Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Updated: September 2, 3:35 PM ET
Golden opportunity for the Warriors?
ESPN.com and the TrueHoop Network
|Will the Warriors be stuck at home watching the playoffs for a fourth straight season in 2011-12?|
Do the Warriors have what it takes to make a step forward next season?
Despite a 10-game improvement last season, questions still abound by the Bay heading into Mark Jackson's first season at the helm -- including whether their most productive player, Monta Ellis, is the right fit.
Is an Ellis-Stephen Curry backcourt combo the bridge to the future in Oakland? Or do the Dubs have another rebuilding job awaiting them in the near future? For a task this tough, we brought abroad six NBA experts to sort things out.
1. Fact or Fiction: Golden State should trade Monta Ellis.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue And Gold: Fact. Unless the Monta Ellis/Steph Curry combination morphs into the next John Stockton/Jeff Hornacek, Isiah Thomas/Joe Dumars or Dennis Johnson/Danny Ainge, I can't endorse moving forward with a small backcourt as this team's foundation. When you add in Ellis' penchant for gunning, lackadaisical defense and how he impedes Curry's growth, he's got to go.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Fact! Fact! Fact! Fact! Those last four words had all the subtlety of Warriors possessions run through Monta. His high dribble is the devil's metronome, an endless dull thud that evokes the cranking of a vice around my skull. Oh, and he can't guard 2s.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Fiction. With Ellis on board, the Warriors have one of the best backcourts in the league. One can only wonder how the team will perform in a system that puts an emphasis on defense. Until we know that answer, he should remain a Warrior.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Fiction. Despite his terrific production, Ellis, like most smaller players who shoot and score a lot, is unfairly labeled a gunner. For my money he's one of the 15 best players in the league. He's largely been a victim of perception. The only reason they should trade him is if they can package him for Dwight Howard.
Rasheed Malek, Warriors World: Fiction. New head coach Mark Jackson will demand more from Monta in all aspects and Monta will deliver, maturing into a leader in the process.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Fact. Sorry, J.M., but historically successful teams are not often led by undersized, ball-dominant shooting guards with below-average efficiency. Monta is a workhorse, but he's not winning any blue ribbons the way he plays now. I'm not buying the "different Monta" until I see it.
2. Fact or Fiction: Acquiring David Lee was a mistake.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue And Gold: Fact. While Lee is a hard worker and a true professional, his Knicks statistics were inflated by the system he played in and his defense has always been average, at best. In order to sign him the Warriors committed franchise-player money for a guy who isn't good enough to be their best player.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Fact. Though Lee deserves credit for making strides as a pick-and-pop power forward, his defense was as bad as it's ever been. He simply can't close out on shooters -- it's like watching a straight-jacketed man um, uh
close out on shooters.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Fact. David Lee is paid like LaMarcus Aldridge but does not bring the same skills to the table. He gathers 10 rebounds a game and makes half of his shots, but Lee does not own the paint on either side of the ball. Call me crazy, but when you get paid to be a stud big man, I expect you to play like one.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Fiction. Mistake is a strong word. Lee isn't a top-tier power forward but he isn't a bad one, either. Lots of teams would love to have a 4 who averages 16.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. The Warriors gave up a little early on Anthony Randolph, but Lee is a clear upgrade.
Rasheed Malek, Warriors World: Fact. The Warriors gave away $80 million and talent to get Lee, but you can't do both. At that price, Lee should perform like a perennial All-Star, but he hasn't come close thus far.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Fact. It's not that David Lee is a bad player -- I actually expect him to bounce back next season. But five years at $80 million? For David Lee? I get that the summer of 2010 was an unprecedented year for bad decisions, but Golden State owes him more than $15 million in both 2015 and 2016. That's going to hurt.
3. Fact or Fiction: The Warriors are loaded with talent.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue And Gold: Fact. The caveat here is that the Warriors have a strong group of above-average-to-very-good players but don't yet have that single great player that you can build around. Stephen Curry -- a guy I love -- could develop into that player, but he isn't there yet.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Fact. Every year it seems advanced stats project decent, respectable things from the Warriors. While some would find fault with the numbers, my finger juts in the direction of that rotting infrastructure of former owner Chris Cohan. Bad management can undermine talent. The onus is on Joe Lacob to change the culture and make a weapon of the loaded roster.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Fiction. The Warriors have four quality players (Ellis, Curry, Dorell Wright and Lee) on the roster while two of their top bench players (Louis Amundson and Reggie Williams) previously spent time in the D-League. With that said, the starters are mostly above-average players but the remainder of the roster fails to adequately complement them.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Fact. The combination of Ellis and Stephen Curry packs more talent in their backcourt than just about any team. Rookie Klay Thompson could be a big scorer. Dorell Wright is getting better and better. Right now they are a collection of talented young players instead of a cohesive unit. With a few adjustments, better defense and defined roles, I believe they'll fulfill their huge potential.
Rasheed Malek, Warriors World: Fiction. They have the best backcourt in the league, but the Warriors lack size and talent in the frontcourt. They also need a considerable upgrade at center and lack depth at both forward spots.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Fiction. They've got a talented young roster, but the Warriors aren't making a run at the title right now. They had a great draft, and Stephen Curry is a great offensive player, but "loaded" is a term that should be reserved for championship contenders. The Warriors aren't in that class.
4. Fact or Fiction: Golden State will finish above .500 next season.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue And Gold: Fiction. Even if they trade Ellis for equal value, balance their roster and play better defense, I think they'll fall short. They play in a brutal conference, aren't a good road team and will have a steep learning curve under a new coach in a shortened offseason. Playing .500 basketball is their best-case scenario and I don't see it happening.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Fact. Hmm, my refined palate tells me this kool-aid has hints of "possibly overrating Curry" and "possibly wishing for an Ellis trade that won't happen."
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Fiction. The Dubs have averaged 30 wins the past three seasons largely because of their inability to defend with any type of consistency. If the Warriors finally do embrace the idea of playing defense, they have a chance at a postseason berth. Mind you, the last time this team played great defense was during the 1998-99 season.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Fact. The Warriors only need to improve by six games, which is a legitimate goal provided they make the much-needed strides on defense and steal a couple of wins by wearing down older teams like the Lakers and Spurs. They also have to take advantage of weaker teams in the Eastern Conference after finishing just 15-15 against the East last season.
Rasheed Malek, Warriors World: Fact. Mark Jackson guaranteed it, and it would be foolish to disagree with Mr. Hand Down, Man Down.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Fiction. It'll happen if Stephen Curry makes a leap, Monta Ellis really is "different," David Lee plays much better in Year 2, the rookies and second-year players outperform their expectations and the team significantly improves defensively. Until then, the still-competitive West will prove to be too much.
5. Fact or Fiction: The Warriors have the best jerseys in the league.
Darius Soriano, Forum Blue And Gold: Fact. How is this even arguable? The classic color scheme combined with the throwback look make it the best design going. The Bay Bridge on the front is also a great touch. I only wish more teams were as creative when designing their jerseys.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss, HoopSpeak: Oh, total fact. All hail the classic blue-yellow with the Bay Bridge backdrop. Down with the old orange mess that simply refused to slink back to 1995 and die.
J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: Fact. The Warriors' jerseys rock the blue from Batman's cape as well as the gold from his utility belt. And to top it all off, we have the Bay Bridge located directly on the jersey. No other NBA garb can match that level of coolness. None.
Chris Palmer, ESPN The Magazine: Absolute fact. Their duds are classy, hip and cool all at once. With simple, clean lines and colors that pop without distracting, these dudes are hooping in style. The Bay Bridge is a nice touch and the straight-forward, no-frills lettering keeps things from getting too busy. These unis would look great on national television if they make the playoffs.
Rasheed Malek, Warriors World: Fiction. Their current jerseys are not even the best in franchise history. That honor belongs to the classic "The City" uniforms, which have timeless elegance.
Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching: Fact. I'm as much of a fashion guru as the next basketball blogger, but the change last season was a welcome one. The logo is a simple, classy design, and the bridge looks perfect on it. There's no better-looking uniform in the league.