By Justin Taylor
How does the saying go again? Fool me once shame on you, fool me 26 times shame on me? Number 27 was getting so close heading towards the close of the 2012 season. But NO! Not this time. Every year, like a lot of people, I become my own personal Steve Jobs selling a plan that is so easy it just works. In the end all I’m doing is selling myself back up shit creek. Anyone who’s thinking we’re “THIS CLOSE” needs to put the kool aid down and step away from the bottle. For some reason I was letting optimism start rearing its ugly head back into my naïve and ignorant fanatic brain. Isn’t hope the worst thing you can have as a Warrior fan after everything we’ve been through? It’s like a cancer that only guarantees more heartbreak.
Curry and Bogut are getting healthy. The rookies are getting invaluable minutes and developing nicely. David Lee is finally going to be a power forward. Tanking our way into the lottery will get us a piece that can actually contribute. We’re going to get a full offseason to start gelling for real under Mark Jackson this time. All of our losing is finally going to lead to some wins. All of this was sound logic until you take one giant step back and remind yourself of the one most basic fundamental thing, these are the freaking Golden State Warriors we’re talking about.
The reality is our entire season will hinge on two creaky ankles. No draft pick is going to make Curry, Thompson or Lee NBA caliber defenders. They could tank the rest of this season harder then an anvil landing on Wiley Coyote’s head and they’re still not getting an impact player out of the draft at #7. By the grace of god Coach Jackson is getting a second chance to make a first impression. Coach Malone (the guy who should be in charge) will be most likely getting his own gig somewhere else next year and Larry Riley will still be first mate to Joe Lacob on the Titanic.
Mark Jackson will have a lot to prove in his second year as coach
and David Lee will need to prove himself to be a leader.
Heading into the offseason we’re going with the patented “wait till next” year sales pitch whose copyrights came with the team in the sale to Joe Lacob. I’m getting more and more skeptical the closer we get to the 2013 season. All I can see is the makings of yet another mediocre roster that is just ONE more piece from really competing for something. Sure, we’re going to add a top 10 center and a top 10 point guard to the mix but do we have a top 10 leader or top 10 competitor on this team? From what I can see, David Lee will be the voice and leader of this team. I don’t see Curry taking on that role and didn’t see Bogut doing it during his time in Milwaukee. If our new center comes in just trying to shake the rust off and fit in we’re doomed. I know the guy cares but I hope I'm not the only one who got spooked when looking him up on Basketball-reference.com and saw his closest career comparison was Joe Barely Cares.
In 2011-12 we finally added an NBA caliber bench but the return of the most valuable and versatile members of that group (Rush and McGuire) are up in the air until further notice. Charles Jenkins has shown he will be a player in this league, Jeremy Tyler has shown enough passion to overtake Andris Biedrins’ rotting corpse and Richard Jefferson isn’t road kill just yet. You would figure this should be the easiest part of assembling an NBA team but for some reason it took us over a decade to do.
We are a couple of re-signings, a lottery pick and one major acquisition away from making waves in the west. The first two shouldn’t be too difficult and aren’t as critical to our future success. The third part shouldn’t be that big of deal either. All we need is a small forward who can handle the ball and play point forward some, create shots for himself, create shots for others, rebound well and defend multiple positions. It’ll be a done deal if we get the 7th pick in the draft no? There’s got to be one of those laying around somewhere right? (I’ll get to Lamar Kardashian in the trade section below.)
Draft: Obviously a lottery pick that doesn’t belong to you doesn’t yield much. Three second round picks (the San Antonio pick is like a high second rounder with guaranteed money attached) do not equal one top 10 pick. Even though I’ve said that this year’s potential top 10 pick won’t be a difference maker at the seventh slot, the pick should be a lot better than what we’ll get next year if we’re healthy.
Here are a few scenarios that could happen if the Warriors didn’t have about the same luck in the lottery that Kenny has on South Park:
1. Move up to the top of the lottery to transform the franchise with Anthony Davis or really help the current core with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at #2.
2. Land at number seven and hope Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond or Perry Jones slip a little to provide some depth but not much else.
3. Trade the number 27ish pick we actually own and two second rounder’s to get up as high as 14 and take a real PG (Kendall Marshall), a real rebounder (Jared Sullinger) a solid if unspectacular small forward (Terrance Jones) or a guy who can do a little of everything but is too afraid to fly to make it to out of state road games (Royce White).
Free Agency: Impact free agents don’t want to come here even when we have cap room and WANT to over pay. Next year Biedrins and Jefferson will be sinking on our cap like a pair of cement shoes but will be easier to move after the season. Curry will also be eligible for an extension at the end of 2012-13 so the money we shed off the cap will mostly land in his pocket. I do expect him to be healthy and play his ass off in order to force the Warriors to overpay for him over the next five years. We can’t afford anyone worth mentioning but let’s check the list of the restricted and unrestricted free agent forwards who can do more than walk and chew gum. There are no names that will fill our Scottie Pippen size needs even if we could afford one.
Dominic McGuire, Brandon Rush(R), Kevin Garnett, Tracy McGrady, Antawn Jamison (as if), Michael Beasley(R), Anthony Randolph(R) (if you forget about the chewing gum part), Reggie Evans, Darrell Arthur(R), DeShawn Stevenson, Landry Fields(R), Ryan Anderson, Nicolas Batum (R), Jason Thompson, Tim Duncan, Josh Howard, CJ Miles, JJ Hickson, Courtney Lee. (R)=restricted
We still need someone on this roster whose main goal is to help everyone else play to their potential so I’m going to float out Jason Kidd’s name one more time. Neither Steph nor Jenkins are natural point guards and this guy is the best teacher/mentor candidate they could possibly get on the cheap. He’s ready to retire and it’s time he comes back to Oakland to get his just due and appreciation from the hometown fans.
Trades: Now that Monta is gone, we have our center and Lee remains untradeable guess who’s next…It’s time to play the “what can we get for Steph” game. With so few options above you should start hearing a name like Rajon Rondo again. Hopefully he plays well enough so guys like Deron Williams and Chris Paul aren’t mentioned as jokes. I wont be surprised if we started doing the Dwight Howard pipe dream dance again and I will be shocked if we don’t hear the names Curry, Bogut and Howard in the same sentence in March.
Mr. Kardashian mailed in this season in epic fashion.
In the past couple of days Lamar Odom’s name and cremated remains have been floating about. What are the chances that a guy who laid down for the defending champs is going to come to Oakland and play hard? I’d consider it in a straight swap for Dorrell Wright’s passive play and reasonable contract but not much else. For a guy who went from being known as “The Goods” to “The Candy Man” we might just be better off with Wright. At least he doesn’t come saddled with a reality TV show and a Kardashian.
Going into the offseason I see us as having a nice roster that will compete but is still a perimeter oriented team. We’ll shoot our way past some good teams and out of games against some bad ones. We have some presence on the inside for the first time ever it seems but we’ll still bog down when the game is on the line. They will be strapped for cash and the roster is pretty much set outside of marginal signings and a couple of crappy draft picks. It is looking more and more like we’re going into 2013 with the rally cry of “that 8 seed is totally up for grabs in the West!” and later in the year, “we’re only one game out in the fight for the 8th seed!” It’s shaping up to be another year of killing the messengers Jim Barnett and Bob Fitzgerald.
If I’m off base let me know. Are we happy with an 8 seed next year or should we expect more? Do we have a shot at any free agents? Are the draft picks going to amount to anything? Is it going to be another year of rumor mongering and wondering what types of names should be put into the trade machine? These questions are the reasons I’m not falling for the banana in the tail pipe and why I expect to be Trapped in Golden State for yet another year whether I want to admit it or not.