ESPN.com's John Hollinger dropped his list of the The All-Improved Team (so far) for the first trimester of this NBA season. Kevin Martin, T.J. Ford, Josh Howard, Deron Williams, Luol Deng, David Lee, Luke Walton, Sean May, Hakim Warrick, and Andrew Bynum all made the list. Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins repped the Warriors big time on the list.
Here's what Hollinger had to say about Matt Barnes:
What Barnes has done since then has shocked everyone ... probably even himself. From nowhere, this perennially shaky shooter has turned into a 3-point ace, raining 46.1 percent from downtown and pumping in 17.2 points per 40 minutes; he'd never averaged more than 11.1 before. He has also slashed his perennially high turnover rate and is shooting a career-best 77.4 percent from the line.
His progress shows no sign of abating, either; just Tuesday night he dropped 29 points with 11 rebounds and five steals in a win over the Hornets.
At the bargain basement price of $771,331 (for the NBA at least) Barnes' has had more of positive impact on the Warriors' season thus far than these big money guys on the Dubs' 2006-2007 salary cap:
- Jason Richardson: $10,000,000
- Troy Murphy: $8,285,714
- Adonal Foyle: $8,125,000
- Mike Dunleavy: $7,438,016
- Zarko Cabarkapa: $2,157,096
- Ike Diogu: $2,137,200
- Patrick O'Bryant: $2,061,720
- Keith McLeod: $1,350,000
Nellie deserves a lot of credit for Barnes' emergence as well. It's great to have a coach who doesn't care about how much money players are making, but instead about collecting W's. Aside from his dog house (hello, Ike, Troy, and Adonal!), Nellie pretty much runs a meritocracy. If you're straight ballin', you'll get your minutes out on the court. If you're clueless like Paris Hilton at the 99 cent store, then you'll be riding the pine. Barnes of course has been straight ballin' so far this season. Let's hope he keeps it up. With all these injuries, this team is going nowhere fast if Barnes has a big drop off in production.
With every big three he nails, every pocket he picks, every rebound he grabs in traffic, every basket he throws down, every sharp pass he dishes out, Barnes is increasing his paycheck for next season and beyond. It'll be interesting to see whether the capped out Warriors can even afford him beyond this season. He's been a vital cog in this edition of Nellieball.
Here's what Hollinger had to say about Andris Biedrins:
Biedrins' specialty is high-percentage shooting -- he shot 63.8 percent last season and is at 62.7 percent this season. He ranks fifth in the NBA in TSP at 62.9.
But this season he's expanded his game by becoming more than just a dunk specialist. Now he's throwing in hook shots from the low block and short-range bankers, and he's no longer the league's worst free-throw shooter. Last season he made a ghastly 30.6 percent from the stripe, but this season he's up to a more respectable 56.0 percent. He's also improved on his already-solid rebounding mark, and at the age of just 20 it's not hard to envision an All-Star Game or two in his future.
Give Nellie a lot of credit for Biedrins' big jump this season as well. He's let Biedrins play through his mistakes and put him in positions where he can succeed. When the Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy starting center/ power forward tandem experiment failed, thankfully Nellie turned to Biedrins, Barnes, and Mickael Pietrus. Nellie gave them an opportunity and those guys took care of the rest.
While others envision Biedrins as being a super star in this league someday, I see his ceiling being a very solid double-double center in the years to come a la Marcus Camby on vitamins (meaning he'll play more than 40 games a year). He's not that skilled and teams are starting to figure him out, but with more hard work he'll be a big impact player for the Warriors for the next decade plus. Let's just hope he doesn't look over his shoulder come contract extension time and look at the offers Chris Mullin and crew inked Adonal Foyle, Troy Murphy, and Mike Dunleavy to. Andris and his agent should ask for way more dough than those 3 got. It could get ugly, but regardless this kid will be walking away as an exorbitantly rich Latvian.
Like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV- he will DESTROY YOU!
Before the season started who did you think would be the most improved player on the Warriors? What kind of seasons did you expect from Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins back in training camp this past October?