During yesterday’s football Sunday all I could think about was the hoops season that is right around the corner. This years Warriors team is completely different than last year. Aside from Curry, Ellis, Biendris, Reggie Williams, and Branden Wright everyone else is new. Change isn’t a bad thing for us, which started this off season with the arrival of new ownership group, and a sort of new coach (sort of is because he’s been the W’s assistant for seven years). I was a little surprised that the Warriors made this many changes from last years team that we never really saw on the court together. The 2009 unit broke the record for games missed due to injuries, and half of our 9 man roster ended up being D-League call ups. Oh well, maybe management knew something, and this new crop of players can put up huge numbers in the games played column! I guess if you’re a new management team coming in, you’d want to get as far away from the Chris Cohan era as possible, so I don’t blame them for blowing up the team a little. I’m not expecting them to make the playoffs this year. I mean I could see that happening, but that would take a perfect transition with a lot of moving/new parts involved. I’m really just looking for improvement over the season. By had a much more optimistic expectations of them, putting them as the sixth seed in the west. I hope he’s right, but I’ll temper my expectations for the time being! Here’s the Warriors story lines I’m most intrigued with for the year.
Lee was our big long term acquisition this off season. I can’t lie, I haven’t seen him play very much. He seems to be a great blue collar type player that will give you Brian Cardinal type effort when he’s out there. In the limited time I’ve seen him play I can’t say he’s great at any one single thing, but very good at everything. It’s refreshing to have Lee and Curry as the franchise face after having quite a few slackers as our stars over the years. I do have one big question for Lee. Is going against true power forwards every night instead of going against centers going to hurt his productivity? While in NY, he was their center, going against opposing centers nightly, which he could out quick 90% of the time. I think that was a reason why he was able to put up such big numbers in scoring and rebounding. Now he will be guarded by quicker and more talented power forwards while also having to contain them on the other end of the floor. I’m not saying centers aren’t athletic, but forwards seem to be a lot more polished presently in today’s NBA. I’m also wondering how the roll on the pick and roll will go with Biens out on the floor. Center’s don’t really need to cover Biens because he has very limited offensive abilities. Will the sagging/cheating center leave Biens to clog up the lane making it tough on Lee to finish? We shall see.
I’m all for Keith Smart talking up the importance defense this preseason. It’s very refreshing to say the least. We gave up the most points of anyone in the league, and the main reason for it was that nobody really held anyone else accountable last year. It was more of a “I did my job that last play” kind of philosophy. I hope we can convert to a defense that works more as a team. Preaching it like the coaches have all summer is one thing, but playing it is an entirely different animal. Hopefully the personnel they brought indicates that they are truly going to focus on D this year. This might not be quite as much of a running team as years past. Not that they will slow to the Bobcats, but I see them playing more half court than we are used to.
I really like the coaching staff that they put together. After head coach Keith Smart we have, Jerry Sichting (guy who punched Ralph Sampson), Robert Werdann (center for the Nuggets in the late 80’s), and Stephen Silas (hopefully Paul taught him all he needed to know) to round out the assistant coaches. They hired on Mark Price as the shooting coach, and Calbert Chaney as a special assistant coach. I like how they have a well rounded cast of coaches from guards to centers. This coaching staff might actually be able to take on this team right now!
There’s something about this guy that makes me root for him. Maybe he just looks like one of my poker buddies from college. Anyways, I didn’t put him at #2 on my Dubs D-League All-Star List for nothing! He was one of our D-League sensations last year, and I feel for him hard, mancrush style. He earned himself full year guaranteed contract for this season, and was one of the reasons I think we traded Buike away. He’s kind of like David Lee on some levels. Being doubted all the way through college, doubted for a couple D-League seasons where I probably made more than him, but was finally rewarded. When he finally got the chance, he showed he wasn’t just a scrub. Reggie is good at everything, and is a smart player that makes smart decisions with the ball. He might not be the quickest or the most eye catching player, but he’s a legit sixth or seventh man to the rotation. I’m actually rooting for him to take the SF spot over Dorrell Wright, but won’t mind seeing him coming in to give Curry and Ellis a blow when they need one. He has the ability to play point forward if both our guards are out of the game, and is very good at making choices that don’t end up in turnovers. He might be fantasy gold off the waiver wires later this season…
Dorell Wright, Charlie Bell, and Rodney Carney
These guys are all battling to either be first off the bench, or start in the 3 spot. Two of these guys I haven’t really seen play much, and Bell isn’t all that impressive in my book. I’m told that I will like Wright, because he’s athletic, can finish, and plays good defense. All I know is Rodney Carney received all kinds of praise from C-Webb when they signed him, so I’ll take C-Webb’s word for it that he will be a valuable wing on the team. I really like both of their athleticism. Between those two and Reggie, we should have some nice scoring and defensive options at the wings when Monta and Curry need a blow. All I’m positive on is that every one of these guys defends better than their offense. I like the way Carney drives to the hoop with authority. You can never have enough guys that are good at getting to the line. I think Carney will surprise some people there. Maybe he’ll fill in those free throw attempts that we’ll be missing with Maggette gone at a tenth of the price.
Ah, the most explosive back court in the league! It’s fun to say that, so I’ll say it again. The Warriors have the most explosive back court in the league! It’s been refreshing to see Monta Ellis in a good mood this year. I’m even more of a fan of his wife slapping him around a bit this summer, and finally making him realize that the organization isn’t out to get him. Also she told him he needs to stop pouting, and make the best of the situation. Amen sister, amen! It was thought that Keith Smart was going to keep Ellis from playing 48 minutes a game, but for some strange reason Smart played Ellis for 53 minutes in the Warriors overtime preseason finale loss to the Lakers. It actually pissed me off while I was watching it. Yes, he was on fire and I wanted to see him put up 60, but it’s preseason coach! He doesn’t need to be out there more than 35 minutes! Monta does look like he’s focused so far which is a great thing. I hope he can start having fun out there again. As for Curry, I’m sure I’ll talk plenty about him this season, so I’ll save the praise for another day! Let’s just say I’d like to see that he learned a little from his Team USA experience. All I want him to do is pick up the new offense as soon as possible so he can stop turning it over. This preseason was ugly for Curry in the TO department, but he looks like he wants to be a leader, and will be…
Aside from the usual suspects like Lee, Curry, and Ellis, who is going to step it up this year? We lost Morrow, Azubuike, Maggette, Randolph, Watson, and a few others that were above average if not great scorers. It’s going to be tough to fill those voids. I’m not sure we can which is why we need this team to play defense this year. I’m hoping that Branden Wright finally sticks around for more than a week and we see if he’s worth Jason Richardson or not, but I doubt he’s the answer. As far as I can tell Reggie is our only “reliable” scorer off the bench. This scares me, because I’m questioning whether we can put up 110 a night like we used too… If we are counting on Vlad Radmanovic to pick up some scoring, we might be in trouble!