2009-2010 Golden State Warriors Final Report Card: Combating Grade Inflation

Capt

Let’s just get this out of the way early: Dr. JAE does not give away grades. There is no generous "curve".  He will not succumb to this era of diminished expectations that is reflected in feel-good touchy-feely gift grades where every excuse somehow bumps up marks a letter grade for fear of someone’s ego being bruised.

On a team as bad as the Warriors, you should not see a whole bunch of "A" and "B" grades. "C’s" should be more plentiful with more than the token "D" and "F" handed out to a less than popular player who hasn’t won fan favor for some reason.  The 4th worst record in the league is failing grade as a team, bumped up perhaps to a D-/D if you are particularly forgiving about the injury situation.  It does not warrant a good grade as a team, and it is rather ridiculous to give good marks to the players *who make up the team* as a consequence.

So before the griping that so-and-so deserves a better grade because of excuses a through z, think real carefully:  If someone gets an A, how many Fs do you need to hand out to balance it out?

Find out after the jump.

OK, no one got an A.  No one deserved one.

Stephen Curry: B+

It is tempting to allow the imprint of the closing months of the year boost Curry’s grade.  The "22-6-8" (generously rounded in the latter categories) on solidly above average scoring efficiency he put up after the break speaks of good things to come.  Even given a slower start, over the whole season, his line was still impressive enough that in the land of arbitrary composite cutoffs, he rates in elite company.  Curry’s increase in numbers as the season went on seemed to mirror an increase in confidence as well.  I suspect that early on, he was still out to prove to doubters that he was a ‘real point guard’ and consequently, let shooting attempts pass him by. However, this lack of aggression similarly held his overall game back.  When he realized that he could command attention as a scorer, it seemed to spark his abilities distributing as well.  It is a good sign of things to come.

It is also an anomalous grade on this squad.

 

Monta Ellis: D

This is not a misprint. That’s a D. Yes, he scored nearly 26 points per game and yes the fanboys will argue that this means he has for the most part had an "all-star season", but it took 22 shots to get that.  Yes, he may be an amazingly talented athlete who can do some amazing things on the court, who, from time to time, will inspire awe.  But no, not a player who was contributing to wins. 

That is what the game is about, isn’t it?  Winning?

We’ve seen the excuses.  "He had no one to pass to." This is neither true, nor would such an excuse warrant much forgiveness for the ball-hoggedly play.  Good players are supposed to "make their teammates better".  Good players ‘take over’ and will their teams to win.  Monta did neither.  Perhaps Morrow and Watson and Curry and Maggette would have missed that extra shot attempt a game a pass from a triple teamed Monta should have resulted in.  Perhaps the rest of the team had hit their optimal ledge beyond which any addition FGA was more than certain to miss.  It seems unlikely that these guys, all of whom were significantly more efficient from the field were maxed out such that every additional shot was going to be case of significant diminishing returns.  Perhaps , but with Monta’s head-down drive style and tunnel vision focus on his own shot, we never got a chance to find out.  The team did not fall apart when he was off the court and actually performed significantly better when he was on the bench or in street clothes. That might be a result of small sample size of non-Monta minutes, but it certainly doesn’t lend the slightest bit of evidence to the misguided notion that he was the only thing keeping the Warriors from losing by 20 ever night. He was, however, a significant part of the reason we were losing by 6 most nights.  Finishing in the bottom quarter of the league in scoring efficiency, tops in the league in turnovers with an assist to turnover ratio that ranks as poor for an off guard, let alone a player who for large sections of the season was running the point, watching his rebounding slip to below average for an NBA point guard (and quite a bit below average for an off guard) and there’s not a whole lot left to like.  In sum, he’d have to conjure up favorable comparisons to Michael Cooper, Alvin Robertson or the late Dennis Johnson at the defensive end to offset these negatives.  He didn’t.

 

Corey Maggette: B-

This was Corey’s best season from an individual statistical standpoint.  New highs in FG% and scoring efficiency to go with his ever-present ability to get to the line showed that he can be among the better scorers in the game. My soft spot for ridiculously high scoring efficiency explains his reasonably good grade.  The effort looked a bit better on D, though the results were not much better and as such, his minutes usually resulted in bigger deficits. It wasn’t entirely his fault.  He never should have been tasked with being a defacto 4 on the defensive end.  It would have been interesting to see if he would have seen some improved results defending 3s, though that opportunity went south about the same time that everyone on the team 6’8" or taller appeared to need to have a limb amputated.  Corey, in contrast was downright dependable.  Logging 70 games is about as close to perfect health as we can ever expect from Maggs. 

 

Anthony Morrow: B-

Remarkably consistent, Morrow saw only the most modest change in his numbers from his rookie year.  Changes in any direction were within the realm of sample error.  Morrow was Dangerfielded by the league offices when they kept the reigning 3 point percentage leader out of the All-Star Weekend shooting contest.  Morrow can flat out shoot.  He rebounds his position adequately, and while he doesn’t pass much, neither does he turn it over much.  Like many a Warrior, the defense leaves something to be desired, but effort always seemed to be there. He showed an occasional ability to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket.  This happened just infrequent enough to warrant a "huh, I guess he can do a bit more than just shoot" whenever it did occur.

 

CJ Watson: B-

Watson would have faired better had his three point shot not deserted him after the first handful of games.  He’s a modest scoring 2 trapped in the body of a 1.  His court vision is limited (a poor 3.6 assists/36 overshadows the solid A:TO ratio), his defense was improved, but still only adequate when compared to teammates.  Things seemed to go considerably better for the Warriors when he was in games than when he sat.  If that criteria can be used against Ellis (it can) then CJ should get the benefit when it goes in his favor.  As respectable as the Warriors played with CJ in, with a large enough sample to appear to be more than a fluke, it is more than a bit curious why he did not play more.  (The same can be said of Morrow, though the results with Morrow were not quite as good and Morrow played a bit more.)

 

Vlad Radmanovic: C-

Once upon a time, someone decided that it would be a good idea to see to it that Radmanovic would make nearly $6.5 million to play basketball in 2009-2010. 

 

Anthony Tolliver: C+

In just slightly more than a half season Tolliver showed himself to be a genuine bargain as backup 4 for a team decimated by injuries.  In absolute terms, his rebounding was still underwhelming and his accuracy does not justify the number of shots he takes from long range.  Expectations can do wonders for perception.  On the Warriors, he was a solid big.  Under no reasonable circumstances should he play center, but circumstances were far from reasonable. Expect him to come back and compete.  Expect some to argue that he makes expendable, which is true, though only if you are looking for a repeat of a sub-30 win season.

Andris Biedrins: D-

Advanced metrics will overrate his contributions this year.  He wasn’t much of a contributor when he was in and didn’t play enough to see if that would turn around. As little as he played, it is tempting to hand Andris an incomplete and move on.  But the spectacularly, historically bad FT shooting warrants at least some consideration.  Something snapped inside of Biedrins.  His fear of embarrassing himself at the line seemed to prevent him from even modestly attacking the basket on offense as he has in the past.  His offensive and offensive rebounding suffered accordingly.  While asked to do too much as the lone big most of the time, tasked with stopping anyone in the paint, his performance in that role fell short of anything that excuses can excuse.  Being by far the best rebounder on the club is all that saves him from the outright "F".    We can only hope that the injury limited his play and that in a year, he will be back to modest contribution around the basket coupled with exceptional rebounding.  However, those days are now more than a year away. 

 

Ronny Turiaf: D+

Ronny is a great contrast defender, meaning in contrast to the other defenders on the team, he looks great.  How great he is in absolute terms is not so clear.  But what is clear is that as big, his rebounding is simply not up to task. As a consequence, his presence hampers any chance of a solid defensive effort as opponents will be able to make a better living off of offensive rebounds and second chance points when Turiaf is in the game.  If anyone has the Warriors’ team fax number, send him a note that rebounds "stats" should be "padded" for a bigman on the Warriors, given that he’ll have no competition from teammates.  It’s clear he didn’t get the memo.  In truth the rebounding improved ever so inconsequentially, though it’s still short of what he did in LA, when it wasn’t ‘padded’.

 

When healthy, the effort is there and there’s much to like about him as a backup that you don’t have to depend on all that much, but that speaks to average contribution when things are going well.  Things didn’t go well. Maybe it was the injuries. Maybe it was just finding it difficult to focus when everything else seemed to suggest "it’s a lost cause".  Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough.  Like Biedrins, Turiaf was reasonably efficient from the field, but for some reason just didn’t manage to find enough shots to make that at all meaningful.  Block shots dropped, scoring dropped, turnovers increased.  FT shooting would have seemed abysmal if Biedrins wasn’t around to be even worse. He was off track almost all year long.  Like Biedrins injuries never really gave him the opportunity to get on track.  He seems to be a really good guy.  The grade isn’t about being a nice guy.  It’s about helping the team along towards wins, something his performance didn’t really do.

 

Mikki Moore: D

Remarkably efficient from the floor, it would have meant something if he shot often enough for it to be significant.  He didn’t.  And per minute, he was out-rebounded by Andrea Bargnani!  I guess someone forgot to tell him that on the Warriors when you’re going to be the only big 99% of the time you’re in the game; accordingly your rebound stats are going to be padded.  Or perhaps they were padded, though in such a case it is difficult to fathom just how abysmal he would have been on the boards under "normal" circumstances.

 

Chris Hunter: C-

Merely average in scoring efficiency and terrible on the glass, (once again defying the common sense that his rebound numbers should be padded by playing alongside small guys) Hunter was hardly a revelation.  Hunter boxed out, threw his weight around.  As a team, the Warriors managed better over all and rebound somewhat better with him in the game than they did without him in, though it is tough to tell how much the boxing out helped and how much it just meant that he was marginally better than Radmanovic or Maggette when they were stuck in the Warriors front line.  Nonetheless, he’s the high mark on the Warriors front line.

 

Reggie Williams: B

Reggie looked like he could be an electric scorer often enough to make me think we may have found another golden 2/3 out of the D-league.  He could score in many different ways. Like most rookies, his defense wasn’t there and he may benefit from a small sample size. But what he did do when he was here was enough to deserve the grade, perhaps flavored a touch by a rookie scale and zero expectations. 

 

Devean George: C-

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to come up with something interesting to say about Devean George?  He was a professional.  He didn’t make you cringe watching him and every now and then there were glimpses of solid man defense that earned him a reputation as a solid defender throughout his career.  Another guy who was essentially a spot up 3 point bomber on a team that needed size, he plays much shorter than his listed 6’8".   (No padded rebounding here either, for those keeping score at home.)

 

Anthony Randolph: C-

The end of 08-09 saw Randolph developing as an elite rebounder who, when he limited himself to shots in the paint.  One might suspect that the success in Vegas was somewhat counter-productive as he saw the shooting go south once again when he appeared ready to try his hand at the ill-advised SF role once again.  His playing time seemed to be more at Nellie’s whim than anything that resembled a reaction to his play as well.  (Without Wright available to so thoroughly confuse, perhaps Nellie felt the need to be doubly cryptic with Randolph’s PT.)   Before any of it had a chance to get back on track, injury ended his season.

Randolph remains enigmatic and frustrating.  One wonders what he wants and one wonders if he knows what he can do.  His reaction to suggestions that he could see some time at center was worrisome as well. (No matter what his perception is, on a team as decimated by injuries as the Warriors were, the correct answer would be to say that he’d do whatever could help the Warriors win, then quietly go about showing exactly that.  Great players seldom spend any time at all explaining what positions they don’t play.) Aside from a fluke ability to hit jumpers from the right elbow, any shot from further away than one reaches to get fast food passed out of a drive in window were likely to miss.  No matter how nice the jumper looks, it’s not a nice jumper until it hits consistently. That’s not a given.  No matter how nice the "handles" look, it’s not nice until it doesn’t result in turnovers.  Nothing in his passing suggests "point forward" at this point either. 

Randolph can be an elite rebounder.  He can block shots.  He has a nice FT stroke and showed indications that he can get to the line regularly.  He is an elite athlete.  He may still become a fantastic basketball player.  He is not there yet.  I still have hope.

Incompletes

Raja BellHis lone game suggests an A-triple plus, if that means anything.

Kelenna Azubuike: Derailed by injury early.

Brandan Wright:

Plus: No turnovers, didn’t miss a shot all year and never surrendered a bucket on D.

Minuses: Failed to score a single point. He creates the annoying "#DIV/0!" error when accidentally left in any statistical cruncher according.

Coby KarlThe most interesting thing about Coby Karl was seeing his first name misspelled as "Kobe".  Actually, that was the only interesting thing.

 

Looking back at it, I still think I'm being generous.

 

Also see: 2009-2010 Golden State Warriors Midterm Report Card- Injuries, injuries, and a whole lot of suck

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