October 24, 2008
As the NBA preseason marches on, Ball Don't Lie looks at all 30 teams, outlining off-season transactions, projecting win totals, spinning tracks, and much, much more. It's a fun, hot mess. Up next, the Golden State Warriors, of course.
Last Season: 48-34
Key Players Lost: Baron Davis (free agent, Clips), Mickael Pietrus (free agent, Magic), Matt Barnes (free agent, Suns), Austin Croshere (free agent, no, no, don't tell me ... ), Troy Hudson (free agent, Rap City's Tha Basement), Patrick O'Bryant (free agent, Celts), Kosta Perovic (free agent, Spain), Chris Webber (hung up the sneakers, finally)
Kelly Dwyer's Endless Grey Ribbon: There’s no point in denying that the Golden State Warriors have some significant offensive talent. Scoring talent that likely won’t fall off this year, as the team boasts a cast of rotation players who are in their late 20s. Putting the ball in the hole won’t be a problem, even when the team jacks up too many threes or falls in love with terrible shots.
What will be a problem is, well, just about anything else you can think of. Leadership. The point guard position. Rebounding. Passing. Defending. Getting to the line with Monta Ellis out, or when Corey Maggette is on the bench. Coaching. GM’ing. President’ing. All sorts of weirdness to consider.
The defensive issues have been around for a while, and have been a hallmark of coach Don Nelson’s post-Milwaukee outfits. It’s nothing new, and the Warriors weren’t the worst defensive team in the NBA last year (the team’s super-quick pace meant they gave up the most points, but several teams were worse); but the W’s still didn’t stop many teams last year, and lost a standout (when he wanted to be) defensive guard in Baron Davis in the free agent market.
The rebounding is just as bad, because Al Harrington is a poor rebounder even for a small forward, and he plays power forward. Baron Davis is one of the better rebounding guards in the NBA, and he plays for the Clippers now. Andris Biedrins is a terrific rebounder, but he doesn’t play enough because … well, we don’t know why. Probably because he doesn’t play point forward or shoot three-pointers.
Golden State barely liked to move the ball last year, and they lost a big assist guy in Davis. Ellis can make the competent pass, but he’s out for a while, and nobody knows what he’ll look like when he returns to game action. In his place is third-year guard Marcus Williams, who can’t pass either, unless he’s dishing the ball to Mikki Moore in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss. In 2006. I wouldn’t be waiting for this guy to "break out" if I were a Warriors fan.
Don Nelson has gotten creative before, and we might see Stephen Jackson running the show instead, but my faith in Nellie is at absolute nil at this point. Too much politics, too much behind-the-scenes maneuvering, too much insistence on getting others to massage his ego, not enough minutes for the right players … I’m a little sick of it.
Any sane team preview would be talking about someone like Biedrins playing over 35 minutes a game with his new contract or Brendan Wright’s breakout year, but I can’t trust Nellie to make the right call because he might (might?) want to play martyr again, prove some weird point, and do his best to have lame duck GM Chris Mullin pushed out of the way.
How sick is that? Not the guess, mind you, but what I just wrote. I just more or less assumed that Nellie will handicap his team on purpose in order to justify things in some bigger picture that only he has in his head, and I didn’t think twice about it. Please don’t sue me, Nellie.
Team prez Robert Rowell is now negotiating contracts and making decisions without Mullin on board just because RR likes it when the cool jocks come to sit with him at lunchtime, and the team has some pervasive sense of weirdness surrounding it as a result. I’m not saying Mullin deserves to be re-upped, he’s made some bad mistakes, and some of the moves he’s been applauded for the most have just involved him cutting ties with some of his horrible moves. I’m not saying Baron Davis deserved the money he wanted from Golden State, either. But this is no way to run a team. The ends don’t justify the means. There’s no logic to it.
And in the meantime, I think this team has too many holes to pull it together, not unless they take some sort of self-actualization program run by Dr. Ronald Chevalier. My pessimistic win total isn’t because I don’t like how the team does business or because of some silly front office issue, I’m not that daft. It’s that low because of actual on-court issues that I just don’t see being resolved long enough to pull together a solid season.
Here’s hoping I’m wrong, because this team’s fan base is one of the league’s smartest and most enthusiastic (even when it meant applauding a Paul McPherson dunk in garbage time), and I really do like the players on this team. Corey Maggette has long been underrated. Jackson has his head together. Biedrins is terrific. Ellis is a sublime watch. We’re supposed to be impartial, but you know we were desperately pulling for the Warriors to secure that final playoff spot last year.
I’m not convinced we’ll get that same chance to shamelessly root come next April.
Expected Record: 28-54
Real Talk, Blog Talk (aka excerpts from other blogger team previews):
Hardwood Paroxysm: "Any team that has Stephen Jackson on it is one that I find easy to love. SJax is that guy who will spend half of his career being hated on by the media, then the other half having them try to undo all of the negative reporting they've previously done. In the meantime, Jax will do what he does, being a leader on his team, working with the community, hoisting three balls with unadulterated freedom and laying his heart out onto the court every single game. Jax makes the Warriors ones to watch. Factor in Monta Ellis on the floor and you have a speed demon that begs to be seen. Factor in an Ellis sitting on the bench nursing that ankle injury and a bruised ego that isn't getting paid for 30 games as punishment and you get a soap opera on a basketball court. Coach Nelson is the perfect coach for this team and it's mishmash of players. It was always fun last year to watch and see if he would fall asleep on Sunday afternoon games."
Rufus On Fire: "Any NBA team that has this many young and unproven players in its rotation is flirting with disaster. The interesting thing about this team is while expectations are low their risks are very well managed. If Randolph really can run the Point Forward at times, they'll be closer to Nellie's utopian vision than ever before. Keep in mind, every team with young players in their heavy rotation suffers with consistency problems, since coaches usually don't know who's truly better than the others until late in the season. It'll also be interesting to see how Wright, Williams and Belinelli respond. For all three, this is a make or break year and a lot is being demanded and expected of them."
Recliner GM: "The Warriors take a step back this season with the loss of Baron Davis. Right now they are a collection of individuals who are good at getting their own. Al Harrington seems disgruntled, unhappy with his current role. The lack of a floor leader to take charge when things aren’t going well really worries me with this team Two years ago, they slide into the playoffs with 42 wins and rocked the top seed Mavericks out of the playoffs. Last year they won 6 more games than the previous season and just missed the playoffs. This season they won’t even be close in the playoff race. And I had that thought even before I found out Ellis could be out until December."
Warriors Tour The Great Wall:
Associated Wax: Steely Dan, Pretzel Logic
Michael Bay's Twitter Season Projection:
michael_bay: He did what? On a moped? Ha! I once rode a Ducati Multistrada 1100 cross-country blindfolded. I would've made it all the way, too, had the cops not arrested me for BEING AWESOME!
about 2 hours ago from web