The New Guys
Looking through the Warriors previous transactions can be a scary sight. Whether that’s through trades, free agents or (gulp) draft picks, the Warriors have become synonymous with imbecility. Warriors fans don’t need a reminder.
It’s become standard procedure for fans and pundits alike to assume the worst when it comes to these moves. Previous owners and managements have allowed those who critique to more often than not be correct: when the Warriors made a move, it was a bad one.
That’s not to say all Warriors moves were bad, that would be foolish. Most recently, the trade that helped form the “We Believe” squad was the most prominent. Guys like Baron Davis, Mickael Pietrus, Monta Ellis, Jason Richardson, Anthony Morrow, CJ Watson, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson all found their way to the Golden State one way or another. Even through the darkest days of this franchise, sprinkles of acuity and even brilliance were present.
These moves weren’t just by happenstance, even if others said different. As a whole, this franchise has been a failure. That is, if we’re measuring franchises by hardware. In the world of Twitter, Twitter and Twitter, hardware is what counts and nothing else. By this logic, the Warriors have accomplished nothing and until they win “RINGZ” won’t be but the doormat to the Heat, Lakers and Spurs.
But times a changin’ around these parts, and never more apparent than the (very) early part of this season. Through four games, anyone that has watched this team play can tell that the new guys are impressing, while the usuals not so much. The usual suspects have been fine, but this team’s shining light has come from those not on this roster last season, or at least not in uniform last season.
Fans and pundits have been quick to hate, slow to accept success. Success has often been met with resistance when it comes to this franchise. Almost a “What did we do to deserve this!?” mentality. While situations like this and this don’t help the cause, give credit where credit is due. Yes, it’s probably beyond early to give such high praise, but it’s become such a rare occurrence that we can’t be reluctant to do so.
The two themes for this season have been “if healthy” and “cautious optimism.” Those won’t go away, especially since the two most important players on this team are coming off major surgeries. But, it’s the new guys that have especially impressed through these early parts, and this will be a completely different team if all goes right. It’s already a different team, but “completely” pertains to success, not just names on the roster.
Five of the 13 Warriors that have hit the floor this season weren’t on this team last season. Three other Warriors were acquired within the past year, one of which didn’t play last season. That makes eight new guys, eight of the 13 that have hit the floor weren’t with this franchise just two seasons ago. This is a new team, a new franchise and hopefully one that exceeds mosts lowly expectations soon.
Andrew Bogut is the biggest — both literally and figuratively — new guy on the roster. Bogut was acquired for The Human Highlight Wheel and Ekpe Udoh last season, and we’re now seeing Bogut on the floor in limited minutes. While our previous assumptions of Bogut — low post scoring, passing ability, blocked shots — have held true, I failed to realize how much of a leader he can be. It’s refreshing to see Bogut yell at David Lee when he misses a defensive assignment (which is quite often), something a leader should be doing. Sorry David, this isn’t last year.
This team has needed a backup power forward and they got one (a pretty cheap one too). Landry was the last signing of the off-season, and it could very well end up being the most critical. Coming off the bench, Landry is tied for the team lead in PPG (16.5), is the team’s leading offensive rebounder (4.0) and second behind Lee in RPG (7.0). And because the team’s emphasis this season is “defense, defense, defense,” Landry isn’t half bad on that end of the floor either. It certainly helps that an inept defensive forward starts at the same position, which might make him look just slightly better than what he is, but nonetheless Landry is a quiet force on that end of the floor.
Jarrett Jack fills a much needed void simply by being the next man up after Curry. This isn’t a “Palin is a heartbeat away from the Presidency, we’re all doomed!” scenario. Jack is more than capable of replacing Curry if need be, and coming off the bench only heightens his effectiveness. He’s not asked to score, but he can (45% on FG for his career), he can play two positions and is, like Landry, a more than viable defensive replacement for his starting counterpart. Offensive sets consisting of Jack-Curry-Thompson are especially intriguing to me, even if the offensive potential there has yet to be reached.
“Rookies” and “potential” are synonymous terms, especially with this franchise. It’s rare a rookie ever reaches his pre-draft potential, it’s even rarer for multiple picks to reach their potential with the same team. Rookies can’t reach their potential in their first season, but they can reach their significance. Harrison Barnes is starting, Festus Ezeli is splitting important minutes with Bogut and Draymond Green will see his workload increase because of the Rush injury. In other words, there is no Kosta Perovic or Richard Hendrix from this draft class. Each draftee has their own significant role, the question is whether we’ll see them reach their potential with this franchise.
These aren’t just individual signings either. Each move contributes to form a better, succinct team. Never was this more apparent after the Warriors 114-120 victory over the then undefeated Clippers. Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack made sure to deliver a special message to Brandon Rush, and you can’t help but feel just a bit joyous after it. That’s what sports is all about, and to see that happen under previously dark, selfish shadows of the Warriors was a refreshing sight to say the least. Togetherness breeds winning, who would’ve known?
As you can see, here is a lot of “new” happening around this team. New owners, new players, new coaches and soon a new arena. For the longest time, “new” was accompanied with “nay.” In the infant stages of the season, the new guys — both on and off the court — are achieving. Things can change, obviously, but it’s time to let go of the old mentality and adapt to the new. Those who stay questioning, shouldn’t. It’s a new time in San F….Golden State. We shouldn’t be afraid to admit success. The new guys are succeeding, don’t assume the worst or expect the least. That’s the least we could do.