The Week That Was:
Two justifiable losses and a ludicrous win. Goran Dragic took advantage of a shorthanded Warriors team to get a nice win for the Suns and the Dubs vented their frustration against the hapless Sixers in a game brightened by Mo Speights’ career night.
Wednesday was another candidate for Game of the Year as the Warriors came back from a huge 21-point deficit against the defending champs and got a nice and-one from Stephen Curry to lead by two before getting buried by a LeBron James three. Still a great effort without Andrew Bogut.
Also , Harrison Barnes looked better in the Rising Stars game than some of the regular season (especially when guarded by Kelly Olynyk) which could bode well for the remainder of the year.
The Soapbox: Learning the Timetable of Contention
One of the most interesting questions for the front office going into the trade deadline is when they see this team peaking. After all, it can help if the main pieces are at the same point or that one player’s age-related decline coincides with another’s ascension, as could potentially happen with Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes down the line.
Using the start of next season (November 1) as the functional date, here is a look at the ages of the players presently on the team:
Stephen Curry (26)
Andre Iguodala (30)
Andrew Bogut (29)
David Lee (31)
Klay Thompson (24)
Draymond Green (24)
Harrison Barnes (22)
Jordan Crawford (26)
Jermaine O’Neal (36)
Marreese Speights (27)
Kent Bazemore (25)
Nemanja Nedovic (23)
MarShon Brooks (25)
Ognjen Kuzmic (24)
Assuming that Jermaine O’Neal will not be a part of the long-term plans of the franchise, the most interesting part of Golden State’s situation is the gap between the older core and the younger group of about six years with Steph in the middle.
The reason the gap matters is in terms of how Bob Myers and the front office wants to see the development of the franchise. If they are more in a “win now” mode, it would make sense to use an asset like Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson to get someone closer to their peak while Iguodala, Bogut, and Lee are still close to theirs. In terms of winning a championship with those guys, such a transaction seems necessary.
If on the other hand the timetable of contention is either longer than the next few seasons or actually later rather than now, shifting a couple of older players for younger ones would help make that peak higher assuming normal aging patterns. After all, David Lee will be 33 when the season after his current contract expires so his value to the organization (and hopefully his salary if he comes back) will be much more limited.
The third path would be the unusual model of replacing aging players with younger ones to maintain a general level of quality (the Spurs have done something similar with the expanded role of Kawhi Leonard) but the problem there usually comes from weakening the peak to sustain for a longer period.
What the Warriors do in the next week will tell us a ton about where they see the peak of this team now and moving forward.
The Week to Come:
Even with a narrower timetable of games thanks to the All-Star break, the Warriors have a pretty huge week ahead of them. Their first game back will be on the road in Sacramento (and a likely ornery DeMarcus Cousins after not being selected) on Wednesday followed by hosting the Rockets the next night with the trade deadline in between.
A 2-0 week would be nice (I am expecting 1-1) but the deadline could mean more than either game.