Friday, April 18, 2008

The Warriors Season in Review: Invasion of the Dubbers

It is time to provide you with a look back on the 2008 season and a look forward into what is to come for the Warriors. But first we need to clear something up …

Quick Definitions:

There are generally three ways to refer to the Golden State Warriors and each tells you something about the person making the reference:

1) “Golden State” – a NBA fan who does not root for the Warriors

2) “The Warriors” – a Warriors fan who realizes that a) Gilbert Arenas once played for the Warriors, b) Mark Jackson could have actually helped the Warriors this year and c) the most important thing the Warriors can do is win a championship and making the playoffs just isn’t good enough any more (I like to refer to these people as WARRIORS FANS.)

3) “The Dubs” – a bandwagon Warriors fan who thinks a) Sleepy Floyd is the name of a smurf, b) Gary St. Jean is a prominent figure in the Catholic Church and c) making the playoffs as an eight seed is just super. (I like to refer to these people as THE DUBBERS.)

On with the article …

The Warriors season has come to a depressing end as the Warriors were the big loser when it came to the race for the 7th and 8th seeds. However, this Warriors team is one of the best I have ever watched and it is sad that an early season suspension was one of the main reasons they did not make the playoffs. Of course, the Dubbers are sad they did not make the playoffs because they wanted to see another “miracle” run. News Flash: the Warriors pulled off one of the biggest upsets in playoff history so they were not going to do it again. The Warriors are sad they did not make the playoffs for a completely different reason. We wanted to see the Warriors get swept by the Lakers

I know Dubbers – why would we want the Warriors (I am sorry, the Dubs) to lose?

Since the goal of all the Warriors fans out there is to see our beloved team win a championship, we would have enjoyed witnessing the Lakers completely dominate the series by owning the paint. The front office would get to witness first hand how Biedrens couldn’t guard Ronny Turiaf – let alone Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum. As a result, Mullin might actually have thought “wait a second, if I pay Biedrins $60 million over the next 6 years, I would be condemning the franchise to, at best, a second place finish in the West for the next 6 years.” Furthermore, he might have concluded “Brandon Wright is just as skilled an offensive player and I can put him at the 4 and commit money, trade exceptions and draft picks to acquiring a big man who can guard a legitimate scoring threat down low.” Unfortunetly, the Warriors failed to make the playoffs and Mullin promised to keep Biedrins which assures us of the Warriors lack of commitment to winning a championship. Of course, he did commit to keeping Monta so we have something to look forward to.

Speaking of Monta...

He did the impossible this year – he united the Warriors fans and the Dubbers by having both parties agree that we have never been this excited about a young player on the Warriors (I guess I should not say that because Warriors fans were probably more excited about Webber but Dubbers have no idea that Webber used to be good so I guess my statement remains true). As I mentioned in my IT player article, Monta will be (if he isn’t already) an IT player and no team in the NBA can win a NBA championship without one. So having Monta puts us ahead of every Warriors team from 1997 to 2001. Of course, I would love to point out an article I wrote a couple of years ago to prove that I knew he was going to be an IT player before anyone else but I did not have this website until this time last year. So I am left to provide you with something I wrote to a bunch of Dubbers on the San Jose Mercury website before game 4 of the Warriors-Jazz series last year –

The biggest mistake the Warriors have made during this entire playoff run is not playing Monta at least 30 minutes a night. The only thing we are playing for is the right to get pasted by the Spurs in 4 games. If we are interested in winning championships, we need to develop our greatest asset since Arenas. If Monta goes out there and embarrasses himself (like Kobe did during his first playoff run), who cares!! He needs to get battle tested now because a backcourt of Davis, Monta (w/playoff experience) and Stephen Jackson is a championship contender for the next 5 years.
If Monta does not get significant playing time over the rest of this playoff run, it does not matter what the scoreboard says - we lose.
It goes without saying that the Dubbers and the author of the article thought I had no clue what I was talking about. Shocking!

On to Baron …

There are people who actually think we should not keep him and I have to admit they are not all Dubbers. There is no valid explanation for this sentiment. Most of the suggestions out there are to go out and acquire a “Deron Williams or Chris Paul type PG”. Am I the only Warriors fan who has been watching the NBA for more than the past two seasons!? Point guards don’t just fall out of the sky. Teams that finish just out of the playoffs rarely get the opportunity to draft in the top 3 which pretty much eliminates their chances of drafting an elite point guard. Those teams fortunate enough to have an elite point guard are not going to trade them or let them go somewhere else through free agency. So we are “stuck” with Baron Davis who is still an IT player and should have been an All-Star this year. He makes the Warriors engine run and he aided in the maturation of Stephen Jackson both on and off the court. The Warriors need Baron a lot more than people think.

Here are a few things to think about:

Kobe Bryant is going to win the MVP this year (he deserves it). He has played 866 NBA games and turns 30 in August. I dare you to find anyone (and I mean anyone) who thinks Kobe is any of the following …

1) Over the hill
2) in the twilight of his career
3) destined to be less than an impact player over the next three years

Baron Davis did not make the all-star team this year, has played 608 NBA games and turned 29 on April 13th. I dare you to find anyone who thinks Baron is

1) going to play with a chip on his shoulder next year because everyone thinks he is done
2) a lock to be an impact player over the next 4 years because he has only played 608 games.
3) finally healthy and ready to reach his draft day potential

My point is that both of these guys are far from done and I would not bet against either of them. Just think about it)

On to the draft …

Generally speaking, the worst pick to have is the 14th pick because it means you were not good enough to make the playoffs but you were not bad enough to get a top pick. Normally, I would say the team with the 14th pick is stuck in NBA no man’s land but the Warriors are one big acquisition (NOT through the draft) away from becoming a top 8 team in the NBA. As a result, this year’s draft holds little to no meaning for the near-term success of the team unless they pick a player who is NBA ready both physically and mentally.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to the NBA draft:

1) Take the best player available
2) Pick the player that can help the team immediately

Normally, I would go with the best player available but there seems to be one player (who will be available at pick number 14) that can help the Warriors from day one. So with the 14th pick overall the Warriors select:

James Dorsey from Memphis University

Ok, I know what you are thinking – “Stephen Jackson and now James Dorsey!? Are we turning into the Cowboys of the NBA?”

In a word – Yes

The Warriors need rebounding and interior defense right now and James Dorsey has the potential to fill those needs immediately. Not to mention he is 24 years old and has an NBA ready body. Sure he comes with a lot of baggage but who would be a better mentor than Captain Jack? I love the idea of plugging him right into the rotation as a 20 minute a night guy who grabs 7 boards and fouls out in the middle of the 3rd quarter. The bottom line is he is worth the risk, so bring on James Dorsey!

(On a side note, you never know how a guy is going to react when he starts getting paid a lot of money to play basketball. Some guys are going to flame out early on and others are going to play like it is their last game every night. I am not sure which category James Dorsey falls into but I know he is going to fall in one or another. Well worth the risk at this point.)

So what do we have to look forward to this offseason and next year?

The Off-Season...

Nellie, Baron, Monta and Biedrins will all return. 3 out of 4 is not bad.

The reason Nellie comes back is because Mullin is going to make a big move this off-season. I have no idea what that move is, but I know it is coming. You have all read my suggestions in the past and they still hold true today so I will not go over them again. Regardless, Mullin knows that this team is a seven or eight seed if they do nothing and with the inevitable improvement of the Blazers, it is time for the Warriors to “keep up with the Joneses”. Could we see a Josh Smith or Andrew Bogut in our future? You never know.

Next Year….

(Instead of trying to predict what kind of moves the Warriors are going to make, I will give a more macro vision for the 2008-2009 season.)

I think the Warriors break with tradition and go for the gold. The front office knows that the Warriors can play with the Lakers if they get some defensive help down low. Through a couple of acquisitions, the Warriors will get a few defensive minded inside players and the big three will turn in a season to remember (people always forget that it takes time for basketball players to get used to playing with each other. Season number three for Baron, Jackson and Monta is going to be special). In addition, the newly found interior defense will allow the Warriors gambling style of defense to be even more effective than it was this past season. The combination of an exceptional season from the big three and the newly formed interior defense will make the 2008-2009 Warriors the best team we have seen in my lifetime (since 1978).

The (early) Prediction: The Warriors race past the Mavs, Nuggets, Rockets and Suns to the 5th seed in the West. They beat the Spurs in the first round and pull off the upset that no one will ever forget when they beat the defending NBA champion Lakers in 7 games. However, they run into their kryptonite in the Conference Finals and lose to the Jazz.

Until next time....

Wait, what am I saying!?!? Chris Cohan bought the Warriors with the single purpose of making money and he knows that the Dubbers will come out in force no matter how big or small the payroll is. There is no chance the Warriors get any kind of impact players down low as Cohan has little desire to take the risk of having a higher payroll and not making the playoffs. Even though we all know he would make more money by going to the conference finals (ever heard of you have to spend money to make money?). In the end, the Dubbers meaningless patronage is to blame for our lack of a championship (not to mention the wave).

I have no choice but to move back to CA and unite the Warriors fans. I am not about to let a bunch of Dubbers ruin my chance at a championship!!

Who's with me?

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