Sunday, June 24, 2012

Warriors Small forwards and other Small problems

By Justin Taylor

It would be awesome to look at your starting line up and see five potential all stars (you never know, six power forwards could get hurt and David Lee could be an alternate to the alternates all star again) but that doesn’t make it the best thing for the future of the franchise.  What you’d have is a group of borderline all stars and a motley crew of busts, kids and D Leaguers on the bench.  Joe Lacob and Coach Jackson both said that a starting small forward was the top offseason priority and I’m saying it was either another misguided statement at it’s worst or a misdirection play to make other teams think we’d overpay in a trade or over reach in the draft at its best.

Adding Deng for anything more than a pick and a bad contract would be counter productive

Everyone knows the names (Gay, Igoudala, Deng, Batum, Mbah a Moute; maybe I’m the only one there; or trading up for MKG) being thrown around by now and if this were Major League Baseball we would just call for the owner to spend some money to make it happen but it’s not.  Having one great player is better than three good ones but are any of these guys great?  Hell no.  Instead, we should be pursuing the hell out of Brandon Roy to round out the rotation, health be damned.  Bob Myers (his former agent) came out this week and openly stated they’re kicking the tires on that possibility.
I’ve been saying for a while now (and by a while I mean about three weeks since my last flip flop on the subject) that we should use the picks, draft the best players available, accumulate more young assets and prepare for a real blockbuster at the deadline if another trade is in the cards.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and try to win a fantasy championship on paper.  The question I’m asking is whether a small forward is really more important then all of our other needs combined?  If they can get Deng for the pick and a bad contract like Jefferson or Biedrins it will improve the team and give them an asset in a big deal but paying more than that will work against them and makes it an illogical deal for the Bulls.

For those of you out there that haven’t wasted a ton of time analyzing the roster, coming up with mock draft picks and creating fake trade scenarios I’ll break it all down and isolate the real needs for 2012-13 for you. 

Back Court

In Stephen Curry we have a naturally gifted basketball player and Olympic gold medalist who isn’t a pure point guard but will be the biggest catalyst for future success.  The only problem is that we’ve seen him on billboards and commercials more then we’ve seen him on the court over the last couple years.  If that wasn’t enough cause for concern the only player we have to back up the perpetually injured point guard is Charles Jenkins who still very young and is not a natural point either.  I’ve liked Jenkins since the day we drafted him but that doesn’t mean that I want all of my eggs in his basket if and when Curry goes down.

Klay Thompson just needs to keep improving and working on some go to facial expressions

Klay Thompson had a tremendous rookie year that ended with him on the All Rookie first team.  The only part of his game where we didn’t see development was a go to facial expression.  Our future at the two guard spot looks very bright and I’m happy he will go into camp as the starter.  Our only option to back him up will be Brandon Rush once he’s resigned and if Thompson experiences a sophomore slump, fails to meet the increased expectations or gets hurt we’ve got issues.  It’s one thing to get unlimited shots and minutes on a shitty team that’s going nowhere but this team has actual postseason aspirations, not just hot air playoff guarantees.  You know who the best back up is if he stumbles or one of these guys gets hurt?  Charles Jenkins!  You know, the only guy backing up the point guard spot?

Front Court

While David Lee may not be everyone’s cup of tea and may be slightly overpaid (today he is slightly overpaid, three years from now when all of his contract raises have kicked in he will be vastly overcompensated) but you know exactly what you’re getting out of him every night.  He has problems on defense and on offense against the longer defenders but he is going to work his ass off and give you 35-40 really good to above average minutes day in day out. 

Jeremy Tyler gave about what you’d expect from a kid his age with his inconsistent play and his slippery hands that could earn him a sponsorship from Pennzoil.  Just like Klay he got big minutes on a D league caliber team, we have no idea how he’ll handle the responsibility of being the first big off the bench on an NBA squad.  The only other option is the unsigned, blue-collar lunchbox toting Dominic McGuire.  He defends four positions, knows his role and strives to outwork his man on defense so there should be no question here.  It needs to be done.

It’s been so long since we’ve had a legitimate center it still doesn’t feel real.  Of course, there is a chance that it won’t be real to start the season or ever for that matter.   A 4/5 combination of Bogut and Lee looks fantastic on paper but if either of them gets hurt we’re in deep shit.  How many examples of 7 footers are there of guys who were never the same once the feet and ankles start to break down.  I know it was a freak injury but I’m a Warrior fan that runs a website called Trapped In Golden State so you’re damn right I’m nervous. 

Andris Biedrins might just need to bring back the "spike" to get some of his game back

Andris Biedrins is slated to play with no competition for the reserve 5 spot as long as he’s on the roster (or maybe even start if Bogut isn’t ready).  I know the thought makes you cringe but I think I’ve figured out the whole AB15 Disorder.  As soon as Biedrins hair went limp so did his game.  The disease has a few strains and the closest cousin to the AB15 Disorder is the AK47 Complex.  If we could just get a little bit of that old Goose with the gallons of product propping up that spiky hairdo it could pay dividends.  If anyone else has an explanation for what happened I can’t wait to hear it because I’ve never seen a guy fall off a bigger cliff between the ages of 24 and 26.  Does he have a drinking problem?  Is he on drugs?  Did a hot Eastern European girl break his heart?  Is his family in Latvia being held hostage by the Russian mob demanding he suck to tank games?  I’ll believe anything at this point.

The only way to give ourselves more options in the front court is to spend one or more of our draft picks on guys like Andrew Nicholson, Drew Gordon, Kevin Jones or Fab Melo at the bottom of round 1 or the top of round 2.  That can’t happen if we trade all of our picks for a veteran small forward or to move up in the draft to get one but I’m getting ahead of myself.  Just to recap before we move on to the “real” problem: I just rattled off four quality starters, one legitimate NBA 6th man, one versatile forward who hasn’t been signed yet, one promising but green combo guard, one inconsistent young big man with greasy hands and an overpaid 7 foot head case of epic proportions.  That’s four positions and six guys you think you can count on.  If you don’t have a problem with those numbers I’ll just get on with the biggest perceived issue.

Small Forward

Dorrell Wright is the guy that makes the small forward issue look bigger than it is.  Part of me thinks the only reason Coach Jackson started him and Biedrins as long as he did was that he was secretly embracing the tank.  He reminded me of a young Mike Dunleavy hiding out four feet behind the three-point line.  Making all those threes two years ago may have blinded us to his lack of aggression and indecisive play but this year he looked timid as a Girl Scout selling cookies out there.  It’s not like he’s suffering from the AB15 disease but he clearly regressed.  This team needs an attitude adjustment that starts with the removal of any soft or indifferent dispositions.  My (unsought) advice is to dump him regardless of any draft or free agency maneuvers.  If he can’t be included in any deals to bring in help this year he should be shopped for a pick next year since Utah will own our first rounder.  It will be addition by subtraction for team chemistry in this Golden State Worrier’s eyes.

Bringing back McGuire is more important than anyone is letting on

I’m arguing that the only place on the roster without a clear need is small forward.  Even with the incumbent starter out of the mix it’s the only position that has any true depth.  Having Rush (even though he’s the primary sub at shooting guard), McGuire (the real priority), Dick Jefferson and the human pogo stick Chris Wright means it’s the one spot with no potential all star but it’s also the only area where we have three legitimate NBA players and a wild card.  We shouldn’t be looking to draft a three let alone trade for one unless some other incompetent GM’s allow MKG to fall in our lap.  Getting Roy may create a bit of a logjam but he allows you to utilize the lottery pick on the best player available without worrying about needs since Roy could give you a few minutes of relief at the one, two AND three.  15 to 20 minutes a night for Jefferson, McGuire and Roy with the scraps to C. Wright keeps everyone healthy, aggressive and fresh.

Last week I posted an article with nothing but (what I consider) realistic trade proposals.  I didn’t want to include any more hypothetical deals today but I’ve got one more.  Would Phoenix accept Dorrell Wright and two second round picks for their training staff?  What if we throw in Bob Fitzgerald, a wad of Joe Lacob’s cash and a 50% off Groupon for the Rocket Boat at Pier 39 since Suns owner Robert Sarver is so famously cheap?   Every single prediction regarding this team has to be prefaced with a capital IF and it’s making the offseason feel long already.  IF Curry and Bogut stay healthy.  IF Thompson, Jenkins and Tyler continue to develop.  IF David Lee continues to justify his hefty paycheck.  IF the uncertainties go our way for once and they don’t overspend to make a desperate move for a low level all star this team will still make the playoffs.  They will continue to improve, they will keep some semblance of financial flexibility and they will have a number of tradable assets if a real superstar hits the market.


  1. Hey, Justin, nice one, mate. I love an article with thoughtful analysis and a bit of humor thrown in, which is what we have here.

    Yes, humor; we die hard fans have surely needed more than just a bit of it to stay aboard the HMS Warrior, no ?

    I totally agree that unless we can somehow get MKG, we're set enough at the 3, even if it may be our weakest STARTING position. It would really be tempting to trade Beans and #7 for Deng but I would rather use that asset to procure some help in those other areas of true need. Hey, you just never know Justin, AB15 just might shock us all, with a shock of spiky hair and a 'stash and goatee, maybe he could be the next Mr. Mean ! (Might take a lotta gazing into the mirror to acquire a convincing scowl, however...what he really needs is a bit of hypnotherapy or the like and shooting 1,000 free throws EVERY day).
    About Brandon Roy. I have not read any medical reports on him but unless he can stay healthy, I wouldn't waste a another roster spot there as we're doing with Beans and perhaps D. Wright and Jefferson. If we get 75% of the Brandon Roy of old and he can stay healthy, then it might be a positive move.

    But to mortgage our future on a border-line all star 3 as you've mentioned with the likes of Gay, Iggy, etal,is simply ludicrous.

    Besides, if Dom Mc Guire can continue to improve on his J as he was doing toward the end of last season, I would take him over someone making 12-20M per year every day. He would be a great fit for the starting line up. I mean do we really need to have 5 scorers on the floor to start the game with ? The Spurs won a lot of games for many years with Bruce Bowen starting, no ?

  2. Oh, there's more here.

    In an ideal Warriors World, my fantasy would not only be drafting some back up bigs and guards but to procure some quality vets there as well.

    For my fantasy buck I would love to have Jason Kidd on the team to mentor Curry, especially in the toughness dept. 20 min per game for JK would mean so much to keeping Curry healthy. Could even play them both together at times. It would sell out the arena for us to be able to see the hometown Kidd comeback here to finish out his days. Failing to land Kidd, my next choice would be Andre Miller, another tough competitor with lots of game, even at his age.

    For the bigs, I would love a scrappy, tough, high energy guy like Reggie Evans. Mahinmi might be the best bet with his youth and affordability. Looked great off the bench for Dallas last year.

    If Curry or Bogut goes down we definitely need a vet to back them up, not just a talented rookie.

    Jason, I would love to see your thoughts on who you might think would be the best back up vets available for us at guard and on the front court and what it might take to acquire them.

    Cheers mate

    1. Kidd and Roy would add a lot more to this team then the 20 minutes a night they play would suggest. As far as big men i think the most affordable options are the young guys in the draft but I wouldn't be opposed to some low rent guys like the one you mentioned in Mahinmi or even Kwame Brown if we can get him cheaper than we did last year. Couple some guys like that with scorers off the bench like a Lillard or Waiters and we've got a good balance going. With the depth of bigs out there between 25-40 I'd like us to take a couple that if nothing else might end up being sweeteners in a deal.

      Thanks for the read and the feedback Mr. Mean...

    2. Kidd or Miller would be great but probably not on the cheap...

      For G's Chauncey Billups might be pretty cheap because of the ACL. He'd give the young players time to develop (on-court) early on & then (hopefully) provide depth & big-game/clutch experience when healthy at the end of the year.

      The W's definitely need size & toughness from a back-up big, but they also need someone that can be a low-end defensive/rebound minded starter at both C or PF.

      At least on paper... I'm not sure if Evans or Mahimi can fit that need. Evans looks more like a PF & Mahimi maybe isn't quite bulky enough to play next to Lee at just 230 lbs. Kwame Brown definitely could if healthy, in shape, & willing.

      It looks risky, but does anyone know much about Omar Asik? Asiks' an RFA but his numbers are almost identical to Marcin Gortat before Gortat was traded to Phoenix.

      At this point they probably don't have room to add both a PF & G from free agency.

    3. Billups could be a great addition and maybe the best idea at the point tho not necessarily a starter.

    4. looks like the Clips are trying to get rid of Mo Williams so they can focus on getting Chauncey back into the fold right now...

  3. No doubt GS could use a vet or two, but I also don't buy the idea that they shouldn't add young players.

    OKC has 4 key young players among their core (KD, Harden, Westbrook, Ibaka) while the W's have 2 (Curry & Thompson). The W's don't have a super-player like KD, but none of the SF's on the market are in his league... Why pay them KD type money? To counter the youth, OKC brought in a reasonably priced vet (Fischer) to provide leadership & stability and that's exactly what the W's should do w/ the MLE or by trade.

    If Lillard really is the best player available, then the W's should pick him at #7. It sounds like he can do a lot more than just shoot & if so, drafting D. Lillard would make for an incredibly potent offense. The big Q's the W's brass needs to answer is whether or not his small school game will translate to the NBA, and can he be a facilitator. It'd be a great story if it worked out.

    GS still has the MLE to work w/ so if they get a PG/SG at #7 then they should use the mid-level on a PF/C. I like the idea of making at least 3-4 picks in this draft. That's why they moved the D-team to Santa Cruise right?


    lol @ "When Biedrins hair went limp so did his game."

    It must be the Samson syndrome, and I don't mean Ralph Sampson!

    1. err, *Santa Cruz*

    2. I hear you...Lacob knows as well as anyone that you can't make that huge move if you can't tease the other team with youth and potential. Gerald Green was a huge chip in that KG trade! I like what Myers has been saying and doing, I think he gets it too..."We want guys that other teams want" Great line, Great philosophy!

      We're not winning the championship this year and it's not like Bogut and Curry are taking us there at any point. What we need to do is put ourselves in a position to compliment them with a top level stud or turn them into one and build from there. The countdown to the draft has begun!

    3. It's very, very far fetched but there is a way...

      Current GS Roster

      + great 2012 draft class
      + Thompson & Jenks keep getting better
      + full health in playoffs, esp. Curry, Bogut, Lee
      + solid MLE
      + solid vet i.e. Fisher/Billups/Miller
      + at least 1 solid backup PF/C via draft of MLE
      + key injury to Miami ?
      + key injury to OKC ?

      = GS Champion

    4. Holy Shit! You just officially won the award for most optimistic fan at Trapped in Golden State and throughout the entire Warrior fan base! prefacing it by saying far fetched doesn't change that...

      That's what I love about doing this though...I get ripped on for being too cynical and at the end of the day I really see this site as a place where we can find the humor, the positive and the optimism among years of heartbreak.

      Good feedback all around JR. Please continue to share the love and the optimism around here cause lord knows I need some to rub off on me.

    5. One more thing... if this was to happen this year I am going to print it and have you autograph it so I can frame it and put it on my office wall!

    6. Well it did say "very, very" far fetched, but there's no harm in spiking the Kool-aid lol. The above list might need a few more line items but it's fair to say the W's would be a repeat on the top-20 I found below.

    7. Either way, I appreciate the enthusiasm that not even a 21 win season could put a damper'll know more when we talk on Friday.

  4. It'd probably drive Keith Smart bonkers, but how crazy would the Kings be w/ Cousins/Drummond at PF/C?

    1. Seriously! And you forgot about Tyreke Evans! Smart might need to sleep in a padded room this season cause those guys will drive him insane.

  5. i've been flip flopping around on this debate for a while. i think, finally, i have come up with what i believe to be the best solution: sit pat with our 7 and 30 and trade into the first round (OKC and i believe miami want out of the guaranteed contracts) with our second rounders.

    draft the hometown kid at 7 for depth at pg, our most fragile position. festes azeli at 30 for frontcourt depth at our second most fragile position. with our third pick, get sullinger when he falls. damn the bad back, hes the closest thing to a surefire rotation player in the draft, he'll basically be our mini david lee.

    1. It'll drive you crazy, I know. Looks like it'll be between Lillard, Drummond or Waiters...Drummond and/or Lillard have a good chance of being gone by 7 and if that's the case it opens up the remote possibility that MKG is there?!? What do you think of that? I never would have entertained the though as late as a week ago...

    2. At 30 or 35? I won't blink before taking Sullinger, at seven i was a big time hater...

      Thanks for weighing in again, always appreciate your's been a minute...

    3. Love DK's idea... can we improved due to someone else's mistakes already???
      To get one more first rounder could be a very big deal... Whether it is Sullinger or one of the other sliders such as PJIII, Moultrie, Andrew Nicholson, or even Moe Harkless(who the Warriors just worked out) or the scary in every way Royce White...

      When we pair that with #7 Waiters, Lillard, Lamb or even Ross who the Logo likes and Festus Ezeli or Fab Melo at #30, we could have a nice little team in Oakland for the next couple of years.

      Hmmm can we ship DWright and the second rounders to move up a little further to the teens?

      It really is super important to resign McGuire and Rush. Loosing either one of those two means our crowded but not starting quality group of 3s looks much worse. Not to mention no players with NBA experience backing up Klay at the 2. I don't want to see Dayglo Slamdunk Champ Nate back as most of us seem to agree on.

    4. yeah MKG sliding to the #7 seems to good to be true... can we have a parade in Oakland just for him?

    5. Derek's definitely right about getting another late first rounder from OKC or MIA, neither of those teams want an untested kid with guaranteed money. I wouldn't mind seeing D. Wright go along with number 35 to move up for a third first rounder. Normally I'd say don't bother but I can't believe how many guys I like in that range...Maybe I just need to put the draft flavored kool aid down for a minute.

    6. i believe thompson on twitter shared a mock draft with MKG sliding. basically in this theory rockets trade to #5, where they get drummond as a project center. i dont know if their GM is that stupid or caught up in the hype about drum but if that happens portland will still take lillard... probably. it all depends, for a month i've believed all MKG had to do was slide past 5 and it would be a foregone conclusion that portland would pass on him, but it would be a pretty slick and nasty trick if they selected MKG just to make us pony up a handsome sum to trade for him. think about it, with lillard on the board we'd have to pick him and maybe another pick or something to get MKG. it could happen.

      anyway, yeah, i meant sully with the MIA/OKC first rounder we hypothetically get with our second rounders. PJIII would be a wasted pick. at first i thought of picking him on pure potential, but low motor guys aren't worth it.

    7. @shawnkfrazier if MKG drops to 7 i'll parachute naked off of Oracle with MKG painted across my chest every homegame.

  6. It's kind of funny to me how I've written thousands of words on the draft, free agency and the point guard position without mentioning little Nate's's just that i'm trying to keep it under 2000 words and I don't want to waste any of them on

  7. I'm still hoping they trade up for Beal, but it's looking like Drummond might fall. It'd be pretty tough to pass on a 7ft 280 lbs big man w/ "unlimited physical potential," & an "extremely high ceiling."

    1. He's all those things you mentioned but also has a "questionable" motor...I've been getting higher and higher on Lillard the more I look at him...the guy is a competitor.

    2. Lillard sounds like a good solid pick but if Drummond is there, wow! Not going to be an easy choice.

      I was lukewarm on Lillard at first because I got visions of a Curry/Ellis type smallish backcourt. After further review, that's not such a bad thing if Lillard is really that good & if he's a willing passer. It might be a great thing w/ a healthy Bogut, Lee, backup PF/C, & all the sharpshooters.

    3. It just hit me...Drummond reminds me of a younger, less talented, less skilled Joe Barely Cares. I won't complain if they draft him because he has value but that is my final assessment.

    4. Drummond is the last guy I would pick at 7. His numbers and athleticism are not that much better than Festus Ezeli. Drummond seems to blame his difficulties on ESL and the fact that he has not been playing basketball that long. Ezeli also has the same issues, as he was raised in Africa until moving here for HS. Thing is that Ezeli doesn't seem to have motor or conditioning issues. If you get close to the same player at the bottom of the first round, how could you think Drummond is that big of a deal that you would take him in the mid lottery?

    5. I think if they take him it will be as part of another deal. Myers was just on KNBR pumping work ethic and dedication which are two attributes i haven't heard attached to Drummond once. Besides, like you said, how many examples of mid lottery big men are there that turn out to be world beaters? If people really though he could be the next great big man he'd go ahead of guys like Barnes, Lillard, Beal and Robinson.