RT’s Official Golden State Warriors Preview 09-10
Not surprisingly, the Warriors’ season was a nightmare. The happy days of the Baron-led Warriors was long gone and the team lacked true leadership and an identity. The ghost of Monta Ellis’s injured ankle hung over the team for most of the season and, apparently, scared the team into playing no defense for most of the season.
However, it wasn’t all terrible. As I said in last year’s preview, out of Wright, Randolph or Bellinelli, one of them was going to show signs of greatness. True enough, Wright got hurt, Bellinelli was given no direction (or coaching) and continued to tread water in the pool of mediocrity and Randolph showed displayed flashes of greatness. The only person I know who loves the NBA as much as I do gave some very high praise to Randolph last week.
If nothing else, the 2008-2009 Warriors’ season provided us with two major positives:
1) Randolph has the potential to be an All-Star
2) Monta Ellis showed signs of his old greatness
As you should all should know by now, having two “IT” players is basically a requirement for a team to contend for a title.
* Stephen Curry: As I go through this preview I am going to remind all the bandwagon I-became-a-Warriors-fan-in-2007 fans (aka “dubs” fans) about how good we have it in 2009-2010. Before Chris Mullin became the GM, the Warriors would have taken Jordan Hill in this year’s draft. Instead the Warriors made the best pick possible by taking the dynamic guard from Davidson with the number 6 pick. The name of the game in the NBA draft lottery is take the best player available no matter who you have on your roster and that is exactly what the Warriors did. There are really only two possible outcomes for Curry.
1) He becomes the second coming of Steve Nash and we get to sit back and watch some amazing basketball over the next 12 years.
2) He becomes the second coming of Dale Ellis. (Dubs fans, he was a sharp shooter who brought nothing to the table except quality three-point shooting.)
* Amare Stoudemire is not a Warrior: Koski told me over the weekend how much he hates the Warriors management. I told him that I am willing to give them a chance but if they trade for Amare, I am done. The bottom line is the Warriors have a lot of young talent and they will need to trade some of it to take the next step but the time to do it not now. The fact that the current management had the discipline to not mortgage the future for a quick fix, is a good sign.
* Captain Jack to Stephen Jackson: If you ask anyone who knows anything about basketball, the Warriors need to have a tall point guard who can guard the likes of Kobe and Brandon Roy while Monta plays shooting guard. Amazingly enough, the Warriors already have that player and his name was Captain Jack. However, the clock struck midnight on this relationship and or fearless leader has turned back into a pumpkin. A starting lineup of Capt. Jack, Monta, Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Andres Biedrins is pretty darn intimidating. Unfortunately, we will never get to see it.
* Don Nelson is still the coach: Like George W. Bush in December last year, Don Nelson doesn’t care anymore and is already looking towards retirement. As a result, a team oozing with talent and looking for guidance has only two “role models” – 1) the man mentioned above and 2) a coach who drinks scotch before games and who will tell the young players “just keep shooting”. By the all-star break, we will be mentioning Cohan’s decision to not let Nelson go in the same breath as the Corey Maggette signing.
For those of you not familiar with my preview style, I will talk about what the Warriors should do and my predictions as opposed to what they will do (which will undoubtedly not be what I suggest)
The Stating Line-up
Point Guard: Stephen Jackson
He is under contract and as long as the Warriors force him to honor that contract (see what I said about the Al Harrington situation last year which applies to the Stephen Jackson situation this year), he still gives the Warriors a chance to be successful this year. Monta needs to play shooting guard and Stephen Jackson is the perfect player to get the offense started for the Warriors unconventional backcourt. Not to mention, he can still guard the likes of Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili.
Shooting Guard: Monta Ellis
To be clear, Monta should be playing the same role AI played for the Sixers in the late 90s and early 2000s. For all the dubs fans out there, AI was the first under 6’4” player to play carry the burden of scoring and lead his team to the finals. Monta is cut from the same cloth and there is no reason that he cannot do the same thing AI did if the Warriors surround Monta with the right supporting cast.
(I can’t be the only person who thinks this backcourt makes perfect sense)
Small Forward: Anthony Randolph
If the Warriors do nothing else this year, the one thing they need to do is play Randolph 40 minutes a night. Period. He will have nights where is the best player on the court and other nights where even the most optimistic Warrior fan will think he will never live up to the hype. Either way, he needs to be allowed to play and gain confidence from his successes and learn from his mistakes.
Power Forward: Ronny Turiaf
There is a better chance of the sun rising in the west then there is of Turiaf starting at power forward on a Don Nelson team. I cannot help but agree with this move by Don Nelson. There is nothing that drags a team down like an unselfish, hard-working, defensive rebounding power forward in your starting frontcourt. Smart move Mr. Nelson … your genius knows no bounds.
(I cannot wait for the Cam Inman article in 2011 when he calls the next Warriors coach a genius for playing Turiaf and Biedrins side by side. Of course, I might be giving Inman too much credit)
Center: Andris Biedrins
The definition of a rock solid NBA player is Andris Biedrins. The only question is how many years can the Warriors count on him to be a 13-11 guy who plays great defense and always seems to get better right when you think he has plateaued? 10 more years? 12? I am starting the campaign that says anyone who bad mouths Biedrins at a Warriors game should spend a night in the drunk tank at the county jail.
* Corey Maggette: It is about time we started calling Maggette “Mr. 2nd Quarter”. All Maggette cares about are his numbers and Nelson finally started to realize that last year. As a result, Maggette is the perfect player to play during garbage time (aka the 2nd quarter) in an NBA game. He could score 16 points in 12 minutes and with 12 of the 16 coming from the line. The Warriors would win at least 5 more games just for the fact that Maggette would keep them in games they would normally roll over in. I love this plan.
(Of course, Nelson will think Maggette is playing a great game by halftime, leave him in during crunch time and Maggette will stop driving to the basket because he will have scored his 23.5 points and start shooting fade away jump shots because he does not want to get hurt. Who says NBA players are selfish!?)
* Anthony Morrow: What is the exact opposite of Biedrins? Anthony Morrow. The only thing I know for certain is that he will have night where he has a hard time guarding a flag pole let alone an NBA player. However, the combination of his offensive skill and hustle probably puts him in front of Kelenna Azibuke. I don’t think Morrow is destined for greatness, but he could prove to be a legitimate candidate for the 6th man of the year award.
* Kelenna Azibuike: What can you say about the Wizard of Azibuike? He does everything well and nothing great. While that description is to be considered a negative comment when talking about a starter, it is a compliment for a reserve. There isn’t a Warrior fan who should be upset when he comes on to the floor.
* Brandan Wright: Let’s play Jeopardy –
Answer: For the Warriors to make the playoffs in the 09-10, this player needs to have a breakout season.
Question: Who is Brandan Wright?
In other news, Brandan Wright might miss the season with a shoulder injury.
* Acie Law IV: Allow me to make this quick … Acie Law is a poor man’s Marco Bellinelli.
(and yes, I am very proud of that reference)
* Mikki Moore: The Warriors have to be the only team in NBA history that replaces a skinny power forward who can barely shoot or rebound with a skinny power forward who can barely shoot or rebound. There has to be a player in Germany right now that is 6’10” 265 lbs that can at least rebound. Seriously.
* Speedy Claxton/C.J. Watson/Devean George: Every minute these guys play is a wasted minute. None of them are going to be an integral part of a Warrior playoff team now or in the future, so why play them when some of the other guys need experience.
(Over/Under on how many minutes C.J. Watson averages this year is 15.5. I hate that I love this team)
The Warriors are not going to make the playoffs. However, this is the second best Warriors team (based on talent) the Warriors have had to start a season in the last 14 years. Seriously, look it up if you don’t believe me. While Dubs fans will complain about how terrible the team is, Warriors fans will get to watch some amazing basketball at the Oracle, where the Warriors will be tough to beat. However, young teams struggle on the road and the Warriors will be no different. Once again, I will be too optimistic with my prediction but I am standing behind it. Same exact predication as last year:
Finish: 40-42, 4th in the Pacific and 10th in the Western Conference.
Happy Warriors Season!
The one thing I will say about the 2009-2010 NBA season is that it will be the most boring NBA season in recent memory. The Lakers are far and away the best team and there is no reason they don’t sleep walk to the title.
1. Boston (2)
2. Philadelphia (6)
3. Toronto (8)
4. New Jersey
5. New York
1. Cleveland (1)
2. Chicago (4)
1. Orlando (3)
2. Atlanta (5)
3. Charlotte (7)
1. Denver (2)
2. Portland (5)
1. San Antonio (3)
2. New Orleans (4)
3. Dallas (7)
1. LA Lakers (1)
2. Phoenix (6)
3. LA Clippers (8)
4. The Warriors
LA Lakers over Cleveland
Bold Prediction: The Lakers win 70 games