Thanks to Ethan Sherwood Strauss for passing this along from Bill Simmons’ latest mailbag column:

UTAH/GOLDEN STATE

The Trade: Golden State traded the Richard Jefferson–Andris Biedrins–Brandon Rush expirings plus unprotected picks in 2014 and 2017 to Utah for cap space, a prolonged handshake and five autographed copies of Karl Malone’s upcoming autobiography, Hunting for Little Mexican Girls.

Retroactive Verdict: The Warriors made that trade to (a) clear enough cap space to sign Andre Iguodala, and (b) contend for the 2014 title. They aren’t contending for the 2014 title, just the “Ridiculously Entertaining, Perpetually Frustrating, Probably Headed For A First-Round Exit And A Coaching Change” title. Everyone wants to play them in Round 1. Everyone.

The Malone joke is a reference to some comment The Mailman supposedly made to Kobe Bryant’s wife years ago. Don’t get hung up on that. The point here is that Simmons has been on a crusade all year to tell you that the Warriors aren’t that great. Which is fine. The Warriors may not be that great. At times they look great; other times they lose to the BobCavs at home. But let’s take a look back at what Simmons said in November.

  • Simmons thinks the Warriors bandwagon is over capacity. (probably true)
  • Harrison Barnes is a guy who’ll “check out” if he only plays 20 mpg. (hmmm … yep)
  • They’re really going to miss Jarrett Jack. (until the Steve Blake trade, absolutely)
  • Toney Douglas is “not good at basketball.” (can’t really disagree)
  • Three teams gave up on Marreese Speights. (maybe he’s onto something)
  • The Warriors are a “bad defensive team.” (about that …)

That’s a pretty good run of analytical points from Simmons about the Warriors. However, it’s safe to say he got the last (and most important) one wrong, since the Warriors are currently third in the NBA in defensive rating, third in field goal percentage defense, and eighth in points allowed — even though their pace is fifth-highest in the Association.

Still, Simmons clearly knows his stuff when it comes to the NBA, and it’s easy to see why he came up with that description in his mailbag piece.

  • Ridiculously Entertaining (when Curry is going off and they’re not stuck in iso-hell, yes)
  • Perpetually Frustrating (longtime Warriors fans are all nodding)
  • Probably Headed For A First-Round Exit (they’ll probably be a bottom-four seed, so by definition this is true)
  • And A Coaching Change (that’s what Matt Steinmetz thinks, but a lot depends on how they do in the first round … plus, who else is out there?)

Strauss made a good follow-up point about the Blazers, who’ve gone 13-15 since a win over Dallas on Jan. 18 put them at 31-9 (the Warriors have gone 16-10 over the same period):

I hatched a juicy conspiracy theory that attempts to explain Simmons’ evolving views on the Warriors since Joe Lacob became the team’s primary owner, but it’s probably a little too sensationalistic to go into that again. Mostly, Simmons’ views prove once again that the Warriors are in the “prove it” zone, as should be the case. As Jermaine O’Neal and Andrew Bogut have mentioned several times this season, Golden State’s first round triumph over Denver a year ago doesn’t mean they’ve done anything.

To gain respect from national NBA analysts like Simmons, they’ll need to win at least one playoff series this year, followed by at least two a year from now. This isn’t a bad thing. The way the Warriors have performed all year long against subpar teams shows how detrimental astronomical expectations can be, and how difficult it can be to tow a bandwagon around for 82+ games.