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.

12 Responses

  1. EvanZ

    “The difference between the good teams and the Warriors, other than the overall talent level, is the way the talent fits together.”

    Right, which is why it made no sense to add Lee to a team that already had a weak defensive foundation. Lee *is* the problem. He will be impossible to bench (because his contract is too big), impossible to trade (because his contract is too big), and very difficult to build around (because he is so weak defensively).

    The Warriors have built a house on a faulty foundation.

  2. wg

    an issue with a team centered around curry and lee is that you’ve got two big holes on the defensive end. ellis isn’t a defensive stopper, but he can do fine defending pg’s while playing minutes in the low-30’s.

  3. Daniel

    Also, I’d throw in that the first bench piece I would look for is a backup point guard. I think a good, distribute-first backup would make players like Vladimir Radmanovic relevant again…Raddy *should* be a valuable bench player with his skills — he should be creating matchup problems for the other teams’ 4 on offense, or be able to lend size inside at the 3 position on defense.

    As much as I’d like Lin to succeed, he’s another tweener point/off guard. Acie Law isn’t quick enough to consistently get the penetration needed to make players like Reggie Williams and Radmanovic as dangerous as they can be on the drive & dish.

    My dream would be Goran Dragic from Phoenix, but I’m not sure if his contract expires this year or next.

  4. BeerGarage

    A lot of great points have been brought up here.
    Yes, the warriors have some great pieces. Yes, they are not meshing together perfectly.
    I see another aspect. The lack of a strong leader on the court.
    Ellis does not feel ready to be the leader, but you can see he is working hard to improve in that role.
    Lee has brought some leadership and positive attitude to the team. Lee is young and new and underutilized, this makes leadership challenging.
    Curry is young and looks younger. OK, I got nothing here. Why isn’t he leading the team to victory?
    Is the whole team scared Nelly will yell at them if they show strength and initiative? Nelly is gone. You are allowed to be awesome now.

  5. dd31

    biedrins is a second string center at best. it’ll be hard to move his hefty contract as well. i think coach smart should look into trying udoh at the starting 5 spot. it would hopefully spark something to get biedrins more motivated & also give udoh experience. also, having 4 known scorers on our starting line-up, it shouldnt hurt to start a defensive minded big man who can work back-to-the-basket.

    warriors have improved tremendously over last season. with the CBA this summer & not much to shop for in ‘superstar’ talent, hopefully management can figure out something useful to do with our expiring contracts. a true center. a back up point-gaurd & back up small forward and we’d be playoff regulars. its all coming along slowly and the dubs have shown some good signs of things to come.

  6. Yosh

    The pieces are there with Bedrins, Lee, Wright, Ellis and Curry but what they lack is a coach that can take that talent and make them a contender. I dont think that coach smart is making this team a “smart” team. In almost all the warriors games I have seen there have been way too many turnovers from either bad passing, poor ball handling and god forbid an inbound ball that is stolen by the other team. I believe that they got the talent but not the coach to get them there.

    On a positive note i have seen Coach Smart draw up some inbound plays that have worked out to be amazing and i think this is due to his assisting Don Nelson and watching his brilliant mind for offensive plays. Sigh…. I wish Nelson was the coach for one more year because Nelly Ball is what i grew up watching!

    • dd31

      none of the things you mentioned that went wrong is the coach’s fault: a pass getting stolen.. poor ball handling.. you sound ignorant.

      don nelson ran our players to 26-wins in an entire season. you must love being a loser.

      • TSO9

        Sure nelson only got us 26 wins last year…but he did that with 5 D-Leaguers, 3 of them starting most of the year and our biggest “Big” was a 6’9 Center that was from the D League as well. Nelson would have done more with this team, Lee, a healthy Biedrins, and better chemistry with Monta and Curry. Regardless it’s not entirely either of their fault (even though Smart’s rotations are pathetic at best) but it’s the GM’s. Our pieces are solid. Our starters can hang with anybody in the league. Our bench however is laughable. Last year all we had was a decent bench which is what kept us in every game until 5 minutes left in the 4th quarter.

        Having CJ (who we gave away for nothing), Maggette, Morrow (again we could have matched but didn’t), Tolliver, Hunter, Randolph, Turiaf, etc is what we needed this year. If we had a legit 3rd PG to help save monta n Steph’s legs and a legit backup Center or 3 we would be fine. We just don’t have the depth. We DO NOT need to trade for another “All-Star”..we need to dump our expirings for depth and role players.

  7. Daniel

    Oops, make that 27 games to go…I should know better than to do math in my head. =)

  8. Daniel

    I think at this point, with 17 games left and the Warriors playing well, I’m not quite ready to write the Warriors’ starting 5 off as a unit — it’s definitely flawed, but I don’t know that I’d be so quick to look to change that unit rather than first look at ways to improve the bench. I believe (w/o looking, so correct me if needed) that the Warriors’ starting five has, for the most part, matched other teams’ starting 5’s…it’s been when the bench has come in where the real problems have begun.

    So…start with Reggie Williams and Udoh, then determine if you really have anything left from the rest of the bench (this includes Amundson…I remember him being great on Phoenix for his role, but here he’s looked lost on the floor), then go out and try to get the pieces you’re missing.

    The Warriors will end up winning at least about 36 games, and could end up with as many as 40 or 41 — this is progress, and significant progress at that. To look at the starting 5 as a failed experiment at this point, especially when we all know with the injuries that they’ve missed a significant amount of playing time together — I just don’t think we’re there yet. This definitely isn’t a title-contending roster, but improving the bench would be first on my list of priorities were I Larry Reilly.

    • Steven

      Until we get that one piece, we will always be a piece away. I agree with Daniel and our bench play being very inconsistent at times. I have not looked at the statistics but I bet when the Warriors bench outscores the opponents bench I bet they win 9 out of 10 of the times. I believe Keith Smart has made a significant to the team and has coached well. We have an underachieving bench that should be giving everything they have to keep us in games, but sloppy play ends up leaving us in come from behind situations very frequently. Improve the bench, put Biedrens on the bock and see what we can get for him.