Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Golden State Super Bowl

By Justin Taylor

This is it.  The moment we’ve all been waiting for.  The day we worked our tails off for all season long.  It wasn’t easy but now it’s time to see if our hard work and dedication to losing will pay off in the end.  This where the mediocre get separated from the terrible and the terrible separate from the atrocious.  Tomorrow, ladies and gentlemen, is the annual big game in Bay Area basketball that I refer to as the Golden State Superbowl.  It’s not as if anyone reading is wondering what I’m talking about but for anyone outside the Bay, this is (in my best Marv Albert voice) the NBA Draft Lottery!

At this time every year I’m overcome with excitement and embarrassment all in one breath.  On one hand it gives you a sense of optimism that this could be our year.  On the other hand it’s just another example of how pathetic our team is every single season.  If the ping pong balls bounce our way it’ll give Jerry West, Bob Myers and Joe Lacob a real asset to work with whether it be through the draft or through trade.  If we get another bad bounce those three will have their work cut out for them as they fill the roster, sell tickets and do it all without getting booed out of their own building.

The last time we struck it rich it turned out to be fools gold

This is the time where all of the tanking pays off, at least in theory.  First off, not all NBA Drafts are created equal.  For every Akeem (as Hakeem was known on draft day), Shaquille, C-Webb and LeBron there is a Pervis Ellison, Michael Olowokandi or Joe Smith (aka Soft Serve).  This draft falls somewhere in the middle of those examples and for 12 of the 14 lottery teams it probably wasn’t worth tanking games for.  This is not the LeBron draft where three of the top five picks were superstars  (Chris Bosh was never a superstar) nor is it a remake of 1984 where three of the 20 greatest players of all time came off the board in the first five picks (Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley).  In my mind there is one grand prize in this draft and a bunch of blue ribbons.

If you’ve got a shot at the Unibrow (Anthony Davis) and your team sucks, you tank.  The Charlotte Bobcats went above and beyond to give themselves every opportunity to land the one “guaranteed” star in this draft.  The Unibrow isn’t Tim Duncan, Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon but it’s safe to say he’s no Joe Smith, Kwame Brown or Andrea Bargnani.  Since there is only one guy I expect to be a star coming out this year I am calling this the UniWow Draft, which would make tomorrow’s lottery the UniWow Sweepstakes for everyone but the Warriors (because I’ve already established it’s our Superbowl).

Outside of Davis you’ve got Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (a potential all star with a high ceiling but a long way to go to get there), Thomas Robinson (probably the most physically ready prospect of the three) and a substantial drop thereafter.  Andre Drummond is a huge man and athletic freak who has yet to pair skills with those physical gifts.  He offers the biggest boom or bust potential since he could be a David Robinson type or a DJ Mbenga.  Perry Jones invokes names like Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph on a regular basis and I don’t see Warrior fans clamoring for another dose of that medicine.  Those last two round out the guys where the reward could potentially outweigh the risk.  Based on this assessment of the 2012 NBA draft (one star and four potential all stars) I’ll repeat my original statement that this draft wasn’t worth the tank job for most of the teams involved.  I see a lot of really good rotation guys with ten-year careers helping good teams but you don’t tank for solid role players.

The Warriors situation was obviously different.  Our choice was to add a top seven pick to next year’s squad by tanking or give away the number eight pick.  No grey area there, just facts.  Unless we jump to the top three tomorrow I’m not overly impressed with any of the options available at our slot.  That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t rooting for losses and am not clutching my lucky Chris Mullin (the seventh pick in 1985) bobblehead as I hope for lightning to strike or for the order to stay as is.  If I rooted for a less cursed franchise I’d probably be really confident about keeping our pick right now but I don’t and I’m not.  Saying we have a 12% chance of moving up and a 75% chance of staying put feels more like a 0% chance of improving and a 50/50 coin flip away from giving our pick to the Jazz.

Last time we really tanked we ended up with this guy instead of Yao Ming

If we do keep our pick I don’t think that it will yield an elite player who will come in and make an immediate impact but that’s not exactly what I’m crossing my fingers for.  That would require a lot of dominoes to fall in exactly the right spot and at this point the basketball gods have given no indication that’s on the horizon.  Below I’m outlining what I’d like to see happen on draft day in all possible scenarios.

Jump to number 1:  Sign the Unibrow as soon as you win the lottery and don’t look back.  As an added precaution I’d also wrap him in bubble wrap and lock him in a padded room until training camp starts.  Leave nothing to chance.  Speaking of leaving nothing to chance, I wouldn’t make any other major moves until the season starts, our current core is healthy and you have a solid idea of how Uni stacks up against NBA competition right now.  At that point the Rush and McGuire re-signings fill out the roster and we are starting to look like contenders.  If he pans out as expected I’d actually look to move Curry in a package for Rajon Rondo to make Uni, Lee and Bogut more effective on offense while making us one of the best defensive teams in the league.  That’s getting way too far ahead of myself so lets look at the other scenarios.

Jump to number 2:  Draft Kidd-Gilchrist and follow that up by trading Dick Jefferson and Dorrell Wright to anyone with some magic beans to spare.  You’d still want to resign Rush and McGuire for depth, shooting and versatility but you would have your small forward of the future if not the present.

Jump to number 3:  I think I’d be torn between Robinson and Drummond because you get into the classic argument of ceiling vs. NBA ready.  Robinson will contribute in the defense and rebounding departments immediately while Drummond could end up the best player in the draft or good for nothing but six fouls in a worst-case scenario.  This is where Jerry West’s scouting and intuition will be put to its biggest test in Golden State.  Before we go on the clock I would expect the selection to be shopped heavily.  I think the team would be better if you moved Biedrins, Wright and the pick to Philly for Andre Iguodala but I’d listen to arguments against it. 

Stay at number 7:  Shop till you drop young Bob Myers.  Unless the Logo says he really likes someone who will be on the board at that point I’m looking at every single option available.   The trades won’t be nearly as sweet and would require more risk then they would with the second or third picks but believe it or not I’ve got a few thoughts on that…

Trade #1: Biedrins, Wright, the Udoh trade exception, the #7, #35 and #52 picks to Atlanta for Joe Johnson and Zaza Pachulia.  Sounds crazy but it saves the Hawks almost $40 million dollars.  I’d be vary weary of those last two years on Johnson’s contract but it makes us the best shooting, most balanced offense in the entire league if they go for it.

Trade #2: Richard Jefferson and Dorell Wright or the Udoh trade exception (whichever they prefer) plus the #7 pick and the second rounders for Rudy Gay.  Again, it might sound crazy but it saves another small market team $20 million after signing the pick.

You can see the common theme of any trade involving the seventh pick involves a lot of risk in terms of dollars but one thing that Lacober hasn’t been since arriving is cheap.  They may be ridiculously big talkers but they are also big spenders looking to make a splash while trying to give half of the fan base a reason to stay on board as they threaten to leave Oakland.  I’ll have more on that soon but until then, come on lucky number 7!


  1. I agree that tomorrow is by far the biggest game of the year for us Warrior fans! With a 70 % chance of retaining a lottery pick tomorrow, i think we need to seriously take a closer look at who we should consider at # 7..

    PERRY JONES III, at 6-11" 230lb a SF/PF tweener, who most scouts call a tall 3. He could instantly change our starting line up if played as a 3! we would have height like we've never seen before, with 3 players 6'10" or taller in the line up. He could also play some 4 and give us some back up minutes there, which we need pretty badly. He would be a special piece to add to our roster, he is something different, a weapon we currently dont have and probably our most likely pick if he's there...

    DIONE WAITERS 6'4"215 lbs, SG/pg. Waiters is the only unstoppable player coming out of college not named anthony davis. He is by far the best guard coming out in my opinion. He plays with a fearless abandon and the muscle to back it when going to the hole, he's monta ellis + 40lbs of muscle with better ball handling, passing and every bit as good at getting to the rim. He is being compared to tyreke evans and dwayne wade. He could back up the 1 and the 2 for us and with some tutoring from Jackson possibly be a PG that could eventually replace Curry if he never regains his legs. Would be a huge boost for us off the bench offensively.

    JARED SULLINGER 6'9" 280. C/PF. zach randolph, elton brandt type with size down low, but not much hops. He could back up the 4 and the 5 for us and help us tremendously on the boards. Solid numbers at college suggest he will be productive at NBA as a back up. In the end that may be what the warriors need the most, a back up big that can play both the 4 and 5.

    So i heard that to protect our pick tomorrow Utah wanted Jenkins and our 30th pick!! But all we offered them was cash and the 35th pick and unprotecting next years pick.

  2. Definitely wouldn't give up jenkins for the pick unless there was another deal in place for the pick that brings in another established play i.e. AI...

    I could go for any of the above but I'm still hoping it could be packaged for immediate consistency...We've got a nice looking line up if we can just add another daily contributor. If Waiters is the guy it looks like we could trade back (or up with the other picks + cash) to get him based on the mocks I've seen.

  3. As far as trading away a top 7 pick in a Draft that the LOGO has called 8 deep in regards to difference makers. You dont do that, you dont bring in West, watch him pick Klay who quickly proved to be one the top rookies last year and made the all nba rookie first team, then trade away an even higher pick the next year, oh no you dont! you let the LOGO do his magic bro! And c'mon, lets face it, you have to be excited to see what the LOGO does with the pick. Most good scouts see PJ3 and Waiters as top 5 talent. Very doubtful Waiters makes out of the lottery and down to 20 like draft express predicts, much more likely that espn's prediction of going 8th plays out, he's the best Offensive player in the draft. He can create for himself at will, penetrates, dishes, finishes above the rim and scouts like his PG potential because of his ball handling skills and passing, at 215 6'4, wow! no wonder the wade comparison, and no way he slips that far, the kid is a star.

    At this point Its hard to say who is best suited to start at 3 for the dubs next year, but most warrior fans seem to like rush and mcguire more then wright or jefferson, thats 4 viable options at the 3 spot though. I would say back up bigs and back up guards seem to be more pressing needs, we do potentially have 4 SF's already. Plus I do think Dwright and #30 n #35 will get you high enough to get a back up big in the low 20 range of the draft, which would allows us to let Jerry West to take the best player available at 7.

    1. No argument here...the only thing I'll add is that I am just as confident in the Logo's evaluation of current players as I am of future ones. It is a great feeling to go into a draft confident instead of wondering how the Warriors are going to botch it...

  4. Nice article, Justin. I agree with most of your scenarios. We do have 4 players, perhaps 5 if one includes C. Wright, at the 3 spot. I would start Mc Guire for his defense, rebounding, ball handling and toughness/hustle. With 4 scorers already starting, a Bruce Bowen type is filling a great need in the starting lineup.
    So, yes, pick a back up big or guard as we are quite thin there. Provided we do not land the #1 pick, I would tab Thomas Robinson as the man most likely to contribute immediately and eventually take David Lee's place. If we keep #7 and PJ III is there, take him. If not then have a trade in place that would at least rid us of D. Wright.

    1. Thanks Mr. Mean...

      Lets hope McGuire and Rush are back in the fold so there are no glaring holes to fill in the draft or free agency and we let West go with his personal best available (which should happen either way). I like the way they offer contrasting looks on the first and second unit however Mark Jackson (or whoever is coaching from the second seat) sees fit...

    2. The Mr. Mean? Did you mention Bruce Bowen? Caught my eyes! Your thinking has been absent from G.S. for quite awhile. One of the better who played the "D" here was the one & only L.S. If this is really you? Thank you for the enjoyable seasons if so, now please go to our practice sessions & teach team "D", team rebounding. Something forgotten here. I know, all even hate to hear me bring up these needless points again! But you did mention "D" & this makes sense. Haven't we allowed burglars in our house often enough? My cookie jar emptied? Lace the shoes up at 53 & get onto the court. Boston has a few aged fellows. You would fall under that category. At least if I'm going to watch a team loose I want to see them play the game correctly. McGuire, Rush in G.S. for 2012. At G.S. we operate on the principals of prayer,hope, & luck. And have little if any help from it. S

  5. Barring injury, Davis will absolutely be on the level of those perennial all-star bigs you named. He is dominant, has all the physical tools in the world, no ego, and a fantastic work ethic.

  6. If I have the opportunity to gain Andre Iguodala & unload the three mentioned I jump on this immediately without stopping at go. Now the issues: Cap Room?, Iguodala at the 3 with Klay at the 2 & Curry/Jenkins,or the Uni-position McGuire(1,2,3?) at the point? Bogut/Lee to return to these new pieces of the puzzle next season? This new team would show me speed, "D", scoring, team rebounding, inside presence, + free throw %/attempts. Now I think you have something there. Nice you feel solid on Jenkins, I do also. Agreed I also feel we aren't as far away as many think but retaining the services of McGuire, Rush need to be completed 1st! Then with the probable loss of Malone we soon hopefully find out that Jackson has some coaching skills hidden by last season's results. Our Supreme Leader maybe our major downfall. So then I ask: gain a player, or a qualified coach first? Can Jackson lead us to water? I feel great about the possibilities with the additional help but what about the lessons learned? Will we just see the same B.S. but with different names on their shirts? These questions still loom large to me. I was for Andre when he was mentioned for Monta earlier but with Andre you don't get the true leader on the court as a Kidd for instance. Great piece, not a floor general. This may take seasons to prepare these ultimate winning goals but we need to start now, not later! I think this trade vault's us to the top sooner than wait for our draft picks to emerge. I feel by the time we train someone it will be time for our trained seasoned veterans finding a higher paying contract from a employer with a better opportunity to win. We will just be a revolving door for talent as we have been for a long time now. Does A's to the Yankees ring a bell? We already are feeding the richer franchises. Regardless I feel our rainbow is closer than previously thought. If Curry,Bogut get healthy(Big if) our pot of gold could be within reach earlier than later. McGuire, Iguodala at the guard tells me we pick up the "D" full court. Give up 110 points then will be a thing of the past. We then will force the issue ourselves. This is winning basketball. Controlling the game also controls the final outcome. This philosophy wins in any sport or business. When the real draft presents itself: Will G.S. go for someone in particular or the best player available? If there's a log jam at 7 will we maybe trade down to 11 for instance? If Robinson and Drummond fall to 7 who do you take? Move up & liquidate our immediate possibilities mortgaged again to the future? Will the future ever come? Maybe some answers will appear to solve some of these endless riddles asked for over 30 + seasons. As said above :" At G.S. we operate on the principals of prayer,hope, & luck. S

    1. Hopefully Myers and the Logo can get us to the point where we're not relying on prayers and luck anymore...

      They've got some big decisions to make in the next month but for the first time in years I think they'll make the moves that won't be second guessed all season long.

  7. It sucks that we only have the Mid-Level Exception to use in free agency. I think that with the 7th pick we should get Dion Waiters to be a 6th man/3rd guard off of the bench so that we don't HAVE to re-sign both Rush and Mcguire. Waiters is big enough to play the 3 in a small lineup and we already (unfortunately) have D-Wright and Jefferson ( if only we could trade one of them!) Rush is going to be too expensive for us anyways so we should get Mcguire, who a true SF.

    1. It would suck for Rush but I hope no one ponies up more then our Qualifying Offer because he makes for really good depth at the 2 and 3 spots. I'm hearing more and more good things about Waiters and this roster could use a guy with a nose for getting to the rim. I'm more sold on him then the 3's that will be available to us.