By: Maggie Pilloton
With Andris Biedrins proving to be quite useless and ineffective, it’s time for a change for the Warriors. Besides front office moves, the new ownership of Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have failed to make the promised “bold” acquisitions that the fans were expecting. However, as honorary GM of the day (I can dream, right?), I will make the “bold” move to start Jeremy Tyler this upcoming season at center. The Warriors acquired Jeremy Tyler, the 39th pick, on draft night by purchasing him from the Charlotte Bobcats. The 20-year-old, 6-11, 262-pounder originally from San Diego is a potential high-risk, high-reward player who decided to forego his senior year of high school to play overseas in Israel. After a year of hardship, Tyler decided to take his talents to Japan. Despite rumors of maturity issues, Jeremy Tyler understands the significance of being drafted and seems to have great character and spirit. When given his Warriors jersey with the #3 on it he said, “This is what I’ve been working for my whole life. I’ve got it, and now, I can’t lose it.” Tyler seems like he has truly become a mature adult, even though he is only 20 years old. His hard work, determination, and perseverance are his “X factors” that will ultimately give him the edge in the starting center battle.
Compared to his lone competitor for the starting center role, Andris Biedrins, Jeremy Tyler has a more all-around game while not facing the confidence issues that plague Biedrins. When criticized of his past immaturity or his weaknesses, Tyler claims that he will use that as fuel to his fire and just keep pushing every day. In contrast, Andris Biedrins has shown long streaks of diminished confidence. It all starts with Biedrins being too afraid of being fouled while playing and therefore not taking enough shots and not being aggressive enough on rebounds. He’s pretty much the team “pansy.” Biedrins is also accustomed to getting sloppy on defense and committing bad fouls. It’s interesting then that one of Tyler’s strengths is his defense. He can rebound, defend big bodies, and has shown improvement in his blocking ability. Tyler provides a much sounder all-around game than Biedrins, which isn’t saying much because Biedrins is severely offensively challenged. Tyler is extremely athletic for a big man, he has a decent (and improving) mid-range jumpshot, he can play effectively with his back to the basket, and he has decent post moves.
Over the course of Tyler’s season in Japan, he averaged 9.9 points per game, 51.1% field goal percentage, and 6.4 rebounds in 15.4 minutes a game in 33 games (his season was limited due to the earthquake in Japan). In 59 games last season for the Warriors, Biedrins averaged 5 points per game, 53.4% field goal percentage, and 7.2 rebounds per game in 23.7 minutes per game. However, the last 12 games of Jeremy Tyler’s season were his best. If you take his stats in those 12 games and if you convert them to 40 minutes of playing time, his averages would all improve to 30.4 points per game, 56% field goal percentage, and 17 rebounds per game. Yes, these numbers seem slightly inflated and skewed based on the fact that this is only examining his highest point of the season. Tyler will need some intense development to be able to compete at the NBA level. However, with the strong possibility of a lockout this summer, Tyler will have plenty of time to work out his hardest and possibly with fellow Warrior, Dorell Wright, who will also be in the Los Angeles area during summer. Jeremy Tyler finished his season in Japan off with strong numbers while playing his best basketball. The Warriors should expect that he will continue to improve upon each statistical category, and for sure, produce better numbers and at a more effective pace than if Biedrins were starting.
This might seem like a pretty easy plan and one that should be implemented as soon as possible, though Jeremy Tyler has yet to prove himself on and off the court. Yes, he’s made incredible strides in his defense and jumpshot, for example, and yes, he’s also shown that being overseas alone really allowed him to mature and become a better man. That’s all great, but he’s going to have to show Mark Jackson that he can be the “high reward” player that everyone believes he can be. He’s going to have to get stronger, become a better defender, and pretty much improve in every area of his game in order to compete with the best centers of the NBA. Will he be able to win the starting role even if training camp is delayed? Yes. The main reason for this is because Tyler has Mark Jackson’s vote. Mark Jackson has offered to become Tyler’s mentor and father figure during the process. After acquiring Jeremy Tyler on draft night, Mark Jackson said, “I don’t have time to draft somebody who is going to take a couple of years. He’s a big kid, an athlete who can block shots, finish and rebound. He’s going to have every opportunity to do it now. Who’s to say we didn’t get better today?” The Warriors did get better the day they drafted Jeremy Tyler. They even found the starting center that they’ve been searching for. When Mark Jackson sees that he made the right decision to start Jeremy Tyler at center, I bet he says, “Mama, there goes that man.”