The GSoM crew doesn't have a chance to meet up in person often, but with a little advance planning this year many of us sat together at GSoM Night last night to watch the Warriors beat the Kings which was great (especially because we were sitting behind Kings fans whose excitement slowly waned as the game wore on).
With the Warriors firmly in control for most of the game, I eventually stopped watching the game as much as talking to folks about their candid opinions on things: we have a great group of writers, but sometimes in the process of writing for a public audience we don't exactly put the raw truth out there.
So I'm here to give you some of the crew's raw insights...anonymously. The following is just a rundown of a few topics of conversation that came up in as the GSoM crew was shooting the breeze from the cheap seats last night (and, for that matter, in Q&As with other bloggers so far this season) in declining order of frequency.
1. The prices at Oracle Arena are just sky high: It's to the point where I'd rather starve or (even more) strongly consider a bacon-wrapped hot dog on the BART overpass. I pretty much ignored everything after I saw that chicken fingers were running $9.50, but some other rumored prices:
- $10 to park in the BART parking lot now, which undermines a key driving strategy.
- $24 for the Kinders chicken and ribs combo???
- $13.50 for watered down beer (I'm actually not sure this is that much different from the past, but that number is enough to curb alcoholism nationwide).
- $18 for their jumbo nachos???
- $18 for a pizza that's too small for the fancy-looking box???
Again, I didn't bother buying anything last night so please correct me if I'm wrong on any of these, but those aren't exactly family friendly prices. But that's a good thing too: you can rest assured that my memories of the event were not alcohol-impaired.
2. How big a problem is the bench play? Obviously the bench play is a problem so far this season, but how much of that is about Harrison Barnes being absent from the rotation? How much of that is about Festus Ezeli not being around? How much of that is about Mareese Speights (more below)? Is Landry in fact a bigger loss than Jack? I think the consensus is this: although most of us assume that Jackson will eventually be forced to change up the rotation because the bench unit simply can't score with four or more of them on the court at one time, he also recognizes the need to keep his starters fresh. Once Barnes returns and that unit has another player who can score on the floor along with any two ball handlers (Stephen Curry, Toney Douglas, Andre Iguodala, or Klay Thompson) we might see some of those struggles dissipate. And if Draymond Green's 3-point shooting keeps up - sample size, be damned! - that will give this team a really solid top seven.
3. Have you ever seen anyone able to shoot off the dribble like Stephen Curry? No? You neither? Guess we're all on the same page. I will note that in the comments of the Sonics Rising Warriors preview someone noted that some kid from Big State might've had a smoother stroke than Curry but that really doesn't get at the point here: Curry can just pull up on a dime, toss the ball in the general direction of the basket and somehow make it go in. It's pretty remarkable to watch, with no disrespect to any of the game's other great shooters.
4. Everybody seems somewhat apprehensive about Speights: And that's putting it nicely. The funniest comment of that night: "I'm just not sure that dude looks trustworthy." Really, this is about shot selection - as someone else pointed out, it's kinda cool to have someone who's willing to throw his weight around in the paint and is capable of hitting the mid-range jumpers that Landry hit last season. But was he worth a three-year contract? At the money they signed him for, I'm sort of indifferent about that but some people are starting to question that.
5. What is David Lee's value? I'm just going to throw this out there: has David Lee become the most controversial current Warriors player on this current roster, if not as divisive as Monta Ellis? You can see the opinions I gathered from Lee from those sitting near me in the poll below but feelings still seem to vary quite widely about Lee.
6. Is Harrison Barnes overrated? Tom Ziller asked me whether I'd choose Barnes or Klay Thompson in our Q&A prior to the Kings game and you can see my answer over there, but I'd choose Thompson and it seems like I'm not alone in that. But that opinion led to a question: are people putting too much stock in Barnes' potential? I do think it's really hard to know that until we see him a) healthy and b) in his new role off the bench with a unit that will probably need him to score, but I also think some people have set the bar way too high for him based on his playoff performances and it's easy to see how he might command big money once he's a free agent in a few years.
7. Are people underrating Memphis in talking up the Warriors as a potential championship contender? Memphis just straight bullied the Warriors last year and, personally, I still believe the Warriors are going to struggle with them a bit this season. As one person said last night, they've basically got all their pieces back and shipping Rudy Gay out might make them better. Does a healthy, or healthier, Bogut along with Ezeli, Speights, KUZMIC and Jermaine O'Neal make a difference? Very possibly. But the Grizzlies weren't exactly in the Western Conference Finals last year because they're a terrible team that needed an injury to an opponent to advance - they're a solid roster.
8. How close is this team to a title? I think everybody has a sense that this team is somehow "special", but it's hard to gauge how special because of what they're up against. As stated above, Western Conference finalists Memphis and San Antonio are still forces to be reckoned with. OKC will obviously be a top contender. And then on the other side of the bracket, you have LeBron James and the Miami Heat. And, as one person said, at this point, there's a legitimate question as to whether anyone can win a title as long as James is in the league.
9. The loss of Jack is not nearly as big a deal as some people want to make it: This is actually not about his shot selection or perceived lack of court vision; really, it's that the starting lineup is so good that the team shouldn't be in quite as many close games which should negate the need for the type of stretch heroics that Jack brought to the table last season.
10. It would be awesome if Kiwi Gardner actually made the Santa Cruz Warriors: Indeed. It would also be awesome if like 56% combined from beyond the 3-point line too. High hopes all around for those guys in Santa Cruz this season. (Related commentary: "I saw all these tweets about a draft or something and was like, 'What is that?') and really started shooting
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As a tease for our new podcast, it was determined after talking to one another in person a bit more that we really need to do more podcasting (and that I be on it, but that's neither here nor there). So we also got to chat a bit more about some ideas for that and I expect us to do some pretty cool things with it.
In the meantime, feel free to vote in the poll or just drop any general small sample size thoughts you have about the team in the comments. For a few photos from the night, check out our site Twitter account (@unstoppablebaby) and give us a follow if you are reading this site and inexplicably haven't for some reason.