Warriors Season Wrap up with Matt Steinmetz
Most surprising Warriors’ player this past season? Most disappointing player?
Most surprising: Anthony Randolph & Anthony Morrow.
Most disappointing: Monta Ellis.
What would you consider some the of highlight moments of the season on the court?
It's tough coming up with highlight moments this far removed from the season. The only thing that really continues to stick out is 29-53, and how many highlights can you have with a season like that?
So as far as an individual game or performance, what's the point in getting into those? Like, yeah, the Warriors knocked off the Jazz late in the season in Utah, and they were undermanned. Great. But when you put it in the context of 29 wins, it's tough to attach significance to that. I certainly wouldn't call that win or the one over the Hornets late in the season "growth” games. We'll see if they meant anything next season.
Big picture … Randolph was the single-biggest positive that I saw in 2008-09. Morrow is next. There's something about Morrow, put it that way. But since Randolph clearly has an opportunity to be more of an impact player than Morrow, Randolph is the best thing to come out of last season.
Other than that, yes, some of the Warriors' role players who got more of an opportunity than they should have did well at times.
A lot of people choose to credit injuries as a reason why the Warriors record was as bad as it was this past season, even with a full healthy roster; this team is nowhere near a playoff team, correct?
I would say if you take this roster and give it a season's worth of good health; it still is not a .500 team. High 30s, maybe. That's why I find it somewhat puzzling that the Warriors' front office keeps enthusiastically selling that 2008-09 was a one-year dip and that they expect to contend, and make, the playoffs in 2009-10.
I'm not saying the Warriors aren't going to do that–contend for playoffs– but realistically they're a few moves away at this point. But management is talking like its still dealing with the 48-win team from 2007-08. We're not.
Warriors gave out a lot of fresh money, i.e. Ellis, Biedrins, Turiaf, Maggette, Jackson, of those contracts which do you think were the best and which were mind boggling?
To me, the absolute worst move of the past year without even a second thought at the time it was done and right now was giving Stephen Jackson an extension. Not only was it an awful move from a strategic point of view, it also served as a window into everything that was wrong with the team's front office.
Chris Mullin, executive vice president of basketball operations at the time, not only didn't know the organization was going to give Jackson an extension, he would have never agreed to do so in the first place. Fact: Mullin found out the Warriors and Jackson were talking extension from Jackson, himself.
At the start of last season, Jackson had two years remaining on his deal at very reasonable money. He had championship experience and would have been extremely attractive to some title contenders last February. Still would be if he had one year left on his deal. That would have been an asset and opportunity in any league.
But the Warriors are now sitting with Jackson for four more years. It's not necessarily that it’s a bad thing; it's that the other way was so, so much better. Jackson had a very nice year last year, but he showed his limitations as a serious offensive option with his shooting percentage and turnover rate.
And don't give me the: "Well, we still got him at a really good number.” First of all, that remains to be seen, and second of all, it's a distraction from the bad decision in the first place.
Obviously, they overpaid for Corey Maggette. That's been inspected and dissected to death and the result is always the same: Too many years, too much money.
As far as the good, Ronny Turiaf sure seems like a nice piece right now at his contract, and I'll also acknowledge that the Warriors did a nice job with the contracts of Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins.
What's most impressive with both of those deals from the Warriors' perspective is that neither of them ascend in salary. They both basically stay at $11 million (for Ellis) and $9 million (for Biedrins) for the remainder of the deals.
If you had to trade one of the two, Monta or Biedrins in a deal for a superstar, which one would you look to move?
Well, first off, I wouldn't be averse to moving either of them, depending. … I think what you're getting at is which one would you keep if you could. The answer to that is Ellis, no doubt.
Ellis is far more of an impact player than Biedrins, and Ellis still has a greater piece of unknown potential in front of him than Biedrins does. Biedrins is going to be a good center for a long time in the NBA, but at the end of the day, he's still going to probably be a low double-double guy. And again, repeat, nothing at all to scoff at.
But Ellis' ceiling is much higher, and he has a far greater chance of influencing games more so than Biedrins. But again, there's no reason for the telephone lines to be closed for either of them.
Who is the hardest working Warrior? The biggest gym rat? Who should be more dedicated?
The hard worker is easy and it's no contest: Anthony Morrow. He plays and plays and plays and embraces competition. He's the one guy who will play anyone, anytime anywhere after practice in any game you can come up with.
Come to think of it, though, you rarely see Morrow engaged in shooting contests after practice. Everyone knows better than to get into one of those with him. But you see him playing one-on-one constantly. Guy loves the game, and it comes through loud and clear.
I don't want to get into dedicated. How about something to prove? To me, the Warriors have to make a decision on Brandan Wright. And Wright's got a responsibility, too.
Guy was traded for Jason Richardson and needs to step up. He needs to show he can stay healthy, of course. At the same time, Don Nelson's got to give this kid a consistent opportunity. For goodness sakes the Warriors won 29 games last season, and even though Nelson will maintain he played Wright plenty, we all know differently.
Nelson looks for reasons not to play Wright rather than for reasons to play him. If that's the reality of the situation and it's not going to change, let's move on.
What do Randolph, Morrow and Wright have to work on in the offseason? How big of an offseason is it for Wright?
Randolph needs to work on everything, but to me he needs to work on his shooting most of all. Why? Because if Randolph can get a consistent 18-footer, he's going to be a real problem. Problem being good, in his case.
People disagree with me here but I think the Warriors did a little bit of disservice to him by discouraging him to shoot those shots much of the season. I know the other side of the argument; he didn't deserve that much freedom, blah, blah, blah. But if Randolph can face up from 18-feet and make some shots from out there, it puts him on another level. I just wouldn't have discouraged him in the way Nelson did.
Wright needs to get stronger and tougher, which pretty much everyone has been saying since he was drafted. He's also got to prove he can be durable enough to complete an NBA season without getting banged-up.
Morrow probably needs to work on his pick-and-roll game. Nelson seems to be interested in putting him those situations.
Do you sense any frustration from the players towards Nellie and the organization in general? Who are Nellie's whipping boys, a la Al Harrington during his tenure with the Warriors?
In terms of players being frustrated with the organization, not really. They don't know what's really going on, and for the most part, it's not really their care or priority.
As far as frustration with Nellie, certainly some players have it more than others.
But I don't sense anything more than the usual frustrations a team sometimes feels with the coach. As far as the guys Nelson's tough on, the one thing I've noticed about Nelson is he doesn't pick on the biggest kid in the room.
In other words, he wasn't going to pick on Baron Davis and he isn't going to pick on Stephen Jackson. Similarly, he's very careful when it comes to Corey Maggette. Nelson is hardest on young players who haven't yet gained any clout in the league. To me, Nelson has been most harsh on Randolph, Belinelli and Wright. But he's an equal opportunity hammerer, too, and I've seen him drill C.J. Watson and Kelenna Azubuike.
What is your opinion on Warriors Management; Chris Cohan, Robert Rowell and Larry Riley. Is business ahead of winning on the priority list? Is Riley his own man and decision maker or does Nelson pull the strings?
I would not say that business is ahead of winning in the organization. But I would say that facts are facts and the Warriors have been much more successful with their business than with their on-court product in the past 15 years. Bottom line is that management knows how to sell tickets; it hasn't proven it can win.
As for Riley being his own man, I'm certainly willing to give him that opportunity. It's not that I think Riley can't be his own man; it's just that I think after working with Nelson for as long as Riley has, they just share a basketball foundation of sorts that will likely mostly always go hand-in-hand. In other words, because they share a lot of the same philosophy, etc., it's only natural that they're not going to disagree over something or someone. They tend to look at personnel in the same way. So, the idea of Riley having to "stand up to Nelson,” and pick a guy Nelson hates … I don't see it every really happening because they're not likely to disagree so vehemently on anything.
I think the question of whether or not Riley can be his own man misses the point. What's more important is that Nelson and Riley are unlikely to disagree in the first place.
What happens first … a Warriors championship or Cohan sells the team?
I'm going to answer it this way … I don't see the Warriors winning a championship anytime soon, whether Cohan is owner or not. Seriously, when you get done watching the NBA playoffs like we all have, isn't it a touch sobering how far away a team like the Warriors are? Look at the talent on those final four to six to eight teams. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Yao Ming, etc.
I mean, the Warriors don't have a player in any of those guys' league, and really, they're not going to have a player in those guys' league unless Randolph becomes that player. And even that is a hell of a projection for that young kid.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I think there is a greater chasm between making the playoffs and actually winning an NBA title than there is between going from a non-playoff team to playoff team.
Matt Steinmetz is named GM, how do you turn this team around? What moves would you make this offseason?
I don't take the GM job unless a few of my demands are met.
How are the Warriors perceived around the NBA? Back to irrelevance?
No doubt there is a collective: What's going out there? A few weeks ago when I was in L.A. for the Finals, I got that question lots of times. Bottom line is that Chris Mullin is pretty respected around the NBA, and his ouster just doesn't smell right. Throw in the fact that Nelson, Mullin's supposed friend, was on the periphery of that situation and apparently didn't work on Mullin's behalf, and it just doesn't make for positive public relations.
Thoughts on the latest Warriors' PR fiasco?
I'll leave that one alone since I was on periphery.
Warriors have the 7th pick in the draft, which player would you look at with that pick?
Stephen Curry. Here's why, and it's pretty simple. I keep hearing that Curry might be the best passer in the draft. And we know he's one of the best—if not the best– shooter in the draft.
I will say this, however. I think the Warriors are in a brutal position draft wise. It seems pretty apparent that there are going to be hits and misses all over the board. There are too many unknowns. There are going to be a lot of teams up high in the draft who swing and miss and there are going to be teams in the 20s that hit home runs.
If the Warriors do use the pick, I have no doubt their selection will be a smart player, with good ball handling and decision-making skills, and a high basketball IQ to go along with it.
The Warriors are a very bad team when it comes to passing, decision-making and basketball IQ. It's where the Warriors really paid the price for losing Baron Davis. Now, you have Jackson making the bulk of the decisions, and really, how far will that take you?
This team isn't going to get significantly better until and unless it gets smarter and shares the ball more. And the only way they're getting smarter is to add smarter players.
Words to Warriorsworld.net?
To my friends there I say keep it up, great site. To Mac, I say … quit hatin.
Special Thanks to Matt Steinmetz
Check out Matt’s work @ http://www.fanhouse.com/bloggers/matt-steinmetz/
Follow Matt on Twitter : twitter.com/matt_steinmetz