Golden State of Mind: Early on Monta Ellis didn't seem to be the biggest fan of the Stephen Curry draft pick or playing alongside him. Do you think that has changed? Do GM Larry Riley and head coach Don Nelson think the two can be the starting backcourt of a winning team? Who will be the first to go if they don't think they can work together?
Marcus Thompson: In my heart of hearts, I still don't think Ellis is a fan of them two as a backcourt tandem. I think he has gained some respect for Curry. At first, I'm sure he looked at him as some over-hyped rookie who was a ways away. But I've had some private conversations with players on the team and they seem to think that Curry has earned some respect from Ellis. Definitely, that Dallas game had a lot to do with that. But I still think Ellis knows those two, as a backcourt, present serious issues. I think Riley and Nellie think the two can work, but even they know it would require some serious make-up to cover up their deficiencies. The interesting part is that the reason people thought it couldn't work was that Ellis couldn't defend two guards. Up until this season, the theory was that he needed to play with a big point guard, like Baron Davis, who could defend shooting guards because Ellis was too small. But Ellis is showing he can at least be competitive on that end even when he is outsized. He certainly has his defensive flaws still - gambles a bit much sometimes, vulnerable to post-ups, still could get better at stopping penetration - but he's proving he's not the liability he once was. That has switched to Curry, who is having a really difficult time defending the point guard position. He's finding himself in foul trouble a lot and though he and the coaching staff thinks he's improving on defense, he's got a ways to go before that backcourt tandem can be competitive defensively. What Nellie and Riley see that give them confidence in the backcourt, besides Ellis becoming a beast, is that Curry is extremely coachable, he works hard and he's got some basketball IQ to lean on. If he develops like they think, the two would be a pretty formidable offensive backcourt, then they can get a SF (or use Azubuike) to be a defensive stopper as a SF, kind of like how they used Jackson. IF Curry gets better at defending point guards without fouling. IF he becomes reliably productive on offense. There was a time that Curry was untouchable and the Warriors were listening to offers from Ellis. I wouldn't be surprised if that's switched. I don't think it has. They still love Curry. But Ellis might be moving into untouchable status - not just because of his scoring, but because of the way he's bought in to leadership and defense, etc. Whether they keep both of them depends on who they can put with them. If they can get a beast PF, and get the centers healthy (they can cover up some of the defensive liabilities of a Curry/Ellis backcourt), they might be able to make it work. Don't forget about Raja Bell, though. He's the x-factor in this situation. I think if he comes back to the Warriors next season, he could end up starting next to Ellis or being the defensive stopper at SF - especially if they get a beast at PF.
Golden State of Mind: Let's fast forward and pretend the Golden State Warriors win the 2010 NBA Lottery and have a shot at Kentucky Wildcats point guard phenom John Wall and still have Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. What do you think the Warriors would do?
Marcus Thompson: For the record, I have no idea. Just playing along here. I think option No. 1 would be to trade the pick. Wall will be a commodity and they would certainly get some good offers. Imagine if you put Wall and Wright together, or Wall and Randolph even, and make a team take Maggette, too. What could you land? They might be able to get a difference maker at PF or SF. It would have to be a no-brainer though. If they don't do that, I think they let Curry and Wall duke it out for the right to play next to Ellis. The loser is on the trading block. Considering C.J. Watson would probably be gone, they would need a third PG. So I could see them drafting Wall and seeing who is best next to Ellis. Again, just me hypothesizing.
Golden State of Mind: We're nearing the end of the decade. What's your All-2k Golden State Warriors starting 5?
Marcus Thompson: That is an excellent question! I might have to bite this. I gotta first give some qualifiers that I assume are implied. So, first off, I'm basing my picks on what players have done WITH THE WARRIORS. So you won't see Gilbert Arenas. I am also picking based on what they HAVE DONE not based on what I project they will do, so you won't see Anthony Randolph. Also, I am including the 1999-00 season since part of it was in this decade.
*PG Baron Davis: This is easy. He was probably the most talented of any player to come through the franchise in the last decade, and he certainly accomplished the most in leading the Warriors to the 2007 playoff upset of Dallas. No question he was the best PG.
*SG Jason Richardson: I am so tempted to put Monta Ellis here. I give Jason Richardson the nod because of what he meant to the franchise on and off the court, because he performed better in the postseason. Game 3 in the first round alone gets him the nod.
*SF Stephen Jackson: Could've went a few different ways here. Maybe you could go with a third guard - such as Arenas or Ellis. But I am thinking about putting the best team together, and that three small guards stuff doesn't win. Jackson was an integral figure in the two best seasons during the decade. His defense on Dirk Nowitzki, and his shot-making, was vital in the upset of Dallas. So even though he was with the Warriors for less than two full seasons, and even though his departure was bitter, if you're trying to put a winning team together for the Warriors off the last 10 years, he's on it. I think having help around him tames him enough to where he's not doing too much on the court.
*PF Antawn Jamison: As far as numbers go, few Warriors had better. In four years during the decade, he averaged 21.9 points and 7.6 rebounds. What would the Warriors give for that kind of production at PF right now? Certainly, he got those numbers on bad teams, and he was always overshadowed by his contract. But he gives the Warriors a fourth 20-point scorer, which would make them super potent on offense. And he rebounded well from his position. Plus he was a model player off the court.
*C Andris Biedrins: I was torn between Biedrins, Troy Murphy and Adonal Foyle. But based on who I have at the other four positions, I just think Andris is the better fit. You need someone who can defend, rebound, run the floor and finish. I like Murphy as a center in an uptempo offense because of his ability to stretch the floor and he rebounds. Plus, though he's not that fast, he makes a good option for the 3 on that secondary break. And he's the best post-player of the three, I think. But he's at his best when he's making shots, and with the other four guys, the Warriors need someone on the floor who can make an impact without making shots, some who doesn't need the rock and can just do the dirty work. Biedrins does that, and he is a better shot blocker than Murphy. So that leaves Biedrins and Foyle. Foyle fits the mold and is a better man-to-man defender, especially against bigger centers. But Biedrins gets the nod because he rebounds better and runs the floor better. This team will unquestionably be an offense-based squad. Since neither is a defensive player of the year candidate, I'd prefer the guy who has D and some O instead of someone with just D.
All of us at GSoM wanted to thank Marcus for fielding our questions and his continue support. Make sure to make his blog Inside the Warriors a regular destination in your web browser.
Trust me you haven't heard the last of the All 2k Warriors awards around these parts...