Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Official Unofficial Golden State Warriors Preview 08-09

Last Year

Before we can look ahead - we have to review what happened last year.

The NBA suspended Stephen Jackson for the first 8 games for an incident that occurred in 2006 and the 6th best team in the western conference did not make the playoffs. To put salt on the wound, Captain Jack was playing for the Pacers at the time of the incident. The league needs to start to understand what the point of a suspension is. To me, the point of a suspension is to discipline a player for conduct that is detrimental to the league, the team, his teammates etc. The fans and the community should never be the biggest loser when a player does something wrong. In no way am I condoning Stephen Jackson’s actions but I do think the league could get there point across while limiting how much the suspension affects the team’s ability to win. Players are human beings and when push comes to shove their pay check is more important to them than winning a championship.

(Think about it this way – Most employees at a publically held companies are not willing to give up a month’s salary so the company’s stock can go up.)

So let’s try this idea:

The league still determines the length of the suspension but the team gets to determine what games the player is suspended for. The player still learns a lesson because he gets his pay taken away but the team (fans) doesn’t have to pay the ultimate price of potentially not making the playoffs. Is this really that bad of an idea!?

I will admit a few other things happened last year – Monta became an “IT” player, Baron got screwed out of an All-Star appearance, the front-office failed to make an impact trade and Marco Bellineli was a sensation … in the Las Vegas summer league.

Let’s move on

The Off-Season


* Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins signings: Monta is an “IT” player and I doubt his injury will hurt his explosiveness long-term. His contract will be viewed as a steal after it expires.

As for Biedrins, he is 22 years old and we have not seen anything close to his offense potential. NellieBall doesn’t exactly help his numbers and the lack of another big body down low has kept his production down over the past two years. Now that he has Turiaf to take some of the pressure off him on the defensive end, we are going to get the opportunity to see Biedrins reach new offensive heights.

(Of course, Nellie could play him along Harrington the entire season then all bets are off)

* Ronny Turiaf signing: Let me get this straight, we acquired the defensive rebounder I have been requesting for the last two seasons and we signed him away from the Lakers!! Turiaf is a steal (get it – because we stole him from the Lakers – nevermind) at $4.5 mm a year and he is exactly what we need (or needed last year). Turiaf is going to be a big time contributor over the next 4 years even if the stat sheet doesn’t say so.

* The Future: Even I have to admit that the long-term health of the Warriors looks pretty good. Here is our team for the next three years:

PG: TBD, SG: Monta Ellis, SF: Stephen Jackson (assuming he gets an extension) PF: Turiaf C: Biedrins

Bench: Azubuike, Belinelli, Wright, Randolph, Maggette

Now imagine if Wright or Randolph blossoms into an “IT” player!? Now, if the Warriors just had a point guard to run the show …


* Baron Davis situation: I could write 10 pages on the Baron Davis situation but I will leave just say this: If the Warriors would have completed an extension with Baron and not signed Maggette. In two years, the Warriors are one of the best 4 teams in the league! Of course, what would the Warriors front office be if they were not doing their best to ruin something good!?

(I hate being a Warriors fan sometimes)

* Corey Maggette signing: The next part of this article requires a designated reader (“DR”) so go find a close friend that is literate. I will wait … Ready? Ok, close your eyes (not the DR)

I have a player with the following attributes:

- a 9-year veteran
- Stats: 22.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 38.4 3P% and 81.2 FT%
- 6’6”, 225 lbs.
- He attempted the 6th most free-throws in the league in 2008-09 and converted the 4th most.
- He fits perfectly into Warrior offensive system and his numbers are only going to improve.

Now it is time for you to play GM. He is willing to sign with your team for a very reasonable 5 year, $50 million.

Do you sign him?

(You can open your eyes and thank the DR)

This process is exactly how the Warriors front-office decides what players to sign. Thank god they do not open their eyes because if they did - they might know that Maggette plays no defense, cares less about winning than Stephan Marbury and his nickname on is (and will always be) Corey “Garbage Time” Maggette. If the Maggette signing is not proof that the Warriors are doomed forever, I don’t know what is.

(Seriously, has this guy ever won anything? It is not a coincidence that he is going to spend his entire career playing for the Clippers and Warriors)

* Monta Ellis debacle: Did he do something stupid? Yes. Should he kick all his friends and agents to the curb for advising him to lie? Yes. Is Robert Rowell an idiot for suspending him for 30 games? Yes.

When the Warriors fearless leader was questioned by the media about the Ellis injury he gave the following answer:

“Chris Mullin made it perfectly clear to both Mr. Cohan and myself that he didn’t think this was a big deal at the beginning. And we happen to think it’s a very big deal.

We happen to think that it’s a big deal for our fans, it’s a big deal for our season ticket-holders, it’s a big deal for our business partners, it’s a big deal for the Warriors organization.”

How many fans do you think he questioned? Do you think he sent out a survey to each season ticket-holder and the major sponsors? If they did ask these people and entities, I am sure they all had the following response:

“I am very upset about the Monta Ellis injury and suspending him for 30 games is a much bigger deal than not bringing Baron Davis back.. I am thrilled that the organization is going to give me a discount on my tickets this year because there is no way they are going to force me to renew my season-tickets next year in order to benefit from this $3 million windfall. As a fan/season ticket-holder/sponsor I am much more interested in punishing Monta Ellis than making the playoffs. I am excited to know that my interests remain the top priority of the organization. Keep up the good work!!”

When asked about what is going to be done with the $3 million, Rowell had this to say:

“Our season ticket-holders will benefit from the entire amount next season in their renewals”

On another note, I would like to congratulate Rowell on earning an A in his Al Davis Sports Business 101class.

Outlook for 2008-2009

The best way to approach this preview is by examining the roster and the potential starters.

(Reminder: This is my starting 5 and not what the actual starting 5 will be against the Hornets.)

Point Guard: This position is easy because the Warriors don’t have one. Let me be the first one to break the news to you … MONTA ELLIS IS NOT A POINT GUARD!!! I am not sure where this idea came from but everyone needs to open their eyes and realize that Ellis is a C+ passer at best. AI was never successful playing a point guard so why does anybody think Ellis will be any better!?

Memo to Mullin (or whoever is in charge at this point)

Please trade for a point guard that can guard a shooting guard and knows how to pass.


In the spirit of “the roster is not going to change”, I do like the idea of putting Stephen Jackson at the point. He can pass the ball, penetrate and cause crazy mismatches on the offensive end. Not to mention, he is our only viable option at this point.

Shooting Guard: Kelenna Azubuike is our best option because he can shoot and plays serviceable defense. The Azubuike signing didn’t seem to make a lot of sense in July but it looks pretty shrewd at this point.

(It should go without saying that Monta Ellis starts when he returns to the team)

Small Forward: Corey Maggette. Garbage Time should start at small forward. There I said it.

(It should be noted, I picked Garbage Time second in my fantasy draft just so I could enjoy watching him score 40 points in 30 point blowout losses.)

Power Forward: How can you not love Ronny Turiaf getting 32 minutes a night, grabbing 10 rebounds and providing energy on both ends of the court!? Tim Roy is going to love this guy.

Center: I am thinking 14.3 ppg and 11.2 rpg this season for Andris Biedrins as he takes the next step in his development. I will say it now – the most positive thing we will take away from this season will be the significant development of the Warriors front court.


* Al Harrington: If you would have told me in 2002 that the Warriors starting power forward in 08-09 would shoot 3’s with complete disregard for his ability to make them, play defense in 10 games all season and turn the ball over almost every time he tried to beat someone off the dribble – I would have said “there is no way Antawn Jamison is still on the team in 08-09”. The Warriors have really progressed at power forward position.

* Brandon Wright/Anthony Randolph/Marco Belinelli: One of these guys is going to exceed expectations this year. However, I think it will only be one of them.

* Marcus Williams: To quote Dean Wormer (from Animal House): “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to [make it as a point guard in the NBA]”.

* DeMarcus Nelson: If Coach K doesn’t think you are good enough to play point guard in college than you are not good enough to play point guard in the NBA.


The Warriors

The Warriors are not going to make the playoffs. They weren’t going to make the playoffs with a healthy Monta Ellis for the entire season. In the west, your team has to have one of the following attributes to make the playoffs: (1) a good point guard (Utah, New Orleans, San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas, (2) an incredible amount of talent at other positions (Lakers) or (3) players who know how to play good team defense (Rockets). Needless to say, the Warriors do not have any of these attributes. However, there is enough talent on the roster to keep them in the playoff discussion until mid-March at which point we will get to see a newly healed Monta Ellis prove that he is not a point guard.

Go Warriors!

Finish: 40-42, 4th in the Pacific and 10th in the Western Conference.

The League


1. Boston (1)
2. Philadelphia (3)
3. Toronto (6)
4. New Jersey
5. New York

1. Cleveland (2)
2. Detroit (4)
3. Chicago
4. Indiana
5. Milwaukee

1. Miami (5)
2. Orlando (7)
3. Atlanta (8)
4. Washington
5. Charlotte


1. Utah (3)
2. Portland (7)
3. Denver
4. Minnesota
5. OKC

1. New Orleans (2)
2. San Antonio (4)
3. Houston (6)
4. Dallas (8)
5. Memphis

1. LA Lakers (1)
2. Phoenix (5)
3. LA Clippers
4. The Warriors
5. Sacramento

The Finals
LA Lakers over Philadelphia

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

College Football Mid-Terms

In breaking news, college football has a problem. The same problem it has always had – it is impossible to determine who should be playing in the National Championship game. The vast majority of the BCS complainers are demanding a playoff. While a playoff would be nice, it takes away from a lot of the deep traditions of the sport. Here are some of the traditions that would be destroyed by a playoff:

* Bowl Games: There are many people out there that don’t understand the importance of bowl games. Not only do they offer numerous teams the chance to play an extra game at the end of the year (I understand some of the bowls could be kept around for the 6-6 teams even with a playoff system) but they also offer a unique experience for the student athletes and the communities that host the bowls. Players are at these bowl sights for 4 or 5 days before the game and they visit hospitals, hold football clinics and talk to kids about staying in school. Do you think the basketball players in the NCAA tournament are doing this before the sweet 16? The players also get a slew of commemorative tokens for playing in the game which many will cherish forever. Realistically, only a select few teams (Georgia and USC last year) get hurt by not having a playoff because they missed their chance to play for the National Championship.

* The Importance of the Regular Season: For the sake of argument, we will say the top 8 teams make it to the playoffs. Do you think USC really cares if they lose to Oregon State? I would even suggest that they give players a week off here and there because losing one game doesn’t matter at all to the top teams. I am surprised this doesn’t happen more in college basketball. In the current college football system, USC needs a lot of help (similar to LSU last year) to make it to the National Championship game. Right now, every game counts and there is no other sport that can compete with that.

* The STUDENT-Athlete: Any playoff system is going to be played out from the beginning of December through the middle of January. As a result, the players involved will be taking final exams in the middle of the pressure-packed playoffs. The vast majority of football players have the “luxury” of taking finals without having to worry about what defense or offense they will be facing in a playoff game. The reality is that most of the players are not going on to the NFL. Some of them are trying to get a job on JP Morgan’s trading desk Most of these football players need to focus on academics and a playoff would only hurt the academic performance of players.

Is there a perfect solution to the college football problem? No. Do I have a solution that I think will make a lot of people really satisfied? YES!

In college, most of us had to take mid-term exams. If you did well on a mid-term exam, you were not guaranteed an A in the class but it did put you in the best position to earn an A. However, if you get a C on the mid-term exam, your chance of getting an A in the class is almost non-existent. In the spirit of college mid-terms, I give you …


After six games, we have a pretty good idea of what teams are National Championship contenders and pretenders. However, we have a few of teams that play a brutal schedules in the second part of the season (Texas and Georgia) and a group of teams that play … well … nobody (USC and Penn St.). What if some of these teams had to play each other? The National Championship picture would be much clearer. Let’s get to the details of the plan:

* Teams: For the sake of argument, only the teams in the AP (or BCS) top 20 are included in Mid-term weekend.

* Schedule: The NCAA would create a committee to determine the match-ups (very similar to the NCAA tournament in basketball). The one criterion is for the committee to set up games that will make the decision on who should play in the National Championship game easier. Let’s examine the case for Utah. They have a very realistic chance of going undefeated with only two tough games left (TCU and BYU) at home. If they run the table, why should they not have a chance to play for the National Championship? The mid-term game will give them the chance to put-up or shut up.

* Logistics: (1) Every D-1 team will have to leave the third weekend in October free on their schedule. (2) The higher ranked team gets to play at home (with the current economy it just makes more sense than forcing fans of both teams to fly or drive to a neutral site) (3) The visiting school gets 15,000 tickets to the game which they can dispose of in any way they see fit. (4) Media rights will be sold by the NCAA and the travel for both teams will be paid for through the sale of these rights. (You cannot tell me that Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC would not be falling all over themselves to televise this event) (5) All proceeds from these games will be split in a similar fashion to how bowl game rights are split. (aka all conference schools get a piece of the pie)

Without any further delay, I give you the College Football Mid-Term 2008 schedule and breakdown:

(The match-ups are in order of when they game would be played)
The Match-ups

Game 1: #19 USF v. #18 UNC in Chapel Hill, NC 11:30 am ET ESPN2

Why these two teams?

Easily the least provocative game of the day but it is a big game for the conferences represented. USF is the only Big East team in the top 20 which is a big change from last year. Their only loss is to Pittsburgh (which might be the hottest team in the country) at home but they have a big win against Kansas from earlier in the season. UNC went to Rutgers and embarrassed the Scarlett Knights and has a few impressive wins over Miami in the Orange Bowl and Notre Dame at home. The winner boosts the reputation of their conference and propels them into the conversation as a potential top-10 team.

National Championship Implications

Simply put … none

Game 2: #13 LSU v. #7 Texas Tech in Lubbock, TX 12:00 pm ET CBS

Why these two teams?

If nothing else, mid-term weekend 2008 will help determine if the Big 12 has finally stepped out of the shadow of the mighty SEC. This game is very interesting because LSU is going to be really angry about being taken to the wood shed against Florida last weekend and Texas Tech pulled out a nail bitter against a mediocre Nebraska team. In the end, nothing proves conference supremacy more than the 3rd highest ranked teams in their respective conferences going head -to-head.

National Championship Implications

In true mid-term fashion, the loser of this game is out of the picture. Texas Tech cannot afford to lose at home to an LSU team that lost by 30 to Florida. However, a victory further solidifies Texas Tech’s place in the top-10 and could pad their confidence as they entire the most difficult stretch in their season. Currently, LSU is out of the national championship picture. They would need to win by a sizable margin to even have a thought of getting back in the race.

Game 3: #6 USC v. #5 Florida in the Swamp 2:00 pm ET ABC

Why these two teams?

This game is the first of three gigantic games on the day (not surprising that all three games include a SEC team). I don’t think there is a college football fan that would not tune in to watch this game. It could be argued that college football fans have been waiting for an USC-SEC match-up for quite some time. This mid-term proposal fulfills that dream.
Here are the longer term implications of this game: Pete Carroll and Urban Meyer are two of the best recruiters in the country and whoever wins this game will use this victory in living rooms of potential recruits for many years to come. Neither wants to explain why they lost to the other on the recruiting trail this winter.

National Championship Implications

The winner of this game has a very good chance of playing for the National Championship. A victory for USC legitimizes the thought that the loss to Oregon St. was a fluke and that they are more often the winner of any big game. If they lose, they are out of the National Championship picture for good. For Florida, they can prove that they are one of the top two teams in the SEC and a SEC Championship all but makes them a lock for the big game in Miami.

Game 4: #15 Boise St. v. #12 Ohio St. at the Horseshoe 3:00 pm ET ESPN

Why these two teams?

Boise St. needs to win another big game to be taken seriously. There is no better proving ground than against Ohio St. at the Horseshoe. Ohio St. has been kicked to the back burner after their pathetic showing against USC in September and they need another win to vastly improve their psyche. This game is intriguing because Ohio St. is playing for not only the Big Ten but also all big conference teams. On the flip side of the coin, Boise St. is playing for all the small guys trying to prove that they can win more than just one big game a season.

National Championship Implications

It is hard to imagine either of these teams in the National Championship game but a Boise St. victory opens up all voters to the idea that the small guys deserve more respect in future seasons. If I was a coach, I would not want to play an undefeated Boise St. team that has beaten Oregon and Ohio St. on the road in the same season.

(The reality is that without a mid-term game, the teams in the WAC have no chance to play for the National Championship and that is stupid.)

Game 5: #20 Michigan St. v. #16 Kansas in Lawrence, KS 3:30 ET ESPN2

Why these two teams?

The Big 10 (11) has been the most criticized conference over the last two years as Ohio St. has done a poor job of proving themselves worthy of a National Championship game berth in that time frame. Michigan St. has the opportunity to bring some respectability to the Big 10 by going to Lawrence and beating a good Kansas team. The Big 12 is trying to prove it is the top conference in the country. Kansas gets the opportunity to carry the torch for the Big 12 against a Michigan St. team that has not lost since opening weekend against Cal. The Big 12 needs to win this game more than people think.

National Championship Implications

After this game is over, both of these teams become huge fans of the other team. Michigan St. will need a lot of help to get to the National Championship game but a win over a two loss Kansas team coupled wth an undefeated Big 10 season (which would include victories over Ohio State and Penn State) would give Michigan St. a compelling argument for playing in Miami. If Kansas wins this game and only loses one game in the Big 12, they could still make it to Miami if Michigan St. goes on to win the Big 10 Championship. In the end, too much has to go right for either of these teams to realistically play for the National Championship. (Of course, I said the same thing about LSU last year)

Game 6: #10 Georgia v. #4 Oklahoma in Norman, OK 5:00 ET NBC

Why these two teams?

This game is the second of three gigantic games on the day and it is the only one that pits two top 10 teams from the two power conferences. Similar to the USC-Florida game, both of these teams are looking to redeem themselves after losing earlier in the season. Georgia has been struggling on offense and Oklahoma has been struggling on defense so something will have to give. There is not a college football fan on the planet that would not watch this game.

National Championship Implications

The winner moves right back into the National Championship picture and it can be argued controls their own destiny based on the schedule that lies ahead. Oklahoma would need a little more help than Georgia but an undefeated second half would be too much to ignore in my opinion. We all know what happened to Georgia in the second half of last season and this game gives them the opportunity to have history repeat itself.

(Isn’t Georgia the most dangerous team in the second half of the season? They have looked terrible but all signs point to them turning things around. There is no reason they cannot beat LSU in Baton Rouge)

Game 7: #9 BYU v. #1 Texas in Austin, TX 7:00 pm ET ESPN

Why these two teams?

This game would be a lot more fun to watch than people think. BYU is can score in bunches and Texas has proven that they can give up points in bunches. Could there be a trap game in the most hyped weekend of the regular season? All #1 teams need to prove themselves against unique challengers. BYU is the perfect challenge for Texas because they are not familiar with BYU. If Texas made the huge mistake of not taking this game seriously, they could lose. For BYU, they get to play the top dog with everything on the line.

National Championship Implications

Texas can lose this game and still completely control their destiny but they would be left in the unenviable position of having to play a perfect second half which seems unlikely given the strength and depth of the Big 12 at this point. This game is a must win for BYU. Their schedule has been affected negatively by the decline of Washington and UCLA. BYU is out of the National Championship if they lose.

Game 8: #14 Utah v. #8 Oklahoma St. in Stillwater, OK 7:30 pm ET ESPN2

Why these two teams?

This game is interesting because it puts two teams that were seen as unlikely to contend for the National Championship at the start of the season. Now, they find themselves in the same boat with some big wins under their belt – can they maintain focus to finish the season? Utah’s victory over Michigan becomes less and less impressive by the day and their remaining schedule is not going help their case for a BCS bowl. Oklahoma St. has gone from hunter to prey. Can they handle the newfound pressure of being a top 10 team?

National Championship Implications

Even with a victory against OSU, I don’t think Utah goes to the National Championship game. There are too many other teams with much stronger schedules. This game should be considered a must win for Oklahoma St. since it is highly unlikely that they make it through the rest of the Big 12 season without a loss.

Game 9: #3 Penn St. v. #2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, AL 8:00 pm ET ABC

Why these two teams?

The entire idea of a College Football Mid-Term losses all credibility if these two teams do not play each other. The storyline is exactly why we watch college football. Both storied programs have struggled over the past 15 years with only a few successes to hang their hats on. Now, they are both exceeding expectations and are set to make a run at the National Championship for the first time in recent memory. If you are a college football fan and do not watch this game, you are either (1) Dead (2) Dying or (3) someone close to you is very close to dead.

National Championship Implications

The winner of this game controls their own destiny while (barring a blowout) the loser still has a legitimate shot at Miami with an undefeated finish to the regular season. This game is must see T.V.

Game 10: #17 Virginia Tech v. #11 Missouri in Columbia, MO 9:30 pm ET ESPN2

Why these two teams?

If you just have not had enough college football, you have one more game left to quench your undying thirst. Virginia Tech has played good not great but they seemed destined to win the ACC. Missouri picked the wrong team (Oklahoma St.) to over look and now they are very much on the outside looking in when it comes to the Big 12 Championship and the National Championship. Both teams have a stadium full of doubters that need to be silenced.

National Championship Implications

Virginia Tech does not have the strength of schedule to overcome their loss to East Carolina. Missouri is in a very similar situation as Kansas as they need to run the table and get some help along the way.

In order to have the two best teams in the National Championship game, we need an additional non-conference game to determine who are the most worthy teams. While I know I have proposed an alternative playoff system in the past, I think the College Football Mid-Term is really the right the right way to save traditions while reaching a consensus National Champion.
This idea maintains all of the traditions that we love about college football while providing the necessary evidence needed to crown a true champion.

(Not to mention, I can’t imagine a weekend I would look forward to more.)