By Justin Taylor
The only consistency we’ve been able to count on through the years is that the Warriors will be out of contention for anything by Christmas (except for last year when opening night was December 25th). It seems like yesterday that I was so thankful for the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers for making me feel like I wasn’t alone in this cruel NBA universe. The Warriors have something special brewing for 2013 and I am ecstatic to see a winning record to go along with a losing one from the #LOLakers. The national media still hasn’t quite caught up with the #DubNation Bandwagon but at least the stories coming out of Kobe Land are entertaining.
None of this could be possible if everyone weren’t playing a role and contributing in one way or another. Winning in the first half of the season counts for nothing if you can’t keep it up but that doesn’t mean we can’t honor the players and storylines that made 2012 so enjoyable.
So without further ado…
The Consistency Awards:
Big Boy Pants Award
David Lee is having his first true All Star caliber season. No more jokes about his lone All Star appearance being as a replacement for a crappy Eastern Conference even if he does only make it as an alternate this year, promise. Without his nightly contributions and (for the first time) meaningful stats we wouldn’t be in this position right now. He gets the Big Boy Pants Award because I’m sure Kobe would take Lee over Gasol in a heartbeat right now.
For years I’ve referred to David Lee’s numbers as empty calorie stat lines because he always putting up big stats on terrible teams. As long as the Warriors continue to win on nights he gets his clockwork double doubles I will be putting a moratorium on any jokes involving his rebound numbers coming off missed free throws and battles with teammates for loose balls.
The NBA JAMS Award
Steph Curry resembles a character from NBA JAMS at times. If your watching closely you can actually see the vapor trails on his 28 foot three point attempts and hear the announcer yelling HE’S ON FIIIRE! Other then that he’s only one of the best shooters in the league.
The Inconsistently Consistent Award
Klay Thompson is leading the league in three point shots taken and is shooting a respectable 37% after a horrible start to the season. His defense and rebounding are an upgrade over Monta Ellis pretty much by default but his predecessor did look to set up his teammates at least some of the time. Thompson on the other hand hasn’t taken his eyes off the rim all season, literally. When he’s giving a halftime or post game interview he’s still staring at the hoop. If you’re looking for the most consistent aspect of his game it is still the lack of emotion, enthusiasm and facial expressions in general.
The 6th Man Award
Jarrett Jack is such a good 6th man/closer that nobody really cares if Steph Curry isn’t a true point guard when the game is on the line. I would call him the front runner for the NBA version of this award in April and so does SI/Grantland NBA writer Zach Lowe. If you look at advanced stats you’ll see that almost every single five man unit that involves the new Captain Jack is better off for it. He’s also hilarious…
The Rock Formation Award
Carl Landry (along with Jack) are anchoring a bench whose only competition for the title for the title of Best Second Unit in the NBA is #FlopCity. He is giving us what New York can only hope Amare Stoudemire is going to give them off the bench. Having zero drop off when the bench comes in is a luxury that few teams have but is now an advantage for the Warriors every single night.
The Blue Collar Award
Draymond Green doesn’t anything spectacular and the untrained eye probably sees those ugly jump shots and writes him off completely. His stat line isn’t pretty but his marks in the +/- category every night are damn near sexy. He lives in the trenches, embraces the team concept and makes sure his defensive assignment feels his presence even if the box score doesn’t notice it. He’s a true Warrior and already a fan favorite.
The Adonal Foyle Award
Festus Ezeli’s token starts followed by 14 minutes of playing time have become something of a joke. Like Adonal Foyle and Jeremy Tyler before him he can’t catch a pass in the lane to save his life but he is definitely a defensive presence and makes damn sure he gets his money’s worth when he fouls an opponent attacking the rim.
The Rookie Award
Harrison Barnes has proven time and time again that; wait for it; he’s a rookie. He’s still got a ways to go but is already better than Dorrell Wright and If nothing else he provided what was probably the best single Warriors highlight reel play since the We Believe season. I think @SherwoodStrauss put it best when he tweeted: Harrison Barnes leads the team in, “Nice, do more of that!”
The Back From the Dead Award
Andris Biedrins is showing a pulse on the court! He has been inhaling rebounds at a record pace and if he weren’t averaging damn near 15 fouls per 48 minutes (in all honesty it’s only nine but it feels like more) he’d probably be getting more opportunities. Nobody even cares that he’s still playing hot potato every time someone mistakenly throws him the ball. Just happy he’s breathing again!
The Surf City USA Award
Jeremy Tyler’s jersey has been stapled to the bench all year except for the nights he takes his talents to Santa Cruz. If we have to watch someone fumbling passes in the lane it might as well be a guy with potential to be a contributing center someday.
The Bill Simmons Chemist Award / Animaniacs Award
Kent Bazemore’s ridiculous 12th man enthusiasm has spread throughout the whole bench. His reaction to damn near every good play is almost as entertaining as the play itself. You can’t underestimate the value of a bench that is completely enthusiastic and engaged from tip off to the closing buzzer. This undrafted rookie has been the catalyst for this phenomenon and that’s why the team only ships him to Santa Cruz for one night at a time.
The Road Warriors Award / Who the Hell Are These Guys Award
The Warriors are 9-1 coming off of a loss so far this season. In years past every single loss had major snowball potential but this year not even Klay Thompson’s terrible body language and inconsistent play can bring them down for more than a game at a time. I’m sure that if I wasn’t so lazy and actually researched some of this stuff I’d find that this is a streak that has never happened in my lifetime as a Warriors fan. Even if some of these wins and stats have a little bit of luck baked in and some of these narrow margins of victory inevitably start going the other way, this is definitely something to build on. They won 12 games in the month of December for the first time since 1960 for god’s sake!
The other aspect of this season that doesn’t seem real is the team’s 11-6 record away from Oracle. Those numbers shouldn’t need any added perspective but just in case you need another qualifier for how amazing their road record is coming into 2013: San Antonio is the only team in the league with more road wins (12) and only the best teams in the league are even close to that win percentage.
The “I WANT WINNERS” Coaching Award
When Mark Jackson and Mike Malone came in last year all you could do was laugh at their attempts to make this roster into a team with a defense first mentality. I’ve taken a lot of shots at Coach Jackson for being Mike Singletary (sans pants dropping and big loud speeches) who is known as a “great leader of men.” Now that he has a roster with capable defenders I have to give credit where credit is due. The offensive scheme still leaves a lot to be desired (to put it lightly) but throwing the Titanic in reverse, getting it off of the iceberg and plugging that gaping hole in the ship was a monumental task that has gotten done in less time then anyone thought possible.
The Tortured Warriors Fan Award
Every long time Warriors fan deserves an award for the shit they’ve been through over the years. After many lifetimes of blindly following this team into the wood chipper year after year I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t waiting for the other shoe to drop on this run we’re on. They’ve gotten a few lucky wins, they’ve played down to the competition at times (see four losses to Orlando and Excramento), they’re only 2-4 in the division and are playing .500 ball in the conference. For the first time since the We Believe squad and 1994 before that I’m actually watching games without yelling at the TV and going to Oracle without heckling my own team.
(Full Disclosure: I used to openly root for the visiting team to destroy the likes of Joe Smith and Antawn Jamison because there is nothing I hate more then an overpaid, entitled and SOFT player in a Warriors uniform. Since I had good seats and Oracle was a lot quieter back then I know they heard me and I know those dirty looks they shot into the stands were meant for me.)
Anyways, I’ll always fear for an epic collapse from this team but all we wanted while Andrew Bogut recovered was stay around .500 and get the young kids some seasoning in game situations. Instead we’re off to our best start in over 20 years and we haven’t found the ceiling yet. All three of our rookies have the talent and the work ethic to continue improving and Bogut at 50% will upgrade the starting center spot if only for 20 minutes a night (A 20/18/13 center minutes between Bogut/Biedrins/Ezeli would keep a fresh, capable big man on the floor at all times); We’ve seen the worst of Klay Thompson this year so once he settles into a role other than all out gunner and improves his shot selection a bit that’s another sure fire upgrade to this lineup; also, even though Steph Curry has been great he can still cut down on his turnovers and increase his assists by cutting down on the careless turnovers and lazy passes.
All in all there is still a long way to go on the upswing with this team. Long story short: 2012 was a great year and moving into the year 2013 #WeStillBelieve but this time around #WeBelong!