Thursday, December 27, 2007

2001-2002 Warriors vs. 2007-2008 T-wolves: Somebody has to win

As I was watching the 2007 Warriors play the 2007 T-wolves, I could not help but think: “this T-wolves team is better than their record indicates.” While I am right, I need a way to prove it. What evidence could I present? What past precedents could I sight? Then it hit me: compare them to a team whose record will inevitably be better come the end of the season, but was infinitely more flawed. And I knew just the team to use – the 2001-2002 Golden State Warriors: final record 21-61.

(NOTE: I was a partial season ticket holder for the Warriors that year and everything in my memory bank tells me that this team had no right winning 10 games let alone 21)

Starting Lineup

(I am using the starting lineup for the T-wolves on Wednesday, December 19, 2007).

Point Guard: Larry Hughes v. Sebastian Telfair

In the 01-02 season, Larry Hughes could not pass, dribble or shoot (Actually his whole career he has never been able to pass, dribble or shoot). While he did play above-average defense and was quicker than everyone on the floor, he was a nightmare on offense. He shot 43% from the field including 33% from three that year and these stats paint a much brighter picture than what was actually happening.

Question: How could a guy who was no threat to do anything right on offense start at point guard?

Answer: The back-ups were Mookie Blaylock (over the hill – actually he wasn’t even on the hill), Dean Oliver (Dean Oliver??) and Gilbert Arenas (it is illegal to start second round rookies in the NBA. Just ask Mike Montgomery).

Sebastian Telfair is … well … the 07-08 version of the 01-02 Larry Hughes. However his upside is much more limited and he is never going to get overpaid the way Hughes gets overpaid. I guess I should never say never.

Question: How is Sebastian Telfair still in the league?

Answer: Good NBA point guards are about as hard to find as NFL quarterbacks, so they think mediocre young point guards may get better by being in the league for a couple of years. This theory has worked really well - Anthony Carter (Nuggets), Smush Parker (Heat), Earl Watson (Sonics), Charlie Bell (Bucks) etc.

Advantage: Larry Hughes (he is taller than Telfair)

Shooting Guard: Jason Richardson v. Rashad McCants

Richardson was the real bright spot of the 01-02 season for the Warriors. Anyone who knows me knows I have been preaching a trade for the last three years because he plays ZERO defense (I am looking pretty smart right about now). Unlike most NBA players, it is not because he is lazy but because his feet are stuck in cement. We learned this fact about him during this terrible season and we also learned he can’t dribble. However, his work could not be questioned and he was the team’s most valuable player (Save me the Jamison MVP BS – we will get to him next).

Many of you don’t know that Rashad McCants won the “Chris Carrawell Award” at the ’05 draft. (For those of you who don’t know, the Chris Carrawell award is given to the player most likely to be a terrible pro from a good ACC team). Instead of listing what I don’t like about his game, I will list everything (and I mean everything) I do.

1) He can knock down a jumper if he is wide open
2) If one of his teammates gets in a pushing match on the floor, he is the one most likely to throw the first punch that starts a brawl

Advantage: Jason Richardson (by a long shot)

Small Forward: Antawn Jamison v. Corey Brewer

Jamison was/is a tweener and there is no better a year to prove this fact than the 01-02 season. He could not make a three with any kind of consistency, so he was not a 3. He could not guard anyone down low so he was not a 4. He could not dribble so he was not a basketball player. He led the team in scoring which indicates how bad the Warriors were (think Iguodala on the Sixers this year). The media always says “he is not afraid to take the big shot.” Columnists usually mean this statement as a compliment. In Jamison’s case it was to our detriment.

After saying all that about Jamison, Brewer only has two advantages over Jamison:
1) He is a small forward and there is no doubt about that
2) He can dribble so he is in fact a basketball player.

Brewer could turn out to be a good NBA player but, for this argument, he does not size up with Jamison

Advantage: Antawn Jamison (reluctantly)

Power Forward: Danny Fortson v. Craig Smith

When the Warriors acquired Danny Fortson, I was pretty excited. We finally had a hard working guy down low who would grab 11 boards a night and provide stability on our frontline. I was right about the boards. However, his teammates seemed to like him as much as Vincent Ludwick liked Frank Drebin in Naked Gun. I went into every game thinking this would be the game Dampier cold-cocks Fortson while running down the floor. In the end, I think Fortson is as much to blame for the dismal 01-02 season as anybody.

Craig Smith finally “puts one in the win column” (seriously, how does Joe Angel still have a job as an announcer) for the T-wolves. This guy is averaging 21 minutes a game but still manages to grab 4 boards and score 11 points. His numbers are only going to improve as the season goes on. Craig Smith wins this head to head and I would bet all future head-to-heads with Danny Fortson.

Advantage: Craig Smith

Center: Erick Dampier v. Al Jefferson

Hold on. I need to stop laughing – really who spells Eric like that? (I guess who spells Monte, Monta? – It must be a Mississippi thing). Dampier was the biggest clown on the three ring circus that was 01-02 Warriors basketball. He did nothing right (including not punching out Fortson, which would have saved the season). He played with as much heart as the tin man and he stole minutes from Foyle who would have at least tried. Remember when I said, “I think Fortson is as much to blame for the dismal 01-02 season as anybody?” I was wrong – Dampier should take the most blame of all the players.

Al Jefferson is going to be a 10 time All-Star when everything is said and done. He is always looking to go to the rim and almost seems disappointed when he takes a jump shot. His defense leaves something to be desired, but when you are carrying most of the load on the offensive end, it is hard to bring it every time down on the other end, just ask Kobe. Jefferson’s going to fill 20 and 10 in over the next 10 years without hesitation and I think these numbers might be conservative.

(BIG) Advantage: Al Jefferson

The Bench

Bench: Arenas, Mills, Foyle and Sura v. Jaric, Gomes, Green and Walker

It is hard to remember how good Arenas was before he became “Agent Zero,” but I will do my best. He did not get much playing time until later on in the year. When he did get in there, he played with a lot of energy. Mills and Sura could not guard a flag pole, but they could score. (Did anyone look more stoned on the court that Chris Mills?). Adonal Foyle was, well Adonal Foyle.

Jaric is like the Steve Bono of basketball – nice back-up, but a terrible starter. (Of course, he still might be better as a starter than Telfair). Gomes is a solid contributor down low and I would love it if the current Warriors could get him. He is on the short side of NBA front courts (6’7”), but he plays bigger and I think he could help us against the likes of Millsap (Jazz) and Turiaf (Lakers). The X-factor that ultimately gives the T-wolves the advantage is Antoine Walker. I know you’re saying “Antoine Walker is terrible.” I could not agree more but he has turned into – gulp – a team player. He was actually cheering during the game last night. Rumor has it that he has become a mentor to the young players, and that can only help this team. They have no choice but to improve and Antoine Walker may be a big part of that improvement.

Advantage: T-wolves


The 2001-2002 Warriors win the first of many head-to head battles but not by as much as you think. Jason Richardson and Antawn Jamison are too much for this team of youngsters, but Jefferson does go for 40 and 20 on a combination of Warriors big men. Now the only question is, will the 08-09 T-wolves make a 17 game improvement the same way the 03-04 Warriors did?

Please join me next time as we finally answer one of life’s biggest questions – Who is the most valuable first round quarterback - Alex Smith, Ryan Leaf or David Carr?


Suckaflea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suckaflea said...

They let you delete, but not edit your posts?

Anyways, I am attributing the following quotes to those who were not in favor of trading J-Rich: "Richardson was the heart and soul of the 06-07 Warriors!"
No, B-Dizzle and Cap'n Jack were/are the heart. I liked J-Rich, especially because he was a Spartan, but if you can't defend and can't create your own shot and can't jump off one foot and you have a max contract, you are expendable.

Do you think the Warriors learned their lesson from Arenas? Answer = Monta.

Why did you have to bring up Joe Angel? The guy is bad. I mean, You don't just go from calling baseball games to basketball games for the hell of it. In all honesty, he wasn't terrible terrible, but he sounded like he was trying to be Jon Miller all the time, big mistake. There is only one Big Kahuna and the Bay Area accepts no imitations.

RT, you should have kept your season tickets, Fri vs. Den is sold out. Tickets are hard to find these days. Even your boy Byrnesie is having trouble getting them.

Suckaflea said...

Oh yeah, regarding Alex Smith.

Why is he a media whipping boy? Does he do it to himself? He just can't earn praise in the media. I'm a realist, he's no Elway, but he's no Leaf or Carr, thank you very much RT. Remember all the "small hands" talk about Smith every time he fumbled. How ridiculous.

Smith - 32 games played, 6 fumbles
Cutler - 20 games played, 11 fumbles

Where's the "Jay Cutler has tiny, girle-sized hands" talk?

I'm not ready to send Smith to the Hall of Fame, or the Pro bowl or anything, I just think the jury is out on him and I want to see one more year of a healthy Smith before I write him off.

Look at the 2005 draft, although I wasn't opposed to Smith, I wanted Braylon at #1,. Who would you have taken? The best players(aside from Edwards) were picked 11-13. Merriman, Ware or Jamaal Brown. Could you have justified picking one of those players #1, with all the guaranteed money you have to give a number one? I say no. People also say the Niner's should have traded the pick. Do you think they didn't try? Who would have traded with them? The only other option, Rodgers was not an option, would have been Braylon, and Charles Rogers provides enough of a warning about the dice roll that is Top Ten WRs.

thefantasticpoolio said...

I think the JRich trade was the right choice. I like Brandon Wright even though he is a couple of years away still. It's too bad for the fans who liked JRich, but he was definitely expendable.

Alex Smith is done. I have tried to be patient with him because he such a whipping boy for the local sports talk radio and media. But I finally discovered what it is that I don't like about him. He is not a player. He is gun shy at this point and he does not appear to be instinctive. I don't care about the rest of the media's knocks on him, but I don't think he plays the game with instincts. He looks like a robot. I think he could have been alright if Norv Turner would have stuck around. That is the difference between him and Leaf. He is not a head case. I think Carr could have been alright too in a better situation.
I would give Smith one more healthy year. Hopefully the coaching staff and the offensive line can be a little more ready for the season as the beginning than they were this year.