3-on-3: Spurs at Warriors
With the Golden State Warriors hosting the San Antonio Spurs in a nationally televised game on TNT (Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker will all miss the game), the Warriors World staff tackled the matchup and the state of Dubs in this installment of 3-on-3.
Fact or Fiction: The Warriors are a top-four team in the West with Andre Iguodala.
Danny Leroux, Warriors World: Fact. Oklahoma City and San Antonio are the class of the conference when healthy. After them, it is a scrum with the Blazers, Warriors, Clippers, and Rockets.
While any order in that group can be justified, a healthy Golden State team combines a dangerous offense with a versatile and underrated defense. They have played incredibly well with all six key players available. Andre Iguodala allows the team to put Klay Thompson on the opposing team’s weaker swingman offensively, a role he can thrive in as an improving defender.
Curry can score and create for the team and the combination of Iguodala and Bogut provides a backbone for the defense. I wish the coaching staff was more willing to play different lineups to keep opponents on their toes and that may come eventually as it did in the playoffs last season.
I am not sure whether they slot in at #4 or #3 with every team at full strength but they are top-four.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Fact. Andre Iguodala is perhaps the most indispensable player on the roster not named Stephen Curry. His combination of ball-handling skills, shooting and dunking make him the most diverse swingman on the team.
Iggy gives the Dubs a much needed dimension when he assumes the playmaking duties and allows Curry to play off the ball. Furthermore, his defense allows Golden State to get away with a variety of lineups because they know Iguodala will erase some mistakes and also limit whichever player he is tasked with defending.
That all sounds good given that it’s merely an appraisal of his game. But let’s look at him with a more concrete facts: The Dubs are plus-14.4 this season with the former Philadelphia 76er on the hardwood.
Jordan Ramirez, Warriors World: Fiction. San Antonio and Oklahoma City have the first two seeds locked up and are the two clear favorites coming out of the Western Conference. Portland has surprised all of us and remain a contender on record alone, but I still have my doubts and don’t consider them a real threat unless they continue this play in the postseason.
My preseason pick to come out of the West was the Los Angeles Clippers, and that’s not looking good right now. They still have a Top-3 player in the league and a much better coach than last season, but they’re flawed and have injury questions. Houston is proving its doubters (myself included) wrong with an impressive 17-9 record with the potential to get even better with an Omer Asik trade on the horizon. This leaves the Warriors, who without a doubt have a starting lineup that can compete for the West and a newfound experience after last season’s playoff run. Their new toy — Andre Iguodala — has already proven to be a crucial piece given their slow, decrepit offense with him out of the lineup.
The bench is still a major issue, and Bob Myers will have work to do before the trade deadline to bolster the frontline and acquire a veteran point guard to back up Curry. While San Antonio and Oklahoma City are matchup-proof, the Warriors still haven’t reached that level. Does this mean the team can’t finish in the Top-4 when the regular season is over? Absolutely not. But at 14-12 and an influx of injuries already hurting this team, they’ll have work to do.
Fact or Fiction: Stephen Curry is the best point guard in the league not named Chris Paul
Danny Leroux: Fiction, though it is close. While I would probably take Tony Parker for a single game on many teams at this moment because of how well he can run a team and Steph’s ability to distribute has been underappreciated, Russell Westbrook may be the most underrated star in the entire league. Among the group of Curry, Parker, and Westbrook that comprise the next tier with Derrick Rose on the shelf, Russell is the best all-around package due to his defense and chaotic offensive energy. You cannot go wrong with any of them but I’ll run with Westbrook.
J.M. Poulard: Fiction. Stephen Curry has the second-best PER figure amongst point guards, which is an impressive feat through the first quarter of the season. He outpaces the likes of Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker and coincidentally, these are the guys that I felt he had to beat out to come within proximity of Chris Paul’s point god crown coming into this season.
To his credit, Curry has come close to eclipsing them but he still trails Parker by the tiniest of margins. The Davidson product has stepped up his playmaking and become more assertive offensively. In the same breath, he has been quite sloppy with the ball and also, he has been far too erratic in late-game situations whereas the Frenchman has produced with steady efficiency.
Curry is certainly in the discussion, but he’s not yet the undisputed second-best floor general in the Association.
Jordan Ramirez: Fiction, but it’s damn close. I still have Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker ahead in my personal point guard rankings. Now, does that mean either of those two guards mentioned would work better on this team than Curry? Not at all. Curry doesn’t just run the system, he is the system. With Curry out the Warriors are nothing, and while this can be said for nearly every franchise cornerstone in the league, it means even more so for this team. His defense isn’t elite, and he doesn’t have the explosion or quickness of Westbrook or even Tony Parker, but Curry’s game is much more finesse/rhythm oriented than anything else. That’s no slight, and that’s not to say Curry isn’t quick either. Curry’s growth and maturity as a player has truly been amazing to behold. With Kobe Bryant now sidelined for at least six weeks, we’ll see if Curry’s improved play — starting from last season — is rewarded with an All-Star start.
What’s your best David Lee trade?
Danny Leroux: When trying to make a reasonable David Lee trade, the first thing I do is narrow the list of teams that would be interested. The two major downsides for his trade value are his long contract and his limitations defensively. His overall production makes him an asset for some teams, especially those who have no incentive to tank this season.
To me, the logical trading teams with those factors in mind are Brooklyn, Detroit (if a big leaves town in the deal), and possibly Sacramento just because of Vivek.
Of those teams, the most reasonable trade would be something along the lines of David Lee for Paul Pierce. The additional years and dollars do not matter as much to Prokorov because the Nets have no flexibility until Lee’s contract expires anyway. While it would leave a hole at PF for this season for the Warriors, they could handle that a few different ways in the interim and have the flexibility to sign someone in the summer that makes more sense. For the Nets, they get an incredibly deep big man rotation that can withstand an injury to any one player at a time and can just slide Joe Johnson over to SF more often when Kirilenko sits.
J.M. Poulard: A three-way trade between the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons and Warriors.
The Dubs receive Josh Smith from the Pistons and play him at power forward where he will thrive. He brings with him solid interior passing (one of David Lee’s strengths), rebounding, highflying plays and good defensive play.
The Pistons receive Luol Deng from the Bulls, which gives them a natural small forward to play with their frontline. Deng is in a contract year and could re-sign with Detroit or bolt and give Detroit roughly $18 million in cap room to spend on a perimeter free agent that is a more natural fit.
Finally, the Bulls receive David Lee who will play alongside Derrick Rose for two seasons. This finally opens up the door for Chicago to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer.
Jordan Ramirez: This trade works for both teams: http://espn.go.com/nba/