Catching Up with Some Old Friends: Ex-Warriors Around the League
There’s really no high-minded purpose to this article. Sometimes it’s fun to simply find out what some of our favorite—or least-favorite—Golden State Warriors of yesteryear are up to these days. And there’s a long list of lovable headcases and goofy role players kicking around the league who used to don the blue and gold.
Let’s catch up with some of them! (The first of these players are, selfishly, listed in the order of “guys I like best.” After that, we’ll go alphabetically. Deal with it.)
Monta Ellis (G, Dallas Mavericks)
Much has been made this year about Monta’s long-awaited turn away from his “black hole of inefficiency” days. It probably helps to be coached by a guy whose entire philosophy revolves around maximizing his players’ strengths rather than a speed-obsessed madman like Don Nelson. Swapping Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova for Jose Calderon and Dirk Nowitzki probably helped too.
Ellis has found a home in Dallas, where he has the Mavericks in the playoff hunt behind a monstrously efficient offense. (They’re ranked fourth in the league in offensive efficiency.) And Monta’s been the heart of it all. He drives to the hoop relentlessly, and he’s been successful both scoring the ball (as of this writing, 7.4 points per game and 50.9 percent shooting on drives) and dishing it (5.8 assists per game, mostly off of drive-and-kicks).
He’s cooled off significantly from his hot start, but Ellis has continued to shoot fairly well from midrange. And though he continues to be a terrible three-point shooter (seriously, 23.8 percent on above-the-break threes), he’s managed to cut his volume of three point shots in half.
Simply put, Ellis is playing the best ball of his career since his pre-Moped glory days in Oakland. Good job, Monta!
Nate Robinson (G, Denver Nuggets)
Lil’ Nate, sadly, is out for the rest of the season with a torn left ACL.
As basketball fans, we all should be very sad about this. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that Nate Robinson is what makes America great. Apple pie, hot dogs, Fourth of July, Nate Robinson. C’mon—look at this guy!
Lil’ Nate’s the best. Get better soon!
Alright—now that we’ve discussed the best former Warriors, we’re going alphabetical.
Lou Amundson (F/C, New Orleans Pelicans)
Yes, the ponytail is still in the league. And he’s still pretty bad at basketball, god bless his heart. Notably, he’s somehow averaging 9.6 fouls per 36 minutes. Pretty impressive stuff.
Matt Barnes (G/F, Los Angeles Clippers)
You probably forgot that Matt Barnes played for the Warriors, didn’t you? Don’t worry about it; I get it. Including Golden State, he’s played for eight different teams during his ten-year career, and his two-year stint in Oakland took place almost a decade ago. But just remember this: there aren’t too many players left from the “We Believe” team that are still kicking around the league and contributing at a reasonably high level. He’s one of them.
Barnes is certainly contributing this year for the Clippers, albeit at a lower level than previous years. His efficiency numbers are pretty mediocre (as of this writing, 10 PER, 102 ORtg, 106 DRtg), but it’s hard not to blame the retina he tore earlier this year for some of his shooting woes.
Marco Belinelli (G, San Antonio Spurs)
Ah, Marco Jordan—I wrote a little bit about him last week. Marco recently won the Three-Point Shootout at All Star Weekend, and he’s been a revelation in the Spurs’ motion offense.
According to SportVU camera data, of rotation players playing at least 20 minutes per game this year and having scored at least 100 points in catch-and-shoot situations, Belinelli remains in the top three shooters by percentage, at 50.4 percent (48.1 percent from three).
Overall, at the time of this writing, he’s shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from three, and having the most efficient—and best—season of his career.
Andris “Beans” Biedrins (C, Utah Jazz)
Beans makes me sad. He ascended quickly during the “We Believe” years and has been on an absolutely brutal downhill slide ever since. Free throw issues aside, he generally played competently in his limited minutes for last year’s playoff squad, showing consistent effort on the glass and on defense.
Beans was a major part of the Warriors’ summertime salary dump, when the team sent its 2017 first and second round draft picks to Utah to clear space for Andre Iguodala. It’s hard to blame the team or the front office, but it’s a sad end for a guy who at one point seemed destined for great things. And he’s still only 27!
Biedrins has played a grand total of 45 minutes this year for the Jazz, who are just waiting for the end of the year when his $9 million contract expires. Here’s to hoping a team in need of a serviceable center picks him up on the cheap.
Jamal Crawford (G, Los Angeles Clippers)
Jamal Crawford didn’t play for the Warriors for long—only about two-thirds of a season—but he played a lot, starting all 54 games he played for the team and averaging 38.6 minutes per game. He wasn’t particularly good, though. Crawford played for the Dubs during Monta’s moped travails, acting as a low-rent, worse version of our little speedball. Streaky as all hell, bad defense, poor efficiency numbers, tons of chucking; that’s Jamal.
Crawford hasn’t reformed his game, but has recast his career as a sort of Vinnie Johnson [LINK: http://youtu.be/a0Oy0J5UCKE] 2.0—a super sub who does nothing but shoot. Relentlessly. Due to Chris Paul’s shoulder injury, Crawford saw an uptick in his minutes during January and responded positively.
But still, he’s been the same player since he joined the league and has had nearly the same season stats-wise for thirteen years: ~18 points, ~3 assists, and league-average shooting percentages. At least he’s consistent.
Toney Douglas (G, Miami Heat)
Pretty Toney hasn’t had a great year. He was misused on the Warriors, but he might’ve preferred that to his place on the Heat. Toney’s mired on the bench behind his 3-and-D doppelgangers Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, both of whom are much more familiar with Eric Spoelstra’s schemes.
Making matters worse, Douglas has been atrocious when he’s seen the floor. Though on the bright side, it’s hard to draw any firm conclusions from his paltry 30 minutes of total play time since the trade.
Mike Dunleavy, Jr. (G/F, Chicago Bulls)
Mike Dunleavy is seeing the most playing time he’s seen in years for this year’s Bulls squad. Unfortunately, it’s because the entire team seems to be under the influence of some sort of voodoo hex.
Regardless, consistent with his career trajectory he’s been decent—no better, no worse—in his time on the floor. He’s putting up per-game averages of 10.9 points, 4 boards, and 2.1 assists on 43.3 percent shooting (37.3 percent from three). Come to think of it, it’s actually pretty good considering the Bulls’ offense is held together by chewing gum and scotch tape.
Derek Fisher (G, Oklahoma City Thunder)
Derek Fisher is somehow still in the league, and is somehow still getting minutes on a very good Oklahoma City Thunder squad. In his 16 minutes per game, Fisher has played about as well as an octogenarian could. He’s shooting a respectable 39.2 percent from three and provides strong—bicep-wise—veteran leadership off the bench.
Al Harrington (F, Washington Wizards)
I honestly thought Al Harrington had retired. Turns out he’s just been dealing with a severe knee injury and the resulting rehab—go figure. He’ll be back this year in a limited role for the Wizards.
Jarrett Jack (G, Cleveland Cavaliers)
I’ll try not to belabor the point here: Jack has been absolutely terrible since signing with Cleveland in the offseason. All of his numbers are down and he’s looked completely lost in Mike Brown’s ‘system.’
It was hard to blame him for the move because the Cavs were able to offer so much more money—$6.3 million per year for four years—but it was still sad to see him go after he gave so much to last year’s Dubs squad. It’s sadder to see him play for this woeful Cleveland team.
Stephen “Captain Jack” Jackson (G/F, Free Agent)
Fat. Ate himself out of a job with the Clippers earlier this season. Moving on.
Antawn Jamison (F, Free Agent)
Antawn Jamison is clearly too old to play NBA basketball at this point. Never a good defender, now he’s a severe liability on offense too. He has appeared in only 22 games this season and has been gross in that time: 31.5 percent from the field, 19.5 percent from three, and nothing else to speak of, really.
He was moved to Atlanta at the trade deadline and eventually waived.
Richard Jefferson (G/F, Utah Jazz)
This quote about Bazemoring and other fun celebrations comes from a Grantland preseason preview, courtesy of Kent Bazemore:
At first, (teammates) were like, ‘Look, sit down. You’re doing too much over there.’ But I just kept doing it and then all of a sudden you have Carl Landry and Draymond Green getting up and into it … Richard Jefferson was probably the only person who didn’t really buy into the whole thing, but everybody else — D-Lee (David Lee) and Steph (Curry) — whenever we were getting minutes and they were on the sideline they would do it. … They love it now, and it’s blowing up.
Come on, man. Richard Jefferson is the worst. And now he’s the worst in a starting role for the tanking Jazz. It’s actually a brilliant move on Utah’s part: as the Warriors found out during last year’s playoffs, there’s no better or easier way to lose a game than to get late-era Jefferson involved.
Carl Landry (F, Sacramento Kings)
Like Jack, Carl “Spin Cycle” Landry left the Warriors this summer for a team uniquely inappropriate for his skillset. He spent most of the early season injured and has been underwhelming in limited time since his return on January 19th. Let’s hope he turns it around as the year continues on, since Landry seems like a great guy (not like that killjoy R-Jeff).
Jeremy Lin (G, Houston Rockets)
Linsanity is long-dead, and Jeremy Lin has yet to come into his own since signing with Houston two summers ago. That’s not to say he’s been bad. Rather, he’s been tasked with secondary ball-handling and spot-up duties when playing with James Harden and providing an offensive spark off the bench as the team’s sixth man.
That’s all well and good, but the Rockets were probably hoping for more when the team signed Lin to an enormous contract. Unfortunately, as long as he’s not the team’s primary facilitator, he’s unlikely to recapture the glory of his year in New York.
Anthony Morrow (G/F, New Orleans Pelicans)
Anthony Morrow’s just doing Anthony Morrow things down in the Bayou. He’s dropping threes at a 48.2 percent clip and not doing much else. Classic Morrow.
Anthony Randolph (F/C, Denver Nuggets)
Randolph is as inconsistent as ever as one of Denver’s bench bigs. Given significant time, he’ll put up numbers, but they tend to be fairly empty. It’s unfortunate, too. Anthony Randolph has all the tools to be a fantastic two-way player; he just can’t seem to put it all together.
Jason Richardson (G/F, Philadelphia 76ers)
Jason Richardson is nominally playing for the Philadelphia Supertanks, but has been sidelined for the entire year so far after knee surgery. During his recovery, it appears like he indulged in some of Philly’s finer delicacies. (He’s fat.)
Brandon Rush (G/F, Utah Jazz)
Brandon Rush is great. He’s neither good enough nor consistent enough to be an everyday starter, but he has the 3-and-D skillset to be a very good bench wing.
Unfortunately for Rush, the Jazz don’t seem terribly interested in bringing him along as he recovers from last year’s knee surgery. It makes sense given the tank-a-thon going on over in Salt Lake City, but still; it’s sad.
Ish Smith (G, Phoenix Suns)
After Eric Bledsoe went down earlier this season, Smith stepped into Phoenix’s backup ballhandling role. He’s averaging the most minutes of his career (13.3 per game) and has been about what you’d expect during that time: quick and disruptive on defense, completely unable to hit a shot on offense.
Ronny Turiaf (F/C, Minnesota Timberwolves)
Remember Ronny? He was doing Bazemore stuff when Kent was still roaming the halls of junior high.
Turiaf has been in and out of Minnesota’s lineup all year. He went down with an elbow fracture in early November and didn’t make his return until early January. He’s been spot-starting for Nikola Pekovic since late January, but is now out again indefinitely with a bone bruise in his knee.
Jeremy Tyler (F/C, New York Knicks)
Tyler’s been kicking around the league for a few years now, jumping back and forth between the big show and the D-League. He’s currently pulling garbage-time minutes with the Knicks where, as usual, he’s had a couple of good games—Dunks! Blocks!—and a bunch more where he looks utterly lost on both sides of the ball.
CJ Watson (G, Indiana Pacers)
Indiana brought in CJ Watson over the summer in an attempt to shore up their backup point guard slot after DJ Augustin flamed out spectacularly. His numbers are down a bit from last year, no doubt in part due to Lance Stephenson’s improvement as a ballhandler and playmaker.
Brandan Wright (F/C, Dallas Mavericks)
Brandan Wright is an interesting player. He’s skinny as a rail and gets pushed around relentlessly by bigger players in the post. But he’s so tall, and his arms so long, that he’s actually quite good as a weakside help defender. And let’s not even get started on his offensive game—he never seems to miss.
Wright’s per-36 numbers are pretty ridiculous (18.8 points, 8.5 boards, 1.0 steals, 1.6 blocks), and his efficiency numbers sparkle. Had he not missed significant time earlier this season, he’d be among the league’s leaders in a variety of efficiency stats.
His 23.7 PER would put him tenth in the league, just ahead of Steph Curry. His effective field goal percentage is an insane 66 percent, which would be good for second in the league behind DeAndre Jordan. His true shooting percentage is 68.5 percent, well ahead of Kyle Korver, LeBron James, and Kevin Durant, all of whom are well ahead of the rest of the league.
One day he’ll get his rightful due.
Dorell Wright (G/F, Portland Trail Blazers)
Dorell Wright’s career has been in a tailspin since he broke out with the Warriors during the 2010-11 season. His numbers dropped meaningfully in 2011-12, but that may have been more an artifact of a severe dip in playing time than poor play on his part. (He averaged 38.4 minutes and 14.0 shots per game in 2010-11, with 27.0 minutes and 8.6 shots per game in 2011-12.)
That said, his minutes dropped because he played horribly in the early season and Coach Keith Smart never seemed to fully trust him thereafter. He was moved to Philly during summer 2012 and had a thoroughly mediocre year. Wright signed with Portland this past summer, where he’s played poorly in limited minutes.