Saturday, October 26, 2013

Warriors Extend Bogut

It's an exciting time to be a Warriors fan right now. The season in which big expectations loom is just days away from tipping off, and the Warriors were in the headlines Friday with their big contract extension for Andrew Bogut.

The W's extended the oft-injured but multi-talented big man on Friday, that will keep him in a Warriors uni for this year and the 3 seasons to follow. We got a glimpse of what a healthy Bogut can bring to the table late last season and numerous times in the playoffs, and the Warriors are only hoping continued health will breed some consistency. Last year, the Warriors were limiting his minutes, rarely having the big man play beyond the 25 minute mark, but I expect to see them cut him loose a little bit more this year. They may take a cautious approach out of the gate just to make sure everything's a go, but after a few weeks, I would expect to see the Aussie playing 30-35 minutes per night, healthy permitting of course. With those kind of minutes, Bogut should easily provide double-double ability, with a healthy amount of assists and blocks to go with. He's still pretty young and with all the rest he's accumulated on the sidelines the last several years, should have plenty of good basketball left in him, but again, the bottom line with him will come down to health. If he's able to play in 80% or more of the Warriors games the next few seasons, this deal will be a good one. If he's playing 50% of the time over the next few seasons, this deal won't be looking so swell.

All in all, I do like the risk/reward aspect of it. You don't come along 7-footers with Bogut's skill-set very often, and like I said, he's still young enough to be a core piece and a guy you can build around. And with Bogut enters the best Warriors team, at least on paper, in quite some time. Not only are they rock solid throughout their starting-5, but with Harrison Barnes' move to the bench, it has given the team some talented depth. They did lose Jarrett Jack, a key contributer to last seasons surprise run, but Andre Iguodala should more than pick up the slack Jack left behind. I also liked the additions of Marreese Speights and Jermaine O'Neal to add some quality depth up front. It seemed like Mark Jackson was only able to use a 7, sometimes 8 man rotation confidently last season, this year, the Warriors look like they have at least 10 guys on that roster that should get significant time. There's the starting five (Curry, Thompson, Iggy, Lee, Bogut) then O'Neal, Speights, Draymond Green, Tony Douglas and Harrison Barnes. Obviously there won't be enough minutes to get all the reserves 15-20 per night, but the hot 3-4 out of that bunch will definitely get their looks.

Aside from the depth, further improvements from Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, coupled with the hopeful steady health of Andrew Bogut and veteran savvy influence of Andre Iguodala is why I could see the Warriors getting as high as the #3 seed in the Western Conference this year.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Warriors Doing Best to Add Depth

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.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Warriors Land Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala had been on the Warriors radar for the past few seasons and this week they were finally able to obtain him, though it did come at a price.

On the surface, when looking at the players the Warriors let go in order to clear the space to give Iggy his 4 year, $48 million deal, you'd think Golden State came out with a flat out steal. They were able to convince the Utah Jazz to take on the expiring contracts of Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, none of whom played a significant role in the Warriors playoff run last season. Rush probably would have been a key cog had it not been for the injury that knocked him out before the season even began, but Jeff and Biedrins were hardly used throughout the '12-'13 campaign. However, the Jazz weren't just going to take on those bad contracts without the Warriors giving up something, and they were able to get two future Warrior first round picks, and two second rounders as well. Now, the Warriors brass is hoping that this is the beginning of some sort of dynasty that will put the Dubs in the playoffs for years to come, as they've built a sound young nucleus and should only get better over the next couple of years, but still, two first rounders could end up being a steep price to pay. Nonetheless, I give the move an A because they were able to turn that cap space into a player that makes this team a whole helluva lot better.

Though they still get out and run, and can put points on the board, the Warriors have changed their identity under Coach Jackson as one of the tougher defending teams in the league. With the direction Jackson has this team going, Iguodala makes perfect sense. He's an all-league defender, in the prime of his career, and certainly has the ability to get out and run and knock down the 3-pointer, all qualities which should play greatly with this young Warriors squad. Just look at what he did in the series between Denver and Golden State in April: 18 ppg, 8 rpg, 5.5 assists, 2 steals and a 48% mark on 3-point attempts. With the Warriors brass already interested in him, I'm sure his showing in that series just pushed him over the top in their eyes. The only question the 'Dubs now have to deal with though, is how exactly they'll divide playing time between Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and their new $48M weapon. There had been rumblings of the Warriors possibly including either Barnes or Thompson with Andrew Bogut in a trade with the Lakers to get Dwight Howard, but with Howard landing in Houston, that's no longer an option.

It's hardly a bad problem to have though if your the Warriors. Most likely, someone will have to come off the bench in a 6th man role, but either way, all 3 of those guys should be getting 30+ minutes a night. I'm sure that whoever the hot hand is will see a little more PT, but my guess is that Iguodala would be the Warriors 6th man if there are no other significant moves made with the returning starting 5. This signing also precludes the Warriors from being able to retain Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry which is a bit of a blow to the overall team depth, especially the way Jack played down the stretch and in the playoffs, but one thing the Warriors have had success with over the years is finding suitable backup point guards and I think
Bob Myers will do that again this summer.

Friday, May 10, 2013

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.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

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!