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.
377 out a possible 510 motivation points