Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Warriors get their guy, hire Steve Kerr as new head coach

After Stan Van Gundy opted for "total control" in Detroit, the Golden State Warriors had to scramble for a man that Joe Lacob (or should I say, Bob Myers) seem to have wanted all along.

In a stunning turn of events, Steve Kerr took two steps to the east before realizing the Warriors' situation was more lucrative.  Many of us saw Kerr as a lock for the New York Knicks' vacancy.  The expectations were and are low, he could re-work the roster up, and one of his friends and former head coach is the team president.  So what changed his mind?

Lacob, Myers, and the rest of the GSW braintrust reportedly made a final push last night by flying out to Oklahoma City before Kerr's telecast. Whatever was exchanged then must've been it.  The reported five-years, $25 million must've been it.  A more talented roster must've been it.  And if you want to talk ownership, James Dolan is despised by many around the association so the idea of Kerr coaching under him may have no thrilled him much.

The uncertainty around these parts are justified, though.  The Warriors just fired a broadcaster-turned-coach after two back-to-back playoff appearances and a 51-win season.  Now they've turned around and hired a broadcaster-turned-coach.

If you're still struggling to put the puzzle together, let's recap the Mark Jackson fiasco within three characters:

Ego.

With rumors that Jackson often clashed with those on the bench and up in the front office, it's no wonder Mark didn't survive.  Lacob has an ago larger than Corey Maggette's forehead without the headband.  With Kerr, there isn't much to worry about with personality clash.  He seems to be a genuine person with a coaching philosophy you could work with.  Of course, that can change once his tires finally get some mileage on them.

It will be interesting going forward to see who Kerr decides to surround himself with.  We've seen player-turned-coach guys like Jackson and Jason Kidd bring in seasoned veterans; only to watch them depart for another vacancy or be dismissed by the man that brought them in.  Jackson did it with Darren Erman and Brian Scalabrine.  He saw Michael Malone mutually move to Sacramento, although, reports say their egos clashed often.  Kidd dismissed Lawrence Frank due to "a difference in philosophies."

Who Kerr hires as assistants will pivotal in how he wants to orchestrate this team, especially if he will bring the triangle with him to this offense.

If Kerr does, indeed, run the triangle and the player's buy in, it could work wonders for a roster that struggled to hold on to the ball with a league high 17.3 tpg.  It'd invoke more ball movement as, according to Sports VU, the Warriors were the third slowest team in the league to move the ball.  It'd cycle the rock enough to where it could potentially limit Curry's turnovers.  It would also benefit the passing ability of Andrew Bogut and David Lee, as their talents were showcased in spurts, but not as much as they should have.  The biggest beneficiary could be Harrison Barnes, who works well as a slasher.

There is no guarantee Kerr will be successful, but if he is to survive in the Bay Area, he must win now.  The transition of Jackson to Kerr won't sit well with many unless the offense is cleaned up and the Warriors make a deep playoff run.  The pressure is on.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Warriors, Mark Jackson's adjustments overshadowed by Donald Sterling's "distraction"

I won't go into the Donald Sterling issue much.  That's for those parties to handle.  I'm disappointed to hear what has transpired, although it isn't the worst the man has done.  Aside from the words exchanged, he just handed the NBPA the perfect opportunity to expand their voice and the commissioner an early opportunity to establish his own identity.  But enough about that, as there was a basketball game played today, whether you believed it should've been played or not.

It's unfortunate the recent events of Sterling took away from performance today.  Did the Los Angeles Clippers look like they were distracted?  You can make a case.  However, Mark Jackson made a case in response.  Before this "distraction" broke, Jackson ran a line up of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, and Stephen Curry back in Game 3 (sub David Lee for Barnes, as well).  That squad was able to cut back into the Clippers' 20+ point deficit and shave it to single digits.  And despite the Golden State Warriors going on to lose that game, it clicked in Jackson's head (with the advice of Jermaine O'Neal, per MJax), it was time to go small.

Jackson ran out the starting line up of...

Lee
Green
Iguodala
Thompson
Curry.

The end result? A 118-97 win in Game 4 to tie the series up 2-2 going into the pivotal Game 5.  The Warriors going with the small line up ... hmm, looks familiar.

The issues in Game 2 and 3 were simple.  The paint was clogged for dribble penetration, which forced the Warriors' slashers to settle for perimeter shots.  Spacing is key for a fluid offensive flow.  If the Warriors want to utilize Lee's passing ability, Green's screening ability, Barnes' slashing ability, Iguodala's offensive awareness, and Thompson's and Curry's shooting, that's how the team must move on going forward.

It pulls DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin out of the paint on defense.  It opens lanes for the Warriors to attack and expose.  It's what gave the Denver Nuggets problems and even the San Antonio Spurs, at times.

Of course, you can't completely credit the coaching.  Some calls need to go your way, which in the Warriors case, it did often.  And the players need to execute; word to Mark Jackson.

The new found land gave Curry enough room to pull the trigger and he got going on early and often.  He is their catalyst offensively; there's no doubt in that.  If he can preheat the oven, the rest will cook.

Aside from Klay's stubborness on the defensive side, he was able to drain some buckets and find a land to slash and hammer one home on Glen Davis.  Andre Iguodala had his best overall game of the series.  He's been there defensively, but Jackson challenged Iguodala to be more aggressive offensively and he delivered the correct dosage.  Lee battled tough on all accounts after promising he'd play better in Game 4.  His hustle, with the help of all 5 white jerseys, secured defensive rebound after defensive rebound.  Green added a little bit of everything, but the man who really benefitted from the line up was Harrison Barnes.

His activity on both ends was terrific.  He hustled back defensively, especially on a Clippers' fast break where he was able to steal the ball back from Matt Barnes.  He continued to slash and found his stroke from beyond the arc when the ball cycled to him.  Playoffs Barnes back?!  If the Warriors keep playing small, that just may be so.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mark Jackson isn't going anywhere, for now

The 2013-2014 regular season for the Golden State Warriors has been every bit of weird.  Underachieving, losses to bad teams, wins to top teams, marriage proposals in the last rows of Club 200, Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson's awkward relationship ... the list goes on to the point where I almost forgot Toney Douglas was on the team to start the year.

Furthering one of those points, the Joe Lacob / Mark Jackson saga intensified after Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski decided to drop a "Woj bomb."  It's an interesting twist considering the timing of it all, but in summary, it helps make sense of events throughout the season.  Let's recap a few strange occurrences...

February 10, 2014 - Mark Jackson reports Andrew Bogut "must've hurt his shoulder sleeping."

February 11, 2014 - Joe Lacob with a weak endorsement of Mark Jackson...
-Q: Are you happy with the job Mark Jackson and his staff is doing?
-LACOB: I think you’re always evaluating everybody, whether it be the players, the coaches… It’s hard to know, if you don’t quite win a few games you should, is it the coach’s fault? Is it the players’ fault? It’s hard to say.
I think we’ll have to look back on a body of work at the end of the season and look at that and make an evaluation.
I do think our coach has done a good job–we have had some big wins, a lot of wins on the road, and that’s usually a sign of good coaching.
But some things are a little disturbing–the lack of being up for some of these games at home, that’s a concern to me.
March 25, 2014 - Mark Jackson reassigns Brian Scalabrine to the Santa Cruz Warriors.

Definitely some oddities there.  The comments on Andrew Bogut only became strange because Mark Jackson decided to blast the media after.  Lacob not giving Jackson the vote of confidence to Tim Kawakami raises eyebrows.  And of course, the reassignment of Scal news has every Warriors fan and reporter running around like wild dogs after moving vehicles.

My theory on this Scalabrine news: It's much ado about nothing.  We may not find out what happened between them for a long time, but it sounds as if Scal was being insubordinate and Jackson did what he needed to do.  End of story.

The underachieving is what's really killing fans' vibes, although when was the last time fans didn't overrate their teams?

If you're looking for an angle to oust Jackson out as head coach, you should start looking elsewhere.  Jackson has done a tremendous job since his near 3 year span.  He preaches a culture change has occurred every chance he can get whether or not you mind his repetitive nature.  He's just stating facts.  The defensive efficiency has increased even higher than this year under him despite folks clamoring to the idea Michael Malone did everything last season...

- They rank Top 10 in 11 of 20 scoring defensive categories.
- 3rd in the NBA in defensive efficiency (0.989).
- Rank Top 5-10 in shooting defensive categories such as opponent shooting %, true shooting %, three and two point rates.
- Top 3 in defensive rebounding.

(via teamrankings.com)

The face of the franchise continues to publicly endorse MJax and I'm pretty sure that kinda sorta really counts for something nowadays.  And if not Jackson, then who?  Pete Myers?  Darren Erman? Brian Scalabrine?  Tom Thibodeau?  If you think Thibs is Oakland bound, I'd like to hear an explanation of how that would happen (if you don't know, Thibs is not a fan of Chicago's potential "rebuild" phase).  The players love playing for Jackson.  Dwight Howard almost came to Golden State because of him.  Andre Iguodala signed here because of him.  You want a better strategist?  Consistent rotations?  Who's available that would be that, keep the defensive intensity in tact, and still hold the respect of the players?

Jackson is under fire.  He's felt the pressure all year.  It shouldn't surprise anyone that he explored the Los Angeles Clippers' and Brooklyn Nets' vacancies.  He's about to enter the final year of his deal with the team next season with no guarantees of an extension coming.  If there is, it won't be until this summer, but after everything that has transpired, it's tough to predict if it will happen if the team doesn't get out of the first round.  The media is watching his every move and listening to his every word.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Warriors climb out of luxury tax hell and improve roster

Bob Myers just keeps filing in the role players. Yesterday, it was PF/C Marreese Speights. Today, it's PG Toney Douglas and C Jermaine O'Neal.

The Warriors have overhauled nearly half their roster that burdened them financially and flipped it for flexibility. Are you freakin' kidding me? A Warriors front office team did this? PINCH ME, I'M DREAMING.

Speights signed for a three-year deal with the third year being a team option. He adds a smooth mid-range game where the Warriors will likely run pick-and-pop plays for him. He's an upgrade on the boards over Carl Landry, as his rebounding rate totals, per Hoopdata, hover around 16% while Landry's is about 13%. Speights stands at 6'11" with a wingspan that will disrupt shots in the paint. His defense is suspect, but we've seen worse and Landry's was no better in that retrospect. Marreese's inability to rotate and space out is an issue, but that is nothing Mark Jackson can't disguise. He did it last year for the Warriors' bigs up until after the All-Star break when teams compromised them.

Douglas signed for a one-year deal for $1.6 million. He is not an offensive guard, but that is a non-issue on this team full of them. Douglas will be counted on to do two things: spell Curry for a brief span and slow down opponents such as Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Ty Lawson, and Tony Parker. His defense is pesky and disrupts opposing players' rhythm offensively. In the four meetings between the Warriors and Kings last season, per Ethan Strauss, Curry shot 11-41 from the field when Douglas was on the floor. I saw two of those games live; one at Sleep Train and the other at Oracle. Curry wasn't precise in either game (mainly the game in Oracle) and if you looked up his stats for the game in Sacramento, it wasn't until the fourth quarter when he strung some shots together. Jackson was notorious last season for using his situational line ups and adding Douglas will allow him to go Iguodala-Thompson-Douglas to cool off their opponent's perimeter action.

O'Neal also joins on a one-year deal. He's been in the league for 18 years now and his game is limited to rebounding and defensive congestion; the correct role for the man who will eventually fall into the 5th rotation spot among the Warriors' front court once Festus Ezeli returns. The positive of this signing is also that no matter the circumstance with Bogut, O'Neal won't have to expand his role much due to the Warriors infatuation with a lineup composed of three guards and a wing.

The common theme is here that Myers plugged in competent role players for cheap deals this far into free agency. Front court players of Speights' and O'Neal's services usually aren't available around this time, but a growing culture of camaraderie and winning has garnered their attention. A bench of Barnes or Thompson, Green, Speights, Bazemore, O'Neal, Douglas, Ezeli (when he returns), Nedovic or Kuzmic to compliment the Warriors starting unit on paper is an upgrade over last year's substitutes.

If you presume the Warriors maintain their winnings ways past 2017, that would mean the Warriors' first round draft position will remain in the high 20s. Standard first rounders from picks 24 to 30 sign for just under one million. Second rounders are considerably lower at non-guaranteed deals. On that note, here is rough estimate of what the Warriors front office just did...

$20 million in dead weight (Biedrins and Jefferson) + $4 million in recovering-from-ACL-tear (Rush) + $2 million in two future first round picks (2014 & 2017) + $51 million in last year's super subs (Jack and Landry)

FOR

$48 million in leadership (Iguodala) + $12 million in cheap role players (Speights, Douglas, O'Neal).

Keep in mind, the terms of Speights' and O'Neal's deals have yet to be disclosed, but it's a guesstimate factoring in what's left of the Warriors MLE. That's nearly $17 million off the table in thanks to the front office's active aggressiveness to retain their ability to progress forward towards a potential top three spot in the Western Conference. Bravo, FO. Bravo.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Iguodala becomes Warriors' consolation prize in Dwight 'Decision'

So Dwight Howard didn't become a Warrior after all, but that's no biggie. A world where Dwight-Lee-Barnes-Thompson-Curry could've rued the Western Conference is of the daydreaming past. A world of Bogut-however you want to adjust the 2-3-4 spots-Curry is of the present.

That's right. Nuggets "snitch," er, former Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala signed with the Warriors for four-years, $48 million. That's after the Kings offered him four-years, $52 million (then rescinded) and five-years, $60 million from the Nuggets.

Wait, a player just signed with Golden State for less because he WANTED TO PLAY HERE?! HIGH FIVE, STEPH!


To get Iguodala, the Warriors sent Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, a 2014 and 2017 1st Rounder, and two future 2nd rounders to the Utah Jazz. They also had to renounce Carl Landry's and Jarrett Jack's Bird Rights. It sounds steep, but in translation: the Warriors traded away two picks that potentially will be late first rounders, two non-guaranteed deal picks, two scrubs with expiring deals, and Rush, who sounds like he's looking to cashout next summer after witnessing the deals guys like OJ Mayo and Tyreke Evans received.

Iggy should prove to be a great fit for the Dubs. He's a two-time gold medalist and elite perimeter defender, who gave Curry all sorts of problems during the playoffs this past year when he was assigned to him. Klay was the Warriors' lone decent perimeter defender. He can pass and drive, two things both Barnes and Thompson still need to improve on. And that's an important trait to have with this team. Iggy is not a trigger happy point-forward. He'll do what Jarrett Jack more often than not did; find the open man.

The signing also shows that the Warriors could be going for it now. The Warriors were a potentially top four team last year when healthy and now they're banking on their backcourt and wing play to push them even further. As Bob Myers once said, teams with depth are great, but only five players are on the court at a time, so your top 7-8 guys are the ones that dictate how high you soar or how far you fall. Bogut-Lee-Iguodala-Thompson-Curry-Barnes-Green-Ezeli will be just that.

The acquisition also moves either Klay or Harrison to the bench, but that shouldn't be an issue as their minutes shouldn't fluctuate much. They'll get their share of minutes, especially in crunch time. We may even see a line up with Bogut or Lee at the 5 with Barnes as the stretch 4, with Iggy, Klay, and Curry preceding.

The Warriors depth is now: Barnes or Thompson, Draymond Green, Festus Ezeli (injured until at least Dec), Kent Bazemore, Dwayne Jones, Kevin Murphy (from UTA trade), and Scott Machado. It's pretty thin and Jones, Murphy, and Machado likely will be cut. There's still Warriors rookie Nemanja Nedovic and last year's draft and stash Ognjen Kuzmic, but neither will likely see a significant role if they make the team, so there's still some major holes to fill, especially with Bogut still so fragile, Lee coming off hip surgery, Ezeli out until late 2013, early 2014, and Landry gone to Sacramento. The front court depth needs addressing, but at this point we're likely to see them find someone for the veteran's minimum

In the end, the Warriors are officially a destination spot for players interested in winning. When's the last time you were able to say that? I was barely walking then.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dwight Howard probably isn't walking through that door, and that's okay

Joe Lacob seems to have a knack for sneaking his name in places where people don't see it coming, nor do they believe it belongs. He did it when he nabbed the Warriors last second to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison for $450 million. He did it when he guaranteed playoffs before the 2011-2012 regular season. He did it during Chris Mullin's jersey retirement ceremony where he was booed into oblivion. And he's doing it again, for better or for worse, in a sweepstakes where Dwight Howard awaits as the grand prize, so long as the baggage is left behind, of course.

The Warriors are among five suitors courting sweet ol' Dwight; the Hawks, Mavericks, Rockets, and of course, Lakers being the others. And while the Warriors are the least likely to land Howard due to financials and politics, that hasn't stopped Lacob from pursuing anyway. Golden State sees an opportunity to upgrade at center.

Those financials and politics are a tough obstacle for Golden State to overcome, whereas the others can just sign him and that's that. Per Marcus Thompson, the Warriors can only offer Dwight four years, $88 million in a sign-and-trade deal with the Lakers, which is significantly lower than what the other suitors (Houston in particular) can and will offer.

That's not even half of it.

The Warriors and Lakers will also have to agree upon a trade that works financially and doesn't burden either side in the near future. In that scenario, Andrew Bogut and Andris Biedrins or Richard Jefferson would certainly have to be included because Bogut makes $14.2 million in this final year of his contract and they are are NOT going to pair him with Howard. And just those two along won't be enough. This is why Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes' names are included in the rumors to help sweeten the deal, if you will. Adding in one of the Dubs' talented prospects will be needed to help entice the Lakers to okay a trade, as well as a future pick or two.

(Sidebar: I know, I know. Some, or perhaps, many of you do not want to see Thompson or Barnes shipped out, but when you have a shot to acquire a 6'11", 265 lbs perennial superstar that averages 18/13 for his career and 17/12 in an injury hampered year, you take it without hesitation. Forget his past and trust in Mark Jackson.)

Then there's this...
@gswscribe
Per @Mike_Bresnahan, the Lakers would rather let Dwight Howard walk than sign-and-trade him and pay luxury tax on Bogut, etc.
The Lakers are about $19 million over the cap already (the '13-'14 cap will be roughly $58.5 million). If Howard returns, that luxury tax number will soar higher than the Burj Khalifa, but the Lakers seem content paying a higher tax for Howard than for a center who's health is always suspect.

That tweet alone killed the vibe, but that's fine. In an NBA world where you need to succeed consistently to get your name out there, Joe Lacob is constantly finding ways to plug himself in and get his brand out there. This connection is significant in that the Warriors are willing to spend because they plan on being good for a long, long time. It has to start with building relationships with stars and their agents. Word can spread and they want future free agents to know and understand that Golden State is no longer a layover, but rather a final destination.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Warriors frontcourt depth takes another hit, Ezeli out 6-9 months

Bob Myers is only in his second season as a general manager and he's about to be tested once more with a task to retool the bench without crippling the team's future financially. 

With news breaking today that Festus Ezeli will be out until at least December, the Golden State Warriors now sit in a tough spot with their frontcourt depth. Ezeli offensively was simply a cutter and active offensive rebounder who fought for tip balls to get back out to the backcourt players to grab; ala Tyson Chandler-esque. On the other end, his post defense and defensive rebounding was steadily improving. His skillset can be found in a number of guys, but the Warriors hardly have any wiggle room to make a significant splash, especially when they have other things to worry about financially.

Other than Ezeli, Andrew Bogut's health is an anomaly, Carl Landry has a player option that he will likely opt out of, and Andris Biedrins is still searching for his lost motivation. David Lee currently is the only reliable big man on the roster.

Last draft's draft and stash prospect Ognjen Kuzmić could be a name to look out for in the coming months. The 23-year old, 7'1", 230 lbs center spent last year in Europe with a couple clubs finishing up his contract and now appears to be ready to find a role in the NBA. Scouts have specifically mentioned his improving activity around the boards, despite only averaging 5.5 rpg this past season for FIATC Joventut. We'll get a chance to see him this summer on the Warriors summer league squad.

Should Landry return, it won't be cheap. He only had a $4 million per base salary and is seeking much more. Rightfully so, as Landry is underpaid. And don't forget about the Jarrett Jack situation, either. However, Stephen Curry was able to show his ankle won't always be a nuisance as he played 78 games this past season, so entertaining Jack's return may not be as important to worry about.

The Warriors could also attempt to turn Richard Jefferson and/or Biedrins into something serviceable. With the 2014 free agency potentially deep in talent, teams could be looking to taking on the two Warriors' expirers to free up cap space. And there's always buy low role players on the market like Marreese Speights or DeJuan Blair.

There's ample time between now and training camp for the Warriors to figure it out. All eyes on Myers and co.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Michael Malone leaves Warriors for Sacramento

Mark Jackson's right hand man, Michael Malone, was hired yesterday to be the Sacramento Kings' 25th head coach in franchise history (24th different). Most Warriors fans are familiar with him, particularly because he's one of the reasons this current squad adapted a defensive discipline that had not been accepted in these parts since the ancient times. Other Warriors fans are familiar with Malone because they hate Mark Jackson, which is a ridiculous sentiment to have, but Jackson can shut those naysayers up with sustained success into the 2013-2014 season without Malone's "X's and O's."

The hiring comes to no surprise as the Kings were recently bought by Vivek Ranadivé, a minority owner of the Warriors. And Malone has deserved a head coaching gig for arguably 2 years now. Joe Lacob beat out the Lakers in hiring Malone as an assistant simply by changing a number on the check and GMs around the league voted him the best assistant last season.

His defensive philosophy is no fairy tale. As an assistant for the Cavaliers, their defensive efficiencies (per Hoopdata) ranked inside the top 5 to top 11 during his tenure (yes, Mike Brown is an excellent defensive coach, as well). Under Monty Williams in New Orleans, opponents ppg dropped significantly and opponents FG% funneled down. With Golden State, defensive efficiency improved. Sometimes rankings don't do his work justice. You just have to watch it. Rotations and commitment were there. Teams were actually buying into what he had to preach.

It remains to be seen if the Warriors will miss Malone. There's a lot of uncertainty, sure, but X's and O's coaches are as easy to replace as SGs. How effective they are in comparison is a discussion for another day, but where the Warriors go with Jackson's lead assistant next should tell us how much management believes in their head coach. It's possible Pete Myers will be promoted, as he's already been primed for the job after coaching summer league last year and being more involved in huddles this season.

The most important thing is that the mindset Malone left has been planted. Now it's on the Mark Jackson, his staff, and the players to continue to water the seed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Warriors lack energy as Spurs adjust, go down 3-2

The San Antonio Spurs brought their "A-game" to Game 5, which came to no surprise. The Spurs are a veteran team. They're well coached with veterans who have been there, done that. The Warriors, on the other hand, didn't bring much of a game. Outside of Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes, the Warriors lacked contribution from any other player. Little used veteran Richard Jefferson was called upon and added something for a moment, but then he also reminded us why the Spurs were so willing to part ways with him last year. Even Andris Biedrins received an encore Game 4 entrance from Mark Jackson with Andrew Bogut ailing and Festus Ezeli nonexistent, but the results were as inspiring this time around.

It also didn't help Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined for 6-22 shooting (Klay didn't even attempt a 3) and 6 turnovers. The Warriors just hung around for 3 quarters before the Spurs pulled away midway in the 4th. A "Splash Brothers" run would've been nice and we just waited ... and waited ... and waited, buuuuuuuut to no avail.

That was because the Spurs made a small adjustment.

The physicality remained the same on Stephen Curry throughout. Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard bumping Curry on the ball and checking him on screens was repetitive, but it was what they did offensively on him that was key. If you recall in the first four games of the series, Green or Leonard was assigned to Curry leaving Tony Parker on Klay Thompson. That set up offensive sets where the Warriors would iso on Parker defensively and have either Thompson or Barnes (on the switch) post up. Parker's defensive flaws were exposed. Curry could just shoot the three over him, Klay could attempt the turn around over him, and Barnes could do the same or spin inside for the lay up.

Prior to the start of the game, Curry expressed that his ankle was fine and actually feeling better than it did prior to Game 4. Popovich tested it by playing the "here-is-a-taste-of-your-own-medicine" card.

From the start, the Spurs attacked Curry at will. They'd run high sets to free Parker of Thompson's grasps and into Curry's reach-in-gamble tactics. Next, they had a choice: post up Kawhi on Curry or run Green off screens for a spot up jumper. This resulted in either Curry getting overmatched by Leonard's strength or Curry chasing around Green like kids playing "tag," ultimately wearing Steph down.

Did it really work? I'd say so. Curry looked slow and fatigued. He didn't show much energy on either end of the floor.

Thompson's excuse? Well, in the repetitive words of Mark Jackson, he simply wasn't making shots. He had some good looks, they just didn't go in. That's been the story of Klay offensively through two years in the league. His inconsistency has always been downside and on a night where Curry was getting tagged with lefts and rights to the lower body, Klay went missing offensively to pick up the slack.

Despite the frustrating all-around performance, there was a bright spot and it came from Harrison Barnes; coming fresh out of the news that he had made the NBA All-Rookie 1st Team (the 3rd time in 4 years for a Warrior). Barnes shot 10-18 from the field and had 6 boards. His aggressive play offensively allowed the Warriors to hang around for about 42 minutes. Post ups, isos. Give him the rock and he'll deliver.

Barnes' game has matured gradually over the season, but he didn't truly blossom until round one of the postseason. Now his game is flourishing, mainly due to David Lee's injury (more looks). Watching him break down his defender out of the triple threat is like staring at an assault rifle with a few perks attached to it. Pivot, drive, lay it up, pull up. That's his game and he makes it look so damn smooth.

However, Barnes isos aren't enough. As we've seen in the Warriors' six wins this postseason, it's been a collective team effort. Only two Warriors decided to show up in Game 5 and now they're on the brink of elimination. Although, after every loss, the Warriors have responded mightily (4-0 after losses in the playoffs, 20-15 in regular season) so perhaps the season isn't over yet. But even if it is the end, at least it'll be in front of those that had supported them through an overachieving season.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Bob Myers finishes 7th in EOY voting and I'm not sure why

The results for 2013 Executive of the Year were released today and it was announced that Denver Nuggets General Manager Masai Ujiri won the award. The award is based off of the player transactions made during the summer prior to the start of the season and how they play out (was it a bargain or flop?).

In Ujiri's case, he swung a deal to acquire swingman Andre Iguodala. He only gave up the young Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, a protected first rounder, and a second rounder in the process. Afflalo is a solid player for what he gives you, but he wasn't worth jamming up the cap at $7 million per when they had other financial decisions to tend to. Iggy went on to average 13/5/5 in the season, but he was known more for his perimeter defensive leadership than his scoring. Ujiri also brought back Andre Miller, who's proved to be a serviceable back up despite his age. He also handed out two extensions: one to Ty Lawson, who's quickness has proven to be a nuisance for opposing defenders, and the other to JaVale McGee, who's IQ continues to still be in question, but the skill set remains there and George Karl has demonstrated he knows how to handle those weaknesses.

Just look at where Karl took this team despite the constrained IQ. 57-25, 3rd seed in the Western Conference. Their 38-3 record was the league's best home record. Needless to say, the Ujiri's roster vastly exceeded expectations.

But back to the EOY voting. This is the results...

1. Masai Ujiri, DEN
2. Gary Sacks, LAC
3. Daryl Morey, HOU
4. Glen Grunwald, NYK
5. R.C. Buford, SAS
6. Pat Riley, MIA
7. Bob Myers, GSW

What a travesty that last one was. Golden State Warriors General Manager Bob Myers finished 7th in the voting. SEVENTH. How? Why?

Myers took a 23-43 squad in 2011-2012 and overhauled the roster that ultimately finished 47-35. That's a 24 win difference, folks. The expectations going into the season weren't even postseason aspirations. It was ... let's just see where this young squad goes from here. Myers drafted Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green. He re-signed Brandon Rush for only $8 million. Turned Dorell Wright into a back up PG in Jarrett Jack. And signed Stephen Curry to a 4-year, $44 million extension, which looks like a chump change now after the All-Star season he had. Had Curry not been re-signed for that, he would've received maximum money from someone (Charlotte?) later this summer. Now he's on the books for the next four seasons after this.

Yeah, I'd say that warrants a higher placing among the NBA's executives. I mean...

Pat Riley? Really? Yeah, he brought in Ray Allen and Chris Andersen. But that's about it. Rashard Lewis rarely plays. Sure, the Heat had the best record in the NBA and yes, Allen and Andersen had a significant impact on it, but there's a few guys already there that already put a stamp on why they're so damn good. They're expected to do what they did.

I get Glen Grunwald and Daryl Morey, but R.C. Buford re-signed Tim Duncan for cheap, because Duncan asked to do so. Then plugged in role players here and there into their system. I don't get that. Gary Sacks extended Blake Griffin and brought in Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford. Cool. But Chauncey Billups was playing assistant coach most of the season and Grant Hill and Lamar Odom didn't have much of an impact compared to what the Warriors newcomers did.

Myers should be Top 5, if not Top 3, and that's not subjectively speaking. The Warriors overachieved in a season dictated by Myers' transactions, especially with Andrew Bogut out for about two-thirds of the season. The voters in the process screwed this one up. I'm not sure what those NBA executives with votes were looking at other than what happened in the win column.