Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a little peeved at being a Golden State Warriors fan. You might ask why? After all, the Warriors are still soaring following the playoff upset against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA playoffs last year and having a superb season despite being in a Western Conference that is, for lack of a better term, insane.
No, I'm not peeved that they are finally doing well. I'm peeved that I'm not the ONLY fan anymore. All of these people suddenly wearing Baron Davis jerseys are the same ones that can't wait to tell you how Monte Ellis has the best mid-range jumper since Rip Hamilton decided a face mask can improve your jump shot. But I remember being awfully lonely when the most clutch player on our team was 5'5'' and named Earl. I also remember the team when they happily took in above average players from a decade before and proudly displayed them in the arena. Shall we run down the list?
John Starks? Check. Vinny Del Negro? Check. Mookie Blaylock? Check. Bimbo Coles? Wait, who?
Okay, so I'm just venting. Somewhere down deep inside I'm glad I no longer have to be ashamed to be a Warriors fan. Even better, I can now talk to other human beings about the team since I'm not longer the only multicellular organism watching them play. That being said, I have some other ranting to do.
One franchise-changing trade later, we're still here.
Make no mistake, the Warriors pulled off two trades that finally changed the ill-fated fortunes of a franchise destined for failure. The first was trading for Baron Davis, a powerful PG with a propensity for big shots while seemingly addicted to the injury reserve list. The second was the off loading of Mike Dunleavy, Jr., Troy Murphy, and Ike Diogu for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington (Yeah, there were other players involved, but where are they now?) Both moves made it possible to forget that Adonal Foyle was ever drafted… almost.
One year later, here the Warriors are staring at the bottom seeds of a conference that defies logic. All of the major teams in the Western conference made trades that could make or break their championship aspirations. Now Kobe has Pau Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki has Jason Kidd, and geez, even Deron Williams has Kyle Korver. What do the Warriors have?
Chris Webber. Don't call a timeout, Chris, I know you want to.
Someone please tell Chris Mullin that it's not 1994. I don't see Doc Brown or a flux capacitor, so get that idea out of your head. This is not the Webber from those dominant Kings teams, this is Webber at the twilight of his career. And while he is serviceable (but certainly not a starter), what the Warriors really needed was a big man who could rebound and pound it down low…not a guy that only shoots the elbow jumper.
Didn't Nelson try this before? Putting Webber at center? Didn't he hate that? Isn't that why he left the first time?
The problem I have is that almost all of the contenders in the West got better, with the exception of the Warriors. And the most glaring problem those lovable losers have is a lack of rebounding and the absence of a true low post scorer. I would argue it's hard for Harrington, as much as I love him, to get offensive rebounds when he's always behind the three-point line. And Andris Biedrins, while incredibly proficient with his FG% and improving his FT%, is not really a low post scorer. His scores are almost always put backs and layups from cutting passers.
It's the reason why the Warriors match up so well against some teams and so poorly against others. Case in point: the Jazz own the Warriors. Carlos Boozer has no equal, no rival, and virtually has his way with the Warriors. Add to the mix the stellar play of Deron Williams and Kyle Korver sharp shooting nearby, and you could almost forget that Andrei Kirilenko is still hiding from Baron Davis.
Here's hoping the W's do make the playoffs, because if they do, they have a great chance to win against almost any of the other seeds, except perhaps the Spurs, Jazz, and Lakers. But if they don't, they might look at this trade deadline as the wasted opportunity for another exciting run their the playoffs.
- Monta Ellis is emerging more and more each game as an extremely lethal scorer with an ability to excite the crowd every time he's on a fast break. Does his emergence mean Baron is expendable?
- Salary crunch time: Davis, Jackson, Biedrins, Ellis… the list goes on. Salary cap woes are coming, and the question is, who is truly expendable from this list?
- Mickael Pietrus was not traded, despite his demands, and while many people (including myself) still do not forgive him for his missed free throws late in Game 2 against the Jazz last year, he looked awfully useful with Jackson out with a sprained ankle. It was probably a good move not to simply give him away for nothing (i.e. Juan Dixon).
- Winning 50 games may be the minimum to get into the playoffs. Losing must-have games against the Hawks and T-Wolves are huge brain busters. The W's have a tendency to play down to their opponents, but have to come up big against the Sonics and Hawks again this week.
- Another jab at one of my favorite players: Adonal Foyle. Lesson learned: never draft a player from a school named after a toothpaste. It never works out.