This week the Warriors got themselves a cold, hard slap of reality during this season’s first half. And lately, it hasn’t felt all that bad.
The Warriors hopefully now realize they can’t count on some sort of magical trade to improve their fortunes. In an NBA landscape where the most valuable possessions are either U.S.A. Olympians or expiring contracts, the Warriors have neither. In fact, the only two players that could possibly bring back a star player are Base Year Compensation players, a complicated label that in effect means, “Absolutely untradeable.”
Maybe that’s alright, though. Let’s face it, Baron Davis going for his last great contract was the lone reason a team of questionable talent (especially defensively) was able to win 90 games and a playoff series over two seasons and capture the nation’s imagination for a couple weeks in 2007. It’s fun to say there are so many former Warriors ripping up the league, but that just isn’t true anymore. Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus, Matt Barnes, Ike Diogu, Patrick O’Bryant, Jason Richardson, Baron Davis…am I missing anybody? Only Richardson, Pietrus and Barnes are on winning teams, and none could possibly be considered key contributors by anybody besides Arizona police.
The Warriors were a young team overachieving the past two years, not a title contender hampered by poor coaching or stingy ownership.
The future is Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. We think. We wondered whether Ellis would ever be the same after crashing his moped into that Buick Riviera (or whatever happened, but until we hear the full story we reserve the right to make up any scenario we see fit), but any troubles he’s had in his time back have been due more to rustiness than the health of his ankle. Biedrins started off this season looking like a should-be All-Star, but 11.8 rebounds per game can’t mask the fact Ronny Turiaf is a much more imposing defensive presence than the America’s tannest Latvian. Still, Biedrins plays incredibly hard, doesn’t need the ball to be happy and is only 22. A Latvian 22, but 22 nonetheless.
The Baron years were a bit of a mirage, and they spoiled Warriors fans to a certain degree. The incompetence of Golden State’s general managers and coaches was so widespread it was illogical to think trading Speedy Claxton and Dale Davis for an exciting yet injury-prone point guard would suddenly turn the Warriors into the Spurs. Now we know Davis is the type of guy who does Jenny Craig during the off-season, the type of guy who quits once the contract gets too big and the team he’s playing for gets too slow.
Golden State won’t be in the playoffs…again. But we knew that going in. Even if Monta didn’t run into the back of that PT Cruiser, this year was always going to be about the team finding its way without Baron. And developing Tony Randolph. Hopefully Don Nelson can find it in his hard to try to achieve both objectives in the second half.
Last Week’s Record: 2-0 (144-127 over NYK, 105-98 over POR)
Don Nelson came out and said he would be going with a strict nine-man rotation throughout the second half, which begs the question: who’s going to play? Jackson, Ellis, Biedrins, Crawford, Azubuike, Maggette, Watson, Turiaf and ?????. . . Randolph might have helped his cause in the Warriors last three games (all wins), with 27 points and 22 rebounds in 40 total minutes. Ahhhhhh, who am I kidding. Nellie doesn’t care. . . Brandan Wright isn’t coming back soon, but Marco Belinelli is. Unfortunately, Nellie says there might not be much room for Sly Marco once he gets back. . . Al Harrington was booed every time he touched the ball on Tuesday, and was absolutely shut down by Jackson in the second half. . . Check out Geoff Lepper’s first half Warriors report card on 48minutes.net. A couple of his grades were a tad generous in my opinion (Monta, Wright and Nellie to be specific), but it’s still a great read, especially his descriptions of Jackson, Crawford and Maggette.