Digging this up from the archives after last night's debacle. Has anything really changed? Look at the poll. Would you change your vote now?
The draft is over. So, what happens now? Eventually there will be another season, assuming the CBA issues are resolved (I think that will be sooner rather than later, the NBA is near an all-time high in popularity, after all). Today, I'm going to play virtual GM, and give one possible scenario for re-building the team. Many, if not most of you, will not like this vision. Well, I should say, you will not like the immediate future of the vision. But the long-term goal is to build a contender - not just a team that makes it to the first round and quickly exits, but a real contender that is a threat to go deep into the playoffs every year. Keep reading to see what I think it would take, and then take your best shot at me in the comments.
Ok, so here's the deal. As it is currently constructed, our favorite team is squarely mediocre. The front office might look like solid gold right now, but the team is essentially fool's gold. Here's a quick run down of the roster:
- Stephen Curry - A young point guard who potentially has an All-Star ceiling, but I honestly don't see him having first or second team All-NBA potential at this point in his career. I think he can be the third or possibly even the second-best player on a contending team, but I just don't see him being the best player on a team that is ever in contention. But he is clearly an important piece of the future, and it is a point-guard dominated league, so he stays.
- Dorell Wright - Let's be honest here. Dorell Wright is a role player on a contending team. Would he have been starting for any of the final four teams in the playoffs? I don't think so. Would he have been a sixth man? I think that is also unlikely. He is probably the 2nd or 3rd guy off the bench on a contending team. He stays, because he has a cheap contract, but if he can be made part of a good deal, than I would trade him. The deal would have to involve moving Monta/Biedrins/Lee or bring back a first round pick next year.
- Ekpe Udoh - A guy who can be the first big off the bench on a contending team. I really believe that. I don't think he is a starter for a contending team, unless surrounded by a "big three" like Joel Anthony in Miami. But Udoh has shown he can be a staunch defender. He's already 24, so I only see him having 6-8 good years left, but he can be a valuable piece on this team for his entire career. He probably won't ever put up huge numbers, so even when his rookie contract is up, I think we will be able to sign him at a reasonable rate considering what he offers on the defensive end. He stays.
- Andris Biedrins - We move Biedrins, but only if he brings back 1) expiring contracts and/or 2) first round picks. Literally, any trade that can do those two things, he's out of here. I don't want a player in return. I just want to move that contract. If we don't get back expirings or picks, then he stays and is the third big off the bench behind Udoh for the next three years. It's that simple.
- Monta Ellis - You know what's coming...I move Monta this summer for an expiring, a pick, either, or both. I don't want "equal value" back in a player. I just want to move the contract and get back a first round pick. I like Monta. Ideally, if we were a contending team right now, Monta would have a place on it. But we are not, and he actually makes us too good. Yes, I said he makes us too good. With the way the team is currently built, we will keep winning 35-40 games a year, but that is not what I want. I want to keep that top 7 pick next year. If he is on this team next season, there is no chance we keep that pick.
- David Lee - This is going to sound like a broken record, but we try like the dickens to move him for expirings and/or first round picks. I'm going to assume that he is unmovable, and this will surprise you, but I actually want him to stay in my re-building vision. David Lee is probably not a starter on a good playoff team, but I think he can be a sixth man. He can actually fit in with my vision.
- Reggie Williams - I like Reggie a lot. He is a role player, a sharp-shooter, a guy who will have some value in the league for a long time with that skillset. He can't play defense, and I'm not going to pretend like he can. He will never be a starter on a playoff team, but he can be a valuable piece of that team. As long as he can be re-signed at a reasonable rate, he stays. I don't match any huge offers for him, though.
- Lou Amundson - I like Lou, but he is irrelevant to my vision, and I don't mean that in a bad way, necessarily. Whether he stays or goes is pretty much meaningless. If he stays, he's the 3rd or fourth big man off the bench. I don't re-sign him, though.
- Rookies - Klay Thompson, Charles Jenkins, Jeremy Tyler - Obviously, they all stay.
And that brings me to the next part of the plan. The starting lineup in 2012:
- Stephen Curry
- Klay Thompson
- Dorell Wright
- David Lee
- Jeremy Tyler
No, I am not kidding. That is Jeremy Tyler you see at center. Let me explain. Well, let me explain by giving you a list that may or may not look familiar to you (yet):
- Anthony Davis - 6'10" PF (Kentucky)
- Harrison Barnes - 6'8" SF (North Carolina)
- Michael Gilchrist - 6'7" SF (Kentucky)
- Perry Jones - 6'11" PF (Baylor)
- Quincy Miller - 6'9" PF (Baylor)
- Bradley Beal - 6'5" SG (Florida)
- James McAdoo - 6'9" PF (North Carolina)
That list is the top 7 players on Chad Ford's 2012 draft big board. The list goes on...and on...and on...with names that we will be salivating over come this time next year. A list that will be completely meaningless to us unless we retain our first round pick. To do that, we have to finish among the bottom 7 teams in the league. To virtually guarantee that happening, I would start two rookies, each with potentially bright futures. This accomplishes two things. 1) Most rookies suck, and they will help immensely in the tanking process; and 2) Giving them a full-year of starters minutes will be the quickest way to get those players to reach their potential and actually see what that potential is. You have to accept and embrace the fact that most rookies fail. Kevin Durant was horrible his first season. So was John Wall (in my opinion anyway). So was DeMarcus Cousins. But you let them fail. Those failures can (not always, of course) make them better players in the long run. The cream always rises to the top. Kevin Garnett was on a losing team for many years, but he is not a loser. He eventually made a team a winner. I don't believe all that nonsense about losing being contagious. What I believe in is talent.
So, in 2012, the starting lineup is built to tank. Reggie, Udoh, Charles Jenkins (yes) are the first three off the bench. Then Biedrins and Amundson (like I said, if necessary). Ideally, we have 2-3 picks in next year's draft. But at the very least, we keep our protected pick. I'm not going to bother speculating on who we draft with that pick, needless to say, it should be the best player available. As you can see by the board above, it's actually not expected to be a PG-heavy draft, so whoever we get will likely jump into the starting lineup immediately. I said Stephen Curry is an important piece moving forward, and this is part of the reason. I'd love to have Bradley Beal playing next to him (with Klay then moving to the bench). I'd also love to have a shot at Anthony Davis, who actually is projected to be a guy who can turn a franchise around. He looks to be a once-in-a-decade type of talent. Maybe even a "tier 0" (if you remember what that means) type of guy.
I realize all this is painful. You have high hopes for this team. So do I, but my hopes are that the front office has the vision to think long-term and not about "winning immediately". Maybe they have a plan to get Nene or Marc Gasol. Great. If that happens, I'm on board. But short of something major like that taking place, what other alternatives do we have? We must get off the treadmill of mediocrity, the vicious cycle of mid-to-late lottery picks, that has prevented this team for two decades from becoming a serious contender, save one or two magical seasons, that frankly, were like mirages in the desert. We believed, and I still believe, that this team can eventually be a winner. But you have to think like a winner.
What it comes down to is this: There's the short con and the long con. What you've been seeing for the last two decades is the short con. What we need now is the long con. So, let the tanking process commence. The medicine won't taste good now, but it will save us eventually.
Ok, I'm out of cliches. Like I said in the intro. Take your best shots. I can handle it.