Category Archives: Golden State Warriors

Layups, Oct. 14

Sign we’re at the beginning of the season: Larry Brown is upset! He hates how his bigs are playing. Giving that he’s talking about Nazr Mohammed, DeSagana Diop, and Alexis Ajinca, I don’t know why he’s surprised. Anyway, watch him continue to complain about his bunch in Charlotte for the next little while until they start consistently playing good D, at which point he will gush about them.

Milwaukee is trying to decide whether to pick up Joe Alexander’s first option year. As Sham reminded me this morning, Milwaukee picked this guy over Brook Lopez and Anthony Randolph. This is a sad story. The guy is athletic (and damn well should have been in the dunk contest last season) and, I guess, he has some potential in him. Still, how is he going to realize it in Milwaukee? They’re not a great team, but I don’t see minutes for him. He’s a 3/4, just like Skiles’s defensive darling Luc Richard Mbah A Moute. Carlos Delfino is going to get minutes at the 3, too, and Michael Redd could as well if Skiles decides to go small. At the 4 spot, I find it hard to believe he’s going to get minutes unless one or two of Hakim Warrick, Kurt Thomas, and Ersan Ilyasova get injured. I’d say they should trade Jumpin’ Joe, but he has next to no value right now.

Finally! It looks like, after a summer of bickering to my friends and to random message-board people, I’ve found people (besides Kelly Dwyer) who actually agree with me about Marco Belinelli. Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail isn’t sold on him, as he thinks using possessions on Belinelli rather than other, more effective players is a bad idea. Mark Ginocchio of Nets Are Scorching points out that just about the only statistical thing he does well is shooting. This is what I’ve been saying for a while now. He’s a pretty damn good shooter, and he actually has a well above-average feel for the game. The problem is that he can’t guard anybody, he doesn’t take care of the ball, and he lacks athleticism. He’s skilled, but he’s quite a bit overmatched in the NBA. Point guard might actually be the best position for him, but then again, imagine him trying to stick Chris Paul or Rondo. Oof.

Den Feldman of Pistons Powered has a warning for people around the league buying into the new-coach hoopla. Very nicely done, that, although I think Pistons fans have reason to be excited about Kuester. While Curry had just a few years of assistant coaching experience since his playing days ended, Kuester has been in the coaching game since 1980 and in the NBA coaching game since 1995. This man served as Cleveland’s offensive co-ordinator last year, where he turned the NBA’s 20th-best offensive team into its 4th-best. I think Dumars chose the right guy this time.

Sekou Smith is talking about Marvin Williams’s aggressiveness in Atlanta. Here’s what I said about young Marv back in August: “Marvin Williams needs to get the ball more and he needs to be more aggressive. He’s an efficient young player, but he doesn’t assert his will on the game often enough.” It seems they’re recognizing this in Atlanta, and I really hope what they’re saying now translates into how they play in the regular season. Colour me skeptical, though, ‘cause with Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Mike Bibby, Al Horford, and now Jamal Crawford, that’s a lot of mouths to feed. If Williams is going become a bigger part of their attack, both Marvin and coach Woodson are going to have to do their parts.

Finally, if you haven’t read Adrian Wojnarowski’s excellent piece on the Warriors, you absolutely have to. This is normally where I try to add something, be it an extra piece of evidence or some criticism, but I’ve got nothin’ on this one. Just read it, he nailed it. Can’t stand seeing young talent continually wasted in Golden State.

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Filed under Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Bobcats, Coaching, Detroit Pistons, Golden State Warriors, Layups, League-Wide Stuff, Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors

Layups, Oct. 05

  • Miami is going to start Michael Beasley at small forward. I get it; they want to start their best 5 players. Plus, if they’re going to go after Carlos Boozer or Chris Bosh this summer, they’re not going to want Beas playing the 4. Still, I’m a bit worried about this plan. As I said in my Heat preview, one of the biggest goals this season has to be Beasley’s development. He was actually very good offensively last year, but wasn’t given the minutes or touches to really show what he can do. It’s in the Heat’s long-term best interest to raise Beasley’s stock around the league. Plus, they need his scoring. If you ask me, putting him at the 3 for long stretches of time might hurt his offensive numbers. He’s more valuable offensively on the post than he is on the wing. Plus, on the defensive end, multi-talented 3s will routinely expose his weaknesses. At the end of the season, the Heat need people to be talking about what Beasley can do rather than what he can’t, and, in my eyes, he needs significant minutes at the 4 for this to be the case.
  • The Toronto hype machine is saying that Andrea Bargnani is much improved at everything. Most notable is that his defense is supposedly better – apparently, his anticipation has improved and so has his understanding of team defensive principles. Still, even though I defended his contract extension, I am wary about buying into this. Who exactly is he defending, with Chris Bosh sitting training camp out? Rasho Nesterovic, Patrick O’Bryant, and maybe a bit of Amir Johnson, that’s who. I’m going to wait and see what Bargnani does in a real game, because, as much as I want to believe he’s made a big leap on D, the objective side of me tells me this kind of story is meaningless.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer is saying that the Bobcats offered Ray Felton a long-term deal for about $7 million a season and HE TURNED IT DOWN. Whaaaa? Isn’t this team trying to shed its long-term deals? Don’t they want to develop D.J. Augustin? You don’t give $7 million a year to a guy who hasn’t shown any improvement in 4 seasons. Yeah, it seemed like Felton had a lot of potential coming out of UNC, but since arriving in the league he’s been a below average player. He doesn’t score efficiently, can’t shoot the 3, and the only reason his stats look decent is that he plays upwards of 37 minutes a game. Bill Simmons is wrong about this one. If there’s truth to this story, both sides are crazy
  • Brandan Wright will be out 4 to 6 months because he will require shoulder surgery. Don Nelson is upset because Wright “might be the best player in camp” and “it’s quite a loss for us”. So, Nelson’s saying he was finally going to give Wright a shot then. Really? He only let Wright play 9.9 minutes a game in his rookie season and 17.6  in his sophomore season, so why should we believe him? Both seasons, there wasn’t much consistency in the minutes department – he was jerked in and out of the line-up like all other young players tend to be in Golden State. All the while, he’s put up very good per-minute stats, making us dorks who care about such things wish that he will be given an opportunity to showcase his skills somewhere else. I’ve felt bad for this kid the last two years on the Warriors’ bench and feel really, really bad for him now that he’s hurt. Hope he returns at full strength.
  • Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell is speculating that DeJuan Blair might end up putting up the best per-minute stats of any rookie. While I’m not ready to fully jump aboard that train, I’ve got to say I’m excited about the guy. It’s unbelievable that a guy who rebounds like he does slipped so late in the draft. How well does he rebound, exactly? Well, his offensive rebounding rate last season was better than some entire teams’ rates. The guy is a monster. I’ve said it many times before but it bears repeating: The Spurs off-season has been mind-bogglingly good. Without a ton of cap room or a high draft pick, they’ve added a ton of rotation-worthy players and put themselves into title contention once again.

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Filed under Charlotte Bobcats, Golden State Warriors, Layups, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors

Looking Forward: Golden State Warriors

The Future

The Golden State warriors might be the single most interesting team in the league going into next season. For a team that finished last season with a record of 29-53, they have a rotation full of talented players. Here’s their top 10, in my estimation (in descending order by 2009-2010 salary):

Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Corey Maggette, Stephen Jackson, Ronny Turiaf, Kelenna Azubuike, Stephen Curry, Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, and Anthony Morrow.

This is playoff-calibre talent, isn’t it? I think so. If it is, though, why did they suck last season?

Easy: bad coaching, bad defense, and bad management. In the NBA, teams with lots of talent still need to be organized properly. This means coaches shouldn’t play mind-games with their young players. This means coaches need to place emphasis on playing both sides of the floor. This means general managers need to have some sort of plan when building a team, rather than gathering a bunch of random assets and hoping for the best.

Don Nelson steadfastly refused last season to establish a rotation and stick with it. He kept his players guessing, from night to night, how many minutes and what positions they would play. As an impartial observer, it made the Warriors a curious team to watch. I loved watching Anthony Randolph and Anthony Morrow, and was intrigued by Brandan Wright, but I had no idea how many minutes I’d get to see these guys play when I flicked to the Warriors game on NBA League Pass. For a Warriors fan, I can only imagine this would be frustrating.

Randolph is an especially interesting case. This guy has some very enthusiastic supporters on the interwebs and you can count me as one of them. He’s tall, he can score, he can handle the ball, he can block shots, and he can completely change the course of a game with his energy. And he turned 20 less than a month ago. With impressive per-minute stats in his rookie campaign, was there any reason to play him only 18 minutes a game? No, there wasn’t, especially on a team that only won 29 games. The case of Morrow is remarkably similar and I’d argue that Brandan Wright should have been given more of a chance to shine, too.

After Randolph’s dominating performance in summer league, one might assume that he’s primed for a break-out season next year. I think that there’s a good chance this will happen, but there are a few factors I’d worry about here. First, Nellie might still mess with his minutes and his confidence. I hope like nothing else that he will finally realize how important this kid is to the Warriors’ future, but it wouldn’t surprise me if his minutes remained erratic. Second, the Warriors’ lineup might not be conducive to Randolph having the ball in his hands much of the time. Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, and Monta Ellis need the ball in their hands to be effective. Once they have the ball, none of them are primarily looking to distribute it. In Summer League, Randolph was the main guy. He handled the ball and scored off the dribble. I don’t know how often he’ll get the chance to do that next season. As a role player, he’ll still be fun to watch and he’ll still make an impact on the game, but he won’t be able to make the huge statistical leap we know he’s capable of making.

What the Warriors desperately need is a game plan. I mean this both in the big picture sense and in the most literal way possible. This team needs to give itself an identity other than “crazy coaching, disorganized offense, awful defense”. This team needs to figure out how they’re going to defeat opposing teams and how what roles their guys are going to play in order to develop young talent and take advantages of matchups on the court. They’re a bit stuck in that Maggette’s contract is untradeable and Stephen Jackson is right at the end of his prime, but they have enough quality players that they could make some moves to become a more balanced team. Even if they stand pat, though, these guys could crack the playoffs in the West with some quality coaching.

The pieces are there for the Warriors to return to relevance, I truly believe this. If you ask me to bet on their success, though, there’s no way. I’m sorry, but there’s no reason why I should have confidence in Don Nelson at this point. There’s no reason I should have confidence in this organization, at all. To turn this thing around would require a shift in philosophy from the top of the organization all the way down to the players on the court. I anticipate tuning into as many Warriors games I can next season. Unfortunately, though, at the end of it I can see myself feeling bad for their fans once again.

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Filed under Golden State Warriors, Looking Forward