We recently mic'ed up longtime GSoM friend Marcus Thompson from the Contra Costa Times for another great Q&A. Along with Geoff Lepper, Marcus writes the Inside the Warriors blog. Definitely make it a regular stop for the latest on the Dubs.
Make the jump for MT's thoughts on if the 2007-2008 Warriors were better than the We Believe version and the J-Rich trade a year later.
Golden State of Mind: Even though the Warriors improved on last year's final regular season record, they didn’t make the playoffs this year. Was the 2007-2008 team better than last spring's healthy team post-Pacers trade that finished the season 16-4 and upset the Dallas Mavericks in the 1st round in the 2007 NBA Playoffs? What has changed for the better and for the worse since then in terms of on court play?
Marcus Thompson (6/10/08): This year’s team, to me was better, in terms of talent and depth. Despite not having Jason Richardson, they got career years from Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis, Baron Davis and Kelenna Azubuike. Their bench was deeper, though Nellie didn’t always take advantage of it, and they were much better on the road.
What they didn’t have that the previous year’s squad had was hunger. The previous team was desperate and benefited from several breaks (such as New Orleans’ injury woes). As a result, they overachieved. They rarely lost games they should’ve won and they had a grit about them, an edge. You can make a strong case that this year’s team underachieved. To me, they’re better than Denver and Dallas. But they didn’t play with the same edge. They played with a level of comfort and arrogance that proved detrimental.
Golden State of Mind: One of the biggest questions coming into this season was whether the Warriors made the right move in sending Jason Richardson to the Charlotte Bobcats for the rights to Brandan Wright and a $10 million exception. J-Rich has put up big numbers this season on a bad Bobcats team (a career best 40% from 3pt land), featuring a stellar late season run in March and April where he dropped over 25 ppg. Wright was out of Nellie's rotation for most of the year and his contributions numbers-wise were minimal (4 ppg and 2.6 rpg). The Warriors did not use the large trade exception before this year's trading deadline either. Was this the right move for the Warriors in year 1? How about for the Bobcats? How do you see this trade working for both teams over the course of the next 2-3 seasons?
Marcus Thompson (6/10/08): It was the right move. I’m a J-Rich fan, but it was the right move for the franchise. I, and several other of my colleagues, had been saying in 2005-06 and in 2006-07 that the Warriors core was not good enough to win in the West. The Warriors moved all but JR of that core. But even after the trade, it was evident that they still needed to get better, they still needed help. With no cap space, a trade was the only way they would be able to get help. Just looking at the numbers, JR was the most feasible and reasonable player to move.
It worked for the Warriors in year 1, though it could’ve worked better. If Wright would have played more, he would’ve been further along and the dividends would have been that much greater. As it is now, it still worked for the Warriors because they cut that salary. They got a young prospect. And they still have the trade exception to use by the 28th. The fact that Wright was able to contribute this year was gravy. Just watching him this year, you know he’s going to be pretty good in two or three years, too.
The deal worked for Charlotte, too. They didn’t need another young player. They need some proven balers. JR fills a whole they needed. If Charlotte doesn’t make the playoffs in the next two or three years, it will be because of other bad decisions, not because they acquired Jason.