With the rest of the league making a multitude of moves to attempt to improve their rosters, the Golden State Warriors have quietly been sitting on the sidelines, almost as if they are waiting for a move to fall into their laps. With the NBA now seeming more and more like the NFL given all of the turnaround so far based on verbal commitments between players and teams, one wonders when the Dubs will get in on the “fun” given the redundancy present on the roster.
As it stands right now, the Warriors have too much money invested in two positions on the team, and get far too little in return from their investments.
The Dubs have approximately $14.3 million — salary for 2012-13 season — going to their small forwards; more specifically Dorell Wright and Richard Jefferson. The players in question have reputations as good finishers, decent shooters and defenders. But the truth is a little more complex than that.
Wright only helps the Warriors if he is converting shots. Indeed, he struggles to create high percentage shots for himself and is almost completely at the mercy of his teammates to create scoring chances for him; whether that’s off of drive and kicks or transition baskets. He is a slightly above average rebounder for his position and avoids turnovers for the most part. But defensively, he has his limitations.
His individual defense isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. His rotations can be a tad slow and consequently the Warriors aren’t always at their best when he is on the court. According to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, the Dubs are minus-5.1 when he is on the court as opposed to a minus-1.5 when he is on the bench.
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for a starting small forward. But things aren’t any better with his back up.
Richard Jefferson at this stage of his career is almost like a Dorell Wright clone, except he’s an expensive knock off. Much like Wright, Jefferson relies on others to create looks for him, but he only converted 41.6 percent of his field goal attempts last season.
The former Nets player has some value as a floor spacer, as evidenced by his 42.6 percent 3-point field goal shooting, but that’s pretty much all he did for the Dubs last season. His rebounding rate was subpar, and he did little to actually help the Warriors on offense given his reliance on long two-point shots and 3-pointers. NBA.com tells us that when we projected the Warriors numbers per 48 minutes with Jefferson on the court last season, the Dubs averaged an anemic 92.3 points per game. Put him on the bench, and those figures jump to 100.1 points per game.
In addition, the days of the former Wildcat being a standout defensive player are long gone. He no longer makes enough of a difference on that end to justify big minutes. The GSW were minus-7.9 with RJ on the floor and minus-6.1 with him off it.
And yet, the Dubs have just about a quarter of their player payroll going to their small forwards. As bad as that is, they have a larger percentage of their salary cap tied into their centers.
The combination of Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins is slated to earn roughly $22.3 million next season and yet Bogut has yet to play a game for the Warriors since being traded to the team.
Granted, the Dubs knew the former Bucks center would miss the remainder of the season and acquired him with the hope that his defense would help turn the team into a defensive juggernaut next season. But with that said, the Dubs are still shelling out mucho dinero for their centers. It’s understandable in the case of the Utah product, but as far as the Latvian goes, the first order of business for the front office should be for them to find someone to take him off their hands.
The big man is a mediocre rebounder, poor defender and a foul magnet. In addition, his inability to convert from the charity stripe — he made 11.1 percent of his free throws last season — made him shy away from contact to the point that he shot a staggeringly low nine free throws in 47 games played last season. Nine!
Considering that everyone around the league is aware of Biedrins’ deficiencies, many would argue that finding a trade partner for his “services” would be impossible. My one rebuttal: after the outlandish contract that Rashard Lewis signed with the Orlando Magic, he was still traded twice.
But in a nutshell, these are some of the issues plaguing the Golden State Warriors’ roster. While many think that the big problem in the Warriors’ kingdom is that they are not actively participating in free agency; the issue more so than anything is the team’s failure to participate in player movement by trying to dispose of their redundant players and acquiring others that better fit the team as a whole.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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