Andris Biedrins

Warriors lottery-bound again

Forget pondering whether the Warriors would have held the Clippers to within 30 for at least a majority of the game last night if Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf weren’t injured. The more rational thing to do would be to imagine how badly the Warriors would have lost last night if Blake Griffin didn’t break his kneecap during the preseason.

Or, on second thought, don’t imagine that. It’s too painful (for us, not Griffin, because Griffin has access to painkillers). Griffin against last night’s Warriors would have been like Karl Malone or Charles Barkley against the 1992 Angola Olympic team. Hell, Malone could probably start for the Jazz right now and score 18 points against the Warriors. Which means Paul Millsap and Carlos Boozer may combine for 70 points and 30 rebounds next time the two teams meet.

It’s officially time to panic, Warriors fans. And by panic, I mean prematurely give up all emotional hope that this season will bring anything other than glimpses of exciting offensive play at home against bad teams. The playoffs are years away, and don’t you forget it.

Last night, Stephen Jackson refused to step forward to catch an errant pass by Monta Ellis (who had been absolutely killing himself defensively in the previous sequence), because he was firmly planted behind the 3-point-line. It was almost as if Jackson was trying to prove that he’s in a bad situation. “Hey, these guys can’t even throw accurate passes.”

Never mind that most of Jackson’s bounce passes hit either a teammate or opponent’s foot before hitting the floor.

This is a team that has Jackson, Corey Maggette, Kelenna Azubuike and Devean George, and tries to find equal minutes for the first three. Here’s a hint: Don’t start Jackson and Azubuike at the same time. If you have to showcase Jackson for a trade, start Randolph instead of Azubuike, who doesn’t know what to do when playing with both Monta Ellis and Jackson at the same time (so he ends up standing around waiting for passes that never come).

I know Turiaf’s hurt and Randolph’s offensive game is beyond awkward right now, but once Ronny comes back this should be the starting lineup every night:

PG: Curry

SG: Monta

SF: Azubuike

PF: Randolph

C: Turiaf

Rotation: Morrow/Biedrins/Maggette (I know, but he IS  on the team)

The Warriors should just give up on playing Jackson entirely, regardless of his tradebait status. Isn’t the stat line he put up last year (20.7 ppg, 6.5 apg, 5.1 rpg) the best evidence of his abilities that currently exist? Isn’t every minute he’s on the floor playing like this bringing his trade value from “Boris Diaw if the Warriors are lucky” to “Nazr Mohammed, take it or leave it?” Sure, Jackson would pout if left on the bench, but isn’t that better than letting every NBA GM watch him openly pout on the floor like he has so far in what looks to be one of the more hellish seasons in Golden State history? So he wants to complain? Fine him every time he talks to the media. Anything would be better than what he’s doing to this team and the fans by playing.

“Captain Jack” already said he doesn’t want to be captain, so it’s not like he’s a good influence on the younger players unless they really need advice on how to correctly tip strippers. Stephen Curry already looks like he’s midway into a stay at the worst summer camp of all time, praying that his parents take his tear-stained letters home seriously and come to take him home ASAP. God knows what Randolph is learning from Jackson’s behavior, but as a youngster in dire need of a mentor he’s getting the exact opposite with Jackson around every day.

The Warriors already have several players who do what Jackson does (and better, at least currently). The problem is, they don’t have anybody who does what they hoped Jackson would after giving him an extension and naming him captain: a veteran professional.

Brian Sabean has it all wrong. In baseball you don’t need veteran leadership, you just need talented players who know the rules and don’t get distracted easily during the games. Sometimes youthful enthusiasm is what it takes to get baseball teams through a long season playing as energetically in September as they did in April.

Conversely, NBA teams without at least one solid “good guy” veteran are as lost as Tim Lincecum driving in a foreign area after blowing a few hits of herb through his Mercedes sunroof. I don’t mean the “NBA Cares” type of “good guy,” just a respected starter who works hard, sacrifices for the good of his team and isn’t afraid to get on teammates who aren’t doing those things.

The Warriors, like the Grizzlies, Timberwolves and about every crappy team you can think of, have none of these veteran good guys. The way Monta has started the year, looking for the open man and playing aggressive defense for the first time ever, makes one hope he can someday be that guy. But Ellis is still five productive non-moped seasons in a row away from gaining that type of respect from his teammates or his coach (and while ripping on Nellie is pretty easy and fun these days, having these types of veteran guys makes an NBA coach’s job infinitely easier — do you think Phil Jackson would ever take a job coaching a crew of guys like what the Warriors or Grizzlies have?).

But that’s the funny thing about the NBA. Youth is always prized, but all the good teams have consistent veterans with highly specialized skills, not rookies and second-year players blessed with raw ability.

That’s what’s painful — the Warriors ARE  talented. Curry’s a streaky shooter, but he’s the best passer the team has had since Baron Davis left (speaking of Baron, he quietly pulled a nice little Favre-job on the Warriors last night). Morrow has offensive skills that are completely off the charts — he may be the best shooter in the league right now. We all know about Randolph, whose head is totally screwed up already this year after game No. 4 (thanks Nellie, thanks Stack). Azubuike is efficient enough to have a 10-to-12-year career. Biedrins has nice hands and can run the floor without tripping. Monta’s only ceiling is his propensity to say/do something stupid. CJ Watson … well, I’m not really sure why the Warriors were so excited to keep Watson from signing with the Orlando Magic, unless they are really worried about preventing Orlando from becoming Warriors East.

But with their only veterans either horribly selfish (Jackson/Maggette), not quite talented enough (Turiaf) or borderline NBA players (George, Speedy Claxton and Mikki Moore) the Warriors are lottery bound again. To ease the pain, how about a mock draft. Oh, here’s one! The Warriors select: Devin Ebanks, a SF from West Virginia. Killer, another swingman! Things are finally looking up!

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