So may questions after this latest loss. Where was Ekpe Udoh after the first quarter? What's the fascination with Acie Law and Vladimir Radmanovic? What does Reggie Williams have to do to earn regular sixth man minutes? How does Stephen Curry, in the midst of a good game, not touch the ball in the 4th quarter? How does Monta Ellis receive the overwhelming GSoM player of the game despite shooting 11-27 with 1 board, 2 assists, and 6 turnovers? How does a player who doesn't defend his position, rebound his position, take care of the ball, get his teammates involved, or score efficiently get so much love from fans? How does a player who who is so lacking in these basic hoops skills get so much love from an NBA head coach? Why can't we get a player who has some of these skills, like Andre Iguodala? Or a coach with a clue, like Doug Collins?
Since expecting Smart or Lacob or anyone associated with the Warriors to answer these questions satisfactorily is like waiting for Godot, I'll take a stab after the jump.
Where was Ekpe Udoh after the first quarter? Glued to the bench. Reason given by Smart after the game: "matchups." That's pretty typical of the level of analysis and insight in a Smart response these days. (Yes, the enlightening interview answer is one of the many hallmarks of the Don Nelson era that Smart has made me miss). Needless to say, I'm not buying the glib answer. The Warriors are effectively toast this season, and Udoh's development is hugely important to the team's future. Further, in his limited minutes, Udoh has earned the PT. If you believe the plus-minus number crunchers, Udoh's stellar interior D has clearly outweighed his worrisome shortcomings in other areas. The whole team just seems to care more about D when Friday steps on the court. Warriors fans disagree on a lot of things, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find any these days who wouldn't rather see Udoh get minutes than Biedrins or Vlad.
What's the fascination with Acie Law and Vladimir Radmanovic? If I had to guess, it's that their body language and demeanor comes off "professional" to Coach Smart. I'd agree that they both seem like cool, hardworking dudes with high basketball IQs. Problem is, neither is very good at basketball. Vlad's a semi-useful Nellieball PF when his shot is falling (which has seemed less common of late). Acie's inability to throw the ball in the Bay renders him worthless on most nights. His -16 in 18 minutes suggest that last night was no exception. Somehow that didn't prevent him from spending much of the 4th quarter on court while Curry (+6 on the night) did his best Sarunas Jasikevicius impersonation with his towel.
What does Reggie Williams have to do to earn regular sixth man minutes? Put in a call to Don Nelson? Because clearly, averaging 16.8 points per 36 on a studly .604 true shooting percentage while taking good care of the ball isn't cutting it for Smart. He's averaging 21.4 minutes a game, compared to 32.6 his rookie year under Nellie. I mean, even if you're Ellis's #1 fan: would it kill you to give 3 or 4 of his gluttonous 40.8 minutes per game to the quietly superproductive Mr. Potatohead? He wasn't anything special last night (3-8 fg), but then great shooters like Reggie need rhythm, and Smart never game him enough burn to develop any.
How does Stephen Curry, in the midst of a good game, not touch the ball in the 4th quarter? As Brian Wilson (no, not that one) said: God only knows. Quite likely the head-scratchingest benching in a season full of head-scratching benchings. Beyond being the team's best overall player, on this night Curry was shooting well, playing well, and had been instrumental in pulling the team out of the 18-point hole that Acie and Monta and Co. had helped to dig. I'm starting to think Smart may just have a personal antipathy for Curry. I've got a pet theory that he resents Steph's Golden Boy good looks and Silver Spoon upbringing, and relates much more to Monta's funny face and triumph over his hardscrabble childhood. But that's probably too close to conjecture to pursue in a public forum like this. Come to NYC and buy me a beer or two and I'll hold forth for you on the subject.
How does Monta Ellis receive the overwhelming GSoM player of the game despite shooting 11-27 with 1 board, 1 assist, and 6 turnovers? Well, I'd guess the 18 points in the 4th quarter and the two clutch late threes have a lot to do with it. In my view, it doesn't even come close to negating his grotesquely "Bad Monta" performance in the other three quarters and in the OT. And honestly, I'd be more impressed with the 18 points in the 4th if more of them had come off of drives and easy shots within the flow of the offense rather than off of iso jumpers while the other four guys stood around. But hey, 293 Warriors fans (to just 90 votes for second place Curry) can't be wrong, right? Democracy in all its infinite mystery — the same magical force that brought you George W. Bush, Michelle Bachmann, and Christie O'Donnell.
How does a player who doesn't defend his position, rebound his position, take care of the ball, get his teammates involved, or score efficiently get so much love from fans? He does seem like a sweet, hardworking guy who gives his all on the court every night. Personality goes a long way. The Sleepyette, for example, refuses to believe that he's not a winning player, no matter how much nerdy "evidence" I confront her with. (She does say she prefers Curry, but that could just be in the interests of marital harmony).
How does a player who who is so lacking in these basic hoops skills get so much love from an NBA head coach? Honestly, still a mystery to me. After the game, Smart sputtered a few incoherent words about Monta's willing the team to victory and the rest of the team's need to rise to his level and blah blah blah. Sigh. Beyond Monta's career-worst rebounding (3.0 per 36) and plummeting scoring efficiency (.535 true shooting %), he is currently the least effective defender on the team, by far. It's astonishing that a guy like Smart can spend his whole life around basketball and still have such little appreciation for the value of defense, passing, rebounding, and scoring efficiently.
Why can't we get a player who has some of these skills, like Andre Iguodala? Or a coach with a clue, like Doug Collins? Lacob and Riley, you're on the clock.
OK, now where did I put that thingie...
Keith Smart Monta Ellis Madison Bumgarner Michelle Bachmann Ah what the heck, I'll give a little love to... Stephen Curry. 22 points on an efficient 8-16 fg, 7 assists, was a +6 in his 35 minutes played, which means his teammates mustered a -14 in the 18 minutes he didn't play. Somebody get this kid some teammates, preferably of the long and defensive-minded variety.