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Warriors Evolution (long) or a not so short summary of the state of the Warriors
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Posted by g-drive on 2008-07-28 08:58:54

There is too much short-term thinking on this board, maybe because long-term plans over the past decade and a half have not turned out so great, but I digress.

This is a flexible, talented team. There are no horrible contracts. None of the recent contracts were doled out solely based on potential. A 20 pt scorer is worth about $10 mil a year. A 7-footer that averages 10/10 is worth $9 mil a year. You could probably argue that Turiaf and Buke were paid a bit on potential, but Turiaf definitely brings something that this team needed and Buke tossed in 30 a couple times and had a few double-doubles last year, so banking on his potential is hardly unfounded.

The way I see it, there are 6 big question marks from this offseason: Should they have kept Baron? Why Maggette for $10 mil? Can Monta play the 1? Where's the D? Nellie's future? Where does BWright fit in?

The Baron in the room

I love reading about how the Warriors should have paid Baron the $65 mil. I love Baron Davis, but that is not a good investment. He's a flawed star. Too stubborn to realize he can hurt the team as easily as he can help it with his unconscious hoisting and petty one-up-manship mindset. His attitude is part of what makes him great, but it also made him a sub-par teammate.

I just made case for not resigning him without even mentioning his injury history and his suspect dedication to keeping his body in top shape for the entirety of that next contract. I also didn't mention how much he wanted to go home, and at 28, with his mileage and his injury history, I think he knew this would be the last chance he would have at playing in LA.

So could he have been had for $65 mil by the Warriors? I say no possible way. Once he opted out, he was not coming back. That's why his departure was so amicable. Mully and Nellie knew there was nothing they could do.

Maggette

No one likes Maggette. He is a selfish, one-dimensional player. But he's pretty efficient with that one-dimension. If you simply replaced Baron's ability to get to the line with Maggette's you would come out ahead.

But why $50 mil when his only offers were the MLE and why does the team even need him?

It happened quickly, so people didn't notice, but as soon as Brand went to Philly, things changed with regard to Maggette. Everyone assumed Maggette was gone from the Clips, but they never renounced him. To sign Baron and Brand they would have had to renounce him, but that never happened. So, the Clips could have offered Maggette more money to stay, which he said they did before he signed with the Warriors, or the Clips could have worked a sign and trade to get him more money from one of the teams that offered him the MLE (provided they got value in return). So the Warriors were not competing with just the MLE.

So why does the team need a selfish scorer? Because he can score by himself. Monta will have a lot on his plate, carrying the team offensively all the time might be asking a bit much. Here's a guy in Maggette that will replace Baron's scoring with very little help from anyone else. He doesn't have to be set up, he just needs the ball. That takes a lot of pressure off Monta. I wasn't thrilled by the signing, I also preferred they go after Iggy or Smith, but I think that the team felt Monta would be their biggest offseason investment and if they were to strike out on the RFAs, they would leave too much on Monta's shoulders. They had to make a decisive move, and not be forced to wait for another team to make a decision (which had a high probability of not working out in the Warriors favor). Which begs the question of why is Monta so important?

Monta

Anyone who watched games last year could see who the most dynamic player on the floor was. Monta gets to the rim effortlessly. And he finishes with incredible consistency. And there are still areas for him to grow. With his first step, he can be a better distributor. With his shot, he can be a better 3 pt shooter. With his handle he can be a better ball handler. With his quickness he can be a better defender. As good as he is, he can be better.

Can he be a true PG? Probably not. Most think it is something you are born with. He has a scorer's mentality. But you know, Baron was a true PG, but how often did he squash that impulse to take over games? Everyone but Baron could tell that if he focused more on being a PG the team would be better off. Monta has already shown he can play within his limits. He doesn't jack 3s and he reduced his TOs while keeping his assists steady from his second to third year.

So what is the difference between Baron being a true PG, but choosing to focus on scoring while Monta is a true scorer choosing to focus on distributing?

Nellie is not stupid. Monta's PG duties will consist of occasionally bringing the ball up and running the pick and roll. Both things he did plenty of last year. The only question mark is how they deal with the fast break.

Defense and the starting 5

Before I move on to D, let me address that fast break question. The biggest problem with Monta at the one is who throws him the ball when he is on one of those patented one-man fast breaks? The starting lineup needs more ball handlers to get Monta the ball past the half court line on missed shots. That is why I think Anthony Randolph starts at the 4.

That notion also plays into the next two questions on Nellie and BWright, but let's talk about D first.

Here's the starting 5: Monta, Jax, Mags, Randolph, AB. Skinny group, with the exception of Maggette, but also a very long group.

Compare that to the starting lineups of last year: Baron, Monta, Jax, Harrington, AB or any number of small lineups that put the team's best defender Jax on the other team's PF.

We all know how Baron's interest in D could come and go, but if Monta defended the 1 and Baron the 2, and everyone else their opposite number that D was not that great.

With this new lineup Jax and Mags can swap allowing Jax to take the better offensive wing. Randolph and AB are long and quick help defenders. The biggest weakness is one-on-one inside, but help will come from equally long (Jax) and quick (Monta) or strong (Mags) players.

And, Randolph has to be a better rebounder than Harrington. And Jax's lack of rebounding will be less noticed if he plays the 2.

At worst, the D of this starting lineup is the same as last year, but I think it will be better.

Nellie's future

That starting lineup happens because Nellie is at the helm. He'll see Randolph as a big mismatch with his ability to take big guys off the dribble and the ability to push the ball on the break.

But, the team has to think about life after Nellie. Randolph might be playing PF, but he will be developing his SF skills in Nellie's offense. Nellie is going to play a certain style to win games, it will emphasize running and offense. But the players can fit into a conventional system as well. IMO, we won't see the full potential of Biedrins until Nellie retires, then we will see a guy who has a quickness advantage over almost every center in the league. An efficient 15 and 10 is not out of the question.

The team has young players lined up at every position, Williams at PG, Belli and Buke at SG, Randolph at SF, Wright and Hendrix at PF, and Turiaf at C. Most of that crew figures to be the second unit, with the exception of Wright, who will have to fight with likely sixth man Harrington.

Wright

Wright has talent, but he's not ready to play a conventional PF. But Nellie doesn't particularly like conventional PFs anyway. BWright will have to bide his time on this team next year. With Randolph's skill set, Nellie will choose him over BWright every time. The team could deal him, but Wright would have a future role.

If he focuses on getting stronger, improving his post game and his range, he'll be in line to be the PF when Nellie retires. A front line of AR, Wright and AB could be pretty dynamic if any of them can beef up a bit.

It seems the only way people would have been satisfied with this offseason is if Baron re-upped for like 3 years at $45 mil (which Baron would not have), we acquired one of the RFAs (which was not realistic, which high profile RFAs have switched teams in the last few years?), or we traded for a superstar (Kobe, Lebron, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul are not available).

The team has a nice core of quality players. None of them are outrageously overpaid (ie. Damp, Foyle, Murphy, Dunleavy), and most of them still have a lot of untapped potential, so reimagining the team after seeing them play for a few months is not out of the question.

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