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Valuable Warriors: Past, Present, and Future

ESPN Page 2's biggest name Bill Simmons assembled his annual NBA Trade Value column earlier this week. Simmons has been putting these top 50/ 40 rankings together for over 6 years and even though I rarely read his Bostonian columns masquerading as general sports columns on, I ALWAYS read this segment. His Trade Value columns are consistently well-researched, exhaustive, and most important wildly entertaining. They always spark some fantastic discussions too.

Well I have some very good news to share with Warriors Nation. For the first time in the 7 year run of this column 3 Warriors made the cut!

Hint: Kosta "Zero Threat Position" Perovic isn't one of the three.

A retrospective on past Warriors who made Simmons' list and a look at who made the cut this season plus some quick bold predictions... after the jump!

The Past

Now let's take you back for a little perspective.

Let's turn back the clock to April 2002 where the memory of back to back 51's still kept hope alive for Warriors fans. At #40 Antawn Jamison:

The ultimate tweener ... seems destined for one of those "Good stats on a crappy team" careers ... you could make a case for Jason Richardson as the Token Warrior in this spot.

This happened in December of 2000, not in 2002, but I think this needs to be said- Antawn Jamison's back to back 51 point games are the most underrated and underappreciated feat in the NBA history.

I have no idea how he does it.

In May of 2003 after coming close to making the playoffs with an up an coming team featuring Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy, and close Earl Boykins the Warriors had two guys make the cut- and no Mike Dunelavy wasn't one of them.

God I loved this team.

gilbert_arenas_mvp1.gif   At #40 Gilbert Arenas (apologies for the long quote, but if you're a fan of Warriors history you'll love it):

Just a few months ago, I questioned Arenas in a column and received an inordinate amount of e-mails from Warriors fans urging me to watch him for a few games. One guy even told me, "I've been a season ticket holder for 25 years and I'm telling you, Gilbert Arenas will be one of the best 10 players in the league in two years."

Well, those are strong words. So I watched more than a few Warriors games over the past three months -- partly because they were the only team still on when I came home from work, partly because I liked watching them -- and all those Warriors fans were right about Arenas. He's as talented as any guard right now.

The positives: Only 21 years old ... other than Kobe and T-Mac, he has the best first step in the league ... unstoppable when he's feeling it ... only started getting PT in March of 2002 ... has the biggest UPPPPPPPPP-side of any free agent since Tracy McGrady three years ago.

The negatives: By all accounts, a major head case, so much so that some teams are reportedly scared to sign him this summer ... one of the most immature players in the league -- sometimes he would get so riled up about bad calls, Eric Musselman would actually take him out of games in the final two minutes ... isn't a natural point guard, which was why the Warriors played Earl Boykins so much in crunch time ... probably has the worst body language of anyone in the league.

But couldn't you chalk up most of those weaknesses to his age? And after watching Billups, Bibby, Marbury and everyone else need 5-7 years to mature, doesn't it seem like a decent bet that Arenas will be considerably better in 2006 than right now? Since he was a second-round pick, the Warriors can only offer him $4.5 million a season this summer ... so anyone offering five million or more can have him. And if a team like Denver or Utah doesn't step in, they're crazy.

Scoop Jamison made the cut again at #38 that year:

38. Antawn Jamison -- The quintessential "Good stats on a bad team" guy.

Quick question- where did Jamison learn how to shoot those odd, unorthodox scoops, hoops, and flip shots? When he retires he should have his own Better Basketball DVD called "Mastering the 'Tawn". Again, where did he learn to score like that and- HOW DOES HE DO IT?!

I guarantee you that if the Warriors kept Jamison and Arenas (look the man in the eye and shake his hand Cohan!) that summer there wouldn't have been a 12 year drought, but moving on...

Good times.

In June 2004 not a single Warrior made the cut after an odd 2003 campaign where Muss did his finest coaching job and made Erik Dampier look like a stud. However, in the omissions list believe it or not, but Simmons wrote this:

Mike Dunleavy -- A year away from making a splash and being the odds-on favorite as the Token White Guy on the 2006 World Championships team. With that said, somebody could pry him from the Warriors this summer. They're that dumb.

Man that's just embarrassing to have that on your record. Someone ask Simmons about that in a chat.



Taking you back to July 2005 recently traded to the Warriors Baron Davis made the omissions:

Baron Davis (19 [2004 ranking]) - Only because the Hornets had a fire sale for him last February and the best they could do was "Speedy Claxton, Dale Davis, cash considerations and a $200 Starbucks gift card."

No Warriors made the list that year, but after that amazing spring with BD's arrival and the BoomRich tandem just coming into form, we thought much bigger things were in store for Warriors Nation. It would take a new coach (a legend in fact) and 2 years, but WE BELIEVEd.

Back in July 2006 Jason Richardson cracked the toughest omissions (essentially the honorable mention):

When somebody averages 24 points a game in the same backcourt with Baron Davis shooting 38 percent and pulling his "Teen Wolf" routine, that's saying something. But would you want to be paying him $62 million over the next five years? Me neither.

That 2005-2006 Warriors season was arguably the worst since PJ told Spree too put a little mustard on that pass and looking back I'm glad at least JRich got some props. He and Fish (whose game I can't stand to this day) were the only Warriors who gave it their all night in and night out that season.

No Apology Necessary.
(Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE/Getty Images)

The front office mismanagement that year was a disaster and the Warriors got one of the worst coaching performances of all time.


The Present and Future

Three Dubs made the cut this year which is a record by my count. Both Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins placed in Simmon's Group J: "Cost-Effective Building Blocks".

At #49 the Missippi Bullet himself:

With apologies to Lou Williams, Ellis is the league's best young combo guard at the best possible price ($770k for this season and next). The only thing I'd change is the spelling of his first name -- he pronounces it "Mon-TAY," only he doesn't spell it "Montay," "Monté," "Montae," "Montaye" or my personal favorite, "Mon'taye." His parents couldn't have worked an extra letter and an apostrophe in there? Is there still time?

Monta is just ballin!
(AP Photo/Mark Weber)

After a really slow start to his 2k7-2k8 campaign Monta's averages are at about the same level as last season: 16.4 ppg (49.1% FG, 22.2% 3pt, 72.6% FT), 3.4 assists : 1.7 turnovers, 4.0 rpg, and 1.4 thefts.

Bold Prediction: Monta isn't on this list next season. Hope I'm wrong.


At #43 the Ivan Drago's good guy twin:

Every game, he's giving you 25-30 minutes, a double-double, one or two blocks and at least one person in the crowd saying, "What '80s music star does that guy look like? It's driving me crazy!" He also turns 22 in April, and unlike the Chairman, we're reasonably sure it's his exact age. (The answer to the music question: A cross between Stuart Copeland and John Taylor, with a little of one of the bad guys from "Beerfest" sprinkled in.)

I remember Rod Brooks joking on Fitz and Brooks that Bob Fitzgerald was holding the mic in this pic.

To date I unfortunately really can't say I've ever seen Biedrins go out there and flat out shut down or dominate some decent front court opponent. Part of me thinks his rebounding totals are inflated and empty like Troy Murphy's old Warrior double-doubles because this is a pretty poor rebounding cast, but that's all debatable. Biedrins sure is putting up some nice averages this season in 28 minutes of play (fouling is still a problem): 10.7 ppg (63.2% FG and 62.9% FT), 9.6 rpg, 1.4 assists : 1.4 turnovers, 1.4 blocks, and 0.7 steals.

Bold Prediction: Biedrins is at around the same spot next season on this list after Nellie and Mullin ink him to a reasonable deal around 7-8 million a season (Simmons' list factors in contracts). Nellie and Mullin will use Al Jefferson's $13 million per season recent deal as a bargaining chip and factor in Biedrins' serious offensive and defensive limitations.

If you think my projections for these two young Warriors are way too low just keep in mind that this is a young league with plenty of young stars doing big thangs. Check out where they rank in terms of the other players in this league under 25: Davis Sports's Top 25 Under 25. Not that that list isn't debatable, but Monta's at #21 and Biedrins is at #19.


The Warriors have come a long, long way. For the first time in the history of Simmons' columns a Warrior cranked the top 15, Group D: "Only If They Asked to Leave". Dizzling and Dazzling at #15:

Believe me, I examined this from every conceivable angle. Considering his pivotal role in Golden State's resurgence (both with the team and within the Bay Area) and the way NellieBall rejuvenated his career, Davis has made the most significant "just-when-we-thought-it-was-never-happening" jump of any star in recent memory. Even as recently as three years ago, he had one of the 20-25 worst contracts in the league. Now he's a franchise player and a legitimate crunch-time killer. Amazing.

(On a personal note, it's rewarding to watch a talented disappointment for so many years while thinking things like, "Man, if he only attacked the rim instead of just settling for 3s" and "It's too bad he can't realize he's the best all-around player on the floor most nights" ... and suddenly, out of nowhere, the lightbulb goes on and he evolves into the player you always hoped he would be. The cynical side of me believed Davis' "transformation" in last spring's playoffs was a one-time deal, that he'd revert to his dastardly ways this season. Nope. Only a few guys in the league have the testicular fortitude to match big plays with the LeBrons and Kobes of the world, and he's one of them. Of course, the day after I wrote this paragraph, he mailed in a road game in Detroit. Let's just move on before I change my mind.)

A Tribe Called BOOM!
(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

I really don't think there's much disputing Simmons' lines. I don't think we need to look at BD's stats this year either. Like Too Short, Baron is "Gettin' It".

Bold Prediction: BD's around this same spot next year. He's built like a running back in the NFL, but he's graceful and smooth. He's a leader. He's got heart. He's a good teammate. If the Warriors could ever add another All-Star level player to this team and they vaulted into the West's top 3, I could honestly see Baron winning the MVP.

One glaring omission from Simmons' list is of course Stephen Jackson. I don't think many will dispute the claim that Jack is more valuable to this team right now and is more responsible for their turnaround from that pitiful 0-6 start than both Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins who made the list.

Without surveying in NBA GMs and front offices my guess is that Stack Jack is virtually untradeable. I'd say he's the most untradeable Warrior right now, simply because no other team would probably take him. There aren't many fanbases out there as open minded and forgiving as Bay Area folk. Jack is at his best when he's playing for a coach that he respects and knows how to utilize his strengths, has teammates that love him and will go down fighting with him, and a home crowd that's fully embraced him. I don't think there's any better fit for him than this edition of the Warriors in the entire league. I'd be shocked if Jack doesn't finish out his current contract with the Warriors. Unless he's part of some pillage of the Warriors by another squad, Jackson's a Warrior like Mack 10 would say "FOE LIFE! FOE LIFE!"- and that's perfectly fine by me.

Any fun Warrior memories about the players in the Past section? Where do you think the current Warriors rank with respect to the rest of the league's personnel?

If you're a big fan of Warriors history (or at least think it's as hilarious as we do) then make sure to flip back to the piece Jason Gurney wrote for GSoM on the eve of this season's beginning: Ghosts of Seasons Past: Previewing the 2007-08 Warriors. There's also The Dirty Dozen: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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