Anthony Morrow’s summer league record 47 point performance was the latest in a string of events producing optimism for East Bay sports franchises. It’s been a well-document rough decade for fans of the Warriors, Raiders, and A’s. The Warriors have one playoff appearance in the last fifteen years. The A’s days as the low budget cinderella story are long behind them. And the Raiders, well, they’ve become the subject of ridicule to the say the least, and quite possibly have earned the reputation as the most dysfunctional franchise in all of pro sports. Outsiders will often question Oakland fans’ blind faith, but the fact that there is hope is always enough to keep us coming back. These teams don’t exactly lay dormant during the offseason like some I can think of. I couldn’t imagine being a Royals fan, or a Pirates fan, or a Grizzlies fan. Almost every offseason, these three teams give reason for optimism. Hope, if you will. The Raiders bring in guys like Randy Moss and Deangelo Hall. The A’s bring in guys like Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi. It may be all there is to cling to, but I’ll take that over just going through the motions any day. True, the lows have far outweighed the highs, but, at the end of the day, we’ve still seen a Super Bowl berth, an American League Championship Series, and one of this decades greatest NBA Playoff runs of all time.
The Warriors are now two full seasons removed from their lone playoff appearance that we can remember. They followed that up with the best regular season record to NOT make the playoffs, and then came crashing back down to earth last season. They lost Jamal Crawford this offseason, but as great of a player as he is, the team didn’t live or die by him. In other words, they’re just as good with or without him. The only major addition this offseason was Stephen Curry, but that came as a surprise to many who expected GSW to draft another big man that may or may not see the floor. You know, someone like Joe Smith, Todd Fuller, Brandan Wright, Jordan Hill maybe. Instead, they got a shooter that is so desperately needed. Not only that, they got a player who has never been regarded as a “project” or having “potential.” Someone that HAS been labeled as such is last year’s lottery pick, Anthony Randolph. Those who have seen him play know he could be a one of a kind superstar in this league if he hones his game to match his potential. It seemed to be a big IF last season, as the first few games I saw him play left me declaring him one of the most clueless off-ball defenders I’ve ever seen in the NBA. However, a few blocks and dunks later and it’s all forgotten. This summer, Randolph has vowed to take his game to the next level, and he’s backed it up in the Las Vegas Summer League. It’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that he’ll win the MVP award, and he’s opened many eyes across the nation, including those of Team USA, who has extended an invitation to the team’s camp.
With Randolph sitting out Thursday night, it was the other Anthony who stood in to fill up the box score. Shooting 18-26 from the field, including 7 three-pointers, Morrow broke the 2 day old summer league record by 5. Critics might say it was just a summer league game, which is fair. Von Wafer shared the 42 point record. Donte Greene even managed to score 40 last year, and he looked, in 08-09, like one of the worst players in the league at times. However, this was no fluke. This was not Morrow beating helpless D-league players off the dribble and taking it to the rack over 6’8″ stiffs. Morrow is a spot up shooter, both from the pass and off the dribble. He has a quick release that renders whoever is guarding him insignificant. After all, the guy led the NBA in 3 point shooting last year – hardly a fluke. Chappy and I were also in attendence last November for what we’ll forever refer to as “The Anthony Morrow Game,” when he torched the juggernaut that is the Clippers defense for 37 points in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. (You can see us in the second row just to the right of the basket)
The best part about all of this is Randolph and Morrow are, for all intents and purposes, afterthoughts on this Golden State Warriors roster. They’re not right now, but during the season you look at the team and you see Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis, Corey Maggette, and Andris Biedrins. Now, factor in the new and improved Anthonys, along with Steph Curry, and this team is pretty stacked. Warriors fans can’t wait for the season to start! Will they make they make the playoffs, or even have a .500 season? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s the beauty of being an Oakland fan. Every upcoming season is going to be one to remember…………….. for better or for worse. -MCeezy