Losing the second game of a back-to-back on an East Coast road trip isn’t that shocking, but the way Golden State fell to the Bobcats was.
They gave up 42 points to former Warrior Jason Richardson, a guy who can barely dribble? They lost by 9 after a 16-point lead at the end of the first quarter? This loss showed two major flaws of this team: defending anybody over 6’2″, and keeping their own minds focused for more than a game or two in a row, especially if the opponent isn’t upper-echelon.
Let’s face it, the Warriors are an entertaining crew, but they aren’t getting out of the Western Conference. It’s not even a guarantee they’ll make the playoffs, and a vast majority of NBA fans not living in the greater Bay Area probably think they won’t.
Whether or not the Warriors sneak in as a No. 7 or 8 seed, the Warriors need to at least start having internal discussions on who will coach this team after next year, and how they will prepare for the inevitable changes sure to take place.
Don Nelson has done what no other coach has for this team since, well, Nelson did almost 15 years ago: make them an actual NBA team again. No longer does it seem like the real NBA squads come to Oakland to pick up victories over the Warriors’ second-division crew. The team is vibrant and exciting, mostly because they run like crazy and can beat any team in the league on a given night (except Utah, apparently).
However, unless Brandan Wright and/or Andris Biedrins take Mike Powell-sized leaps during the summer, the Warriors will be in the exact same situation next year, which in all probability will be Nelson’s last.
Since no coach in basketball has ever shown the mastery of “small-ball” like Nelson, except possibly Mike D’Antoni (and he seems pretty darn secure in Phoenix), the Warriors are going to have to prepare for life after Nellie.
What does that mean? It means don’t waste your money on Nelson-specific players like Matt Barnes, who wouldn’t see any playing time on any other team in the league. It means re-signing Patrick O’Bryant, because you just can’t give away 7-footers who can not only show a few post moves, but also run without immediate stress fractures in their feet.
When they stood pat at the trade deadline, the Warriors made a conscious decision that their future is more important than the present. With Monta Ellis, Mystic Biedrins and Wright as this team’s presumed cornerstones, that does make some sense, even though it means not taking full advantage of a career season from Baron Davis.
However, without the current mock-turtleneck-wearing leader of this rambunctious bunch, the Warriors are going to end up playing a completely different style of ball. If Nelson won’t be around when the Warriors reach their potential, they are going to have to be prepared for when they do.