Basketball season has finally come to an end, as the Celtics punked the Lakers out of the gym, winning with grit and depth. Simply put, the Lakers looked soft. It sure would have been nice to have Bynum, but it obviously wasn't L.A.'s year.
Watching the Celtics grind the Lakers down shows the Warriors have a long way to go before even sniffing a championship game, let alone playoff success. Coach Nelson is a basketball deity, but the run and gun style of small ball will not work...
Look at the past teams that have won in the championships: Celtics, Spurs, Heat...Garnett, Duncan, Shaq...See the trend? Solid front lines anchored by a dominant, team-oriented bigs. Winning playoff teams play tough interior defense and rebound. The compliment is a scoring play maker...Pierce, Ginobilli, and Wade (2005 form). Run and gun just doesn't cut it during the playoffs when fouls are hard and the game is slowed down. The Suns, a prominant "running" team, has posted superb regular season records, but has fallen to the Spurs again and again.
Where does that leave the Warriors? This season will be pivital. Nelson intends to return, but who knows, if he wins his settlement with Mark Cuban, he could decide to make Hawaii his permenant resisdence. More importantly, what can the Warriors do to get back into the playoffs or at least improve for the future. Monta Ellis, a restricted free agent, should be top priority, even if that means paying 12 million a year. The signing of Andris Biedrins will be critical to anchoring the Warriors' thin front line. Baron sould also be back, unless he can find a higher bidder, which is unlikey.
Most disappointing was Matt Barnes. "Open Gym" Barnes, which I affectionatly refer to Matt as, just couldn't give the Warriors what he did in the 06' season. He showed moments of brilliance, however; they were overshaddowed by turnovers and a diminished 3 pt. %. Mikael Pietrus will be on his way out. He'll probably be a good addition to a contender, but after years of service to Golden State, the two parties will most likely not make a deal.
If the Warriors want to go go anywhere in the playoffs, they will need to get a quality power forward or center. With some grit and a beefier front line and an ever-improving scoring threat in Monta Ellis, Baron can lead this team through playoff fire. An off season can make all the difference, as we can see with the Celtics. It will be interesting to see what the W's decide to do. Will they surround Baron with a supporting cast to contend now, or will they build around Ellis and co. for future years.