Utah won, which wasn’t surprising. Honestly: Watching the Warriors is beginning to feel like futile observation. Every Fall brings possibilities. Every Winter swallows those chances. I keep tuning in because Bay Area fans inspire me. On occasion, so do the players. Also, I love basketball in a way that’s not sane. As a season collapses, all that’s left are the reasons for demise.
The Defense: Worse Than Drowning in Hot Sauce
The Warriors are a bad defensive team. This is a stereotype, glued to the truth. Golden State is second to last in defensive efficiency, a mark so awful it can’t be scaped to any individual goat–not even Radmanovich, the space goat. The most blame tumbles onto Keith Smart’s head. And while I have sympathy for the genuinely engaged first year coach, that sympathy does not erase this failure. Smart’s gamble-heavy defensive strategy was effective in the beginning. Since that happy point, it’s morphed into rubble that offenses need merely trudge through. The gambling should create chaos for the offense, and yet, only the Warriors defense appears confused. As it stands, Adam Lauridsen can blackmail me with the embarrassingly optimistic early-season emails I sent him.
On D, the Warriors often get 1-2 punched. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are unusual in that they carry wing-spans roughly equal to their heights–the average NBA player has a wing-span much greater than his vertical measure. Compare Rajon Rondo to Curry and Ellis. Rondo is about one inch shorter than either, and boasts a 6′ 9 span. Monta notches 6′ 2.75″ and Steph tallies 6′ 3.5. This is why Rajon is “big” and the main attribution for his prowess as a stopper and helper.
When the short-armed backcourt contest perimeter shooters, or rotate to stop penetration, they might as well be trying to head the ball, soccer-style. For all the hand wringing about how the Warriors lack a “true” PG, this is their biggest problem at guard. Teams can simply shoot over the Dubs, no matter how much effort either “small” musters. The Curry-Ellis combination likely can’t bulwark a good defense. Complaining about the lack of a distributor is like lamenting a car’s shoddy upholstery when it’s on fire.
The Frontcout: Puncturing Promise
If the Warriors have disappointed, the bigs are certainly culpable. Both Lee and Biedrins are performing at a level well below prime production. In David’s defense, he has an oozing moon crater in his elbow. But why has Andris stumbled? Nellie’s gone, right?
Biedrins is an oddly divisive player and a difficult one to write about. The issue’s wrinkle: The Warriors are certainly better with him on the floor, but he’s letting them down with this regression.
Prime 2008 Andris Biedrins: 11.9 pts, 11.2 boards, 3.5 FTA, 19.16 PER
The New Haircut: 6.6 pts, 9.6 boards, .6 FTA, 13.14
Goose is still rebounding quite well, but wholly avoiding contact on offense. Where he once would absorb wayward defenders, he now fades away from any potential foul, in a manner sadly comedic. Perhaps Biedrins is avoiding any showcase of his recently terrible charity acceptance–but he can’t go on playing this way. This is an evasion of his promise and potential. Avoiding free throws at all costs is no means to improvement and growth in the NBA. Trust me, I’m a 5-11 couch-bound blogger. I know these things.
As a team, the oft-fouling Dubs can’t get fouled. Dwight Howard alone shoots 11.8 free throws per game. Biedrins, Lee (4.4 FTA), Curry (3.9 FTA) and Wright (2.0 FTA) combine for fewer. Another fun fact: Joel Anthony (.9 FTA) scrapes Andris in free throw attempts and mighty Joel is playing nearly half the minutes. This is amazing considering how I’ve never seen Anthony successfully catch a basketball.
Dorell Wright can only get fouled when a closing defender lands on him. Upon dribbling, Wright is only a threat to pass, or whittle shot clock time. I like Dorell’s pump fake, and his three point shot, but he needs to do something, anything, after that fake.
The Bench: A Sad Rumor
Until recently, the bench was invisible completely and wholly. Now, it’s just emaciated at the guard positions. Jeremy Lin hasn’t exactly made a strong ROY bid. With Curry out, and Reggie Williams in, the Warriors are desperately lacking in professional substitutes.
Medical Staff Infection?
While David Lee played decently last night, the sentient noticed his struggle. Lee’s playing with one good wing, thanks to a Wilson Chandler bite that didn’t seem to get proper medical attention. “Seem” is said because I’m not a doctor. But I do recall how trainers scoured Dirk Nowitzki’s similar injury. Fans watched as David returned to the Knicks game with an elbow that changed the color of its wrapping. It didn’t seem right, especially in the context of this perpetually hurt franchise.
Certain teams–like Phoenix–tend to stay healthy, while the Warriors are always injured. After awhile, this can’t be luck. In the past, Golden State management has bemoaned maladies, while treating them as failure-cushioning. To Cohan’s crew, found excuses were found money. But, if injuries are simply fate, then why even pay a medical training staff? Hell, why even have hospitals? It’s all up to God, right? The Warriors need to stop cherishing injuries, and instead explain how they’ll prevent them in the future.
Lacob, Guber, these are the issues.