Golden State Warriors Season Preview

15 10 2008

My NBA Pacific Division preview continues with the Golden State Warriors: 

Golden State Warriors

2007-08 Standings 48 – 34, 9th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 40 – 42, 3rd Pacific Division, 11th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Andris Biedrins, Al Harrington, Corey Maggette, Monta Ellis, Marcus WIlliams

Sixth Man:  Stephen Jackson

Without his buddy Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson is going to have to work that much harder this year.

Without his buddy Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson is going to have to work that much harder this year.

For the past couple of years the Golden State Warriors have been a brilliant team to support. They played a dazzling, fun loving style of basketball that was more playground magic than hardwood X and Os. They were led by Baron Davis and he was ably supported by Monta Ellis and somewhat crazy Stephen Jackson.

They memorably made the post season two years back where they beat the heavily favoured Dallas Mavericks in the first round, then narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season despite finishing 14 games over .500. If they’d been in the East they would have been the number four seed.

Then the offseason rolled around and they lost Baron Davis almost immediately to the LA Clippers. They tried to recover from the loss by attempting to sign Elton Brand in a tit for tat exchange (you steal our star and we’ll steal yours) but he ultimately signed for the Philadelphia 76ers. They turned their attention to Corey Maggette and while he is a good pickup he very much is the booby prize.

Adding to the offseason turmoil, Monta Ellis, the Warriors rising star and the reason they could afford to let Davis go, suffered a severe injury that’s going to keep him out for months. Then it was revealed that Ellis had lied about how the injury had been incurred and the Warriors suddenly can compete with the NY Knicks for the title of team turmoil.

There is a definite sense that the Warriors have missed their chance. Davis gave them a swagger but with him gone the burden falls to Jackson, especially with Ellis out.

The Golden State Warriors do have some good young talent. If Ellis recovers from his injury he has the potential to develop into an All Star within a couple of years. Brandan Wright has the size and potential, he just needs the playing time while Andris Biedrins needs to prove he was worthy of his recent big contract.

Jackson, Maggette and Al Harrington provide some veteran leadership in the forwards but it is at the point guard position where the Warriors will struggle with Marcus Williams being acquired as the “solution”.

If the Warriors make the playoffs they will have overachieved this year. Unfortunately I don’t see it happening.

Coach:

Don Nelson is one of the most entertaining coaches in the NBA. His teams are renown for their score-at-any-cost-including-defence style of play. He was a perfect fit for the Warriors of the past couple of years but it will be intriguing to see how he adjusts to his team this season.

Bench:

The motto for this crew should be, if you can score, you’ll play. They’re lead by Stephen Jackson, an emotional firebrand who was one of the principal players in the Palace Brawl a few years back.

Star Player:

When he returns from injury Monta Ellis is the star of this team. He’s capable of scoring points in a hurry but is a below average defender. It will be interesting to see how he comes back from his injury and the lies he told to cover up its cause.

Team MVP:

Even when Baron Davis was still around Stephen Jackson was the Warriors MVP, inspiring to two successful seasons. Can he do it one more time?

Final Prognosis:

The Golden State Warriors have a solid team and they’d probably make the playoffs in the East. In the West they are ultimately fodder for the better teams. They’re capable of causing an upset or two but that will be about all.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





the perils of being young

10 09 2008

So it seems Monta Ellis did something that was out of the bounds of his contract and has seriously messed up his body. I can appreciate both sides in this.

The Golden State Warriors are paying Ellis an exorbitant (though in keeping with his skill level in the NBA) amount of money. For that money they expect their player to keep healthy, be a good citizen, play hard, and help them win basketball games.

On the other hand Ellis is a young, extremely fit man. He has mates and he has money (loads of it). Why can’t he go out and do the things other young men and women do? Would we tell a young brain surgeon not to go snowboarding because he could fall on his head? I’m guessing no, we’d say he’s endangering himself and his career but we’d let him do it. Likewise why shouldn’t Ellis enjoy himself?

It seems to me that it comes down to whether you believe the Warriors “own” Ellis. In a sense they do. Ellis has submitted to their contract demands and in exchange he’s rich. If he wanted so badly to skydive or snowboard or zorb (as John Hollinger mentions in this post) then he should have had it written into his contract. I doubt whether he would have been able to sign such a large contract but if he wanted to do those things then he should have fought for them. BTW wouldn’t it be cool if a player DID have those conditions in his contract?

At the same time the team is taking a risk. In a way Ellis is like one of those players who busts themselves to overachieve so they can score a sweet deal then basically do nothing to live up to it. Some of them turn up over weight and unmotivated (I’m thinking of you Boris Diaw).  In this case Ellis showed how immature he is. He thought he could do something prohibited in his contract and unfortunately for him something went badly wrong. Of course he won’t lose his contract and his millions, I imagine he’ll get a fine and/or a suspension, but I hope he learns for the future.

Unfortunately for young athletes it’s ultimately the teams that rule. NZ sport is littered with examples of this. The NZ league team has immense trouble assembling a full squad for games. Invariably our players are either not released or scheduled for surgery when we need them by the clubs. Then there was the ridiculous situation of the NZ football team in the Olympics losing Ryan Nelson, their best player, half way through the tournament to return to his club. At the point we still had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs.