Thursday, March 29, 2012

Warriors incompetence finally paying off

By Justin Taylor

There is no way to sugar coat the fact that if the Warriors want to get better for the future they need to suck and suck bad.  Picking late in the lottery has killed us over the last however many years and getting top picks in crappy drafts has just been our kind of luck.  Not that a pick in the 8-14 range would really help us even in a halfway decent draft but giving that pick to Utah is going to hurt. As much as I love Monta Ellis for being a guy that would make at least a couple plays each game that would make you glad you tuned in, he would have single handedly kept us from sucking our way into the top seven while also making sure we came no where near the playoffs.  Trading him for a guy who can’t help us till next year, shutting down Steph Curry and continuing to trot out Dorell Wright in the starting line up over Brandon Rush and Dominic McGuire are the best thing we could do to insure maximum suckage.  It’s painful to watch in the meantime but it’s all for the greater good.

Games like Tuesday’s Laker game or the Thunder game earlier this year are the best of both worlds.  We see a great game that ultimately equals an L in the standings the next morning.  That game against the Thunder was a thing of beauty the way Durant and Monta exchanged haymakers for the better part of the game and I loved every second of it including the final one where we walked away losers.  That Phoenix game where Monta hit the fade away was legit but I would have liked it more if Channing Frye hit the three from the corner with one second left.  At this point every game counts and it looks like we are in for a hell of a fight the rest of the way.

Management has done their part to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to fail miserably depending on your definition of failure.  I think I’ve made it pretty clear that I see the steps being made as our only chance to succeed. Dorell Wright, or Dorell Wrong so far this season (I need a better nickname for him if anyone has any suggestions) is definitely doing his part to make this season a success.  His fear of attacking the basket, his indecisiveness and the fact that his 3 point shot has fallen off a cliff has made him one of the stars of our tanking efforts.  It makes me laugh hysterically when he drives and is looking to pass the ENTIRE time even though the defense is begging him to finish the play.  He gets all the way to the rim and is still looking to give it up forcing him to awkwardly brick an easy layup.  How he led the league in 3 point field goals last year is beyond me.  I don’t know what’s changed in his shot but it looks like every attempt is being shot out of a cannon and he’s aiming to put a hole in the backboard or make a dent in the rim.  Throwing bricks has never been a more true statement. It looks like there are weights in the ball and the shot has the trajectory of a lead Frisbee.

The biggest bright spot in this year’s sandbagging efforts could be seen as yet another shrewd move by management.  Most people have trashed the move by the brass to amnesty Charlie Bell’s expiring $4 million contract instead of Biedrins in their efforts to sign Tyson Chandler or DeAndre Jordan.  In a normal season I’d be in agreement with that assertion 100% but this is no normal season, it’s an all out effort to bottom out.  Obviously getting Andris Biedrins rotting corpse off the books was the move to make if you want to win.  Someone with unbelievable foresight knew that his soft natured, defeatist attitude could play a major role on this year’s team.  Have we ever seen a guy so afraid of his own shadow that the thought of shooting a free throw made him want to stand at half court to wait for defensive transition? I don’t know how many examples there are in the history of the league of a guy who was a better NBA player at age 22 then he was at 26.  If there is another one I’d be willing to bet it involved heavy drug use and happened somewhere between ’78 and ’84 when cocaine was more prevalent than Gatorade use is now.  Mark Jackson’s decision to continue starting him over someone with a pulse was ingenious in my mind.

A guy playing a MUCH smaller role but one that cannot be overlooked is Nate Robinson.  His pursuit of the spectacular play before the right play is, well, spectacular.  I’ve never seen a guy who tried to either bring the house down or win the game on every single (Ill advised) shot.  His sense of the moment is uncanny but he has balls that measure up to anyone in the league.  I do think he has a role on a potential winner but it’s more like the 3rd guard off the bench.  Next season we need a true point that can run the team in Steph’s absence. Only when everything is falling apart do you need someone with no conscious to come in and that’s when you inject a little Nate into the mix.

Main players in this years tanking efforts.

I’m watching the team get shelled by the Hornets of all teams right now and I’ve never been more confident in our ability to finish this debacle of a season strong.  When a team like New Orleans can render our amazing crowd impotent you’re really firing on all cylinders on the road to the lottery.  It’s obvious that all of the ingredients of our crap cocktail are come together beautifully.  Normally it pisses me off but hearing Bob Fitzgerald’s signature line, “AND THE WARRIORS HAVE CUT THE LEAD TO SINGLE DIGITS,” is music to my ears until late April this year.

I have heard Larry Riley and Joe Lacob both say that they are negotiating with Utah to make sure we get to keep our pick this year.  I imagine that means they are trying to pay them to push back Utah’s rights to the pick to next year or the year after.  We have no tradable assets that would work for both teams to make such a deal happen.  If that’s the case I commend them for making sure all bases are covered and contingency plans are in place to make sure that we will be adding a young player who can be a real contributor in 2013.  Some might say that it would render all of this basketball sewage pointless but again, for the first time in a long time, we don’t have all of our chips in one basket.

Our crowd has been my biggest concern in our push for the lottery this season because they insist on willing crappy teams to victories that routinely have us finishing in the middle of the pack year in year out.  Every team plays better at home and I don’t know the year over year stats but I’d be willing to bet that the disparity between our home and road win percentage is one of the higher margins in the league most years.  When the switch flips at Oracle it rivals any other experience in sports.   I was at the Pac Bell (yes, Pac Bell) for the World Series in 2010 and if the Warriors were to close this 15 point gap against the lowly Hornets in the 4th quarter and pull this game out tonight it will be a similar atmosphere.  Oracle is a place where Raiders, Niners, Giants, A’s, Sharks and all 20 Earthquake and Sabercat fans unite to blow the roof off the joint.  That is probably the most enjoyable thing about being a Warriors fan and teams across the league have more respect for our home floor than the team itself.  Lines that are drawn in the sand 7 or 8 months out of the year get blurred like a 4 year old is drawing them during basketball season in Oakland. 

So bottom line, after all the bitching, moaning and cynicism it’s the same old story.  Wait till next year.  Something feels different this time around.  There seems to be a plan for next year, a tangible plan that accompanies this abomination of a basketball team we’re forced to watch every night.  Literally in the case of this lockout shortened season.  I just hope we didn’t kick off Tankapalooza too late in the year to work.  Maybe I’m just drinking too much crap flavored kool aid but I think that this time next year things will be dramatically different.  All of those Giants/A’s Niners/Raiders Sharks/Spiders (if the IHL still exists) rivalries along with the racial divides that make the Bay Area so great will melt away once again in the form of Oracle Arena going off like a bomb as the Warriors make a legitimate push for the playoffs.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pain, Misery, Boos, Trades, Peace

By Justin Taylor

Today is the inaugural entry in a blog that has been a lifetime in the making.  I have received a ton of encouragement to do this mostly from people who are tired of hearing me talking about the Warriors year in year out.  The title, Trapped in Golden State, stems from the fact that if you’ve been a Warriors fan as long as I have you’re definitely not doing it voluntarily.  At some point becomes something closer to a terminal disease an underwater mortgage payment, it always haunts you and never seems to go away.  If you’re like me being a fan involves as much bashing on the team as it does cheering it on.  Following this team will drive you to drinking or worse but I insist on watching every single game year after year no matter how crazy it makes me.

I think one of the driving forces in keeping me tuned in and ultimately starting a blog is because misery loves company.  So this is for the die hards and hopefully a few casuals who want to understand the masochist mentality of said die-hards.  It’s sort of like seeing a train wreck coming from a mile away or the way you watch the Bad Girls club or some other crappy reality tv show. It is amazing that a rabid fan base of intelligent fan base never seems to dwindle after decades of incompetence. 

So I’m trying something new this year. Until this season is over I think that writing (while the game is on of course) instead of watching intently is a much better use of time.  It’s over. And thank god.  The mediocrity that has been the status quo has been maddening.  Listening to Bob Fitzgerald tell me how great the shit that is being shoveled has me want to watch with the sound down anyway. 

I’ve been rooting for losses all year long.  No casual fan of the Warriors, the NBA or sports in general will get this so I’m going to break it down one time here.  Our beloved Chris Mullin made a stupid panic trade what feels like about ten years ago.  Coming off of the We Believe tidal wave everyone, including me, thought the team was finally turning a real corner. (What a bunch of dumbasses we were.) Within days of all of that building optimism reality set in.  This is Golden State Warriors Basketball!  Baron Davis came up limp (I was as shocked as anyone) and we needed a point guard to drive this Maserrati of an offense that only Don Nelson could coach and only a true stud point guard could control.  Mullin traded a future 2nd round pick for Marcus Williams (of laptop thieving fame) so we could keep this thing on the road back to the playoffs.  Mully forgot one thing though this is Warriors basketball.  Long story short we one more games than any non-playoff team in the history of the NBA (48) headed back to the lottery.  Thank god he was smart enough to put first round protection on that pick but you can only protect a pick so long.  So here we are, 5 years later and the only protection left on the pick is if we land in the top 7 of a fairly loaded draft.  Hence my rooting for losses…TANK, TANK, tank tank tank!

It was fun while it lasted wasn't it?

That led to Baron getting over paid elsewhere and the Warriors panic signing Corey Magette, the LL Cool J of the NBA.  I swear I expect to see him licking his lips and looking at himself in the mirror during bench stints but that’s beside the point.  I don’t think landing a post torn ACL Elton Brand would have been any better but that’s the type of crappy choices the Warriors seem to have year after year.  After that all we had to look forward to was watching Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington walk, talk think and act like all stars while playing like shit and Monta Ellis develop into Allen Iverson lite.

Back to the present day.  Dorell Wright is afraid to attack the basket and has the flattest 3 point shot in the league.  Andris Biedrins’ rotting corpse has gone full circle from project 18 year old to promising young center on a reasonable contract to a groundhog that just decided there is going to be a longer winter than expected, back in the hole.  David Lee is David Lee (Talented but limited, I like him a lot even though he's vastly overpaid but he works his butt off to earn that pay check), Steph Curry is being shut down for the season (hopefully) and Monta Ellis, the only reason to watch the team play, is gone.

The trade was a good one.  It hurts to say it but it was.  There is no bigger fan of Monta than me I promise you. (if you have an autographed framed Monta jersey on your wall and about 40 autographed Monta rookie cards please let me know, maybe we can get help together)  Monta was the catalyst in making sure we would be bad enough to miss the playoffs and just good enough to make sure we get another worthless late lottery selection that would help us be mediocre again next year.

I have to give the new ownership group credit they are trying.  Not trying to come up with a new marketing slogan, trying to make the team better.  We are probably lucky that we didn’t win the right to overpay Tyson Chandler or DeAndre Jordan (the way we won the right to overpay David Lee) but they did recognize that the way to make this team better was to add a solid big man defender/rebounder to our core of solid offensive non-defending/non-rebounding core.  They tried and tried to add without subtracting.  They didn’t take the mindset of many stupid pundits that trading our best player (Monta by a long shot) would be addition by subtraction.  Penciling in a very competent center in Andrew Bogut still leaves holes in your team but holes that are infinitely easier to plug.  Having a 5 that can rebound, defend, finish and shoot a goddamn free throw makes Lee and Curry better in ways that Monta never could.

It takes a certain amount of balls to trade away the guy that is selling all the tickets knowing that it gives a terrible product for the ret of the season.  They have really put their money where their mouth is and I respect that.  The old owner would have reminded us how much he spent to buy the team every year as a reason he’s not risking doing anything more than the bare minimum to make sure people have a reason to buy tickets.  This guy removed the fan favorite to give us chance to get tank-a-palooza really rolling, play a much less entertaining brand of basketball and then came out to let the nay-sayers boo the hell out of him. 

I was there on Mullin retirement night but I wasn’t booing Joe Lacob for the reasons above among others.  I also didn’t hold it against the people that did.  I thought it was hilarious.  I understand that it was Chris Mullin’s night but if that ceremony wasn’t happening at halftime I may have left already.  That was the worst half of basketball I’ve seen in a LONG time.  We had more fun watching the third graders play during the pre game show.  Between the terrible first half, the last five years I just outlined and more importantly the last 30 years of incompetence (outlined here point by excruciating point beautifully by Bill Simmons) there are only so many opportunities to voice your frustration to the face of it all whether he was responsible for it or not.  (I actually commend the boo birds for seizing the opportunity) When Lacob bought the team he paid for the history and our misery along with it.

I love Rick Barry but a world class jerk has no business calling anyone out for being jerks.

Going back to the finer points of the trade that was the lightning rod for the boo birds.  If Klay Thompson replaces 15 of Monta’s 25 points and Bogut replaces the other 10 his scoring is replaced already.  The bonus is that the upgrade over Biedrins is pure gravy.  We’ll have toughness in the middle instead of a 7 footer with less fight in him than my golden retriever.  Bogut will be adding things we haven’t had since Joe Barry Carrol or Joe Barely Cares for those that have been smoking the Golden State funny stuff as long as I have. 

One last round of props to the boo birds, Andris got hammered during the introductions.  We’ve been coddling his psyche for years hoping he’d come out of his shell and be the energy guy he was born to be.  No More.  We’ve got a real center now and the only thing he is good for now is to help us in the quest to be one of the seven worst teams in the league.  Let the final phase of the Biedrins deconstruction begin, I love it!

Now if Stephen Jackson was wearing a Warriors jersey tonight I might feel differently.  Watching him con that idiot Robert Rowell into drastically over paying him and then instantly turning around and try forcing his way out of town was the most despicable chain of events I can remember in our tortured history.  But he’s not, instead of paying him what’s left on that ridiculous contract we traded him for the right pay the rest of Richard Jefferson’s corpse and his ridiculous contract (which has an extra year of ridiculousness on it.)  The Spurs knew Jefferson’s contract was so ridiculous they knew they needed to trade a first round pick to it and eat a toxic dose of Stack Jack to get rid of it. 

More respect to Lacob for putting up the money to add assets especially when we risk not having a first round pick, even the #25 pick is better than nothing.  Losing Ekpe Udoh may suck but again, just like Monta Ellis, it’s a lot easier to replace a young tweener than it is to acquire a legitimate center.  At the end of the day the owner did what a good owner does, he spent money and made the team better.

So here we are, a crappy team, looking forward to next year just like we always are as we always are this time of year. We’re not making our patented run into the middle of the pack with this roster unless our amazing fans carry them there.( Focus for future Trapped in Golden State posts) We are trying to do something different for once and seem to have a clear road map back to competency if not the playoffs.  Cheers to the management group for thinking with their heads and their wallets in order to take us there.