Thursday, March 29, 2012

Loss to Hornets, Curry Shelving Helps Draft Status

The exhausted Warriors, that came within a few points of upsetting the Pacific leading Los Angeles Lakers, where then trounced on by the lowly New Orleans Hornets, which gives them two losses that really helps their draft status.

They're about to enter a rough stretch in the final month of play here in which most of the teams they play are all .500 teams or better, and as I said in a recent post, the Warriors very possibly could end up losing the rest of the games on their schedule, especially since they're deciding to sit Curry in a very smart move to keep him healthy for next season. They need to make sure they're heading into next season with everyone they have healthy, cause they won't have much cap space to do a whole lot this summer, unless someone amazingly takes Andris Biedrins off their hands. I think it's pretty safe to assume that Klay Thompson has done enough, especially with the tremendous job he did against Kobe Bryant the other night defensively, that he's pretty much cemented himself into the starting shooting guard role for next season, giving the Warriors a back court of Curry and Thompson, two under-25 year-olds who have loads and loads of upside. They also are set at the 4 and 5, at least on the starting end of things, with Lee and Bogut. Now, their main goal is to finish as bad as they possibly can, while still entertaining the fans and allowing their young players to grow and flourish, so they can possibly end up with their high first rounder and get themselves a Harrison Barnes or Tourney standout, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. There are also some shooting guards too, should they decide to try Thompson out at the 3, but I think they have the back court they want.

Another thought that I've been pondering is the possibility of the Warriors dealing their pick they just got from San Antonio for a small forward to a team like the T-Wolves in exchange for Michael Beasley. The 23 year-old, 2008 2nd overall pick is the exact type of consistent scorer and rebounder that could provide an upgrade at the 3 spot. He's kinda like the David Lee of small forwards and would be much better on the boards and on defense than Wright. I'm not sure the W's will be able to get a guy who can make an impact in the next year or two like Beasley could, with that late of a pick, even in a stocked draft. And the fact that it is a stocked draft, and the fact the T-Wolves have Derrick Williams and are widely expected to be shopping Beasley, could persuade the T-Wolves into taking the late first rounder for Beasley. Heck, it's what they would have gotten from the Lakers had they sent him there. I mean, their pick in the 2nd round (New Jersey's) will only be about 5-8 picks later where they'll likely have a top-5 2nd rounder (or wherever the Nets finish in the lottery). I don't know, but they need to be creative in how they now add players, as they're in a salary cap crunch for the next couple of seasons. Their role players, like Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson aren't even sure to re-sign, as they could get better offers elsewhere that Golden State won't be able to match. I have a feeling the W's will again be wheeling and dealing again this offseason, as it's really the only way, outside of the draft, to get relevant pieces from outside the organization. I'd be all for exchanging bad-contract for bad-contract for just about anyone in the league for Biedrins as a start!

Monday, March 26, 2012

W's Must Use Sunday's Lineup For Rest of Year

The Warriors finally gave in and went with their all-out young lineup Sunday night, starting Charles Jenkins and Klay Thompson in the back-court with Dorrell Wright, David Lee and Jeremy Tyler up front.

This is the lineup I'd like to see the Warriors use the rest of the way. Not only does it give the young guys tons and tons of experience, but it also keeps Nate Robinson in the role he's thrived at best, coming off the bench, while giving the team a green lineup that is more apt to lose games in this final, tough stretch of basketball for the W's. The Warriors have a brutal schedule from here on out that pretty much started last night against the Blazers. In fact, with the way they've played lately (only Thompson and Lee providing offense), it wouldn't really surprise me if they lost the rest of the games on their schedule which would put them in primal drafting position and likely get them back into the bottom-7. However, some of their young players are playing well. Thompson is proving that he certainly can handle the scoring load that Monta Ellis left behind, as he's actually been more impressive in his starts with the Warriors than Monta has been in his with Milwaukee. I know the trade is still very new, and Monta's still adjusting, but I think his game high with the Bucks has been 20, and he's yet to really click with Brandon Jennings in another small back-court with two players that like the ball in their hands. I think Milwaukee now faces the exact problem that the Warriors did, and Bucks fans may be realizing that a healthy Bogut may indeed have more value than an undersized, albeit talented 2-guard.

Besides Thompson, who's averaged 21 ppg, 3 rebounds and 2 assists with a steal in his 9 games in place of the former Warriors star, Charles Jenkins emerged Sunday with a 27 point, 6 assist night in his first extensive playing time he's gotten this year. You can really see why a lot of draft people expected this guy to go in the first round in last years draft and why the Warriors choose him over Jeremy Lin. Jenkins obviously can play, and I think with him, and hopefully Nate Robinson back, the Warriors should be set at the point and shouldn't need to play Steph Curry 40 minutes a night. Hopefully, he emerges like Thompson has in Monta's absence, and gives the Warriors real depth at the point heading into the summer and the draft. The Warriors aren't going to have much cap space, so the squad your looking at, barring a few tinkers here and there and a few draftees, is what you'll get next season. However, a good draft and the return to health of Curry and Bogut would be a good enough offseason as far as Warrior fans are concerned..

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Warriors Need to Figure Out What They Have/Need

OK, so the Warriors pulled the trigger on a big move to get them the center they've lacked in Golden State for decades, but it did come at the expense of the team's top scorer and starting point guard. What the Warriors need to figure out over this final month-plus of the season is figure out who they want, who they don't and exactly what they need heading into the offseason.

It looks like they're pretty set at the point, especially if Robinson returns. Charles Jenkins doesn't get a whole of PT, but that should increase in the final month, and during limited minutes, he's shown promise. The Warriors also will need to make signing Brandon Rush a priority as well, as he's, arguably outside of Ellis, been the teams most consistent player since day one. He's the ideal shooter they'll need come next season when they do have the inside presence of Bogut and Lee. More importantly in my mind though, are the two starting spots that are somewhat un-set as we look ahead towards 2012-13, and those are the starting shooting guard and small forward. At the 2, Thompson has shown the ability to score, but he hasn't shot all that well as a starter, and still has still shown proneness to rookie mistakes. They need to figure out if he's a Nick Young (OK scoring as only asset, but only with high volume of shots that come with a lot of misses) or a Kevin Martin (good, steady shooter and deadly from 3-point range, offensive force when on). He has to improve his ability to go to the rim and create for himself during this final month to eliminate any doubt the Warriors may have towards his ability as a starting shooting guard. I know one guy who's available, albeit in the restricted variety, but is expected to leave New Orleans is Eric Gorden. Boy would he make the Monta Ellis deal go obsolete in Warrior fans minds, but the Warriors likely aren't in position, salary cap wise, to be real players for Gordon.

The other position that the Warriors need to consider is the starting small forward position. It's something I've mentioned ever since the Richard Jefferson deal, as the Warriors are tied to him for two more seasons and he's played well with the Warriors. This also is coming on the heals of a horrible season by Dorrell Wright, in which he's managed only a few 20+ point nights. The Warriors must be pondering whether or not Wright was a 1-year wonder in 2010-11, or if the 2012 version is more to Wright's abilities, as his career would numbers suggest. However, unless the Warriors are epically bad this last month and move into a position to nab Harrison Barnes, the Warriors have their small forward in uniform right now, it's just a matter of Jefferson or Wright. So far, in his brief stint as a Warrior, Jeff has shown better ability to handle the basketball, pass, defend and even shoot. Wright is very streaky, and very similar offensively to Klay Thompson and the Warriors may not want two of those style players in the starting lineup together. It's all going to come down to who's available, what kind of money is available, if the Warriors are indeed able to unload Biedrins like Joe Lacob said he thinks they can during a recent radio interview, and where they end up in the draft. But outside of giving Jeremy Tyler and Jenkins a lot more PT, the Warriors have to be doing the same with Thompson and also getting Jefferson as much time as possible to see what he can bring.

Note: The Blazers beat the Warriors to the punch and I think got a steal in J.J. Hickson. Sacramento just didn't play him, but he's a talented big who, again, would have been a nice option behind Lee and Bogut, along with McGuire and a yet-to-be-determined backup center (hopefully not Biedrins) heading into 2012-13.

Also, as we'll start doing from now till the end of the season, the Warrior's Draft Watch, to see if they do end up in the top-7 of the lottery.... They're still currently at pick 10, which of course if went through, would be out of their hands and into Utah's.

Monday, March 19, 2012

W's Should Look Into Released J.J. Hickson

It's obvious the Warriors are building for next season. They've traded for Andrew Bogut, who won't suit up for them this season, stock-piled some draft picks and added a strong veteran influence in Richard Jefferson.

As I said in our last post, the loss of Ellis is wearing off a bit more and I'm starting to see this trade in a different light and really do understand why the Warriors pulled the trigger. Now, one of the players that they did give up, who I was hoping they wouldn't have to, was PF/C Epke Udoh, who had really started coming into his own the last few weeks and took over the starting center spot. However, with him know shipped off to the Bucks along with Ellis, the Warriors have a big void there at backup power forward/center. Dominic McGuire has done an admirable job all-season long off the bench and is a solid player, but asking him to guard these 6'10" and larger bigs is just asking too much. Luckily for the Warriors, if they're interested, the Sacramento Kings just released on of their surplus of talented big men in J.J. Hickson. The 23 year-old 6'9", 250 pounder (pictured on the left from last year dunking over KG) is coming off a breakout year last season in Cleveland, where he averaged about 14 points and 8 boards per night in just his 3rd season. The Kings then acquired him before this season, but developed such a surplus of big-men that Hickson was never really able to get regular minutes or acclimated in Sac. He started early on in the season, but then hit a little slump and completely lost all of his PT.

The Warriors are indeed building for 2012-13 and beyond and I think J.J. Hickson is the perfect backup to David Lee, who could provide rebounding and offense off the bench, and of course, give them another big-bodied player who can play some center. He's a lot like Udoh, just not quite the defender, but much more polished offensively. He's a guy that I'd love to see Mark Jackson get a chance to coach and I see nothing but positive output from the kid if they signed him! While were on the topic of young players, why Jeremy Tyler (at center) and Charles Jenkins (at point) aren't starting and playing good minutes every game at this point is beyond me? The Warriors need to see what they have in these guys and it would certainly help out their efforts to make the bottom-7 if those two saw in significant increase in PT. Keep the Robinson/Rush/McGuire combo coming off the bench and add Hickson to that bunch then you have not only a nice young starting core, but a solid young bench to boot!

NOTE: It's in the middle of the Monday night's game vs. the T-Wolves as I write this, but I wanted to re-state that I now believe Richard Jefferson will be the Warriors starting SF next season, and beat out Dorrell Wright. I think Wright is far too inconsistent and Jackson's always looking for ways to not play the streaky 3-point threat and he just got a big one in Jefferson. I said after the trade that he'll do better once out of San Antonio, and he's playing well early on Monday. I don't expect anything to change this season, cause Wright is giving them a better chance to lose while out there. We'll see how it transpires, but with what they're paying Jefferson coupled with D-Wright's inabilities on both ends, the elder small forward may have the upper hand at starting for the new look 2012-13 Warriors!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Klay Thompson's Making Ellis Trade Palatable

After the Warriors dealt away their team-leader, leading scorer and one of the top guards in the NBA in Monta Ellis, I was a bit worried as to what would happen at shooting guard and whether or not Klay Thompson could answer the bell.

In three starts since Monta's departure though, Thompson has shined, averaging nearly 20 points per night, 4 boards, 3 assists and a 2 steals. In Friday's highly anticipated matchup, he even outplayed Monta in a lot of aspects, including offensively, even though the Warriors did lose the game. I admit that I was a bit of a critic of the drafting of Thompson, just because the Warriors did have two stud guards already, but now with Monta's trade, it leaves Curry to be the clear-cut point guard, and Thompson can use the final 6 weeks of the season to prove to Mark Jackson that he's the long-term answer at SG. I have to say, for a guy making his first starts, he's first couple career starts, he's looked tremendously polished, and has outplayed his opponent each time out. The one area of his game that is surprisingly lacking though, is his field goal percentage, which was so strong off the bench. Now that he's getting 35-40 minutes per night, he's taking more shots, and he's missing more shots. I expect that to change over time though, and he should emerge as one of the higher percentage shooting guards in the league. He really has reminded me of a young Kevin Martin during this 3-game stretch in which he's taken over the shooting guard, and although he may not be the high-flying athletic talent Monta is, he's a very good basketball player, with good handles, strong passing, good defense and a terrific shot. He's even shown the ability to go to the basket a few times and facilitate for himself and others, which Monta was so good at doing.

Anyway, I'm starting to see why Jerry West was so adamant about the Warriors drafting Thompson, and if he keeps progressing as I believe he will, this deal will turn out a lot better for Golden State. Even though they're pretty strapped as far as the salary cap is concerned, now that they've taken on Bogut and Jefferson and kept Biedrins, but I actually like the team they've put together, and if they can get someone solid with San Antonio's first rounder, than it will even further enhance this squads potential. They really don't need any cap space this summer as they're pretty darn set. They have their center and a very expensive backup. They have their power forward in David Lee, though the loss of Epke Udoh could have the Warriors looking for another big in the draft or cheap young big in free agency. Dominic McGuire has been a pleasant surprise, but they need another big for sure. They have Nate Robinson who will likely re-sign for cheap as he's really carved out a nice niche here and has become a crowd favorite. Brandon Rush has also had one of his best seasons here and will likely want to stick. The addition of Jefferson was key too in my opinion, as he was used sparingly in San Antonio, and needed a change of scenery. I still think the dude can play, and it's evident as he averaged 20 points per game in '08 before joining the Spurs, where he was option number 4 or even sometimes 5 offensively. Much better fit than Stack Jack, as Jefferson is younger, and will either push Dorrell to get his act together this summer or straight up take his spot at 3 next fall! I'm just not convinced this guy all the sudden fell off, he's too good a talent and I think he may end up being a very nice surprise for Warrior fans. Regardless, their potential rotation, with a healthy Bogut and Curry, for 2012-13 is starting to look pretty bright.

As the dust has settled after the flurry of moves, and I've had some time to mull over the deals and where the Warriors stand, I have come to a surprising position. First of, I'll always follow Monta Ellis and appreciate what he did for the Warriors and he'll go down as one of my all-time favorites, but I'm more pleased on Saturday, March 17th (happy St. Patric's Day by the way!), and feel better about this team than I did a week ago when this team seemed to be spinning in it's tracks with no foreseeable impacting change on the horizon. Fact is, without these deal, the Warriors would have had to bank on signing a center, and probably wouldn't have gotten one of Bogut's caliber, and more or less, would have entered next season with much of the same group that they have now. Now, Golden State appears to have a young, legit scoring 2-guard that can apply better defensive match-ups versus the bigger backcourts around the league in Thompson, their longly coveted center and a premiere one at that in Bogut, and are in much better draft position! As long as Bogut and Curry can stay healthy, the Warriors could be very real contenders in the West as soon as next season! I know not all Warrior fans see it this way and some are still bent about losing Monta, but fact of the matter is, the "small backcourt with no center" experiment just wasn't working for the Warriors. The thing that's really made up my mind about this though, again, has been Thompson's emergence. He's supplying Ellis-like scoring at the 2-guard already, and he's still got so much room to grow an improve in just his rookie season!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Warriors Flip Jackson for Jefferson, Deadline Scoop

Well, a lot happened before the NBA's Thursday 3 PM Eastern trade deadline, including the Warriors making two more moves in effort to improve their draft status in this upcoming June draft, which is said to be one of the deepest classes in recent years.

The Warriors first move of the day came in the morning, as they did what many NBA pundits were expecting they'd do and traded Stephen Jackson before he even got a chance to put on a Warriors jersey for his second stint with the team. Now, Richard Jefferson is hardly going to make any Warrior fan jump for joy, as the W's will be on the hook for this guy for the next couple of seasons for around $10M per season. Where the Warriors did win in this deal, was that they obtained San Antonio's first rounder. I'm not sure what the stipulations are yet, as the pick is protected, but I'm assuming it's a pretty sure thing that it's something the Warriors should easily reach. It's probably protected if the Spurs make the top-15 or some ridiculous mark like that, cause they're one of the premiere teams in the NBA this season and won't likely pick until very late in the first round. Regardless, it gets the Warriors into the first round of a very deep draft, I don't care if winds up being a 25th or 26th pick (which is what it'd be if the season ended today, I believe). Now, if the Warriors can magically fall into that bottom-7, which the Monta Ellis deal certainly helped, then they'll be sitting extremely pretty come draft time. Their second move of the day was a deal with the Hawks, landing them their 2nd rounder for cash considerations.

So the Warriors entered the day Thursday with potentially one draft pick in this upcoming, loaded with NBA-caliber talent, draft. And now they walk out of it with three certain picks, and the glimmer of hope still out there that they could land in the bottom-7 of the NBA lottery. The Warriors aren't the only team that was busy on deadline day though. As we have a list of the three most notable and impacting deals below, with some thoughts on each:

Gerald Wallace to New Jersey for their protected first-rounder: This was probably the 2nd biggest deal of the day, as it was one of many moves made by Portland Thursday. The Blazers went through a mini fire-sale before the deadline, dealing away Wallace and starting center Marcus Camby, who was dealt to Houston. They then axed long-time head coach Nate McMillan, in a somewhat surprising move. I know Portland had been struggling this season, but I was surprised they didn't wait until after the year to dismiss McMillan. Anyway, as long as the Blazers end up with the Nets first rounder, which is protected through pick 3 (their likely pick would be 5 if the season ended today), then they make out just fine in this deal, especially as they're obviously moving towards rebuilding. At the same time, although he's had somewhat of an off-year, the 29 year-old Wallace is a rare talent on both ends of the court and may help the Nets chances of resigning Deron Williams over the summer. A potential lineup of Williams, impressive rookie MarShon Brooks, Wallace, Kris Humprhies and Brook Lopez, with Anthony Morrow and Gerald Green coming off the bench for 2012-13, isn't a bad look.

Ramon Sessions to Lakers for first round pick: The Lakers got something they really haven't had in years, and that's a young, explosive point guard who can put up some points and is one of the more underrated players in the NBA. Sessions assists-per-minute ratio is the best in the NBA and he didn't have much of a spot in Cleveland behind star rookie Kyrie Irving. For that, I like this deal for both squads. The Lakers were also trying hard to acquire T-Wolves forward Michael Beasley, and would have been even better off had that gone through, but they have to be happy with their shiny new point guard, who should make everyone on that team better, including Andrew Bynum, and that's scary to think! The Lakers, in response, shipped their long-time PG, Derek Fisher, to Houston.

Three-Way Trade- Clippers acquire Nick Young, Nuggets acquire JaValle McGee, and Wizards end up with Nene: Now, this was the last, but the biggest deal to go down on before the deadline Thursday, and it's a deal that makes a lot of sense for all parties involved. The Clippers get former USC guard Nick Young, bringing him back to SoCal, where they really need some scoring help at the off-guard and small forward position. He's a young perimeter player who should mesh well with CP3 and Blake Griffin and when he's one, he'll even make Clipper fans forget about Eric Gordon. Also, JaValle McGee, who's one of the most talented big men in the game, got the change of scenery he so badly needed, as he was dealt to Denver with Nene heading back to Washington. Nene will give the Wizards a solid veteran front-court influence and should play well with Andre Blatche. However, I think the winner of this deal, if I had to pick one, are the Nuggets. They get a star, 23 year-old center who should fit in well with Denver. George Karl has has the leadership skills and Denver has enough veteran influence that McGee should be on his best behavior. When this guy plays 30+ minutes a night, it's rare if he doesn't wind up with 15 points, 12-15 boards and 3-4 blocks. That's dominance on both ends.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Warriors Get Their Center, But it Costs Them Ellis

Well, news is just now surfacing across the web and sports shows that the Warriors and Bucks have agreed to a deal that sends Monta Ellis, Epke Udoh and Kwame Brown to Milwaukee for Stephen Jackson and center Andrew Bogut.

The main piece of this deal for the Warriors is obviously Andrew Bogut, as it finally gives them a legit, premiere center, but it came at the ultimate price. I had a bad feeling all season long that the Warriors were eventually destined to deal Monta Ellis, and with Steph Curry's bad ankle, it made Monta the only realistic target for interested teams. I never really considered Andrew Bogut though, as he's a young center who's under contract and, when healthy, is easily one of the top-5 centers in the game today. The problem for Bogut though, with this season being no exception, is that he's always seeming to get injured, and the Warriors need to figure out a way to get their new 27 year-old 7-footer in form over the offseason. At first, I was a little startled by the deal, because of my hesitancy to deal Monta, but the more I'm evaluating everything, the more I'm seeing the logic in this one. I mean, Bogut is out for pretty much the rest of the year, and won't be of help to this team at all really this year. To make a long story short, this enhances the Warriors chances at losing more games in these final 6 weeks of the season. If they somehow could sneak into the top-7 in this years draft, then this deal really may pay off, as this years draft is deep with talent. However, if they fail to make that top-7 and enter next year with Jackson and Bogut with no other additions, than this deal isn't looking as hot.

Anyway, it sucks to see Monta go. He was my favorite Warrior over the past 5-6 seasons and I was hoping he'd be here when the Warriors turned into perennial powerhouses. Another thing I don't like about this deal is the fact that Golden State had to part with Epke Udoh, who's really burst onto the scene finally. He made for a perfect 3rd big man to rotate between Bogut and Lee, but out he goes. That said, it's a term in basketball that guards are much easier to come by than game-changing centers, but Bogut's only a game-changer when he's on the court. This deal will really come down to the health of two people going into next season, and those two people are Bogut and Curry. If Curry can get his ankle issues behind him, than it makes losing Monta much easier to swallow. The Warriors have no shortage of off-guards to fill in for Ellis, as my guess is that either Klay Thompson or Stephen Jackson slide into that role, but Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson still seeing plenty of time in reserve. The way I see this deal, to sum it up in a few sentences is this: If Steph and Bogut are 100% healthy heading into the 2012 season with all their injury woes behind them, and the Warriors end up with a first rounder, then this draft will be deemed a success. If any of the following don't happen, this draft has to be looked at in a questionable light. Should be interesting to see how things go over the next 6-8 weeks with Golden State.

People who support the deal, including Yahoo Sports' Marcus Spears, say the Warriors haven't gone anywhere with Monta as their centerpiece and needed a change. Then, like Ralph Barberi with KNBR, who hates the deal, thought it would be wiser to keep Monta and try for the big man in free agency. As I said above, I'm still on the fence, check back with me after the season!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Warriors In a Quandry Before Deadline

As I type this, the Warriors are up on the Clippers in Sunday night's game at the half, 55-42, and if they hold on in the 2nd half, something they've had a hard time doing this season, they will move to within 3 games of the 8th seed Rockets, and just 3.5 games from the 7th seed. In fact, the Western Conference is so closely matched this year, that the Warriors are just 4.5 games back of the 6th seeded team, if they win tonight, and they'd still be 4 games below .500.

Anyway, the whole point of that long into, was that the Warriors find themselves in quite a predicament with the NBA trade deadline creeping up on Thursday. That gives the front office just 3 more nights to figure out if they're going to make a deal, and if so, which direction that deal will take them. I've been saying all season long that this team is very unlikely to end up with their top-7 pick, just cause there are so many bad teams this season. There was a chance of that happening with all the injuries they've faced, but they just keep winning games. As they stand now, they'd pick 11th, based on where they rank as a team, but if they got into the lottery, anything could happen. Even with this current winning streak, and being within striking distance of a playoff spot, I think this team should be calling every contending team and offering up guys like Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush or if the price were right, even Dorrell Wright, no pun intended. You take those three guys off the roster and Klay Thompson then moves into the three spot (which I'd do right now anyway, with Wright struggling), and it gets Jeremy Tyler and Charles Jenkins more PT, while increasing their chances at making the lottery. Also, they could look at a team like the Lakers, who could sure use a point guard like Robinson, and perimeter threats like Wright and Rush, and package them all together to get LA's first rounder which could end up giving the team two first round draft picks.

The one drawback in going down that road though, is that it may look bad to impending free agents that you may intend on pursuing and any time a team goes into fire sale mode, it's sort of a gut punch to the team who's been busting their rear ends the whole season to make a playoff run. In this case though, intelligent Warrior fans are all for it. I mean, best case scenario is this team does make the playoffs as the 8th seed, but then they face the OKC Thunder in round one and likely aren't walking away from that series. Unfortunately, Mark Jackson and Larry Riley seem too competitive to want to give up on a season and deal away the teams best bench players and starting small forward, but I just think it makes too much sense for not only the Warriors, but whoever was the recipient of those three players, be it the Lakers, Clippers (who also need perimeter guys without Billups) or maybe even the T-Wolves, who want to maintain their strong season in wake of losing Ricky Rubio for the year. There should be takers out there for some of the Warriors players, but I just have a feeling that this team will be looking to add rather than subtract come Thursday, if they do anything at all. One guy who seems to make some sense for what they want is Chris Kamen. I'm not 100% sure, but I believe he's a free agent after the season and the Hornets want to get out from under the remaining portion of the $10 million they owe him. If there's an under-appreciated center in this league, it's Kamen, who does everything, kind of like the center version of David Lee. I could see the W's looking into either him or his teammate Emeka Okafor, with not only an eye on this year, but next as well. They need a center and the best chance for them to get one will likely be via trade, as they seem to have a real hard time luring free agents to the Bay Area.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Warriors Push for .500 Road Trip

It's been one of the longest road trips that an NBA team will ever take, as the Warriors haven't played a game at Oracle since mid-February. Coupled with the all-star break, and the 6-game road trip, it's kept them from their home court for 3 weeks and Monday night marks the final game of this pro-longed road trip.

The Warriors started things off very strongly, beating Atlanta and Phoenix, but were blown out by Philly then lost a rough one to a team they should have been able to handle in the Toronto Raptors, 83-75. However, DeMar DeRozan looked like a young Michael Jordan out there, hitting clutch shot after clutch shot as the Warriors didn't have anyone to match up with his size and speed. DeRozan is a streaky player who can carry a team offensively when he's on, I know cause he's on one of my fantasy teams, and he was certainly on Sunday! The young guard dropped a 25/4/4 line and went 6-6 from the line and 9-17 from the field. The Warriors started the game out well, and went into the half with a nice 10 point lead, but for some reason this team keeps coming out flat after the intermission! It's not the first time this has happened, the Warriors are making it a habit now of losing games they have control of or are leading at the end of 2 or 3 quarters of play. It's that 4th quarter that's killing this team as they just don't have that killer instinct. Watching the Lakers play the Heat yesterday, I saw that killer instinct in LA when they smelled the finish line with the lead, they made sure they held off, arguably, the best squad in the NBA despite a late-game surge. It certainly help to have a guy named Kobe on your squad, but even without Kobe, even without Steph Curry, this team has enough fire-power to beat the lowly Raptors, who where also without their star big man Andrea Bargnani!

Now, the Warriors get a real gift of a basketball game tonight as they take on the leagues worst up in DC. If they can't been the bumbling Wizards, than just maybe this team is worse than I thought and could very well end up with a top-7 pick. One thing to watch tonight will be the matchup at center between JaValle McGee, the guy I really want the Warriors to go after, and Ekpe Udoh, who's slowly, but surely finally found his way into the starting lineup. I cannot believe it took Mark Jackson this darn long to figure it out, but I guess he finally has given up on Andres Biedrins as the starting center for this team, and as long as health allows, Udoh should be cemented into that spot the rest of the year. Now, Udoh has slowed a bit since that breakout, 19 point/9 rebound game vs. the Clippers in his first career start, but I found it interesting that Jackson didn't begin using Udoh as the starter after he not only tamed Griffin and "Lob City" on the defensive end, but also showed he's got some skills of his own on the offensive end. Since that game, Udoh has averaged just 7 points and 4 boards because early fouls have limited his playing time (35 minutes vs. LA, then only 16 minutes the following game). On that logic, I can see why Jackson has stuck with Biedrins as the starter, but that's really the only thing holding Udoh back right now. I always knew the kid could rebound and defend, but I didn't know he had these offensive moves that he's displayed over the last couple of weeks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Warriors Players Will Not "Tank" Season

I find myself listening to KNBR these days and often judging and comparing my opinions to those of the hosts. Thursday, Rod Brooks said something very interesting that gave me a completely different perspective on how the Warriors should be expected to finish out their season.

I found it quite odd that callers were calling in to Bay Area sports shows upset that the W's just pulled off a nice win over the Hawks, minus Steph Curry and getting a tremendous effort from Dominic McGuire in the process. Now I understand the idea of wanting to get that top-7 pick and that ultimately being the best thing for this team long-term, but as I've been writing over the last few weeks, that's just not reality. I mean, there are 6 teams in the East alone that are worse than the Warriors and we're talking without Curry for 1/2 of these games. They'd currently rank as the 11th worst team in the league, which means no lottery and obviously, no top-7. So, as I've been saying, they have to be figuring out a plan B and hopefully, they already have one. As for tanking the season, the thing that Brooks said was basically, how are you going to ask an NBA player on a 1 year deal, playing for a his career and a shot for next season, to just lay down? Perfect example was Dominic McGuire vs. Atlanta. People assumed he was put into the starting lineup because the Warriors were going to start playing randoms and begin the "tanking" process. However, McGuire showed exactly why Mark Jackson is coaching a team that is around the bottom-5, team talent-wise especially without a 100% Curry, to within a few games of .500.

McGuire didn't do much scoring, but gave the Warriors an element, well, make that two elements that they so sorely needed. Rebounding (15) and defense (1 steal) in 34 minutes of play. He started officially at the two, but played mostly the 3, with Dorrell Wright, or Brandon Rush getting time at 2. Wright has been a disappointment all season long, and I really hope Jackson starts having the quick trigger with him after seeing the dominant display McGuire can put one when given minutes. He plays with a toughness and a defense first, secure the ball and rebound mentality, and I expect Jackson to reward that play with upwards of 20-25 minutes per night. Could very well cut into Dorrell's minutes. I like toughness of the front-line when it's Udoh-Lee-McGuire. That's more the type of personnel that fits Jackson's scheme, I'll tell you that much... And while one topic of that Hawks game, how about Monta Ellis stepping into the role of point guard? I heard through the grapevine again Thursday that the Magic have inquired about adding Monta Ellis to help persuade Howard to stick around, but Ellis is the W's heart right now. As much talent as Curry has, and as good a shooter he can be, I really think Monta needs to become a full-time point guard. He may not posses all the natural point guard characteristics, but neither do Russel Westbrook (a guy a lot like Ellis) in OKC and he's considered to be one of the top PG's in the game today! As I've said all along, I think Curry is the one to trade of the two. The only downside with Monta, is the fact the dude's played 40 minutes a night for like 7 seasons straight now. Even though he's just 26, sooner or later, all the mileage could catch up with him, like an overused running back. Frank Gore, for example... Oh wait, different Blog! If you are planning on betting for the Warriors, or perhaps more suitably, against the Warriors, NBA Betting is the best place to find odds. Again, I think they end up between 10th and 15th, and miss the playoffs, as well as their draft pick!Link