HEAD COACH: KEITH SMART
It’s a new day by the Bay.
Years of bumbling incompetence and penny pinching by former owner Chris Cohan are a thing of the past. Don Nelson’s reign of incomprehensible mood swings, odd benchings and just outright apathy are finished. The days of making horrible draft picks are d…
Well, maybe not that just yet, but they’re working on it.
Point is, the sale of the team to Mandalay CEO Peter Guber (and friends) shines a light of hope on a franchise that, save 2006, hasn’t had anything to smile about in a long time, yet still maintains a passionate fan base.
Move #1 for the new regime was sending the grizzled Nelson on his way (finally) and handing the keys to long-time assistant (and former NCAA Tournament hero) Keith Smart. The challenge for him will be to make the best of a rather oddly constructed roster featuring EIGHT FORWARDS and nothing in the way of a conventional Point Guard. As bad as that sounds, this roster is not without talent or intrique.
For starters, they signed David Lee (5 yrs. $80 mil) to be the high-scoring big man they’ve needed for years, and it’s hard to imagine a team Lee fits better with than this one. Sure, that’s alot of money for a guy who can’t guard anyone, but it has to be considered a step in the right direction.
Elsewhere, Stephen Curry looks like a future star after a very impressive rookie year in which Curry got better as the season wore on. Known as a lights out shooter in college, he’s proven himself capable as a (sort of) point guard in the Tony Parker score-first sense, and actually showed some aptitude (read:willingness) on the defensive end.
On the darker side of things, Monta Ellis is still on this team, getting payed $11 million dollars to miss out-of-control lay-ups and jumpshots from beyond his range, that is when he’s not turning the ball over or letting his man go right be him on defense. Ellis is one of the quintessential “super-talented-but-doesnt-play-the-game-ther-right-way” types, and could be the best or worst thing to happen to this team, depending on what Smart and his staff can do with him.
Of course, there are worse things to have in the NBA than 3 capable (young) scorers. The unknown here is what they surround them with, as there are people on this team that actually know how to guard somebody, a departure from the Nelson era where such things were not deemed necessary. A healthy Andris Beidrins would go a long way toward creative at least some kind of defensive presence, and they actually have enough versatility that they can make a choice: they’ve ca play guys like Lou Amundson, Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric if they actually wanna get some stops, or Rodney Carney, Reggie Williams and Valadimir Radmanovic is they still want to go the “first one to 120 wins” route.
Truth is, there’s nowhere to go but up with this team, and based on the ownership change, I’d feel bullish if I was a Warriors fan. Even though they appear to have tanked another lottery pick (Ekpe Udoh, already out 6 months with a severe wrist injury), they’ve got a trio of good young players, and enthusiastic fanbase, and deep pocketed people in charge of the franchise.
Things can be worse.
IF THEY GET LUCKY: Ooooh, this could be a fun team, running and gunning and actually winning enough games to make people excited. I also wouldn’t rule them out as candidates to land a superstar in a trade, seeing as how there are alot worse places to live that Northern California, and the new owners seem to be serious about improving the team. Who knows, somebody might actually get Monta Ellis to play 5-on-5, team Basketball.
IF THEY DON’T: Injuries to the likely candidates (Ellis, Beidrins) or the less-likely (Lee, Curry) would cripple this team, putting them firmly in last place in the Pacific. Another potential pitfall is the lack of a clear alpha-dog on this team. Even worse would be Ellis insiting on being the guy.
REALITY: 30-33 wins, maybe even more if they find the right mix regarding offensive and defensive types on the court together. Realistically, this team just isnt deep enough to be consistent winners, but with a roster like this you’re always one good move away from being a good team.
(Warrior Bonus) JEREMY LIN IS A SENSATION
The Warriors, perhaps sensing an opportunity to capitalize on the Bay Area’s large Asian population, signed Lin to a three year deal, and Nike did the same.
Now Lin is a full blown phenom, with Youtube videos galore and so many media reuests that the team is shielding him from all the hoopla. All of this attention despite the fact that he’s the teams’ 3rd string point guard, and a good bet to end up on their D-League Team before the season is up.
Regardless of why they signed him, his performance in the Summer earned him an opportunity, and his story will be worth following on a team that likely will struggle.