Thursday, August 23, 2012

Warriors Roster Rates High on the Motivation Scale


By Justin Taylor

Stephen Curry will have much more then his health motivating him this season

I’m not going to lie, it’s great to see the Warriors finally getting some respect around the league or at least in the media and around the blogosphere.   Respect is a relative term because even the writers who are picking them to have a breakout year act like they’re making some sort of crazy, mind blowing prediction.  Every single one of those stories includes the caveat that Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut stay healthy and even then they are placing them seventh or eighth in the Western Conference.  Way to go out on a limb with your bold statements there fellas.

We all know that the draft, free agency and the Jack trade balanced the roster and made us a deep team but there has got to be more to it right?  This isn’t the first time we’ve had a good team on paper and it’s time that someone looked past the Name/Position/Height/Weight/Career Stats columns.  As pretty as that box score looks before the games are played I’m going to look between the lines to see if the roster can be greater than the sum of its parts.

I’m going to gauge the motivating factors on a 1-10 scale for everyone on the team.  I’ll do that by scoring their need for money, what this season means to their career arc and the pride they take in their craft.  The goal is to score each individual’s overall motivation and use that irrelevant mark for one reason; predict the chemistry of this year’s team.

Mark Jackson: A few weeks ago GM Bob Myers came out and let it be known that the coach won’t get to take a mulligan this time around.  For Myer to come out and try to back track on those statements was pointless.  If Coach Jackson doesn’t go at least .500 he’s going to be competing with Chris Mullin for his old job.  That’s the type of extra motivation I’m looking for.

Money: 3 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Mike Malone: After going out for head coaching interviews all offseason and coming back with his tail between his legs (I’m sure he’d rather be an assistant in the Bay Area then the head guy in Charlotte anyway) Mike Malone desperately wants to shed the title of One-of-the-Most-Respected-Assistants-in-the-NBA.  He got a lot of credit for the few things that went right in Mark Jackson’s first year as a coach and not much blame for the things that didn’t.  If things go south this season there will be plenty of blame for everyone to get their fair share.

Money: 6 Career: 10 Pride: 8

Stephen Curry: When Monta Ellis was traded it was obvious who the Warriors valued more.  Curry may be the better player but Ellis did offer good value at $11 million per year.  Since you can bet his agents are selling him as a sure fire future all star as we speak let’s look at the yearly salary comps...

(Dollar figures are in millions per year and average the remaining years whether they ascending or are flat rates)

Russell Westbrook: 5 yrs / $15.7
Deron Williams: 5 yrs / $19.75
Rajon Rondo: 3 yrs / $11.95
Derrick Rose: 5 yrs / $18.86
Chris Paul: 1 yr / $17.779
Tony Parker: 3 yrs / $12.5

Soooo… Needless to say this is a BIG year for Steph and his breakaway ankle.  If he earns the right to be paid like those point guards the team is going to be happy to pay him and we’re going to be an ecstatic group of fans.  How is that for motivation?

Money: 11 Career: 10 Pride: 10

We're about to find out just what makes Andrew Bogut tick

Andrew Bogut: Even if he doesn’t fully recover from that ankle injury Bogut will still be the better Warriors big man since Chris Webber but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything to prove.  He still has to justify the Monta Ellis trade to the fans, show everyone he’s not injury prone and convince teams that he’s worth the risk of one more long term contract before he calls it a career.

Money: 6 Career: 8 Pride: 9

David Lee: This guy has already proven himself to be a world-class worker, teammate and human being so what else is left? He has spent the last 6 years proving he’s been (in order)…worth a first round draft pick, worth his roster spot, worth his minutes, worth a starter’s role, worth the title of (alternate) all star and even though he conquered all of those doubters the hardest part has yet to come.  The $11.6 million he got paid last season was money well spent BUT he is getting older and his salary will be $12.74/$13.88/$15.01/$15.49 million over the next four years.  Earning his paychecks is going to get harder and harder which is probably a good thing for someone like Lee who actually thrives on proving people wrong. 

Money: 1 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Jarrett Jack: It’s hard to imagine Jarrett Jack not having a career year this season. He’s basically got an 82+ game long audition for the other 29 teams in the league.  Everyone knows that Jack is going to play his ass off this year to convince another team to overpay him for the next four.  That’s one hell of a carrot he’s got sitting in front of him and having a big hand in pushing this team to the playoffs will only make it bigger.

Money: 11 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Brandon Rush: I expect Rush to be a man on a mission this season.  He’s got to be pissed that no other team forced the Warriors to hand over more dough in the free agency period.  Personally I’d start him at small forward on opening night to give him every opportunity to prove he’s worth more.  The last thing anyone involved can afford is for him to get off to a slow start and resign himself to the thought of just settling for the player option he’s got for next year.

Money: 10 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Carl Landry: Getting Carl Landry for the price we paid for him was an absolute steal.  Not only does he fill a need but he is another guy that is going to play like a man possessed every single night because of his contract status.  He has a player option for next year and he’s hoping to give himself more options in the offseason.

Money: 10 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Richard Jefferson: He’ll never justify his contract but the team already got everything they wanted when they traded for him…Festus Ezeli.  The quiet hope in the front office (whether they would ever admit it or not) is for him to show he has enough left in the tank for another team to take notice and offer a snow globe and/or a song for him.

Money: 1 Career: 7 Pride: 7

Charles Jenkins: I love the Jack Jenkins second unit backcourt.  It’s two interchangeable tough guys that can handle and shoot so I’m referring them as one guy until I’m proven wrong about this pairing.  Charles Jenkins needs to make a big leap forward this year to make the Warriors do better then just offering the  $1 million qualifying offer he’s due for next offseason.  I’m pulling for him and am confident he’ll put in the work necessary to force the front office’s hand.

Money: 10 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Jeremy Tyler: I couldn’t be happier that we won’t be relying on him to play big minutes or provide consistent contributions.  Sending him to Santa Cruz will hurt his trade value so he’s going to have to show progress or risk getting sores on his ass from riding the bench.  The ball is in his court and the hope is that he doesn’t let it slip through his fingers like so many passes in 2011.

Money: 8 Career: 8 Pride: 6

Andris Biedrins:  Speaking of low expectations…I don’t know that anyone has lower expectations of Andris Biedrins than Andris himself at this point.  I was joking when I said I hoped he gets held in Latvia on those tax evasion charges (unless the Warriors could void his contract of course) but that is how bad it has gotten.   

Money: 1 Career: 2 Pride: -4

Draymond Green: Even though he’ll have the smallest role out of our draft picks Green has the most to prove.  He doesn’t need to prove he has the skills to play in the NBA but rather a position.  Armed with a three year guaranteed contract he’s got some time to show his stuff but he’ll have a lot of eyeballs on him until he does.  He won’t be handed anything, which is just the way he wants it.

Money: 4 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Festus Ezeli: It’ll be unfortunate if Bogut can’t start the season on time because it’s going to thrust Ezeli into a role he’s not ready for in my opinion.  In a perfect world he’d be able just replicate what Ekpe Udoh did off the bench his rookie year and be allowed to grow into a bigger role as Bogut gets closer to the end of his deal. 

Money: 6 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Harrison Barnes has been going after the money since high school but now it's showtime

Harrison Barnes: All Barnes needs to do is show us he is a starter in this league over the long haul and can offer more then Richard Jefferson’s carcass in the short term. If “The Black Falcon” (somebody needs to tell him you can’t coin your own nickname unless you’re a perennial MVP candidate and a completely self involved D bag like Kobe Bryant) can grow into that description I’m fine with it.

Money: 9 Career: 8 Pride: 8

Klay Thompson: Stay aggressive and improve his defense while avoiding a sophomore slump is all Thompson needs to do.  If he can do that I’m willing to give him a couple more seasons to develop some facial expressions.

Money: 6 Career: 10 Pride: 9

Kent Bazemore: Kick everyone’s ass in practice. Period.  That alone will get him his shot when Rush and Jack move on in the next two years.  The minutes will be few and far between but anything he earns this year will be icing on the cake for him and us.

Money: 8 Career: 10 Pride: 10

Usually rookies need to learn how to act in the league but this class has real character from the start

As long as nobody is out there trying to pad their stats to pad their future paychecks this should be a great season (if healthy).  That’s usually a symptom that rears its ugly head on bad teams but with the playoffs or bust mentality that has already been established that shouldn’t be a problem.  Our veterans and young guys all seem to have a great deal of character and pride in their approach to the game.  Mix in all the guys with so much money on the line and so much to prove it is safe to assume that the effort and intensity will be consistent all season.  That is music to this fan’s ears after watching half of the team half ass it year after year.  Now its just Biedrins and I can live with those numbers.

Team Totals:

377 out a possible 510 motivation points

9 comments:

  1. It will sure as hell be nice when the season shows up & we can talk about performance. Sports journalists are leery about going out on a limb with GS predictions due to past issues which made many look horrible. People who are new to the W's get impatient & feel everything in bay area basketball will be similar as OKC but not so. Get over it. I have. Moaning & groaning never brought home a trophy. For me or GS. At least to my knowledge. Understanding how to truly win is the issue. OKC got to the dance but left their skirts in Miami. Many feel that players are what brings wins to the table but no matter who you put on the floor you can't win until your thought process is sound. I have seen many greats players in the same group & go no further than GS has done. Names of Chamberlain,Baylor & West ring a bell? GS fans, what results would satisfy your basketball taste buds for the 2012 GS season? If you say wins or playoffs are you truly thinking to the future? Where have we went in the recent playoff picture? No maps needed for our post season.
    It really doesn't take too much reading to see what characteristics championship team's possess. What does GS need to do in your opinion? The possibilities look juicier since the personnel we obtained have the physical talents to perform some of the winning attributes we have needed recently. Sadly all we can do is bitch wonder & wait. I am tired of making it to the playoffs without even bothering our first round opponents. 4-5 games into the playoffs & goodbye. We will not take the title. Guaranteed! The key this season is to teach our children correctly on how to win. Hopefully our coaches have the answers. Again I will be happy if our youth learn winning fundamentals to build on for the upcoming years. We have quite a way to go. But if you compare the situations of last season's team to this years we have stepped up the possibilities of betterment. I just hope that Jackson & Malone do some of the things they say. Learning how to win is nearly as tough as winning itself. Am I looking to see my next title setting next to the Dipper? I hope not. Look, as a true W's fan I've had my ass handed to me on a gold platter about as many times as GS has jumped center court in the last 50 yrs. I'm not the only one to suffer. But lets start suffering less with intelligent play! It's great to watch basketball but not when you realize that when you face a formidable opponent you might as well just not even stop the plane to play the game. As fans & spectators lets become intelligent so we truly understand what plague's us. Lets enjoy seeing the kids grow up with the understanding that someday we might even play the game that could finally place the city of Oakland on the map again! Fun as a W's fan? Dreaming. Could you even imagine looking to the rafters in Oracle & see as many banners as in Boston? I would be happy with just one more! Hopefully I don't have to get thrown out again expressing my view to the bench as in the past. I just can't handle piss poor effort from some pewky kid who is making 5 mil to have fun. Can't I just enjoy watching a little GS basketball? Hopefully this years results differ from the last few! My stomach can't take any more! S

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    1. I'm with you SRG, there is no slower time of year. I think that everyone is grasping at straws trying to come up with something interesting to talk about because how good the offseason was and how the team is perfectly balanced has already been covered.

      I felt like there were other questions that won't be answered until the season is in play like how motivated are they and how those motivations will mesh or clash. If you have a bunch of guys with nothing more then money pushing them alone you can get players playing in a different direction than the teams goals. Padded stats = Padded paychecks down the line...

      I'm not optimistic about how this team is going to play together now because we've got a mix of young and old but because we've got a mix of hungry guys who realize how much is on the line for them personally if they dont contribute to the success of this franchise, this year.

      If all goes according to plan the youngsters will learn and earn their ways onto the floor and the vets will earn their keep and the paychecks they'll get in free agency next season. By that time the kids should be ready to fill those shoes as we continue to build a foundation of a high skill, high character roster.

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  2. A most excellent offering here, my friend. Your articles are constantly getting more and more articulate and spot on. Well done, mate.

    That being said, you've pretty much said it all. I totally agree with your precise assessments of what each players motivations are all about.

    The one element which may prove to be quite a surprising difference this season, would be the highly unlikely re-emergence of our Latvian 7 footer. If he could just even come close to being a double-double type of player instead of one on the bubble of NBA non-existence, it might well be a significant factor on many fronts. Perhaps none more so than giving Festus the time he needs to expand organically. If Beans can give the team 10-15 minutes of hard-nosed efficient basket ball every night consistently, then Ezeli will mature and become the monster we all hope for and visualize in our wildest dreams.

    Other than that, not much to say. Yes, Jackson is indeed a key component this year. He still has a lot left to prove. If he F's up, I believe they'll buy out his contract and hire Malone. If he succeeds in guiding us the the playoffs this year, then it'll be "well done, mate" and how about a bit more again in 2013-14. Pray it's the latter.

    Cheers. Please do continue to give us weekly (or more) offerings, won't you ?
    I just love these highly articulate and intelligent offerings. I just get so bored hearing articles where the writers offer nothing more than un-supported and un-thought out speculations, don't you ?

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    1. Hey Mr. Mean, thanks again...Two things (1) I don't have a "let's pull for Goose" left in me after watching him completely torpedo his career because his only motivation was to not get hurt and not go to the free throw line...Anything he gives will be gravy and will definitely help Ezeli stay aggressive in learning the game and in the paint.

      (2) I don't claim to have sources of any kind, I'm just having the conversations that Warrior fans and NBA junkies think about. I probably just spend more time on smaller details and look more for what isn't being said or talked about and ask why. I feel I can give topics a new spin from an educated opinion (that just happens to be an insanely biased fan) instead of one that panders to management of the team or a newspaper. Hopefully the topics and columns can begin to flow more freely as the season nears.

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    2. I don't think the front office should be done. In my opinion they need an upgrade from Tyler. This is my list of the best remaining 4's and 5's who we should go after(obviously we would get rid of Tyler either by cutting him, doing a sign and trade for the player we want, or by trading him elsewhere for a 2nd round pick and or euro-prospect).

      1) Kenyon Martin- Before we signed Landry I thought we should have signed Martin instead. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the Landry signing, but I just think Martin was and still is our missing piece. He can defend the 3-5 positions, rebound, score some points, and be an enforcer out on the court.

      2) Ivan Johnson- For those of you who won't know he's a mean SOB who played his rookie season at 27 with the Hawks last year. He's basically Reggie Evans long lost brother. This is one of the only players on my list I'd want to sign for 2-3 years(at only about 1-1.5mil a year though).

      3) Bird Man- He can still defend the rim and rebound. On top of that he can play both the 4 and 5 positions. A plus is that he's more than willing to sign for the veteran's minimum.

      4) Yi Jianlian- He played very well for the Chinese national team during the olympics. Like Johnson I wouldn't mind us signing him to a multiple year contract(assuming it's under 1.5million a year as well). He's only 24 years old and it wasn't that long ago that people were talking about him being a future all-star. I still think he could be a very good backup or even solid starting power forward in the near future.

      5)Sheldin Williams- He isn't going to put up 10 and 10 every night, but he could allow us to stick Ezeli or Green in the D-league for parts of the season. He can play the 4 or the 5 and will rebound, defend, and hit open jump shots. Nothing fancy but he gets the job done just fine.

      6)Lou Amundson- Admittatly we tried this experiment once and it didn't work. However if we use him as a 3rd or 4th big man off the bench, and only pay him veterans minimum he can do what we need him to do. Give us 10-40 games to allow Green or Ezeli to play in the D-league.

      7)Andray Blatche- He could be in the top 2 or 3 or the bottom 2 or 3 of this list so I'll put him around the middle. He still has the potential to be a 16 and 8 starter in this league, but he also has the ability to stay a knucklehead and be a problem in the locker room. A nice plus is we could get him for 800k-1mil a year. The catch? Blatch was amnestied with 3 years left on his contract so we'd have to take him on for 3 more years. Is he worth the risk?

      8)Dominic McGuire- A few weeks ago I'd put him in the top 2 or 3 of this list. However with the signing of Bazemore and Landry, there just isn't much use for him. I love his game but he really isn't big enough to play the 4 and there just aren't many minutes available at the 3 with Barnes,Jefferson, Rush and possibly Green, Thompson, and Bazemore as well.

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    3. 9)Craig Smith-He's nicknamed "The Rhino", and rightfully so. Basically all he'd to is rebound and push people around. He'd be the enforcer in physical games this season, and hopefully teach Ezeli and Green how to be physical without drawing flagrant fouls.

      10)Anthony Tolliver-I could place him probably as high as 6 on this list but I think this spot is fair. He can defend multiple positions, is a pretty good rebounder, and a good shooter. The reason why I'd put him this low is only because of his size. His height is good enough but like McGuire he just doesn't have the necessary weight to guard the bigger 4's.

      11)Shawn Williams- Meh... That's basically how I'd describe him. He is just barely better than Tyler is now.

      12) Josh Harrelson- Again he's just barely better. Basically he's just barely better now because he has a lot more weight than Tyler and is a better shooter. His potential is basically being a Brian Cardinal player. Not sure if there would be any reason to make this swap but, He would be a slight improvement this season.

      13)Darko-I would only do this if either a) you can't even count on Biedrins being able to provide any defense and rebounding ability, or b) Ezeli is so raw that you just need another 7 footer to take his spot for the first half of the season so he has time to develop in Santa Cruz.

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    4. Please tell me your opinion about Tyler, and if you agree with us getting rid of Tyler, how do you feel about my ranking and is there anyone I left off this list? Respond to me please:D! Go DUBS!

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    5. I think I've been pretty one sided in my assessment of Tyler. I'm just not a fan. With that being said, I don't think they should make any moves with him yet. Right now, we're talking about the 11th or 12th man in the rotation so instead of dumping him for a marginal contributor (which i think all of those names would be since we're talking about 10 minutes a night tops) we're better off doing two things:

      1)Let him continue to develop and see if the light goes on since he isn't even 22 yet. He's very cheap and he has more upside then anyone on that list whether I think he is going to realize that potential or not (I don't). Either way, anyone you bring into fill that spot on the roster is going to be more of a practice player then anything else. Kenyon martin would fill a niche on some nights but he isn't going to be playing ahead of Landry on a consistent basis.
      2)Continue to develop him and tout him as the next best thing so (maybe) when you package him in a trade another GM thinks he's adding value to the deal. If Jefferson or Biedrins ever get moved we're going to have to include young, cheap talent to get another team to bite.

      Thanks for going through and breaking down the remaining 4/5 free agents for us, I know I couldn't have done a better job then that!

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