Well... with just a few games to go this season, the Warrior faithful have yet again paid with their very hard earned cash or time in these tough economic conditions, to follow their beloved team and what a year it’s been! I would love to say for all the right reasons too....alas...I cannot. However this is not a thread of despair and gloom, just a personal view from across the pond (currently) of this year’s performance.
I will cover most of the team and the front office and give my thoughts on their performance and reasons why I may have those opinions. I appreciate you might not agree with many, but it is often refreshing to see another’s perspective and consider aspects which may not have been considered before... it’s quite long, so grab a cup of coffee if you like...so here is my personal reflection of this year’s efforts:
Ownership – 2010/11 saw the departure of possibly one of the most hated owners by a fanbase in US sports. Chris Cohan departed with rapturous applause by the Warrior faithful and in comes Joe Lacob and Peter Guber . While many groaned that the mighty ‘Ellison’ did not get the purchase he wanted, the fanbase warmed to the ‘gangbusters’ approach in the media of the new ownership. Promises were made, talk was exciting, changes occurred, the question that is now being asked is...”was the talk cheap?” Yes there were changes, yes the players are ‘better’ than last year’s squad and yet many would probably prefer to watch the rag-tag band of 7 misfits that gave their every breath last year, rather than the squad we have now which is relatively healthy and not performing that much better.
Changes are needed....otherwise the fanbase will scorch the new owners, just as they did the past owner. This includes changes in front office, coaching and players... otherwise mediocrity beckons again for the 2011/12 season, and frankly, this fanbase deserves more. In short...we await final judgement until after the summer...but I have to tell you Joe...you have dug your own trench on this one.....I truly hope you can find a way over the top.
Front Office – I will start with Robert Rowell.......................................... well.......... no, I’m sorry, I simply have no single answer as to why this man is still in office at the Golden State Warriors. This man is so far out of his depth in his position of Warriors President that I simply cannot fathom how astute businessmen like Lacob and Guber have allowed him to remain in his position. This season should be Robert’s last in his position and the evidence is clear from all previous documentary as to why this should be the case.
Larry Riley. I’ll go on record to say I actually really like the guy. Having met him several times, if you ask him a question, you get an honest answer. In my personal book, that earns enormous ‘kudos’. As to the job he has done... I really cannot tell how much of his work, especially of late, is down to his own hand. Yes he has made some good moves, for example bringing in Dorrell Wright and David Lee, however... I personally believe that letting go of Morrow was a cheap mistake as Morrow has proven his ability as a very effective bench player with a deadeye for the net. The amount charged for his services is fair and I think we should have paid. Brandan Wright is another enormous cock-up in my personal opinion.
If anyone saw the Nets game, I saw the emergence of a very dangerous potential ‘3’ in Brandan Wright. When thinking ‘LONG’, many might think of Bob Beamon and his jumps, I now think Brandan Wright. The kid is long like I have never seen, again with proper coaching/mentoring, he has the ability to be a very difficult ‘3’ to defend against. He’s certainly no starting ‘4’ or ‘5’, however the lad who was known for so long as ‘Broken wing’ has clearly increased his weight and muscle and is now a much more powerful option and one I think we will regret trading from our bench simply for a 2nd round draft pick. I won’t even discuss the Troy Murphy element of this trade...
Therefore I have to question how much of these decisions are all Riley and how much might be influenced by the new ownership. If comments are to be believed, then Kirk Lacob has a great deal to learn about business etiquette. His comments about Brandan Wright and his attitude were not professional and possibly tells more about that trade that anything. Considering some of the trades that took place on trade deadline day, it is quite clear the Warriors should be graded pretty poorly for their efforts and execution.
Remaining Front Office – Not being a season ticket holder while I am in the UK again, it’s hard to comment on the remaining marketing staff, but from what I have seen, they are doing a better job than when I was a season ticket holder. I still get calls from time to time from the sales office guys and they hope, as do I, that one day I will be back as a season ticket holder.
Coaching – Assistant coaches... we have seen the departure of the medical officer and other assistant coaching staff. I have agreed with the departure of many and frankly I don't think they proved an ability to coach their way out of paper bags. It does not matter which sport you play in, young players need coaching AND mentoring. I believe many of our youngsters have lacked experienced mentoring that might otherwise have produced better results. Total improvements, possibly not, but at least some improvements yes. I have long said, that losing Sidney Moncrief was a blow to the Warriors, none more so than Biedrins.
Head Coach – I think everyone knows my position on Coach Smart. I genuinely like the guy but I cannot support someone simply because I like them. If they are paid to do the job, then I want the very best person available to do that job and frankly, Keith has proven he simply does not ‘yet’ have the qualities to develop this young team. Enough said.
The Team (I’ll stick to current roster) – Stephan Curry, this kid has potential star written all over him to anyone with a basketball taught eye. As a player he has the mental attitude, the basketball IQ, the presence and the clear skills to be a very good player. However, he has also shown his young and impressionable side in interviews etc and in my personal opinion is currently being very poorly coached. This kid clearly needs the ball in his hands and clearly needs to feel he is running the show and yet you can almost see him have to defer to Monta Ellis much of the time. SC is a fantastically ‘pure’ shooter, anyone watching his action and release will instantly recognize a very pure shooting style, which if allowed to flourish will be deadly. Again....he needs that steering hand that a Magic Johnson or probably even more appropriate a ‘Jerry – Mr Clutch - West’ style mentor. Jerry West was very similar to Curry in that he was a point guard that could easily play shooting guard and his whole style, success and ethos could be a fabulous boost to some of our younger players, it’s that style of mentor that our young players need right now and coaches like Smart and Silas, etc, simply don't have the pedigree to take on those mentor roles. I truly hope we keep Curry and I also hope we bring in a true mentor to develop his slightly unique game skills similar to that of Mr West.
Monta Ellis – Love him or hate him, you have to admire him and loath him! Let’s discuss good... without doubt, one of the finest two guards that can penetrate the paint in the NBA. The Mississippi Bullet is just that...he is so fast and a very lethal weapon on the break, even in ISO. I am also very pleased with how he is maturing as a man/professional athlete and I genuinely believe he enjoys being a Golden State Warrior. In short, he is the type of player that can terrorise a defence if used effectively and sitting beyond the arc is simply not using him effectively.
The bad.... ME8 is simply NOT a point guard, period. I do not ever want to see Ellis bringing the ball up the court. I want him being used in plays that have him running around as the ball comes up that is dragging his defender everywhere, I want to see him sprinting in and out of a zone defence constantly making the other team wonder if a ‘zip’ pass will be fired at him...THAT is the best way to use Monta. I can think of nothing more deadly that using him in such a way and educating him enough to look for the ‘kick-out’ if his path is blocked/low percentage. His speed will draw defensive help toward him, leaving Curry or Wright wide open for shots that we should be draining all day long. We are simply not using Ellis currently in the most effective manner and I wonder how much of that is the coach and how much of that is Ellis himself?
Dorell Wright – Let’s face it, he has been good value. I really don't have much to say about Dorrell other than the fact that he has played a little bit above the level I expected him to perform at and that I see him as a good part of our team for the next couple of years be it as a starter, or strong bench player. I would love to see another coach have to deal with the likes of mismatch that DWright being supported for example by a Vesely (More about him in my draft express post) or a Bwright, in the 3 spot. Very tough to keep changing to defend against. Dorrell was a good acquisition.
Reggie Williams – Really tough one.... I like Reggie’s play and at times I HATE his play, but I potentially see two major reasons why I dislike parts of his game, one is lack of consistent PT and the other is defensive coaching, at times he is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and that shows lack of basketball IQ. His positive contribution can be seen in many games; however Reggie seems to be one of those players that need PT in order to get into a groove. That’s not ideal, but once he is in the groove, he can be extremely effective. Unfortunately he can also be completely invisible at the defensive end at times, but I would certainly like to see him rotating in and out more with Ellis, rather than Curry. Would I keep him for next year? While I would like to, I could also happily use him in a trade scenario as part of a package to possibly offload Biedrins...which cunningly leads me to........
Andris Biedrins – As I mentioned in another post, I truly feel for the guy. I think this franchise has abandoned its responsibility to get the most out of this player. He is clearly in a confidence ‘hell’ right now and the only way out in my personal opinion is 1 on 1 coaching with someone fresh. I would without question, drop him currently to the bench and really work with him both mentally and in the gym to get him back focused as to what he is, which is a centre of good capability that needs to eradicate a confidence problem. It might be that this simply won’t happen here and maybe a move to another team like the Raptors, Charlotte, Chicago or even Miami, could bring him back from the brink...otherwise I suspect he might be consigned to basketball’s ‘pasture’ very soon. Would I trade him... yes I would, if as much for his own sake as ours. Will we need to package him in order to move him, highly likely! Personally I believe he is gone this summer.
Ekpe Udoh – I like this kid... one of my greatest qualities I look for in a basketball player is ‘EFFORT’. If I see a player making an enormous effort at both ends of the court, then I can forgive his shortcomings. For me personally, players like Ronny Turiaf are a classic example. While many might not consider them ‘good’ let alone great players, I would always want players like this on my bench, because when legs are tired and heads are down, it is players like Turiaf and Udoh that put in effort at key moments or provide energy when others are flagging. While this is hard to quantify as we have discussed, it is a value which we must not overlook. I like ‘workers’ and ‘warriors’, players that despite being paid a fat pay cheque, play like they are being paid a buck fifty a game and if they don't put in effort, they don't get paid...I like that effort... and when I see them fight for their jersey for every ball like Udoh does....then I will forgive some of the rookie shortcomings to keep a player that shows this level of effort. Is he a starter at centre? Possibly, but unlikely. Is he a good back-up ‘4’..yes, if we have a ‘big’ centre. Therefore do I want to see him on our bench for next year....without question.
David Lee – Have to say...to use the kiddies lingo! “I am disappoint!” I had high hopes that David Lee would provide us that PF power we were desperately lacking...unfortunately due to our ‘absent’ centre in Biedrins, we have had to use Lee at the ‘5’ spot with Vlad at the ‘4’...not exactly Ideal. Do I think he is overpaid? Yes I do... do I think he can add a great deal more value next year with an experienced coach and a ‘proper 5’ yes I do. Would I be tempted to trade him as part of a package to offload Biedrins....yes I would. I do like David’s attitude and effort, however I feel his lack of defensive skills really hurt us at times and if I was in charge of a squad, I want my PF to be a beast! I want him crashing boards at both ends, I want bumping shoulders with the biggest and I want him to have a slightly mean streak...David Lee is a little bit ‘sugar candy’ for my liking but I frankly would not be upset if he was to remain, providing we have an experienced coach. I believe Jerry Sloan could do wonders with David Lee’s game... but that’s just a hunch.
Jeremy Lin – Hmmmmmmmm..... not convinced. Bench player that might prove useful....maybe. NBA starter...Nope, I just don’t see it. Can I see the benefit of having him play for a Bay Area team, yes I do. Do I also believe that many Asians, irrespective of origin are now over the hype? Yes I do also. I can understand the frenzy that appeared for a while, but I think we can also appreciate Lin for what he is now and that is a young basketball player with potential talent that with an experienced coach, we might see develop into a very useful bench player irrespective of his heritage. Would I trade him if need be? Yes I would. Am I curious enough to see him develop for another year in warriorland... yes I am, but I see him at the CJ Watson level, rather than the Derrick Rose level.
Lou Admunson – who? J Unfortunately I have not seen enough of Lou this year due to injury, but I hope we retain him on the bench for next year. He definitely knows how to rebound, unfortunately we have a coach that does not recognise that when we need to do so, we need to get him on the court. I expect to see him next year on our team and I hope adding a great deal more value, again with experienced coaching.
Time to go – Acie Law, Vlad Rad, Charlie Bell, Jeff Adrien... sorry fellas, but it is time for you to find employment elsewhere this summer. I have to thank Vlad for his effort, I truly believe he has given effort and energy every time he has put on our shirt. Granted he has had nightmare games and in fact on other nights he has been very productive, for that I will miss him from our squad, but I think he has to be included in a trade package.
This would leave us with a squad of Curry, Ellis, DWright, Lee, Udoh, and probably Williams, Lin, Admunson....that’s 8 players guys and gals...EIGHT..players!! That gives us enormous opportunity to really change this roster over the summer with a couple of exciting rookie prospects and some serious experience for example a certain Mr J Rich?? Or a Buike? But more importantly...TWO. not ONE, but two, proper Centre’s and maybe a couple of veteran PF’s. Would I take Chris Bosh if he was available? YES... could I see Miami taking Biedrins, VladRad (for the expiring) and Bell (ditto) in exchange? Unlikely.... would I consider letting Ellis go in that mix...ouch...very tough but probably.
So....that’s my views on the team....whose next?
Announcers - One word..... 'Fitz'!!!!!!!!!!! sounds like dot dot dot dot dot...........you get the picture! "er paging Mr Fitz...paging Mr Fitz.... your taxi is waiting sir"... enough said! JB remains legend in my opinion and maybe its time to bring the 'Papa' back to the Barnett!!
GSOM – I have to say....getting better but the logo has to go chaps! ;) May I suggest a GSOM logo ideas thread in the offseason?
Sadly there was a period when the ferocity of attacks, both labyrinthine, snide and openly downright rude were really keeping me away from here for a while. I love my Golden State Warriors as a team and when I get set upon for opinion that may differ to others, I see no reason why differences cannot be discussed without juvenile attempts to ‘belittle’ someone of differing view through long winded verbal/cerebral ‘I am so much more intellectually superior to you’ type of responses. Happily, I think this is on the wane and of late I have seen a great deal more respect for people of differing views lately. It was a facet of San Francisco life that I never truly got my head around and is something very unique when compared to other cities around the world to which I have travelled. That facet being a certain sense of ‘superiority’ that despite being known as the city of free speech, liberal views, peace and love, etc, I have never encountered such ‘venom’ for want of a better description for anyone that has an opposing view, which is completely at odds with the very principle which is meant to make SF different from the rest of the US, as such I feel some of this leaks into GSOM from time to time, but gladly less now than before.
Is SF still a great city.....absolutely, is GSOM a great basketball blog.....absolutely.... Do I wish people practiced that which they preach about freedom of speech and acceptance of all, despite their views....absolutely! ;)
The Oracle Arena - I have been to many stadiums around the world, while it might be old, I have not been to a finer atmospheric venue in my life. When the Arena starts to get loud...holy crap..hang on to your hat, that place is impressive and long may that continue! I have missed that almost the most this year! Ray Almeda....those football style chants will one day be heard my friend! ;)
Finally....if your still with me...The Fanbase! I genuinely do not believe there is a more dedicated, educated and loyal fan base in all US sports, than that which follows Golden State. Charles Barkley and the like, simply do not realise how good this fanbase is, or how passionately they follow their team. If the new owners realise one thing and one thing alone in their recent months of ownership, it’s.... don’t screw the pooch!!! The GSW loyal, deserve all the praise that can be heaped upon them and I am grateful to be a part of that group...to that end my friends, keep the faith, we shall see glory again... and we shall prove the detractors wrong... in order for that to happen, Mr Lacob and Mr Guber must make good with their promises and I look forward to see them do just that this summer!
Sorry it was long....but I just wanted to share my thoughts on this year, which was very much a transitional year and I very much look forward to next year, as the start of something consistently good!