By: Matt Steinmetz
Has Mark Jackson done enough for an extension?
Depends on your thinking, to be honest. Bottom line is the Warriors picked up his option for 2014-15, which ain’t bad. But you can’t tell me Jackson didn’t want a full-on extension after a 47-win season and appearance in the second round of the playoffs. How do you think Don Nelson would have reacted to “just” an option pick-up after this kind of season? Anyway, this is one of those things where you can look at it two different ways.
On the one hand, you can see why Warriors’ ownership wouldn’t give Jackson an extension. What for? After all, he’s still guaranteed this year and next (after option pick-up) so what’s the big deal, right? Well, I guess we’ll see. Most coaches in Jackson’s spot would have wanted or pushed for an extension. This decision could have a practical implication for the Warriors. If the Warriors fail to meet expectations this season, I think it will be easier to fire Jackson – without an extension.
The way it is, the Warriors would only have to eat one year of Jackson’s deal. But had they extended Jackson, perhaps, there’d be more impetus (financial, of course) to hold onto Jackson after a disappointing year – because they’d owe him more money and more years.
Funny thing is, not extending Jackson is something you could make a case the “old” Warriors’ regime would have done, and quite possibly would have been criticized for not doing. We really don’t know if Warriors’ owner Joe Lacob didn’t extend Jackson because he wants more proof that Jackson can do the job or whether he’s already looking ahead to saving money down the line if firing Jackson is what he has to do.
Do the Warriors have more depth than last season?
You know what? The more I thought about this question the more I thought: It doesn’t really matter. And here’s why I say that: Mark Jackson is going to lean heavily on his top 6 players and the guys who come after that are simply going to have to make do. The way I see it the Warriors have six legitimate players: Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes, Lee and Bogut. Those are the guys who I believe will log the most minutes. That is, of course, if they’re all healthy.
Speights will likely also get consistent minutes but my feeling on him is this: If he’s playing 16-18 minutes per game, that’s fine. But if you’re going to start expecting 25 minutes per game from him, well then you’re going to get diminishing returns.
Honestly, Toney Douglas and Jermaine O’Neal scare me a little bit. I think there is a scenario out there in which neither delivers consistently off the bench. How can you not be concerned with O’Neal’s age? And as for Toney, sure he’s a ball-hawk defensively, but he really, really struggles at the offensive end. That doesn’t matter, you say, with this team? Well, we’ll see.
Draymond Green and Bazemore are also going to probably play a little bit, but … are either of those guys really anything more that limited role players at this point?
I would say this – this year’s bench likely won’t be as impactful as last year’s bench – with Jack and Landry. But then again, Jackson is going to play the top six a ton, if he can.
Thoughts on Bogut’s contract extension?
The Warriors are kind of caught a little bit with Bogut. They need him desperately to be the best team they can possibly be, but he’s not reliable – or hasn’t been for a while. So, what choice did the Warriors have? Possibly lose him in free agency for nothing or sign him and hope for the best: That he’s healthy for a chunk of the next four years.
It’s tough to criticize the deal, but for the significant concern of injury. The money — $12 million per for three years, without incentives – seems reasonable enough. If I were the Warriors, I’d forget about this guy playing 80 games. I’d shoot for him playing 50 games a year, and hopefully a little more. Truthfully, I don’t know if I want Bogut playing very much in November and December. For what? I think the most difficult thing with Bogut moving forward is how to manage him. You don’t want to play him too much because he could break down. But if you don’t play him enough, he’ll get rusty and out of shape. Bottom line is I see why Warriors did it, but there might be a fair amount of breath-holding from the fans for a while.
Will Steph Curry be an All-Star?
Assuming health, he’s a flat-out lock – even if he struggles for the first half of the season. Why? Because he did so well the second part of last year, and the hype and attention has grown to such a degree, that he almost can’t help but be an all-star.
He’s become the face of the franchise, and the perception is that the franchise is on the rise. Lock.
Are expectations too high for the Warriors this season?
Before I answer that, can I make a point to all the younger Warriors’ fans? Of course I can, I’m the one answering. Yes, this team has hype and yes there is talk of title contention, but this is not the first time that’s been the case since the championship era in the 70s.
No, in 1994-95, there were whispers of title contention, too. It was Chris Webber’s second season, the Warriors were coming off a 50-win season and, on top of it, they were getting Tim Hardaway back from injury. There was every bit as much hype surrounding that team as this team (factoring in social media inflation). And if you don’t know what happened to that Warriors’ team, go ahead and use the Google.
What are the Warriors’ expectations, anyway? I’ve heard them called title contenders. If that’s the expectation, yeah, that’s a pretty high expectation. I go back and forth, here and there. On the one hand, the Warriors seem like they’re poised to win a lot of games – let’s say a comfortable playoff team.
I say that for one reason. It’s because I think the Warriors have more firepower from 3-point range than any team in the league, and I believe, in general, the league hasn’t figured out just how significant that long-distance shot can be.
The Warriors will have games where they score points in a hurry, taking a double-digit lead or erasing a double-digit deficit in the snap of a finger. So, looking at it from the most positive point of view, you’ve got a ridiculously good perimeter shooting team, two big men in Lee and Bogut who know how to pass and play – and then, yes, a guy like Iguodala who really solidifies your defense. Yeah, sky is the limit.
On other hand, I thought the Warriors had some good fortune last year early in the season, and I really think many fans are underestimating the loss of Jarrett Jack and, to lesser degree, Carl Landry. I’ve actually been pretty surprised at how many fans out there have criticized Jack for his periodic over-dribbling and desire to take the big shot. Did Jack do that on occasion? Absolutely. But Jack hit more big shots for the Warriors over the course of last season than every other player on the team combined. That’s the way I saw it anyway. Time and time again Jack was a positive, either making big plays the last minutes of a game or coming in at his usual time late in the first quarter and helping dig the team out from an early deficit.
I still don’t see anyone on the roster who can create a shot like Jack, which means the Warriors have to figure out who on this roster will take and make big shots. Nobody is practiced at that. Also, I do think the loss of Mike Malone is not going to help, though I don’t exactly know how that will manifest itself.
Are expectations too high? Yeah, if you’re asking me. But if you’re asking someone a little more optimistic, then probably not, you know?