Monday, June 27, 2011

Warriors Should Go After David West

The big news in the NBA Monday was that New Orleans Hornets' star Power Forward has opted out of his contract with the team, and will test free agency.

Now, right off the bat, I know your thinking, why add West after they just got David Lee one year ago? Simple, the Warriors need all the post scoring/defense they can afford, and if that means moving David Lee to center where he thrived in New York in order to make room for West, then I'd do it in a second. There are teams that have expressed interest in swooping up Andris Biedrins contract from the W's (The Rockets are supposedly throwing all kinds of offers at the Larry Riley) which would free up space and money for another big man. They could also do a sign-and-trade deal with somebody looking for a scoring guard, like Monta Ellis or even new draftee Klay Thompson. After the Warriors failed to address their need up front in the draft (I like the potential Jeremy Tyler brings, but he's very much a project at this point), one would assume they'll certainly look to do so in free agency or via trade. It's not like the Warriors missed the playoffs last year because they didn't have enough scoring guards and wing players, they have that covered to a T, but inside they only have Lee as a threat, who's constantly doubled when he gets the ball inside because there are no other options. The Warriors have expressed optimism that Biedrins will rebound after going through a rigorous offseason workout, but I'm not so sure. Andris has looked worse and worse since that magical playoff season in '06.

Whether it's a push for David West, or someone else like Al Jefferson, Riley and Jerry West have to do whatever they can to get a big, proven presence in the middle. They certainly have the pieces to do so!

Friday, June 24, 2011

W's Draft Klay Thompson with Pick 11

At first, I cringed at the pick, but the more I've looked at it up and down, the more I'm starting to see some logic in the selction of Thompson. I would have liked more of a power/defense guard like Burks or Singleton if they insisted on a guard, or Markieff Morris or his brother Marcus (the Lopez twins 2.0). Thompson will likely provide for the Warriors a sharp-shooter who can put up 20 a night with ease, it's just not necessarily what they need right now.

As for the draft as a whole, I thought it started out great for the Warriors chances with all the European guard/forward hybrids going so highly, while players like Brandon Knight (the guy I really wanted to see the W's move for) and Kemba Walker waited and waited to hear their names called. In fact Walker didn't go until two picks ahead of Golden State at #9, and I wonder what Larry Riley and Mark Jackson wound have done had Walker (who Jackson loves) had fallen to them at 11? I was mostly focused on the Morris' and thought it would be either Thompson or one of the Morris bro's, which likely was what Riley and Co. were thinking as well. In the end, the Warriors went with Thompson, the Junior out of Washington State, which, again, kind of left me a little curious since the Warriors have 2 "building block" guards in tow already. Immediately after Thompson went, the guys I was hoping for, SG Alec Burks (more physical, defensive, take it to the hoop 2-guard) or one of the athletic Morris brothers, especially Markieff (the NBA's next "Lopez-Duo", though the Morris' all-around games are better), were taken off the board in succession, so that had me thinking again; Did the W's make the right move? Burks is more of that in your face, take it to the rim, true 2 guard who really reminds me a lot of Jason Richardson. As much as I like watching Ellis and Curry play together, if they are to make a change, I would rather it be to a more physical, defensive 2 guard to compliment Curry, one who can defend the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Martin, and a player who can get to the line 10 times per night. That said, if they're looking for a true scorer and a 2-guard if they're going to replace Monta, Thompson is a better scorer than Burks. If they don't move Monta for a stud big man, then missing out on a Morris will be a real head-scratcher. And I'd only deal Monta for a guy on the level of LaMarcus Aldridge, Al Jefferson or Al Horford, nothing less.

Now, they had their chance to re-make their front line without doing all the tricky trading by just drafting one of the 6'10", uber-atheltic Morris' brothers, but they went with another wing-man, and a scoring one at that (already have Wright, Ellis, Curry, Williams, all scorers). The team is a little deep with guards/wings who will want minutes and shots. Mark Jackson is going to have to figure out the guard situation where Thompson, Wright, Curry, Ellis etc... will all be in the mix and be happy, or he has to deal one. In all reality, they could use a 4-man rotation at the guard/small forward spot with Thompson taking the light-end behind Monta, Steph and Wright, then if Thompson asserts himself, Monta could become a big trade chip come February. However, you then run the risk of damaging chemistry if one guy feels he's getting the short end of the stick. Monta felt shoved out after they drafted Curry last season, so how's he going to feel now with Thompson in town too, is that going to be an immediate problem? Unless they have a plan to keep everyone happy and playing hard, it may have been wiser for Golden State to have taken that big man who could play 25-30 minutes per night right off the bat and allow their guard situation to gel as is, if that's what they want. Now, that said, Thompson was probably the most valuable player at that spot, but not by much over Burks and the Morris' to the point in which the Warriors had to grab him. The problem the W's have had now 17 years and counting, minus the magical run in 2006, will likely once again haunt them in 2011/12, scoring, but not enough defense, especially up front. I want to be wrong, but I see Klay Thompson as another Mike Dunleavy, with lesser ball handling but a better shot, but not someone who is going to help carry this franchise to the next level. Good for 17-20 ppg probably with that shot, but limited abilities in other areas. As is, the 6th man on this club behind Monta, Steph and D-Wright, and to use an 11th pick on another scoring wing-man similar to Wright and not nearly as good as Monta? I'm not so sure I'm sold unless there's more to this!

The Dubs did get a big man though, sneaking in a late first rounder in a deal with Charlotte and buying up former youth star Jeremy Tyler. Though he's hardly the guy Warrior fans had in mind coming into this draft as the post factor they needed, he is a nice project and could have been a high first rounder in had been draft eligible in 2010, but struggled mightily overseas. My favorite pick, and quite possibly the best value pick in the draft was 2nd rounder Charles Jenkins. The Hofstra point guard was projected to go as high as picks 12-15 in the first round in many expert mock drafts, and the W's got him in the middle of the 2nd (Monta Ellis anyone?). I see him immediately coming in winning the back up spot to Steph at point.

WRD Grade for Warriors Draft: C+/B-

More NBA Draft Coverage to Come!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Warriors Draft Preview

The Draft is creeping up quicker than I anticipated, as the Golden State Warriors' brass, including the new comer, Mark Jackson, are currently cramming together their last minute game plan for the 2011 NBA draft.

There has been all sorts of names tossed out there from the Spanish "Dikembe", Bismack Biyambo, to Washington State SG Klay Thompson and Kansas PF Marcus Morris or even the free-falling Jimmer Freddette. It appears almost certain that the top-6 will be PG Kyle Irving, PF Derek Williams, PG Brandon Knight, C Enes Kanter, F Jan Vesely, and PG Kemba Walker. Obviously, you can tell it's a point guard heavy draft, and it just so happens the teams selecting high in the draft could certainly use a strong guard. That could also bode well for the Warriors, should they decide to try and pawn Monta Ellis off onto one of those teams in order to move into position to get an Enes Kanter or Derek Williams, but that's all speculation. What I do believe though, is there is going to be somebody worth drafting when the Warriors select 11th in Thursday's NBA Draft. A lot of basketball people feel Washington State junior SG Klay Thompson would be a nice fit. A big, 6'6" 2 guard who can shoot the lights out and could look very nice along side Steph Curry in the back court. Problem with Thompson though, is that he lacks defense, and isn't a great play-maker yet.

The guy I'm hoping will fall down to the W's, who's know projected to go #10 to Milwaukee (according to DraftExpress), is the post-dominant Marcus Morris. The thing I like so much about Morris is that he reminds me of a young Elton Brand and is a guy who lives in the paint and succeeds. As much as the Warriors were hoping David Lee would be that guy last year, that really just isn't his style, he's more of a free-playing power forward who runs around. I think the Warriors could draft Morris and use him with Lee on the front line a lot, giving the team 2 completely different looks up front. Then they could use Epke Udoh and Andris Biedrins as purely rebounders and defenders with no obligation of scoring. It would also enable the team to keep the duo-guard threat of Curry and Ellis, which appears their plan. Either way, if the Warriors are indeed going to deal Ellis, it better certainly be for a sure thing, and not another Jason Richardson deal! They better get a Brandon Knight or Kyle Irving or a young, all-star NBA point guard which would allow Steph to move into his more natural spot.

5 Possible Draft Scenarios:

-Draft a true PG, trade Monta, move Steph to SG
-Draft big man/paint scoring presence, which just isn't David Lee's type (Morris?)
-Draft big bodied defender/shot blocker, the Adonal Foyel that never transpired (Biyombo)
-SG, Thompson/Burks, allowing a trade of Monta for another big scoring threat
-Trade down

Dark Horses:

SG Alex Burks, Colorado: Burks is a bright young scorer who reminds me very much of Jason Richardson with a twist of Dwayne Wade the way he gets to the hoop. Not quite polished from beyond the arch, which may hurt him, but I still think he's a better all-around player than Klay Thompson.

SF Chris Singleton, Florida St.: Super defender, but may not have a place in Golden State with the emergence of Dorrell Wright, but would compliment the 3-point sniper, as well as come in and overpower strong SG's with ease. Still isn't quite a polished scorer, though that could come.

My Hope: PF Marcus Morris or SG Alex Burks (latest poll has him dropping out of top-10... He and Steph would be amazing.. and no Monta attitude!). I really think Freddette is a great talent, but he's basically a Stephen Curry clone, and what the heck would they do if they ended up with Freddette, Curry and Ellis, all 6'2" tweener guards? That said, my draft philosophy in all drafts from baseball to football and basketball; unless your picking in the top-10, take the best player available, and that's what I think I see the W's doing. If they don't like any of the top-15 players, they should trade down a few spots and maybe target Marcus Morris's brother Markieff Morris, a real physical center (6'11'', 260 pounds) who has the skill-set to come in and compete immediately with Biedrins for minutes.

My Guess: SG Klay Thompson or F/C Bismack Biyambo: The Warriors are gaga over Thompson's range and shot (why they forget the hard-nosed, in your face ball that got them to the playoffs in '06 is beyond me and Thompson isn't that player, Burks and Morris are). Still, I have a hard time seeing them pass on him if he falls to them... If he doesn't, Biyambo should, and the W's will see the defensive upside and go for it, even if he is Epke Udoh #2!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Ellis likely to be moved


The departure of Monta Ellis is all but inevitable.

Credible sources say the most likely destination for Ellis is Philadelphia in exchange for Andre Iguadala, and the deal will likely be done on draft day.

This move is difficult for Warriors fans to wrap their heads around. Most Warriors fans are emotionally connected to Ellis. He's a little guy with big game. That, as well as Ellis' toughness and resilience, endears him to fans. Plus, last year he developed a knack for hitting big shots to close ball games.

But the Warriors are looking for a bigger, more defensive minded player (like Iguadala) who can get stops, so they don't have to count on Ellis to hit a big shot at the end of the game. And if they need a clutch shot, Iguadala isn't bad in the clutch himself. In fact, he is one of the NBA's most underrated closers...

As a Warriors fan, I love Monta Ellis and would be sad to see him wear another team's colors, but from a basketball standpoint, the Ellis/Curry back court doesn't work if the Warriors want to seriously compete in the West. And when it comes down to Curry or Ellis...it's Curry. He's cheaper, younger, higher shooting percentage, and higher basketball I.Q.

Curry is the guy to build around and is Don Nelson's last gift to the Warriors.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mark Jackson will coach Warriors

"Hand down, man down!"

"Mama there go that man again!"

Unfortunately, the national audiences who tune into the NBA on ESPN/ABC will only here phrases like these for the last two or three games of this championship series (which has been titillating). Yes, Mark Jackson will take his talents to the Bay Area as the head coach of the Golden State Warriors.

Jackson impressed me on the court with the Knicks, Pacers, and various other teams he played for and has done a superb job as an analyst with Jeff Van Gundy. But as a head coach....I think he is the ideal fit for this job.

The disciplinarian coach is dying out, at least after the high school level. That's not to say today's coach should let his players walk all over him. Today's most successful teams have the most talent, like the Miami Heat. I'd say Erik Spoelstra has done a great job, but will ultimately be judged upon how well he manages his ultra talented group.

To use a popular term, Mark Jackson will be a player's coach, meaning he will be liked by the Warriors players in no time at all. Jackson's body of work commands respect, as does his personality. This is especially important with such a young group of players. The best coaches at the NBA level are ego managers/psychologists.

Equally important is the addition of assistant coach Mike Malone, a defensive specialist who worked for New Orleans last season and his services were coveted around the league.
Jackson has promised a playoff appearance in this upcoming season, but the Warriors have a long way to go. Warriors fans don't need Mark Jackson's years of basketball experience to see that this current roster is going to have a difficult time making Jackson's promise come true.
Sound defense is the way to win championships, or at least get past the first round. The roster will need a serious make over job to adopt this style.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Miami takes game 1 of Finals

Miami won game one over Dallas in "grind-out" fashion. That's just a term made popular by today's telecasters to say the Heat won the game with defense and rebounding. The Heat and Mavs shot 38 percent and 37 percent, respectively, and the Heat out rebounded the Mavs 46-36.
After the Mavs handily whipped the Lakers, I jumped right on the Dallas band wagon. Dirk Nowitzki has played out of his mind, and the bench has lived up the the regular season numbers as the best in the league. I hate to do this, but I'm going to flip-flop.

After watching the Heat in action, I can't see Dallas winning this series. The first clue: Miami won without scoring a multitude of points off turnovers. The Mavs, mainly Jason Kidd, deserve credit for taking care of the ball (only 11 team turnovers), but Miami will get more fast break points in upcoming games.

Two strange stats from game one that all the analysts have surely jammed into our skulls were Miami's advantage in bench points (27-17) and three point makes (11-9). These two statistical categories are typically dominated by Dallas. I expect Dallas to cool off from three point range and maybe the bench will be negatively affected by Mike Miller's bum left arm, but it wasn't a fluke.

Then there is Dirk's torn ligament in his left (non-shooting) middle finger. It shouldn't effect his shooting, but it could make Nowitzki tentative on the boards, and Dallas needs rebounds.
If Dallas is going to get back in this series, they must continue to limit turnovers, get to the foul line, and clean the defensive glass.