Friday, March 27, 2015

Andre Iguodala thriving at right time

Andre Iguodala got off to a ridiculously slow start this season, adjusting to a new role off the bench and getting less minutes than accustomed too, but he's now found his groove as the Warriors sixth-man.

When the Warriors gave Iggy a 4 year, $48 million deal, I don't think they envisioned him coming off the bench in year two, but Steve Kerr made that decision in camp and it's worked out brilliantly obviously. He's still getting his minutes, but at the start of the year, the production wasn't really there. However, lately he's seemed to really turn things up a bit and is coming off perhaps his best performance of the season thus far vs. Portland Tuesday going 21/4/4 while going 3/4 from downtown. Although young Harrison Barnes is starting most games, it's Iggy who's usually on the court in the waning minutes when games are on the line, and that's all that really matters, and I think Iggy realizes that and it's helped him buy into the new role. I'm not quite sure that in the '16/17 season the Warriors are going to be stoked at paying the veteran $12M per, but he's still a leader, a solid clubhouse presence and if he can continue to relish in his new role, they're going to keep him around.

It hasn't just been Iggy though. Reserves like Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa are playing well for the Warriors right now, and veterans David Lee and Iggy coming off the bench with those two making the Dubs one of, if not the deepest team in basketball. It's one thing to have a starting five that can match-up with anyone, but we all know how much easier it is when you have another 2-3 starting caliber players coming off the bench and the Warriors have that right now.... Can the Playoffs start right now PLEASE! Speaking of playoffs, check out this spot for NBA Picks.

Speaking of the playoffs, with the Warriors already having clinched the Pacific division, Coach Kerr's challenge now will be how to both rest his key guys and keep them sharp for the playoffs. Especially when your looking at veterans like Bogut and Iggy, but also Klay Thompson who's nursing a shoulder injury. They still wanna win games and secure home court, but it's more important they head in with all guys healthy rather than ensure they guarantee home court throughout, so that is something to keep an eye on these last few weeks.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Andrew Bogut, the unsung hero

One year ago today, the Dubs re-signed Andrew Bogut to a 3-year contract extension which at the time had some worried. He was coming off a down, injury-plauged year one in Golden State and Dubs' fans were still a little sour on losing fan-favorite Monta Ellis for him.

However, as we approach the end of the first year of that 3-year extension, my oh my how the tune has changed. Not only is Bogut loved in the Bay Area, but he's been crucial to the Warriors success and, outside of Steph Curry, is probably the most indispensable player on the roster.

There's so much talk about the Warriors back-court and the "Splash Brothers" and rightfully so, they're the best scoring backcourt in the game. Also getting a lot of hype has been the emergence of Draymond Green, who we'll talk about more in our next post. But the player to me that has really made a huge difference for the Warriors and have helped them to the best record in the NBA is that oft-injured center they extended in just days before the 2013/14 campaign. While Bogut's line this season doesn't jump out at you (6.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.7 bpg), a lot of what he does doesn't show up in box scores. He shuts down opposing centers and has anchored the Dubs frontcourt defense. I mean, just imagine where this team would be without the big man. Look at how they failed miserably in the playoffs last year without him and it will show you just how important he is to this teams success. I've never seen a player with such an un-flattering line mean so much to a squad but Bogut is just that.

Now, that being said, Steve Kerr has to be damn careful with the big man these last few weeks of the season. While the Dubs do want to clinch home-court throughout, I don't think they'll need Bogut in every game in order to do that. I wouldn't play him in back-to-backs anymore this year and I'd keep that man fresh for May cause so long as he's anchoring the D down low, and Steph, Klay, Harrison and Co. do their thing with the rock, the Warriors may very well bring an NBA tittle to the Bay this June.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Warriors Depth Showing Up

One of the reason's why the Warriors weren't able to outlast the Spurs in the Semi's this year was due to lack of depth so obviously it had to be addressed. After the Warriors deal for Andre Iguodala earlier this month, it forced them out of the market for Jack and Landry, which made thin bench nearly non-existent.

Needless to say, additions needed to be made, and they needed to be made swiftly. Under the circumstances, I think Bob Myers did a fine job in finding replacements. The first addition after Iggy was Jermaine O'Neal, as the Warriors needed another veteran center to help take the load off of Andrew Bogut while provide some of the same type of things Bogut does, which O'Neal can. Jermaine had a bit of a resurrection in Phoenix last season, averaging 8.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 1.4 BPG in just 18 minutes of play last year. Festus Ezieli did an admirable job when called upon last year, but for a team trying to go to the next level, a veteran like O'Neal should be getting those key minutes when Bogut is resting. After the O'Neal signing, the team nabbed another big, tough defensive minded player who also contributes on the offensive end in Marreese Speights. While O'Neal should get the majority of the minutes at the 5 when Bogut sits, Speights will likely do the same with David Lee at the 4. Speights also has the ability to play the 5 too though, and is a better defender/rebounder than Carl Landry. Both of these moves certainly got the Warriors tougher in the front court, and have given them some depth to where Mark Jackson isn't using a 6-7 man rotation as he was at times last season.

Finally, the Warriors had to replace Jarrett Jack, which with all his contributions last season, was not going to be an easy thing to do. The addition of Iggy was well worth losing out on Jack, but the Dubs still needed to find a point guard that could caddy Steph Curry, as I don't think they were ready to rely on Scott Machado to play heavy minutes. On Wednesday, they announced a deal with free agent Toney Douglas, who won't quite take Jack's role from a year ago, but with the all-around improvements this team has made, hopefully they won't need him to. Douglas is another guy who can defend well although he won't provide the offensive punch that Jack brought. Still, it's not a bad replacement considering the moves the Warriors made and the limitations they were working with. I don't anticipate them doing much more at this point, and if this was the last significant move of the summer, I'd have to say the Warriors have positioned themselves terrifically and should be a better team heading into next season than they were at the end of 2013.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Warriors Refuse to Back Down

I have to admit, even I had my doubts about this team coming into the postseason after David Lee went down and without seeing much in terms of production out of Andrew Bogut. Instead though, the Warriors head into play Friday night looking to take a 2-1 lead over San Antonio in the Western Conference Semifinals.

As has been the case this whole season for Golden State, as each player goes down, it seems the Warriors just keep getting stronger and stronger. Early on, it was Andrew Bogut who couldn't get on the court, and many thought it would to a rough start for the Dubs. Then Festus Ezieli and Carl Landry each stepped up big and the Warriors instead thrived out of the gate. Coming into the postseason, just as Andrew Bogut starting finding his rhythm, the Warriors lost their other big man, David Lee to what many thought would be a season-ending hip injury. After that happened, I don't think many outside of the Bay Area gave the Warriors a glimmer of hope in round one vs. Denver. Again though, they had other players step up and help overcome the loss of their 20-10 machine in Lee. Harrison Barnes has excelled in the postseason, Jarret Jack has been a steady veteran influence almost like Baron Davis was in 2007 and although it's taken a year and some change, the Warriors are finally reaping benefits from the Monta Ellis trade. It's taken a true team effort to get the Warriors to where they are. They really should be taking a 2-0 lead into the game Friday, but by coming back and taking game two after blowing that 16 point lead in the waning minutes of game one is a testament to what kind of fight this team has.

Now, the Warriors could lose the next three games, and be out of the tournament and it would still be considered a great season by Golden State's standards. The players know that, and I think that this team is really taking that underdog role and riding with it. It reminds me a lot of the Giants in 2010, as they weren't necessarily the best team in the game that year, but rode that late season momentum and became an unstoppable force in the playoffs. Mark Jackson's role in this run cannot be overlooked either, as he's seemingly pushed all the right buttons so far and has kept his team in the right mindset all year despite all the injuries. Jackson has this team in a defense first mind-set and they've all bought into the system and have executed it well. Since Lee went down, Jackson has had to mix and match starting lineups, going with a small, three-guard look with Jarret Jack, but he switched it up and used Draymond Green in the starting lineup Wednesday to give the team a little more defense. Despite Green not lighting up the stat sheet, it worked out well defensively for Golden State and I wouldn't be surprised to see that same lineup take the court Friday night.

Note: David Lee is still listed as active for this series, but I highly doubt we'll see him make any kind of impact. That being said, should the Warriors advance past this round and make it to the Western Conference Finals, it wouldn't surprise me if #10 wills his way back into the starting lineup. He's still having some issues pushing off of his right leg, which would hamper his play inside, but he is practicing and is getting some of that strength back each day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Warriors should rest Curry

Steph Curry has been playing the best basketball of his life this season. Curry has been carrying the Warriors over the past few games, making up for a lack of production from the bench. The Warriors and the fans have been anxiously awaiting the visit of that team from Southern California that shall not be named. The Lakers beat the Warriors handily at the Staples Center on Nov. 9 and let the Lakers steal the game at Oracle on Dec. 22 thanks to a fourth quarter Warriors meltdown.

The Warriors are having a better season than the highly touted Lakers, but have yet to quiet the loud voices of the overflowing Lakers bandwagon. The Warriors lead the Lakers by 3.5 games in the Western Conference and lead the Rockets by a game (it could be a half game if the Rockets pull off the win against the Spurs- the game is tied at 89 with under 4:00 to go in the game). The Warriors need to win this game to keep ahead of the Rockets. The Warriors need this game to prove to themselves that they can beat a team that has haunted them throughout their existence in Oakland.

The obnoxious Lakers fans will occupy Oracle, as they always do. It would be deeply satisfying to see the Warriors wipe the smug grins off the faces of basketball's Yankee fans. The task of beating L.A. would be less tall with number 30 on the floor for the Warriors, but the Warriors need to rest their best player for a few games.

Curry's X-rays came back negative for a fracture, but it looked bad last night. He could put weight on it. I would be surprised if Curry played at all. Coach Jackson will probably have Curry dress to keep Curry in the game plan for the Lakers, but he rest. Steph has been averaging over 40 minutes per game since the All-Star break, the most of any player in the league. He needs to give his body a week's rest. After the Lakers game, the Warriors play some weaker opponents (Kings, Blazers, Hornets, @ Suns). Now is the time to let him recover.

Harrison Barnes is starting to realize how good he can be when he is aggressive. He needs to stop using a right pivot foot when he gets in triple threat. Once he cleans up that footwork, he will really be hard to stop when he goes to the rim. If Curry doesn't go on Monday, Klay Thompson needs to shoulder the scoring load and get to the free throw line.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Warriors Are NOT Better Off Without Bogut

With the way the Warriors started their season and kept their stronghold on 2nd place in the Pacific Division without having their star center present for most of it, many started wondering whether or not the team needed Bogut.

Since Bogut made his return at the end of January, he's been in and out of the lineup, and the Warriors are an even 4-4 with him out there since his return. Essentially, they've played .500 ball with Bogut in the lineup, and they sit 10 games above .500 as of now, so I can see where the question comes into play. However, there is absolutely no doubt that this is a much better team with a healthy Andrew Bogut out on the floor. Heck, even a 75% Bogut, which is about where he had been playing before this new back injury came up. I mean, Carl Landry has been a nice scoring option, but let's face it, he just can't handle the big centers in this league on the defensive end as he's really a power forward. Bogut showed that he was starting to work his way back into game shape a bit before the back spasms hit, so hopefully they turn out to be minor and he's back on the court in a week or two. He played just shy of 30 minutes in his last game, and although he didn't light it up offensively (7 points), he showed exactly what the Warriors need, and that's rebounding (11) and defense (3 blocks, 2 steals) while also creating for others (5 assists). You put those numbers with his typical 12-15 points he'll give you when he's right and there's no question this team is better with Bogut.

That being said, the 'Dubs have looked a bit out of sync at times with the 7-foot Aussie on the court, and the reason being is simple. He's hardly had any time to mesh with this team whatsoever. He had virtually no preseason, and missed all that time to start the year, so it's like this is the real start of the year for him. Until his back returns to full strength though, it looks like Mark Jackson will be rolling with the forgotten one, Andris Biedrins, as the starter at center. Festus Ezeli has started seeing less and less time and apparently Biedrins has been stepping it up at practice, so he'll be the first guy out there, at least on this road trip. It's still going to come down to Carl Landry and David Lee kind of sharing the duties, but it would help ease the load if Andris can give them 20 quality minutes. This is the exact reason why I really wanted to see the Warriors bring in another veteran big man before the deadline. With Bogut always a question mark health-wise, they should have been in on another defensive minded big-man to take some of these minutes being forced on Biedrins and Ezeli.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Warriors' Trade Deadline Analysis

Well, the NBA trade deadline came and went this week, and it ended up going down as one of the most uneventful deadlines in recent memory.

The Warriors did manage to make a few cost-cutting minor trades, finding new homes for Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins. They didn't, however, manage to get some help in the front-court which is where I would have liked to see them improve. They never really found a suitable replacement for Brandon Rush after he went down, and I can only imagine how better this team would be looking right now with him getting some of the minutes at the 3 spot. I mean, Harrison Barnes looks like a bright young rookie with big upside, and Draymond Green is a gamer, but those are young, green basketball players your going to be asking to carry big minutes down the stretch in the hunt for a playoff spot. Now I'm not exactly sure who was available that would have maybe fit that mold, but a few names that I was monitoring were Denver's Wilson Chandler or Cleveland's C.J. Miles. I was actually one of the ones who would have been for a deal for Rudy Gay had the Warriors and Grizzlies been able to work something out just because the 'Dubs looked poised to make at least a semi-serious run this year. I like Barnes, but you give me a Curry-Thompson-Gay-Lee-Bogut starting five and I'll take it any day!

Throughout all talk, the one move that was discussed the most regarding the Warriors, and one that was starting to gain some steam apparently was a potential Klay Thompson-Eric Gordon swap. Now, I know they sort of struck out on the Andrew Bogut deal thus far, and it would have been a huge, huge risk dealing away another young budding player for an injury-plauged potential superstar, but Eric Gordon has some kind of talent when he's on. True, had the deal been made, it would have given the Warriors another smallish back-court like when they had Ellis and Curry together, but Gordon's game would have fit much smoother with Curry's than Ellis' did. I think a big reason why the 'Dubs were considering dealing a younger, cheaper scorer like Thompson is because he and Curry really do much of the same thing for you. They both like to live on the perimeter and don't really create going to the hoop. Curry has gotten better at it, but Thompson is more one-dimensional on offense. Gordon would have given the Warriors another guy who's quick with the ball and can not only go to the hoop, but shoot the lights out when he's on. I really like Eric Gordon and would have been intrigued to see him and Steph together, but I certainly see the W's logic on passing with Gordon's injury past.

Also, for all you NCAA Hoops enthusiasts, we all know that March Madness is setting to heat up and is just around the corner. We'll be doing a lot of the Madness coverage over at our partner site, The Bay Area Sports Journal, but we figured we'd give you guys the heads up. Early on, it's tough to pick against Indiana, but if your looking to do any wagering on the games, be sure to check out Sports Lynx Betting Service!