Archive for the ‘Warriors’ Category

Warriors Games 1 & 1.5

October 31, 2008

I’ve watched one and a half games of regular season basketball for the Warriors, and I gotta say I’m really encouraged. It looks like everyone predicting 35-37 wins for this time didn’t count on them making notable progress on their team defense. These Warriors, minus Baron and plus Turiaf and Maggette, are suddenly much bigger and hit the glass much harder. For stretches when they were able to create turnovers and a little bit of up-and-down chaos, which plays right into their offensive strengths, they looked like the better team against both the Hornets and Raps.

My prediction: With a little luck and a few losses by the Nuggets and Blazers, the Warriors will fighting for that 8th seed when Monta comes back — if they keep playing D like this.

Settling Down

July 19, 2008

This weekend, in spite of all the wackiness with the Warriors, my friend Sean and I upgraded our season tickets. I don’t think anyone knows what to expect from this team, including the guys calling the shots, but hell, it’s the Warriors. It’s going to be fun.

For a blow-by-blow rundown of the trauma since Baron’s opt-out, Tim Kawakami’s blog at the Merc is your go-to source. But three big questions still haven’t been answered by anyone in the media:

1. Why throw $67 million at Maggette and Turiaf without using that money to take a shot at Josh Smith?

Yeah, you’d have to overpay to get Smith since he’s restricted, and he’s got a bad rep about his attitude, but wouldn’t someone that young, talented, and athletic fit this team much better than another wing and undersized back up big man?

2. Ok, even if you decide Maggette’s the guy you want, why give him $10 mil a year?

Here’s one of those situations where, as a fan, I feel like there’s something going on behind the scenes that I must be missing. Because from what I’ve read, after the Brand-Baron fallout, the only teams with cap space to offer Maggette more than the mid-level were the Warriors, Grizzlies, and Clippers. The Griz sure as hell weren’t going to sign him. His relationship was soured with the Clips, so the only threat from them was a sign and trade. Maybe that threat was bigger than we realize, but it sure didn’t seem like it was in the offing.

That means that Maggette was likely staring at going to a contender for the mid-level — starting at about $5.5 mil a year — or taking the Warriors’ offer. So what was his leverage that got the Warriors up to $10/per? Did they bid against themselves? I’ve read thousands of words about this signing, and still no one has explained why the deal wasn’t in $7-8 million/year range.

2A. If you’re going to overpay for Maggette, why not front-load the contract?

With the Warriors sitting on cap space now, it would make sense to really overpay Maggette for 2-3 years in case they need to trade him at the end of his deal. This becomes an even bigger problem if Anthony Randolph develops into the player they think he will be, because Don Nelson has already said Randolph is also a ‘3’.

3. What’s going on with Sean Livingston?

We all know his injury was devastating, but the last report I saw on him back in April said doctors were expecting a full recovery. Since then: not a word. He’s a 22-year-old, former top 10 pick, who was just starting to come around before getting hurt, and this is a market starved for point guards — so why no news?

Some Good News

Everyone knows the Warriors need another PG, and that led to terrifying (and baffling) speculation that they would take a shot at Marbury after the Knicks cut him. Thankfully, Stein is reporting today that chatter in Vegas has Golden State going after a young, score-first, Baron-lite point guard, like Philly’s Louis Williams or undrafted free agent Bobby Brown, who tore up the summer league. Whew.

Why? WHY???

July 9, 2008

So Baron and Brand both get their contracts and get to go home, and now the Warriors are going to overpay for Maggette, who’s a questionable fit in their system at best, which leaves the Spurs settling for Roger Mason Jr., which in turn means that Brent Barry’s likely gone. On top of it all, no one here in the Bay Area can figure out why you would pay Maggette $10 million per and also throw $4 mil/year at Rony fucking Turiaf, without first offering Josh Smith like $16 mil and seeing if Atlanta has the stones to match. I mean, he’s only a 22-year-old power forward who can defend a little and was built for Nellieball. Better not make a run at him. So not only did I just watch my favorite team miss out on the dynamic fourth scorer they’ve wanted for damn near half a decade, but his snub was the direct result of the team I just bought season tickets for screwing up their roster with a desperation move.

Unless, gracious God willing, there are more trades coming. Please, just bring us Josh Smith. That’s all I ask. Or hell, even Hinrich. I mean the only point guards on the roster are Monta Ellis and CJ Watson. But, hey, Anthony Randolph looks great in practice. Awesome. Actually this is pretty awesome: “Q: Have you spoken to Baron since he left? NELSON: Oh yeah. We spoke several times on the phone. He came over to the office to say good-bye. We had a cigar together, sat in my truck for about two hours and talked.”

Anyways, as you can see, I can’t make shit for sense of all this, but my gut feeling right now is leaning towards unmitigated disaster.

On Results; or, When Good Luck Goes Bad

July 3, 2008

John Hollinger’s column today ties in nicely with the book I’m reading right now, Fooled By Randomness:

In three seasons with the trio of Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, the Wizards have won 43, 41 and 42 games and haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs. The three players are 26, 28 and 32, respectively [sic], so it seems likely that we’ve seen about the best we’re going to get from them. They’re an average team, and without an infusion of vastly better players around them, they’ll keep being an average team.

Yet instead of blowing that trio up, the Wizards took a Bob-Beamonesque leap of faith this week. First they extended Jamison for four years and $50 million, and then they offered Arenas a monstrous six-year, $127 million package. … For better or for worse, the Wizards are stuck with these guys

Contrast this go-with-the-girl-who-brung-ya approach, which is predicated on four straight playoff appearances and a firm belief that a healthy Wizards team can make the Finals, to the chaos in Oakland. Out here, Baron has opted out because — besides going home to L.A. — he wants so badly to play in the Finals. And the Warriors refuse to break the bank for him precisely because they don’t think he can lead this current roster there.

Funny thing is, by every measure — win loss record, point differential, etc.– the Warriors were a better team. Especially since the Warriors were about even with the Wizards the year before, and with the improvement of G.S.’s young players and the (squandered) chance to add an impact role player in the draft, could’ve expected to get even better in 08-09. Given the similarities between the two teams and Washington’s injury problems, it’s easy to chalk up differences in past performance to, basically, luck, and consider them both not quite championship material.

In reality, the only surefire difference is that the Warriors were unlucky to be stuck in the Western Conference, where for the first time ever 48 wins weren’t enough to make the playoffs. But that one result, that one fact, has colored nearly everyone’s perception of 07-08 as a failure and the team as one that’s talented and exciting but not good enough.

(UPDATED FOR CLARITY:)Now, Golden State’s management did make that max offer to Arenas, so they the potential to swap out high-scoring point guards and keep building. But fans out here are despondent, Baron Davis took off, and Brand won’t come up here. Meanwhile, for the Wizards, the feeling from management and fans is that they’re right there. So that perfectly justifies committing to a half decade of decent but not great teams, when really you were just lucky enough to play out east.

What Is Going On?

July 2, 2008

Oh, the thrills of being a Warriors bandwagoner. As a convert, this is a whole new lesson in what it’s like rooting for a franchise that isn’t as plain-vanilla competent as the Spurs.

Thursday: Warriors draft Anthony Randolph.

Emotions: Mild outrage, significant frustration, mainly confusion, but also that first little twinge of worry.

Monday: Baron opts out.

Emotions: Uh oh. He’s just calling Mullin’s bluff … right?

Tuesday: Warriors throw max money at Arenas.

Emotions: Whoa, what the — huh? That’ll never work, what are they doing? (Frantic IM discussions ensue.)

Later Tuesday: Baron agrees to sign with clips.

Emotions: It’s like when you’ve been dating a girl for a while and think things are going well, but then one week you notice she’s acting a little weird, and before you even think to ask if something’s wrong, you suddenly find yourself getting dumped.

Wednesday: Warriors make huge offer to Brand.

Emotions: Still recovering from the desolation of losing Baron for nothing, and without time yet to talk yourself into the remaining attractive options (hello, Josh Smith) or come to grips with a team suddenly out of playoff contention, this awesome F.U. to the Clips is too much to process. Somehow you know it’ll never work, but at least you can hope. And, hell, maybe something good — a sign and trade that nets Thornton? — comes out of this whole mess.

In the end, though, the Warriors’ loss is shaping up to be the Spurs gain, since suddenly Maggette is finding himself stuck taking a mid-level exception, with the San Antonio the front-runner. Corey “22 Points Per Game” Maggette for the same price as the Kings paid for Beno and the Mavs paid for Diop? I guess it’s even-stevens for me.

The Return of Agent 0?

July 1, 2008

Christ, following the Warriors is just as nerve-wracking off the court as on it. Word is that the Warriors have called Baron Davis’ bluff by throwing a max offer at Gilbert Arenas.

Sean: what are your thoughts on arenas?
me: he’ll end up back in washington. he’s a good fit there, the town loves him, and he’s not worth the max to anyone else. i.e., he’d be a bad fit for the warriors because he distributes even less than baron
Sean: golden state already offered it
me: huh?

No story yet, just a mention of it on ESPN’s rumors page. I’m not even sure how to process this. At least my season tickets would be more entertaining than if the horrifying ‘Sheed-Billups rumor had come to pass.

UPDATE: Ah, here are a couple links: Janny Hu at SF Gate lays the groundwork for the possibility that it’s no coincidence that Elton Brand and Baron Davis both unexpectedly opted out. If I understand the cap situation correctly, Brand would have to take a pay cut to make room for Baron’s big deal, and recent quotes from Brand about emulating the Celtics Unbuntu success indicate he’d be willing. And both Baron and Brand are aspiring movie producers, for what that’s worth. Also, the WaPo is reporting that the Wizards will offer Arenas a max deal for six years (one more than G.S. can offer), but the Kings are willing to “trade their entire team” to land Arenas. Crazy shit.

Not to Forget About the Warriors

May 9, 2008

In case anyone’s as interested as I am about the Warriors next season, here are two interesting links:

1. What if the Warriors hadn’t traded Jason Richardson?

Tim Kawakami looks at the payroll if Bay Area favorite J-Rich were still around:

Add in a moderate new Ellis deal and the draft pick, and the Warriors’ commitment goes somewhere near $76M for 11 players. Renounce all you want, but the Warriors would still over the luxury tax–and bleeding talent thanks to the renouncing.

Big conclusion: If the Warriors still had Richardson, they would be looking at a mini-New York Knicks-level problem.

As it is now, they’re under the cap with room to sign Monta and Biedrins, and they have a huge, $10 million trade exception to use on draft day.

2. What can the Warriors learn from the Hornets?

A guy named Adam Lauridsen writes a fan blog that is thorough in addressing why the Hornets PG-dominated offense works better than the Warriors PG-dominated offense.  Really, one of the more level-headed and smart things I’ve read from an NBA blogger in a while.

Still Believin’

April 12, 2008

The Nuggets went into Utah and got their asses handed to them, which was pretty much expected. J.R. Smith and Najera combined for zero threes and only 14 points a game after lighting up the Warriors, which sounds about right. Denver reminds me of a cocky pick-up team that would take one look at me and my friends and decide they would spend the game practicing their alley-oops. In other words, I’m sure they’re shrugging off the loss and just know they’ll get the next one.

Anyways, their loss is step 1 of 5 in the Warriors’ last-ditch hopes to make the playoffs. Golden State needs to keep TCBin’ against the Clippers tonight. Then tomorrow things gets interesting: Denver plays at home versus Houston. The Rockets will be better rested and are fighting for position, but the Nuggets basically have their season on the line. Might have to watch that one. And so help me if the Rockets throw up a dud in the only game all year that I’m rooting for them…

Then, if all that comes to pass, the Warriors get their turn with the season on the line at Phoenix on Monday night. Unless, of course, Denver loses to another lottery-bound team in its final game against Memphis. That would be a (hilarious) collapse for the ages, and it couldn’t happen to a bigger bunch of tools.

UPDATE: Just saw that the Hornets lost to the Kings, which puts the Lakers in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed. If the Warriors can just sneak into that final spot, oh man, a Lakers-Warriors series might actually top last year’s Mavs series. Warriors fans have a legitimate burning hatred of L.A. and everything it stands for. C’mon, basketball gods, help us out.

“We Don’t Even Work on Zone”

April 11, 2008

Trying to be concise as possible to avoid wallowing in the disappointment of last night’s Warriors loss. As the game wound down, for some reason all I could think of was “Dubs lose! Dubs lose…” as delivered by the ‘Topes announcer in the Dancin’ Homer episode of the Simpsons. No idea why.

Anyways, the box score says it all: the Warriors lost turnovers 18-15, and they shot significantly worse than Denver from every spot on the court — bricking their way to .420 FG%, .222 3-PT%, and .625 FT%. You just can’t win when you do that.

The whole game turned when Denver’s zone defense completely (and inexplicably) baffled the Warriors, Nellie included. Johnny Ludden’s column today delivered the most-damning quote: “We don’t even work on zone defense,” Carmelo Anthony said after the game.

It’s tempting to call the meltdown borderline inexcusable until you read Ludden’s column on the Warriors sometimes-frustrating devotion to their style and put things in perspective. The Warriors are who they are, no apologies. Even with the flaws, they will likely end up with 49 wins and go down as the greatest team in history to miss the playoffs. As endlessly noted, they’d be a 4th seed in the East.

No consolation — it only amplifies the feeling that the fans out here, whose craziness I’ve found so addicting, don’t deserve this.

Win or Go Home

April 10, 2008

Tonight’s Warriors-Nuggets game should be a track meet for the ages. The final playoff spot in the most competitive regular-season race in memory (maybe of all time) effectively comes down to tonight.

These teams rank one-two in both possessions and points per game. The Dubs are just a fraction more efficient offensively; the Nugs are markedly more efficient defensively, but plagued by inconsistency. The game’s in Oakland, thankfully, but a 5 p.m. local start could hamper crowd energy early on. Basically, it’s going to be a feather-weight brawl.

Here’s what I’ll be looking for, though, having watched a ton of Warriors games recently: turnovers. The Warriors lead the league in creating turn-overs. Part of that owes to pace, but right now the Warriors force 16 TO’s a game and only give it back 12 times. It’s probably the main thing that keeps their defensive rating mediocre, as opposed to atrocious.

Luckily for the Warriors, the schedule has been a bit kinder this week, and the defensive energy should be up. Their late-March swoon coincided with a brutal schedule that had them play four — four! — back-to-backs in less than three weeks. After beating the Kings two nights ago, Baron told Comcast’s goofy sideline dude that even just a day off between games recharges the body tremendously. It’s a key for a team that rides its starters for nearly 40 minutes a night, every night.

With two teams going tonight who can flat out score, whichever one can shave off just a little of firepower will be sitting on an advantage.