overall health has also fueled the Warriors' push. After losing Jarrett Jack to the Cavaliers last summer, their bench has suffered greatly. Reserves Harrison Barnes, Marreese Speights and Jordan Crawford all have negative net efficiency ratings, as did Toney Douglas, MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore before they were traded.
Now, all the starters are healthy, making the Warriors dominance since the All-Star break seem more reasonable. New additions Crawford and Steve Blake are slowly finding their footing, which helps mask head coach Mark Jackson's sometimes-odd rotations. Meanwhile, Golden State has flourished, dominating teams in rebounds, assists and fast break point differential in recent wins. When the Warriors have failed to top their opponents in one of those three categories, they've made up for it by tallying double-digit three-pointers.
Their defense has been especially smothering of late, with Andrew Bogut anchoring the paint and Draymond Green playing out of his mind off the bench. The Warriors hold their opponents to the third-worst effective field goal percentage in the NBA and the sixth-worst offensive rebounding percentage.
Golden State's success on both ends relies on their ability to play together as a team. After leap-frogging the Dallas/Phoenix/Memphis scrum at the bottom of the conference, the Warriors are actually who we thought they were when they added Iguodala last summer.
Out West, the rich really do get richer.