I don't want to read too much into these Warriors pre-season games, given players are playing themselves into shape, and the new system is still being installed. I don't know how good this team will be, and tonight's game is anything but a fair representation of the Clippers and Warriors at full strength, let alone, in playoff mode. Still, it's nice to beat the Clippers any time of year, regardless if they're playing with Jared Cunningham and Spencer Hawes in the starting lineup instead of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. But heck, the Warriors balanced that out by starting Harrison Barnes (hate me later) and Ognjen Kuzmic.
The best thing I saw tonight...
Clearly, the biggest positive surprise of this game, and perhaps, the entire pre-season was seeing a healthy Festus Ezeli on the court again. In just 11 minutes, he scored 10 points (on only 5 shots and 2 FTA), grabbed 3 boards, and had a block (seemed like more, but the box score doesn't lie!). And to my utter amazement, he of the stone hands managed to catch pretty much every ball thrown his way. Again, it's only 11 minutes, and it's hard for me to believe his hands have improved that much, but it certainly was an encouraging performance.
It's pretty clear that Ezeli moves Kuzmic to the "emergency" backup center, and should pass Speights in the rotation for the primary backup to Bogut. I'd be surprised if anyone watching tonight's game didn't agree with my assessment. I mean, if this is what Ezeli can give after not playing for 17 months, I can't wait to see him once he's in game shape. Could this version of Ezeli have helped the Warriors beat the Clippers in the playoffs?
- Looks to me like Draymond is getting back into the swing of things. He started off the game somewhat shaky, but by the end he was cooking. He ended up with 10 points on 4 shots (6 FTA), 5 boards, 6 assists, and 2 steals. He also had 4 turnovers, and like the rest of the team, that's an issue.
- Barnes is still starting. I'm still not impressed. To my eyes, he still looks like the same Barnes. One curiosity was in the early going, the Warriors ran a straight up Mark Jackson-era ISO play for Barnes. I think he scored on it, but it seemed to come out of left field, given everything we've heard this summer. Anyway, I'm not ready to give in on the whole "Let's start Barnes over Iguodala because Barnes sucks coming off the bench thing." You can rationalize it all you want, but in the end, for me, it reeks of favoritism and marketing. My hope is still that when Livingston comes back (if he ever comes back), the Barnes experiment will fade into the aether like an Evan Turner jumper.
- Justin Holiday does some things. I'm not sure he does enough of those things to get the last roster spot, but then again, I'm not sure it really matters who gets that spot anyway.
- Kuzmic is better in his second year. Besides his talent for being a large human, he often shows nice touch around the rim, and has a knack for getting rebounds. Those are good things to have. He's not terribly slow either, which is a plus.
- Barbosa is probably going to be better than any backup guard the Warriors had last season. That's sort of a backhanded compliment, I guess.
- I still think Spencer Hawes would have been a better signing than Shaun Livingston. As it currently stands, the Warriors still don't have that "Stretch 4" we heard about this summer. You have to admit, Ezeli and Hawes could have been a nice combo coming off the bench, with Draymond at SF, and hell, in that situation, maybe Iguodala would make sense at the 2 with Barnes starting.
- Having said that, a healthy Livingston will make this team better than it has been in the pre-season. And maybe considerably better if he takes more of Barnes' minutes. I can't wait to see that.