Puzzle Pieces: Warriors missing a key piece
By: Darren Schmidt
The Warriors have some talent now. Most NBA teams have talent, some more than others, obviously. The difference between the good teams and the Warriors, other than the overall talent level, is the way the talent fits together. On good teams, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, it‘s a basketball team, not a group of guys playing basketball. On the Warriors, the whole is always less than the sum of the parts even if they do have good individual players.
David Lee is not the problem with this team. Sure, he’s overpaid, but he makes $13 million when he really should be making $9 or $10 million. That difference is not franchise-crippling. The point is if you are going to (over) pay a guy you should at least put him in a position where he can maximize the talent you paid him for. In Lee’s case, the reason he made the all-star team and got the contract he did is because he’s one of the best pick and roll finishers in the NBA. The fact that the Warriors rarely run it only exacerbates the fact that Lee isn’t going to be a real factor on the low block and makes him look worse than he is. If you take away what he does best a lot of players would be “disappointing.”
It’s the same thing with Monta Ellis. We’ve already seen Monta play well (and within the team framework) on good teams so the idea that you can’t build a good team with him on it is misguided. The problem is the position he’s been put in. This is the 3rd year in a row where he has been the #1 guy on the Warriors, which isn’t a good fit by temperament or talent for the player or the team.
Then there’s the way these players fit next to the other players on the floor. Lee is a high post power forward who stuggles defensively The Warriors knew that when they brought him in. Pairing him with a center like Biedrins just isn’t going to work. And it’s very hard if not impossible to argue that a backcourt of Monta and Curry compliments each other in the way that backcourt tandems on good teams compliment each other. All 4 players are good, they just don’t add up to a good basketball team.
Trading for Lee last offseason wasn’t a problem. The Warriors made a trade in which they got the best player and they improved the team. The idea that they should have played the lotto repeatedly or avoided dealing until a perfect, instantly franchise-changing move came along is more message board fodder than it is an accurate representation of how the NBA works. Jobs are on the line. Money needs to be made. Teams can’t wait until the perfect scenario comes along. Teams can’t “suck and draft” indefinitely. You take what you can get to make the team better and then try and move from there. That’s what the Warriors did. They took the first step toward making this a good team. More importantly, they started to put together pieces that fit into a puzzle. Assuming they correctly identify Curry and not Monta as the franchise player moving forward, Lee is a great fit with him in the 2 man game. Udoh and Dorell Wright (and even Amundson) are nice compliments to those two. It’s starting to come together.
Now they just have to find the big middle piece.