In our last 10 Things before the trade deadline, we highlight the strange defending champions, star guards in Oklahoma City and Charlotte, North Carolina, a rising backup in New York and more.
1. Waiting on the Golden State Warriors
There haven't been many teams more baffling after 50-plus games than these defending champions. So much information suggests a run is coming -- the kind of eight-out-of-10 blaze that roars: Oh, we're here. We never left.
The ball has been popping since the Warriors installed their Poole Party small-ball group as their starting five. Their old starting five -- with Kevon Looney in Jordan Poole's place -- still has the second-fattest scoring margin of all five-man lineups.
They appear to have conquered their inability to function when Stephen Curry rests. They are plus-1.1 per 100 possessions when Draymond Green plays without Curry, per Cleaning the Glass. The trio of Poole, Donte DiVincenzo, and Jonathan Kuminga is plus-5.6 per 100 possessions without Curry. Anthony Lamb has given Golden State a dependable nine-man rotation before they dip into Moses Moody, Ty Jerome, Andre Iguodala or James Wiseman.
And yet, they keep running in place. They gag away games in graceless, almost absurd fashion -- including their fall-from-ahead job against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday. Two weeks ago, they couldn't get over the hump against the Chicago Bulls -- surrendering 132 points -- and rebounded by (barely) pulling away from the Washington Wizards.
None of their wins are convincing. Where are the blowouts? The Warriors are 16th in offensive efficiency and 16th in defense. Their total scoring margin is minus-18. They are, almost perfectly, average.