Who Biedrins Never Became
Andris Biedrins “came off the bench,” against the Wizards–which is a nice euphemism in this instance. The term emphasizes his arrival, makes it sound as though the arrival time was Biedrins’s choice. And it doesn’t capture the symbolic significance of Warriors management, finally giving up on a once-prized big man.
The sad truth is that he’s fading away as a basketball player. This is very different from when an old veteran starts losing his skills. As Andris fades, so too does the player many imagined he’d become. Today’s Biedrins has lost the considerable potential that the 20-year-old promised. Not many 6-11 guys could run, jump and finish like the Goose. The modern version certainly doesn’t, which means he’ll probably never raise the bar higher than 2008.
Andris is only 24, so his decline is a regression. The brimming confidence of 2007 is melting. Biedrins is slowly becoming his gawky beginnings–he’s the hermit crab who disappeared into the shell of his former self.
While many have sympathy for Greg Oden, few feel for the Latvian. To my eyes, the message boards and comment sections have ruled harshly. Much of the antipathy likely stems from how Andris avoids contact these days. Big men are supposed to be tough, and Golden State’s center swivels from drawing fouls in a manner that’s probably intentional. He’s averaging .6 free throw attempts per game, down from his 08-09 mark of 3.5.
His free throw shooting plummeted in Nellie’s final year and it hasn’t returned to an acceptable mediocrity level. Biedrins’s inability to conquer this wide-open 16 Ft shot has tainted the other aspects of his game. People can buy playing hurt, but they can’t countenance a mental block. To the engaged Warriors viewer: Andris Biedrins is scared of free throws, so he plays a brand of basketball that’s an affront to low post masculinity code. Hard for a fan–or coach–to fall in love with that manifestation of human frailty.
And the situation isn’t correcting itself, likely not with the Warriors organization. It’s just damned frustrating. I hardly see team as much as Rusty Simmons or Marcus Thompson, but Biedrins works whenever I do. He’s always polishing low post moves in my periphery. He’s always augmenting a game that’s slipping away.