Editor's note: Grant Liffmann is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders, which airs on NBC Sports Bay Area 90 minutes before each home game and 60 minutes after every game. Each week, Grant will drop his Outsider Observation on the state of the Dubs.
DeMarcus Cousins is not the sole reason the Warriors are struggling on defense.
It goes without saying that Boogie has had his fair share of issues on defense so far. He is struggling to stay in front of guards and wings when switched onto them, and has sagged too far into the paint on many occasions, allowing the opposing team to get wide-open threes. Teams are consistently attacking Cousins whenever he is on the floor, trying to expose his rust and lack of conditioning.
The Warriors starting lineup of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Cousins has posted a very porous 116.5 defensive rating so far in 152 minutes together on the court. Compare that to the starting lineup prior to Boogie's return, when Kevon Looney was the center, and the unit maintained a good 106.2 rating. So it is clear that the starting unit has struggled to adjust to Boogie's presence in the lineup.
However, that is not true for ALL lineups that include Cousins.
The lineup that typically starts the second and fourth quarters has actually been very effective on defense so far. Shaun Livingston, Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Green and Cousins have posted an exceptional 89.4 defensive rating in 54 minutes together on the court thus far. Sure, the opposing offenses they are facing during those minutes are usually not quite as potent as the starting units. But the Warriors have taken advantage of those minutes, and Cousins is a large part of that.
In seasons past, that unit -- anchored by David West -- was a strong defensive unit that struggled mightily on offense. Yet while that strong defense has been maintained this season, they also have been effective on offense, posting a solid 112.9 offensive rating, and creating a phenomenal 23.1 net rating.
There is a clear common denominator for all the Warriors best defensive units, however. When Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala share the court together, the defense improves dramatically.
If you take the defensive rating of the second unit and couple that with the Hampton's 5 impressive 97.6 defensive rating, the numbers tell the obvious story. Thompson, Green and Iguodala are each great defenders individually, but when put together, create a smothering defensive net.
They each can switch onto practically any of the opposing offensive players and hold their own, no matter their size or quickness. Because of this, they are able to mask and cover for the current defensive issues that Cousins presents.
The Warriors as a whole have not played high-level defensive this entire season. Can they turn it on like they normally do for playoffs?
Until they actually fail in that regard, I'm not sure why you would assume otherwise.