Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Andris Biedrins Fading Into Irrelevance

WRD Co-writer, Brian Wright, made in interesting comment in our last post, questioning why this team decided to amnesty Charlie Bell instead of Andris Biedrins' huge, useless contract.

I really think the lockout and non-existent offseason is what ultimately led to Biedrins' staying in Oakland. This team basically had no center options outside of Biedrins heading into the year, and even though they made large efforts to lure Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan, the only other center they were able to obtain before the season started was Kwame Brown. I think, if the Warriors brass would have had their way, they would have inked one of those top centers and could have then amnestied Biedrins. However, I think they saw that they didn't have a great shot at luring a big man here, and thought it would be a safer bet to hold onto Biedrins for depth at a spot they're paper thin at. Now, I understand that logic to a degree, but at the same time, as Brian stated in his comment, they decided to rid themselves of Charlie Bell's contract, which was set to expire and wasn't even that outrageous. I think the only person worth using the amnesty clause for on the Warriors roster is Biedrins, and they should have known that. They're locked into him long term for big money and now have no way out of that deal since they decided to jump the gun on the new amnesty rules. They should have been smart enough to save that luxury for a time when they really needed it. For a time when they could have freed up payroll in order to add an impact player via free agency.

I wasn't expecting them to use the amnesty this year since they failed to get their center of choice. I knew they were going to need to use Biedrins this year just based on lack of depth up front, but the fact is, Biedrins has steadily declined over the last few years and has gotten to the point where he's basically useless. I mean, he's still the starting center, but he plays all of 12-15 minutes per game, contributes a few boards, the occasional block and easy bucket, but is probably the most overpaid, underachieving player in all of the NBA. Had the Warriors foresaw an even further drop off in production in Biedrins like they've gotten, maybe they would have amnestied him even without any depth at center. Again, this all goes back to the absence of a regular offseason and training camp, which if the Warriors had, maybe they see the useless center Biedrins has become earlier and figured out they don't need him on the roster. As they are now, David Lee is pretty much getting most of the minutes there anyway. It may not have made much difference in the 2012 squad, but the decision to blow their amnesty on Charlie Bell, could very well come back to haunt this team for the next couple of seasons. Especially when you take into account that the Warriors will likely lose their first round pick this year, which in turn would cost them an opportunity to get a cheap, talented big man in the top part of the draft, placing even more emphasis on free agency and available cap space.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ekpe Udoh... The New Age Adonal Foyle

Warriors fans got a first-hand look at a player they missed out on during the last road trip. A player, who if they drafted, probably has this team racing for a playoff birth rather than staring down another losing season. That player is Detroit center Greg Monroe.

Now, to their credit, at that time, the Warriors had just given a huge deal to Andris Biedrins and figured they have their center of the future in tow already, but as we all know, that just hasn't been the case. While Ekpe Udoh has been stuck on the Warriors bench for much of his young career, Monroe has flourished into one of the top young centers in the league and I'm sure, already has the Warriors brass kicking themselves thinking about what they missed. Now, this is no knock on Epke Udoh, who's transcended into a very potent defensive big man, but just doesn't give you squat on the offensive end. He, to me, is the new age version of Adonal Foyle. A big man taken way higher than he probably should have who has essentially become as useless as one can be on the offensive side of the floor. On defense and crashing the boards, Foyle was a beast would never get out-hustled, but he just never lived up to his lofty draft status or crazy contract the Warriors gave him. Unfortunately for the Warriors, I see Udoh following in very much the same path. I know he's still just 21 years old and has a ton of time to grow and develop, but after watching Monroe really burst onto the scene this year after a solid rookie campaign, I can't help but think what could have been. Just imagine a starting five right now of Curry-Ellis-Wright-Lee-Monroe! That would be a lineup full of young players with huge upside that would probably have translated in a return to the playoffs for the 2012 Warriors. Instead, they're stuck with a defensive minded PF/C, who's lack of offense will likely keep him from ever becoming a starting caliber player.

Now, this isn't a post to just bad mouth Udoh. He's doing more for the team this year than he was last season, and he's improving, but the comparisons to him and Foyle are just uncanny. He's probably the best defensive player over 6'8" that this team has on the roster which is no matter to overlook for a 21 year-old. He's certainly got a place on the roster, but I don't understand how the Warriors brass looked at him and Monroe together and ended up going with Udoh? The reason I'm bring this up now, is because the Warriors are headed down a path that could very well lead them to a lost season; no playoff birth coupled with no first round draft pick. As they stand now, they'd miss out on both if the season were to end tomorrow, which means that this team isn't going to be finding it's center through the next draft. They're going to have to go out and sign someone, or trade for someone, and judging by how they struck out going after Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan probably doesn't bode well for their chances at luring a big man to the Bay Area. They'll have their chance again next summer though, as the guy I really want this team to go hard after becomes a restricted free agent, and that is JaVale McGee. For some reason, McGee seems to be the one drawing most of the brunt in terms of taking heat for the Wizards horrible start, though I'd take him in "The City" uniform any day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Warriors choke in fourth quarter, commit 24 turnovers

The Warriors disappointed fans with a clumsy come-from-ahead loss to the Grizzlies at home thanks to a season high 24 turnovers. The Warriors lead by 20 points toward the end of the third quarter. The Grizzlies punished the Warriors on the boards, especially in the second half and had a 20-2 second chance points advantage. This is no surprise. The Warriors have historically played with small players and have struggled with rebounding the ball.

Here's my problem: If you play with a smaller line-up, shouldn't the smaller players be better ball handlers, thus take care of the ball and limit turnovers? Not only did the Warriors get man-handled inside, but they were dominated on the perimeter. Frankly, I felt embarrassed for them, specifically Ellis and Curry, who combined for 12 of the 24 team turnovers.

It would be tough to say that Robinson and Klay Thompson would have done better, but those two sparked a big second quarter bench run. Maybe Coach Jackson will take a chance if this situation arises again.

It's difficult for Mark Jackson to change the culture when he plays a team that Charles Barkley would call "a bunch of midgets", a Don Nelson style lineup. This team has a weak front court and no true point guard. Curry and Ellis can light it up, but sometimes it's equally important to have players who can control the ball and settle a team when struggling. The Warriors could have used someone like that in the fourth quarter tonight.

...But all is well. If the Warriors keep losing, they can nab that protected top seven draft pick this off season, as this lockout shortened season is just a long pre-season for next year..."Playoffs, playoffs!?"

Warriors try to bounce back from "the kick"

The Warriors need to rebound from a tough loss on a missed call. They should have had the last shot of that game, but the officials missed George Hill's brilliant kick save that was obviously intentional. Some media people, including Comcast's Matt Steinmetz, said in the post game report that "the kick" was unintentional. I respect Steinmetz as a guy who has a good pulse on the Warriors, but he might need glasses. If you watched that game, you saw Hill point his toe upward, as he would have been beaten by a Monta Ellis crossover. There is no reason for a defensive player to poke a toe in the air while defending, other than to make contact with the ball.

It was a bad break, but let's not overlook how badly the Pacers beat the Warriors in the paint. I could almost argue that losing Kwame Brown has been more devastating than the initial loss of Steph Curry. Without Brown's low post presence, teams with solid front courts (David West, Roy Hibbard, Tyler Hansborogh) are eating up the Warriors and parading to the free throw line.

The Warriors host the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, who are without Zack Randolph, but have been on a six game win streak. It will be interesting to see if Tony Allen, an elite defender, can slow down Monta Ellis, as all attention will be on number 8. Warriors fans are also waiting to see if rookie big man Jeremy Tyler can get in the game and help Biedrins and Udoh.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Warriors End up Splitting on Road Trip

Things were looking up for the Warriors after beating the Cavs in Cleveland while getting almost nothing for star scorer Monta Ellis. Monta surprised me by playing just a night after taking an Anderson Varejao elbow straight to the nose, but even his 30 points, 5 assists and 6 steals couldn't push the Warriors over a reeling Nets team that absolutely dominated the glass.

I don't know why but the Warriors team free-throw shooting this season has been putrid and it was once again below par Wednesday night. They shot below 70% as a team and you aren't going to win many games when your team shoots under 70% from charity stripe. Ellis was much better vs. the Nets but was something like 4-10 free-throw shooting the previous night, and David Lee, who's normally money from the line, shot just 50% there Wednesday. Also, the Warriors were exposed in another area that's really killing them. No real post presence in the middle. They were out-rebounded as a team, 48-25, and I don't care who you are, if you shoot poorly from the line and get dominated on the glass to that extent, your going to get beat. So the Warriors gave a Nets team that was struggling worse than they were an opening and the Nets jumped right through it. The now infamous Kris Humphries, was going to call him Mr. Kardashian, but he put the Lee to shame after Lee looked like he was finally gaining some consistency. Humphries ended up with 18 points, 15 boards and 4 blocks, while Lee struggled horribly from the field and line and ended up with only 12 points, though he did have a double-double with 10 boards. As much of an impact player Ellis is, the team kind of goes as David Lee goes right now, and if he dominates, this team tends to play well. Essentially, in other words, they're getting very good guard play win or lose, but it's when they actually get some post scoring and out-rebound teams that they win ballgames. Proving, as the previous NBA champions have, it's really tough to win in the NBA without at least a quality center on one end of the floor, either a defensive wizard (a la Tyson Chandler) or an offensive juggernaut (Gasol, Shaq, Duncan, Garnett).

This Brings me to my next topic. I said in my last post that this time around I'd present a different Eastern Conference center that the Warriors should take a long, hard look at. Let's face it, Dwight Howard isn't coming to town folks, he doesn't even want to. The next guy I'd look at is Mr. Javelle McGee, who's show-boating ways have him in Flip Saunders dog house in Washington, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better, 23 year old 7-footer. McGee's a guy who could dominate the glass, dominates defensively and can score inside. All three areas which the Warriors are struggling at. I'm not sure what Washington would want for McGee or if they'd even consider parting with him. Although things haven't materialized for the Wizards, they do have a very solid young nucleus there. One spot where they're pretty set though is in their backcourt with guards John Wall, Nick Young and Jordan Crawford. They really don't need a Steph Curry or Monta Ellis. They also have Andre Blatche, who they could easily slide into the center spot should they deal McGee. It just all comes back to what he Warriors would have that Washington would want, and an uncertain status with their upcoming first rounder isn't helping things.

I know Warrior fans hate to hear it, but I'm going under the assumption that the Warriors won't end up with a top-7 pick, especially if Curry comes back soon, which is looking likely. Again, I see this team finished right around the middle-to-low end of the pack, but not the bottom 1/4 of the NBA. And since they likely won't have one in 2012, I doubt they consider toying with their 2013 draft pick. Meaning, if they are to make a move for McGee or any center, it's going to have for players they have on their roster right now? Would Udoh, Thompson and Wright be enough? Doubt it, but I'd try like heck if I were Larry Riley!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Straight Getting Warriors Back to Relevance

The Warriors moved to 5-8 with back-to-back wins in Detroit then Cleveland, both teams who had equal or better records than Golden State coming in. What's even more important is that Steph Curry has returned to full practice and is closing in on a return. He could be ready as soon as Wednesday night's tilt in New Jersey, however, my money's on him returning when the team comes home Friday night.

So, they'll have to endure another game without their star point guard, but if they get another effort from David Lee and the bench like they got Tuesday night, they should be just fine against a New Jersey squad that even a Curry-less Warriors should be able to handle. Now, the Warriors have lost to a lot of teams they should have beaten early on this season and won games they weren't favored in, much like Tuesday's tilt against the 6-6 Cavaliers. It wasn't all roses for the Warriors though, as they got a scare late in the game after Monta Ellis took an elbow straight on to the nose from Anderson Varejo, which knocked Monta out of the game and possibly gave him a broken nose. Now, if that's indeed the case, Ellis is likely out for Wednesday's game in New Jersey as well, so the team will lean even more heavily on David Lee, Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson than they have the last few nights. Speaking of which, I wanted to touch on David Lee a little bit, as he's really come out of his shell and has broken out and now scored 20+ in 5 straight for the first time as a Warrior. During this last 5-game span, the Warriors have gone 3-2, and Lee has averaged 26 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He's given the team some consistency in the paint and been huge on the boards and they've responded with winning basketball.

Now, again, probably without Monta, it's going to be a real challenge for this team, but it's one I think they can handle. They'll probably slide either Brandon Rush or Nate Robinson into Monta's spot in the lineup alongside Charles Jenkins to at least start the game, but I'd expect a lot of Klay Thompson and Brandon Rush, possibly 25+ minutes for each. Rush was getting a lot of play at SF as Dorrell Wright's slump continues, so as much as the Warriors like having Robinson's energy coming off the bench early, I think they're going to have to insert him into the starting lineup until Monta or Steph are ready. It's either that or Klay Thompson, and I kind of like Klay in the role Jackson has been using him in lately, just to go in and take as many open shots as possible, cause the dude hit's better the 60% of his shots when he get's an opening on a catch-and-shoot. He's not much of a shot creater yet and doesn't shoot as well off the dribble, but you give him just a split second of an opening for a catch and shoot and he's already getting a reputation as one of the better ones in the league. I still would rather have seen this team take Markieff Morris, just based on team needs, but I'm starting to see what Jerry West and Mark Jackson saw in the 6'7" guard who tied his career high of 14 points, coupled with 2 assists on 5-9 shooting (4-4 from 3 point range) in just 16 minutes of play on Tuesday. That's getting it done, flat out. Anytime your scoring nearly a point-per minute, that's something to talk about and it should net Thompson some big minutes Wednesday if Ellis and Curry are both out again and Wright's struggles continue.

Roster Note: The Warriors added another big man in place of Kwame Brown this week, inking F/C Earl Barron, and waiving guard Ishmael Smith. I was kind of pulling for defensive prowler and 7'1" center Joel Przybilla. I'd never even heard of this Barron guy before the signing, but would have gone with the sure-handed vet Przybilla over the lesser experienced Barron. I also don't get why this team isn't using high 2nd round pick Jeremy Tyler more often. This guy was supposed to be the next Monta Ellis, the steal of the 2nd round for the Warriors, but they seem skittish at just using the 20 year-old. I'd like to see why the Warriors where so high on this guy and see him given some shots in certain situations.

Next Up: Another Eastern Conf. center the 'Dubs should look at, outside of Mr. Howard!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Injuies could earn Warriors a protected draft pick

The Warriors beat the Heat with a brilliant performances by Nate Robinson, Dorell Wright, David Lee, and Monta Ellis. Actually, every Warriors player gave a little something in that win. The Warriors didn't play a perfect game and the Heat may have had their focus on the following night's match-up against the Clippers.

The W's also deserve credit for hanging tough with the Orlando Dwight Howards for most of last night's game, considering their seriously depleted roster. No Curry (ankle), no Dorell (knee), no Kwame (torn pectoral muscle)...It was the worst possible time to lose Kwame with the NBA's most dominant center in town...

Let me clarify a previous post where I suggested the Warriors should tank. Tank is an ugly word. It conjures up images of players missing lay-ups on purpose or playing dummy defense. The intention of 'tank' is better described as the Warriors saving their best for next season and not mortgaging the future with 'win-now' type of moves where they give away young talent and draft picks. Let's be honest, the Warriors are the youngest team in the league, they have had minimal time to adjust to a new coach, and despite these conditions, they are not awful. The Warriors need to continue to build their base of young talent, they need that top 7 pick in this upcoming draft. It doesn't matter what position type is available, they need talent, even if that talent is there as an asset for a possible trade when the time is right.

No dummy defense or intentionally missed free throws are needed. Tanking is ugly. But giving Monta Ellis rest in a blowout is okay. Giving rookies like Klay Thompson and Charles Jenkins more minutes is not tanking, but letting them get their rookie mistakes out of the way when the season isn't on the line. Like Trevor said, injuries to key players may get the Warriors that protected top 7 pick without any questionable maneuvering (not that Mark Jackson would ever consider any of those tactics, he obviously wants to win).

I think it's safe to say that no one will question coach Jackson if he doesn't make good on his playoff promise. There are somethings that a coach cannot control (i.e. injuries, lockouts, front offices decisions). Warriors fans have been conditioned to have the lowest expectations of any in the NBA. We understand this thing isn't going to turn around overnight. Coach Jackson needs some more talent to work with and the Warriors need that lottery pick this year.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Kwame Brown Suffers Season-Ender

The Warriors biggest weakness just got a lot weaker, as they lost their best defensive center, and a guy who was instrumental in the team's 3 victories this season so far. And it couldn't have come at worse time as Dwight Howard and the Magic role into town for a game at Oracle Thursday night.

Apparently Kwame tore his pectoral muscle in Tuesday night's victory over the Heat, providing a solid 8 points and 6 boards but also limiting Chris Bosh and both Dwayne Wade and LeBron James' abilities to just drive the line at will. Was just listening to Yahoo Sports' Mike Spears on KNBR and he made a very good point about other players having to step their game up in Kwame's absence. Even though Biedrins was the team's starter on the depth chart, Brown was collecting more minutes and providing more quality minutes than Biedrins was, so Andris has to be that guy that steps it up and gets back to his double-double ways. Another couple of guys who need to start pulling their weight are Epke Udoh (who was selected 6th overall in last years draft, but has yet to really show why). There are players who were selected after Udoh like Detroit's Greg Monroe, who have already paid huge dividends for their team, and the guys taken ahead of him, like DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Wesley Johnson are already young NBA stars. So yeah, I expect Udoh to get more minutes, and I'm expecting him to start showing us why the Warriors thought enough of him to take him when most draft experts had him as a late-first round pick at best. It's also time to see Jeremy Tyler, who had a lot of hype surrounding him after his selection, but the 20 year -old has yet to play even 5 minutes yet this year.Link
With Curry's ankle a huge question mark, and something that could slow him down all year long, and probably keep him out the rest of the month, if not longer. Now with the loss of Kwame Brown on top of that, the team's best defensive big man and a huge bench presence, this team is just another bad break away from their season ending by February. Our writer Brian suggested in his last post that the Warriors tank the season to ensure they get a top-7 pick and keep their first rounder (if they finish with anything higher than 7, it goes to Utah). However, if they keep losing players at this rate, they won't have to do any tanking, they're just going to be plain bad. As they stand now, without Steph and Brown, it severely mitigates their strength as a team and they really are probably one of bottom five teams in the league. I mean, outside of Monta, some inconsistent play from Dorrel Wright and a below-average start for David Lee, this team really has nothing left in the tank. I still like Nate Robinson and Brandon Rush, but those guys provide guard depth, and now this team's big man depth is basically paper-thin. Now you see why it's so urgent that either Epke Udoh or Jeremy Tyler step into Brown's role and provide at least what Brown was, if not more, because even with a healthy Kwame, this still went 3-6 team.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ghost of the '06-'07 Warriors Returns

After looking like one of the leagues worst squads in their previous four straight (2 of which should have been "gimmies"), but tapped into their "We Believe" state against the leagues best team at Oracle Tuesday and beat the Miami Heat in thrilling, overtime fashion.

The Warriors were starting to look like they just couldn't cut it playing without their leader and point guard, Steph Curry, as they failed miserably against the Suns and Jazz, two teams they have more talent than and should have beaten. But on Tuesday night, we finally saw someone take hold of the offense, and no it wasn't Monta Ellis. Monta is Monta and will bring it every night, but he showed in the previous 4 games that the team doesn't run as well when he's running the point (for whatever reason, I don't know). The man to step up and take control of the offense was 5'9" Nate Robinson, in his 4th day as a Warrior, took the lead and led this team into overtime when things looked all but over with about 3 minutes left in the game. Robinson stepped up to bring 25 points, 5 assists, 4 boards and 4 steals off the bench in 36 minutes of play, basically handling PG duties from the 4th quarter through OT. I mentioned to our other writer here at the Rundown, Brian, the other day that I thought the Warriors should be running Robinson at point and Ellis at two while Steph is shelved. I don't like putting a green rookie like Charles Jenkins into the starting lineup, and it's not to knock Jenkins, there are just better options.

Even though Robinson was huge and helped lead the charge, the Warriors finally helped out their leading scorer Monta Ellis, as Dorell Wright and David Lee each had their best nights of the young season. In a game when Monta shot worse than he would have liked (9-25, 1-7 on 3's), he still managed 22 points with 3 assists, steals and rebounds. His big problem on the night was turnovers, as key ones late almost cost the team the game, and he ended with a whopping 9 on the night, half of the teams TO's. Luckily for him though, he didn't have to have his "A" game vs. LeBron and Wade, as David Lee stepped up with a 20/14 night to go with 4 steals. Dorell Wright also busted out, as he had by far his best night of the season popping off for 20 points (6 three's), and 10 boards himself. The Dubs were playing shorthanded as they were again without Curry and Andris Biedrins, so it was key for those bigs to dominate the glass and beat Miami on the boards. The W's can also thank the fact that the Heat struggled at the line, shooting just 65% as a team, cause the Warriors shot barely 40% from the field.

So what does this win mean in the grand scheme of things? Nothing really. It did prove the Warriors can play with the leagues elite when they're on, even without Curry, but they still sit at 3-6 and the fact they're being so hush-hush about Steph's injury makes me worry that it might be a little more serious than the club is leading on. Why else is Steph in Charlotte when the Warriors are back home playing the heat? If he's close to returning, he'd be with the team working out but that's not the case. So this team is still behind the 8-ball, but I really want to see how this team finishes out January before I make my guess. After Orlando on Thursday, the W's face 4 teams in a row that they should beat, and if they do so, that could turn around their season. Still way early folks, but let's see if this beating of the Heat without Steph becomes the huge momentum shifter this team was looking for!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Warriors Should Tank Season...Seriously

The Warriors kicked off the season with impressive wins against the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, but lately they've been in free fall and are losers of five straight (make it six with Miami coming into town tomorrow). Sure, the absence of Stephen Curry and his 20 points, 10 assists, and efficient shooting factor in, but the Dubs were still a borderline team with a healthy Curry.

Coach Mark Jackson set the bar high with promises to make the playoffs and I was sold after the Warriors beat the Bulls soundly. Now, as the season progresses, we are beginning to see there are too many leaks in this poorly designed ship and we should not be surprised as it sinks. It doesn't matter if the Warriors have new ownership with deep pockets, the sagely Jerry West as a consultant, or a solid coaching staff in Mark Jackson and Mike Malone. Winning in the NBA comes down to the talent on the floor, a commodity the Warriors are short on.

Here is a strategy: tank. Yes, tank the season. Continue to walk the ball up the court and struggle in a half court offensive set, rather than utilize the talent on the floor and run. Continue to sit back in zone defense and get killed on the board. Continue to not have a true point guard and shoot yourself in the foot with a slough of turnovers.

The Utah Jazz own the Warriors first round draft pick, but it is a protected pick. That means the Warriors get that pick back if it is a top seven pick. In order to get that pick, they would have to play poorly and continue to lose. The Warriors need to add talent and a top seven pick would be a big step in the direction of improvement.

Dwight Howard talks have hushed recently, meaning the Magic probably wanted too much for Howard (i.e. Monta Ellis and a future first round pick) compounded with Howard probably refusing to commit beyond this season. So where does that leave the Warriors? Right where they've been: rebuilding mode. They've been rebuilding for decades and have been left in the dust by teams like the Thunder and Grizzlies, former cellar dwellers like the Warriors that have built their teams through the draft.

I hope the Warriors don't trade away the future and have some patience. I hope Mark Jackson continues to start Charles Jenkins, runs half court offense, and rest Curry for extended time. Mark Jackson isn't going anywhere, Warriors die-hard fans aren't going anywhere...Losing is nothing new to Bay Area basketball. I'd like to see the losing go somewhere. Have a plan for the future.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Warriors Show Glaring Weaknesses in LA

Well, there you have it folks, you saw first hand what this teams problem is last night in LA. My mistake, there are actually three problems haunting this team right now.

Problem #1: You can obviously see why they're pursuing Dwight Howard so aggressively. If Andrew Bynum makes his free throws last night, he ends up with a 16-16 night, as he and Gasol dominated the glass. The Lakers beat the Warriors on the glass all night 47-34, a huge disparity. Granted, Kwame Brown did a decent job limiting Bynum offensively to just 9 points and forcing him go to the line, but the Lake Show's front line ate the Warriors' alive. Why? The Warriors are stocked with undersized, backup caliber centers. David Lee is the only legit big man they have so when he's off like he was in LA, it's "good night" Warrior fans.

Problem #2: Neither Monta nor Steph (when healthy) are big enough to guard 2-guards like Kobe Bryant, who went off for a cool 40 points vs. the W's last night. Dorrell Wright has been missing all year and did a wretched job defensively. Not only that, but Kobe reeled in 5 boards and dished out 7 assists. He had his way with the Warriors small forward. D-Wright has to improve tenfold or else we're in for a long season.

Problem #3: I saved the best for last. Without a center like Howard, I don't know why Mark Jackson is intent on having his team run half-court offense's so often. I know Steph wasn't out there, but the Warriors still have the personnel to run, and run they should. They need to win shootouts 115-108 or something, not these 85-79, low scoring games, that's not the W's style, at least with this group of players. I hope Jackson realizes it soon, when Steph comes back, they need to run at every chance they get momentum that way. They can still play good defense, but they have to push the ball down the court, not walk it!

Outside of those thoughts from the LA game, I thought Nate Robinson was a delight to watch (well listen to actually, my NBA Internet TV spot was down for some reason last night), but it sure looks like he's bringing the kind of energy off the bench this team needs, exactly as I thought he would (just scroll down to paragraph two)! The thing is though, with Steph shelved for at least a week one would think, I would insert Nate into the starting lineup with Monta and let Nate run the point. He showed he's more than capable last night, granted he did show some rust on mistaken passes, but It's a better set-up than starting green-as-ever rookie Charles Jenkins out there. I personally would have started Rush at 2 and Monta at 1 last night, as Rush could have matched up with Kobe better, and Monta could have destroyed both DFish and Steve Blake. I can't believe Jackson threw Jenkins into the starting lineup when he hadn't even played a combined 20 minutes in his NBA career yet?! C'mon Coach, I was expecting better from you. I know it's still early but I've been less than impressed with Coach Jackson so far, hopefully he gets better as he learns his players a little better. But with the short season, that probably means no playoffs again Warrior fans, and they're not a bottom 1/3 team either, so in all likelihood, no #1 draft pick to look forward to either! My guess for the W's win-loss record with the way things are looking 28-38 (66 games) and giving Utah pick #13, or somewhere neighborhood!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Would you package Curry or Ellis for a Dwight Howard trade?

The quest for a game changing big man continues with the news that the Warriors are making a strong push for a Dwight Howard trade. The Warriors have been unsuccessful in attempts to attract Kevin Garnett, A'mare Stoudamire, Tyson Chandler, and DeAndre Jordan. The latter two in that list are difference makers, but Dwight Howard is a franchise cornerstone superstar.

Reports say that the Warriors are willing to part with either Monta Ellis or Stephen Curry, among other players. Should the Warriors give up major pieces to get Howard without the guarantee he will stay after the end of the season when he will be a free agent? Yes. This is the ideal time for this franchise to take a chance. This is the time for Joe Lacob to show the rest of the NBA that he is serious about turning the team around, even if Howard is only a rental. If the Warriors acquire Howard in a trade this season, they will be able to offer the big fella $30 million more than any other franchise via the bird law (LeBron turned down the extra $30 mil he could have taken in Cleveland to take his talents to South Beach).

The next difficult question: Who should the Warriors move in order to get Howard? Ellis or Curry? In 2008, it looked like Monta's "scooter-gate" incident would make his ankle the problem, but recently Curry's ankle has been the bigger concern. At the beginning of the year, I would bet that at least 51 percent of Warriors fans would chose to keep Curry over Ellis, but now...I would say the momentum has swung in the favor of keeping Ellis. Ellis is leading the league in minutes, eighth in scoring at 23 ppg, and eighth in assists with 8 apg. I think Warriors GM Larry Riley is proposing Stephen Curry, Dorell Wright, Ekpe Udoh, Andris Biedrins, and Klay Thompson for Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, and a throw in like Quentin Richardson or Von Wafer. The Warriors need to get Dwight Howard, whether it costs Curry or Ellis. Let's say the Dub's find a way to get Howard, there is still the chance that Howard will bounce out in the off-season. That's a big risk, especially if Curry and his shaky ankle is the only guy left after the dust settles.

If you're having trouble making a decision between Curry and Ellis, here's a question: Is Stephen Curry still the guy to build the franchise around? Block out the Howard trade talks and consider it. Is Steph's ankle going to limit his career? Well, it already has. I see Steph and see Grant Hill, an ultra talented player who's career was sidelined with ankle problems. Steph will be a productive NBA player for a long time, but staying healthy will be a problem. Ellis is extremely durable and the guy to keep. If the Warriors have to give up Ellis, they should get a better package in return.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

W's Witness What they Missed In Morris

The Warriors brain-trust, ultimately you Larry Riley, saw first hand what they could have drafted instead of the stand-up shooter, and not much else guard Klay Thompson, when Markieff Morris helped the Suns torch the Warriors on Monday!

I can tell the Warriors' brass, ha ha, told you so! At the time, I didn't understand why the Warriors would add another wing-player when their real need was a post presence who could dominate. Maybe they were banking on the ability to sign Tyson Chandler or Nene or something, but I immediately thought a trade was on the way after they drafted Thompson. Well, since then, there has been no trade, and the Morris brother I wanted the Warriors to draft has been absolutely dominant for the Pheonix Suns, doing exactly what the Warriors have been lacking inside so far early on. All Morris did vs. the Dubs was put up his best game, with 16 points and 9 boards and 2 assists in just over 30 minutes. For a big man to be that polished so early on just shows the potential this 6'10" 250 pounder has. Not saying that Dominc McGuire and Kwame haven't done a nice job off the bench, but imagine having Markieff Morris in there taking minutes from Biedrins! That would be a delight.

Onto real Warriors news, it was announced Tuesday that the Warriors and guard Nate Robinson have agreed to a deal for the 2012 season. On the surface, I actually like this move a lot as it strengthens the Warriors bench substantially. Robinson knows Jackson well from the time Jackson spent around the Knicks organization. If Robinson weren't in a position to come in and help this team out then Jackson wouldn't have endorsed signing him, but I'm behind it 100%. It basically last year (2010 really) when he was scoring 14 points and dishing out 4 assists per 23 minutes played, so the 5'9" guard can produce in a hurry! Robinson should come right in and enter the guard rotation. I think Jackson and Riley realized that Klay Thompson is a little raw and not quite ready for big minutes yet and Ishmael Smith has been a nice surprise, but isn't the scorer Robinson is if the Warriors need quick points. Robinson will probably take minutes from both of those two in Coach Jackson's guard rotation. With Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson now, the Warriors have some proven instant scoring off the bench, now if they could only get the same type of offensive player, just a foot taller for the inside (Udoh and Brown are defense-first types). Definitely behind this move though, excellent, low-risk/high-reward potential type deal! Link

Monday, January 2, 2012

Warriors Should Make Run at Cousins

If disgruntled Sacramento Kings' center DeMarcus Cousins is truly at complete odds with coach Westphal, and is seriously demanding the Kings trade him, then the Kings will likely cave into that pleading/whining.

Now, whining aside, I don't care what kind of differences Cousins has with Paul Westphal, I can almost guarantee Mark Jackson would get that dude to straighten up in second if it meant points in the paint! As far as I know, he's actually a good teammate, just had an incident with Westphal that seems almost like a way less violent or crazy version of Sprewell's way back with P.J. (probably some choice words thrown out and just a pure dislike for one-another). Probably some kind of misunderstanding that he and his coach can't come to is really what it's sounding like, but again, I'm a Warriors blogger, not in the Sacramento media circulation. Either way, I think DeMarcus Cousins is one of the finest young centers in all the NBA and if he is indeed demanding a trade as Adande at ESPN is putting it at ESPN, the Warriors should be all over it. Since he's demanded the trade, I wonder if it will bring his return value down, but then I think about the fact that he's an accomplished 21 year-old center, it quickly brings me back to reality. Maybe something like Udoh, Biedrins and a first rounder would do it, especially if the Warriors paid most of Andres' salary, so it offsets. Chances are though that they'd want an accomplished NBA player at least though, and the Warriors would likely have to part with someone like a Dorrell Wright or David Lee. With the emergence of Brandon Rush, I would include Wright and a first rounder in order to get the monstrous Cousins, exactly the type of player this team has needed in the paint for years and years. The Kings would probably want David Lee, but I'd try my darnedest to acquire DeMarcus Cousins wihout giving up the big-three of Steph/Monta/Lee.

Again though, Cousins has only been around a year, so you can't trade the house for him as he's not fully proven quite yet, but from what he's shown, he'll certainly be in high-demand (unless the Spurs figure out how good they'd be with him next to Duncan in TD's twilight years). The part that may give the Warriors an edge if he is indeed on the market, is not many contending teams need starting centers. Then again, at 21, he'd be a nice piece for a rebuilding team to start around. Either way, if Adande is right and the reports are to be believed, DeMarcus Cousins should be in a new Uni very shortly!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Brian's post season preview

Trevor laid down his playoff predictions, here are mine.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

First Round

Heat over Bucks (sweep)
Bulls over 76ers (6 games)
Knicks over Hawks (7 games)
Celtics over Magic (7 games)

Semi-Finals

Heat over Knicks (sweep)
Bulls over Celtics (6 games)

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Heat over Bulls (5 games)
_________________________________
WESTERN CONFERENCE

First Round

Thunder over Warriors (5 games)
Blazers over Grizzlies (6 games)
Clippers over Spurs (7 games)
Lakers over Mavs (6 games)

Semi-Finals

Thunder over Lakers (5 games)
Blazers over Clippers (6 games)

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Thunder over Blazers (7 games)

__________________________

NBA CHAMPIONSHIP


Miami Heat over Oklahoma City Thunder (7 games)

I realize this pick is about as risky as buying stock in Apple computers, but I have to go with the ESPN the Magazines and Sports Illustrated's of the world. The Heat went through the pain of getting so close without smoking that proverbial cigar. LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh have all the talent and the hunger to get the ring this year. The compacted schedule of this season should also be beneficial to this young and athletic team. "It won't be just one, but two, three, four, five, six..."(okay, we get it LeBron, you guys are good).
_________________________________
2012 NBA AWARDS

Coach of the Year: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat
Most Improved Player: JaVale McGee F/C, Washington Wizards
6th Man of the Year: Jamal Crawford SG, Portland Trailblazers
Defensive Player of the Year: Deandre Jordan C, LA Clippers
Rookie of the Year: Ricky Rubio PG, Minnesota T'Wolves
NBA MVP: Kevin Durrant SF, OKC Thunder