Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Top 5 Warriors Preseason Storylines

By Justin Taylor

I hope everyone enjoyed Media Day and the first day of training camp as much as I did.  It’s so nice to actually see something instead of hearing and speculating on stuff that won’t matter in a couple of weeks for what felt like a year.  This is when the rubber meets the hardwood and guys can start sinking or swimming.  I had to go silent because there was literally nothing to talk about.  Now I’m back for my first training camp as an irrational Warriors fanatic “blogger” with my top five preseason storylines to over examine and sweat over until things get real.

Andrew Bogut’s Ankle

Three weeks ago I would have made the two top stories Ankle One and Ankle Two.  Stephen Curry (Ankle Two) has been medically cleared to play and all of the PR coming out of Oakland is positive; I know I’m shocked too.  That’s great news but it isn’t the critical story that Bogut’s ankle is. With Jarrett Jack on board we could have afforded to ease Curry back in.  I couldn’t be more nervous about going into the season without seeing this teams centerpiece in uniform even once, unless you count media day of course.

I’ve been turning blue from holding my breath and I have no nails left from biting them while waiting to SEE any good signs that Bogut is ready to go.  Optimism is a fleeting concept when you’ve been a Warriors fan long enough to remember the Joe Barely Cares trade but not long enough to remember our championship season.  I’m hoping for the best but bracing for the same old shit.  That would go something like this; Bogut isn’t ready for opening night, works like hell to get back but isn’t in shape and aggravates the injury because he tried to rush it.  That scenario sounds all too familiar but I’m still hoping for hope's sake that this is the year the mold is broken.

Even if I know better then to expect the best here’s how I see the Bogut situation to playing out; The Aussie is 100% healthy as advertised, gets 25-30 minutes opening night and gradually adds to that workload until he’s averaging 35 minutes a night by about the third week of the season.  Around that time he starts reclaiming his spot as a top five center in this league and allows us fans to finally feel like we’ve got the big man this team has been chasing since before Reagan was President.  All I can say in this scenario is that Dwight Howard has had his last 40/20 game in Oakland which means a whole lot more now that he’s a Laker.  It also wouldn’t be a best case scenario if it didn’t allow the next top preseason storyline to unfold…

Andris Biedrins Funeral

Speaking of rotting corpses…I’m wondering if the Warriors are finally going to schedule memorial services for Andris Biedrins.  It’s only right and it has been a long time coming, he did die almost three years ago after all.  Once the Warriors finally bury Biedrins body six feet under the depth chart they can finally start moving forward with younger, hungrier and more talented options.  If Ezeli isn’t ready to assume those minutes then it will be on Mark Jackson and his staff to base the game plan on the personnel and prove they are in fact NBA caliber coaches.  Andrew Bogut might be the best thing to happen to Biedrins since Baron Davis.  He had the single best quote from media day when he said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Andris just needs to realize that he’s not a terrible basketball player.” 
Watching Biedrins start another game might be more then I can stomach at this point.  I might recommend that we start passing a hat at games to collect donations that management can use to buy him out if that happens.

Starting Small Forward 

I still think that it should be Brandon Rush in the starting lineup come opening night.  Harrison Barnes should be forced to beat out Richard Jefferson for back up minutes before he is handed anything.  As of right now Rush is the best shooter, defender, rebounder and decision maker of the three and the competition within the second unit will be good for the whole team in my mind.  Handing anything to the rookie is counter productive when you have the kind of NBA caliber depth that we’re showing on paper right now.  If Barnes can come in, send Richard Jefferson out to pasture and push Rush for that starting job we’ll all be better off for it.

Jack Jenkins and the Dubstitutes

If you’re a regular reader on this website just let me know when you get tired of me pumping up the Jarrett Jack-Charles Jenkins combo coming off the bench.  For those coming to the site via Twitter get ready for the rollout of the #JackJenkins hash tag because I’m expecting big things from these guys.  They are the most solid, tough and interchangeable bench backcourt duo in the league and it might be one of the things I’m most excited for in 2012.  Between them and Carl Landry we’ve got three players in our second unit that many teams in the league probably wish they could trot out with their starting five.

The Warriors biggest addition last year was a bench that actually had NBA players on it.  We went from having a second unit that featured Reggie Williams as the first guy off the bench to one that Greg Papa dubbed the “Dubstitutes” after they outplayed the starters in a lot of games.  We’ll miss Dominic McGuire and his “bring your hard hat and know your role” mentality but if your bench is good enough to say that there isn’t room for one of the best defensive specialists in the league someone is doing something right.

Draymond Green, rotation player?

There has been a good amount of excitement surrounding Green ever since we stole him in the second round of the draft.  Anybody who isn’t on board the Draymond bandwagon are no doubt selling tickets on the “He’s a tweener with no position” train.  I’m all in on the former as opposed to the latter because I remember a guy named Antawn Jamison even if they aren’t fond memories.  The difference is that I think Green is a better player who comes into the league without the additional pressure of being a top five pick. 

As much as I’d love to see Draymond force all those naysayers to eat crow all season I just don’t see it happening.  Who’s minutes are going to suffer as a result of Green’s presence in the rotation?  Carl Landry? Doubt it.  Will he outplay Rush, Barnes, and Jefferson to get minutes at the three? It’s possible but unlikely.  The most likely scenario that would benefit his chances of cracking the lineup is a heavy dose of small ball while Bogut recovers, plays his way into shape and gets babied when he does return to full strength.  He can back up Landry when Lee inevitably ends up playing a lot of center in that case.  If and when he does kick down that door it’s going to be another one of those icing on the cake situations right up there with Harrison Barnes being a legit starter at small forward and Festus Ezeli outplaying Andris Biedrins’ decaying carcass to assume the backup five spot.

If I’ve left out any headlines that you’re watching closely let me know in the comments or on the Tapped in Golden State Facebook page where we’re up over 700 strong before the season has even started!  As always, Go Warriors!!!!