Saturday, March 28, 2009

Warriors Lose Jackson for Season

The Warriors top scorer and team leader, Stephen Jackson, will likely miss the remainder of the 2008/09 NBA season with a toe injury. Jackson joins fellow starters Andris Biedrins, Jamal Crawford and Corey Maggette on the growing list of injured Warriors. Crawford is on his way back and should suit up any night now, but the others are likely finished for the year. Not that it really changes a whole lot, as the Warriors aren't going to the playoffs and are playing for draft position at this point. In fact, it's almost a blessing in disguise if you ask me. Now instead of watching the veterans play out the year, we get to see what some of the youngsters can actually do over the last 10 games here. It means more playing time for the Anthony's (Randolph and Morrow) as well as Brandan Wright. It's too bad Marco Bellinelli is hurting because he would be getting ample time to prove himself right now as well.

Now, not all of these guys have guaranteed futures with the Warriors. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see someone like Bellinelli dealt this summer in order to obtain help in other areas (true starting power forward or natural point guard). The one guy who I hope plays his tail off over these last few weeks and increases his value is Brandan Wright.

I have never been a big fan of Wright, and while I understood the logic in dealing Jason Richardson at that point in time (they had Jackson, Ellis and Baron Davis all under contract), they could have gotten a helluva a lot more than Brandan Wright if you ask me. I guess Mully and Nelly thought they'd be getting themselves the second coming of Antawn Jamison, but Wright has looked like a back-up forward at best. Not that I've completely given up on Wright as a player, he's 22 years old and has plenty of time to become a decent basketball player, but I don't see him ever being as valuable to the Warriors as J-Rich was. Anthony Randolph clearly has more talent and upside if you ask me and if the Warriors could somehow use Wright to better their draft position, I'd be all for it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Warriors Nearly Upset Coasting Lakers

The Warriors gave the Lakers a scare in the first quarter last night at Staples Center, and came back to within 3 with 1:30 left in the game. The defending Western Conference champs looked lazy and careless, but closed out the game in the crucial minutes.

The Lakers had a monster third quarter, opening the half on a 22-6 run, as Stephen Jackson was not on the floor for extended minutes. The Warriors were set back when Correy Maggette went to the bench for much of the second and third periods with foul trouble. Both teams allowed the opponent to go on huge runs during the course of the game, thanks to excessive turnovers. Its disappointing, but not surprising to see the W's give it away, they are the youngest team in the NBA. After this game, I'm not sold on the Lakers as much as I was previously. LA's bench is not as good as everyone makes them out to be. They were solid with Lamar Odom at sixth man or Trevor Ariza bringing his high energy. Farmar doesn't have confidence in his shot, Vujacic is streaky, Walton needs to be more assertive, and Powell and Mbenga are Warriors rejects. The Lakers also lost to Philly last Tuesday on an Iguadala buzzer beater. This team is coasting right now and they are due for a rude awakening in April. The Spurs, Nuggets, Rockets, Jazz, Hornets, and Blazers are all more hungry and have better chemistry than the Lakeshow.

Monta Ellis has been on a tear since coming back against the Nets Mar. 11, regaining the respect of fans and opponents each time he steps on the floor. We just hope he doesn't re-injure that ankle. Monta, we know you're unstoppable, save the juice for next year. 'Next Year' seems to be the theme in the Warriors organization. The Crawford drama is unfolding, as coach Nelson has been benching him to play the youth movement. It's an obvious decision to make. Crawford is not going to all of the sudden put up big numbers, hence catch the attention of a possible suitor. No, he's going to stick around and collect his $20 Mil. the Warriors owe him over the next two seasons. (It looks like the potential for an ugly Stephon Marbury stalemate) If the Warriors cannot unload Crawford, they should bench him in the interest of getting better. Let's see what the youngsters can do. Maybe the front office could package together Wright and Belinelli for a power forward or a backup PG.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ex-Warriors Burn Former Team in Highest Scoring Game of the Year

I'm embarrassed for the Warriors. Other than Stephen Jackson, this team has no heart. Monta Ellis had another good game, scoring 26, but his efforts were futile. The Suns scored 154 points.
The Suns could have scored less points in the gym by themselves. How do you let a team get 154? Were they playing quiddich and the Suns had Harry Potter at the seeker? The Suns started by continuously pounding the ball into Shaq, overmatching Turiaf on every touch. When O'Neill wasn't manhandling the Warriors rail thin front line, former Warriors Matt Barnes and Jason Richardson spent more time with their feet in the air than on the floor, combining for 51 points.

Back to the Warriors having no heart. How can you have respect for yourself as a basketball player when players on the other team are parading to the rim, again and again. It was like watching an ESPN highlight montage, but in real time. Lay up, dunk, drop step dunk, dunk, lay-up and 1...The Warriors are a joke, but the Suns are far from a serious NBA team. They will not make the playoffs. (Who wants get crushed by the Lakers in the first round anyway?)

Look at the real contenders in the NBA. The Suns and Warriors are circus teams. The defending champion Celts won with stout defense, rebounding, and pride in themselves. The Cavs, Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, and Rockets are disappointed if the opponent scores over 100, win or lose. The Nuggets, Hawks, Magic, and Jazz would not let Shaq get repeated deep catches or J Rich shoot 4 of 5 beyond the arc. Jamal Crawford is a terrible basketball player. He is one of the reasons opposing guards continuously notch double doubles against this joke of a team. Some nights he goes off, but lately he has shot the Warriors out of the game.

You know why Warriors fans hate the Spurs and the Jazz so much? Its because they kick our butts playing the game the way its supposed to be played. 154 points? C'mon, that's pitiful. What's the point in playing fastbreak basketball when the defense isn't good enough to create turnovers to run back? Everyone on this roster is expendable, except Ellis, Jackson, and Randolph. The Warriors need to trade for some tough defenders at any position. This soft group of spectators wearing uniforms doesn't deserve the support of the best fans in the league. If I were the owner, I would be sending some nasty Mark Cuban memos threatening the jobs of my employees futures.

To: All Warriors Players
From: Robert Rowell
Subject: Terrible Basketball

Do your work!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brandan Wright back on the floor in win over Mavs

March Madness is back, as conference tournaments have taken attention away form the NBA. A day after Syracuse upset second seeded UConn in 6 overtimes in the Big East Tourny, the Warriors brought back fond memories of arguably the greatest upset in NBA history beating the Mavs 119-110. March is just a month in basketball when anything can happen.

The playoffs were irrelevant to the Warriors a long time ago, but there are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Two of the reasons are Anthony Randolph and Monta Ellis. Randolph brought his high energy with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Ellis played nearly 45 minutes and poured in 29 points and grabbed 11 boards. Captain Jack set the tone as usual, scoring 31 points, dropping 10 assists, and pulling 7 rebounds. Since his first career triple double February 4th against the Suns, Jack has been getting close every time he steps on the floor.

It was most encouraging to see Brandan Wright back in action. The Warriors have missed the depth provided by Wright on the front line, especially with Biedrins going down. Wright was productive in the 14 minutes on the floor, scoring 12 points on 5-7 shooting along with 5 rebounds.

A night like Friday leads me to believe the W's could be back in the playoffs sooner than we may think, depending on how this off season goes. We're stuck with Maggette through 2012 and we owe Crawford around $20 mil if he decides to stay. Jamal has the option to stay and get $9.36 Mil or opt out. Its seems unlikely another team would pay more than $8 mil for Crawford, making him a difficult player to deal. I'm looking forward to the draft this May and what new young talent will be available.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Warriors Beat Nets in Oracle, Ellis Back in Action

The Warriors overcame a 14 point halftime deficit to beat the Nets at Oracle. Monta Ellis was the only Warriors player to get it going early on, scoring 10 points in the first quarter. Monta's speed gave Devin Harris problems, as his defensive effort led to some fast breaks. Jamal Cawford finished the game nicely, contributing some jumpers and key free throws (7-7) to seal the game, but he still went 5-15 and beaten on defense. Jamal is a quality player, but I'd like to see Anthony Morrow get more minutes. Both can shoot, but Morrow rebounds and plays with higher energy. Stephen Jackson continues to delight fantasy hoop owners scoring 29 along with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

There seems to be some kind of doubt in the world of sports talk radio in Warriors Nation about whether Ellis is capable of running the point. If you expect a Jason Kidd, Marc Jackson, John Stockton type; then no, Ellis is not going to give you more assists than points on a regular basis. Like Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett mentioned during the broadcast, which I was delighted to get via NBA TV, Ellis is more like a healthy Gilbert Arenas (minus the three point range). When he beats the primary defender off the dribble, he has the option to score or pass depending on the position of the help defender. Last night against the Nets, Monta had 19 points and 6 assists. His quick passes around the basket surprised his team mates on few drives, but his vision and quickness were impressive. When asked to compare Ellis to another NBA player, I can't choose just one. He has good shot selection like Rip Hamilton to shoot a high FG% for a guard, he wants to push the ball in transition like Steve Nash, he's a score first point guard like Arenas, but loves to dump off passes when he draws defenders.

I concede that Ellis has not earned the respect of the players mentioned above. By missing so much of the season, he squandered a year of quality development and lost partial trust of Warriors fans. In the remaining 18 games this season, Ellis will remind everyone why he was signed for 6 years $66 million. Ellis is nowhere near as good as he is going to be. I expect Monta to have a strong off-season, get stronger, develop his three point shot, and establish himself alongside Captain Jack as a leader on this team. I hope people tell Monta Ellis he will not be the same after his ankle injury, not be able to run the point, and not be worth his big contract. Ellis has been doing what people say "he can't" since high school. Before his career is over, Ellis will create a new mold for the guard position.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nelson Wants No More of Crawford

Don Nelson told Jamal Crawford to opt out of his contract or else he will be dealt this coming off season" is the latest Warriors drama, as this was recently broke by Contra Costa Times' Marcus Thompson II. Its highly unlikely Crawford will opt out with $20 million remaining on his contract, Thompson pointed out in the article. Its unlikely another team will give Jamal a better deal than the money he already has guaranteed.

I like the idea of getting rid of Crawford, but I let out a sigh as Nellie begins to take over the Warriors like Starbucks is taking over America. Sports columnist Lowel Cohn of the Press Democrat, predicted the rise of Don Nelson, the basketball dictator, after team president Robert Rowell signed Nellie for two more years. Warriors Nation fell in love with Nellie during the 2006-07 season, but he has worn out his welcome. A Nelson team will never get past the second round of the playoffs at best. Championship teams surround skill players with rugged low post workers that play hard nosed defense. Nellie has the second most wins among NBA coaches all-time, but no championship. Next season, he should pass Lenny Wilkins as the winningest NBA head coach in history.

By Nelson asserting himself into a GM role, I foresee problems for years to come. Team president Robert Rowell, is placing too much power and blind trust behind Nellie. Nelson will achieve his glory and pass Lenny Wilkins next year, then retire. The Warrior still finish below .500 and not make the playoffs, and Chris Mullin will be long gone.

Marcus Thompson II article link here.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Potential Playoff Previews on ESPN

The planets orbited into alignment on Friday night for the ESPN NBA double header, producing two match ups with playoff intensity. The first game featured the Cavs going into Boston to take on the Celts. The Celtics dominated most of the contest despite playing without emotional and defensive leader Kevin Garnett. The Cavs made a few runs, but the Celtics were able to get whatever they wanted inside. Oakland native Leon Powe had 20 points and 11 rebounds.

The Nuggets played the Jazz in Utah in the second game of the double header, a battle between two of the top point guards in the league, Chauncey Billups and Deron Williams. The Nuggets jumped out, but fizzled in the second half, as the Jazz won their tenth straight game. Utah is the hottest team in basketball right now and capable of beating anyone at home. D-Will is my favorite NBA player right now and the reason the Jazz are on fire. Kobe, LeBron, CP3, and D-Wade are MVP candidates. Williams would also be a nominee if not for his pre-season ankle injury.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fitz, Barnett, and Roye Speak to the Intelligent Hoop Fan

Last night the Warriors took advantage of the struggling Minnesota T'Wolves in a 118-94 beatdown. Unfortunately, I didn't witness any of the Warriors and their 6 players scoring in double figures. Instead, I got to watch a few former Warriors play.

I recently moved upstate into Kings broadcast territory, so in order to get my Warriors, I subscribed to DirecTV, as I was told I could still get Comcast Sports Network Bay Area on channel 696. Long story short, DirecTV sales people lie to get sales and the only way I can watch my W's in action involves a trip to the nearest sports bar with NBA League Pass. I digress.

As my Warriors proceeded to build their 31 point lead by halftime on the T'Wolves, I watched Troy Murphy hit his first three 3 point attempts as the Pacers went on to beat the Kings convincingly. I was bitter as I watched, checking the bottom line for updates on the Warriors game, hoping for a Stephen Jackson in-game highlight. I realized I missed the TV commentary of Bob Fitzgerald and Jim Barnett as much as the uptempo style of Warriors basketball. The Kings TV commentators were boring, behind the action, and droning. Warriors fans, be thankful for your broadcasting team. Unlike the Kings broadcasters, Fitzgerald and Barnett are always on top of the play as it unfolds and quick to relay any unclear information to the viewers. The Kings' commentators were condescending to the audience and irrelevant. When Troy Murphy caught fire from three point range, they said," He's really hitting the three tonight." Really? What percentage is he shooting this year? Career? Thanks for the incite. Be grateful that Jim Barnett respects the basketball I.Q. of the audience. Barnett provides numbers and percentages, allowing the viewers to extrapolate the significance of the play in the context of the game.

A consolation in the DirecTV robbery is NBA TV. The featured game was Suns vs. Magic. It was a treat to see Jason Richardson hitting threes and Matt Barnes playing his out of control open gym, pick up style ball. Don't forget only-hits-threes-from-the-side Mikel Pietrus, now in Orlando.

Fortunately, I still get KNBR up here. I prefer Tim Roye's call than watch a game with the unnecessary droning and irrelevance that accompanies the Kings television broadcast. I'm probably being too harsh on the Kings, upset they get the regional preference to black out my Warriors. Warriors fans have scarcely been spoiled by great teams, but the broadcasters do a good job to make up for the lack of wins and provide Warriors Nation with a good product.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Randolph Shines in Extended Minutes

Don Nelson must be reading The Rundown because Anthony Randolph played 25 minutes last night. Randolph went 7-11 for a career high 20 points, along with 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

The W's let Utah's D-Will dish out 20 assists in the contest. They did a better job of defending the perimeter, but let Williams dribble anywhere he wanted. The Warriors also committed a season high 24 turnovers., as Jerry Sloan's Jazz exploited Don Nelson's team for not having a true point guard. With no Monta Ellis or Stephen Jackson toprotect the ball, the Warriors are sloppy with possessions.

Utah is undefeated since the All-Star break, moving up the Western Conference Standings, and gearing up for a playoff run.