Monday, February 17, 2014

The Warriors are on the rise, enjoy the ride

By Justin Taylor

Before talking about anything negative it is important to recognize something overwhelmingly positive

Trade Klay Thompson! Trade Harrison Barnes! Fire Mark Jackson! Bench Klay! Start Barnes! Fire Mark Jackson!

Hearing these comments after a crushing loss to a terrible team is almost as bad as the loss itself. Sure, four or five more wins at the All Star break and the conversation is about competing for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs instead of fighting for an invite but what is the big difference?

The Warriors could completely miss the playoffs this season and nobody could convince me that their long term prospects aren’t better than they were one year ago. Mark Jackson is never going to be Greg Popovich but he’s also not going to be Brian Winters. Harrison Barnes isn’t going to be a superstar but he’s not Mickael Pietrus either. I never thought this would be the year we win it all but we’re closer to the Finals now then we are to being the Warriors team that spent a season in San Jose.

It is comical how the introduction of real expectations removes any semblance of patience. Here are the top knee jerk reactions that get brought up on a daily basis and are especially amplified after losses.

There is no need to fire Mark Jackson

I am not a huge Coach Jackson supporter and if you follow me on Twitter you already knew that. No coach in the NBA can be successful with subpar talent but as the talent here has increased some things remain the same. I’m sure he has helped Stephen Curry’s development but does anyone think that the best shooter in the NBA wasn’t going to progress if PJ Carlisimo were his coach? Klay Thompson’s transformation into a solid defender has to be attributed to coaching so why can’t they make the seemingly easier adjustments with him on offense?

If Joe Lacob, Bob Myers and Jerry West thought he was the Pastor that was going to lead us all to the promised land he would’ve had his contract extended already. The guy they want hasn’t come available yet and until that day comes Jackson will be the guy. The jury is still out on whether or not he can be more than a “leader of men” or a motivational speaker but we owe it to ourselves to find out for sure before we act like he’s the one preventing the championship parade through the Bay Area in June.

There is no need to trade (or start) Harrison Barnes

You couldn’t choose a worse time to trade Barnes even if you know for a fact he’ll never be a star. I’ll never forget the heat I took for recommending that we sell high this offseason to get Kevin Love for him and David Lee but we don’t have to worry about that happening anymore, do we?

I completely disagree with anybody that says we should be starting him. If he wants to start he’s got to prove he’s worthy. Brian Scalabrine would look better playing with Curry, Lee, Igoudala and Klay but that doesn’t mean we should start him over Bogut to get more out of our bench players. He should be closer to a sixth man of the year candidate then an afterthought before that switch is made.

There is no need to trade (or bench) Klay Thompson

Watching Klay jack 18 shots on his way to 17 points is depressing but the suggestion that he needs to be traded is just as ridiculous. On his worst day he plays good defense, stretches the opposing defense and makes you scratch your head when he nails 28 footers but can’t hit from two feet. On a championship team he MAY be a sixth man but I’m not concerned because there is no denying that he can be a vital piece of a winner. The point is that Klay has at least one elite skill where Barnes does not and you don’t give up on that.

This management group is smart enough to know that you never sell a kid like that for 60 cents on the dollar unless that 60 cents is the last piece to get you into the Finals and as a Warriors fan, that is a great feeling. Imagine if Klay played for the Spurs right now for a second. Considering what Pop has done for lesser players it’s a blessing that we no longer have to worry about giving guys away only to watch them become All Stars for somebody else.

There is no need to worry about Andre Igoudala (unless we’re talking free throws)

He hasn’t been the same since he pulled that hammy and if the team wasn’t already squandering winnable games I’d be recommending that the front office shut him down for a few weeks. Either way, he can be the third best player on a contender and I’m still ecstatic with his addition to our team. Andre is a true lockdown wing defender and his skillset on offense is an absolute perfect fit for this roster.

The only team with more talent than the Warriors Igoudala ever played for was Team USA. With the pieces surrounding him here he can literally play the same role he excelled at in the Olympics. He’s been waiting his entire career for someone to say, “Hey Andre, go shut down the opponents best player, get some boards, run the break, attack the rim and make your teammates look better.” We’ve seen flashes of that and once he’s fully healthy I’m confident we’ll be seeing a lot more of it.

No matter how the bench has looked there is no doubt that Draymond Green belongs on a contender

There is no need to worry about the pathetic bench play

Our bench has sucked this year, there’s just no other way to say it. No matter how true that is everyone should be happy that Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack got paid to play somewhere else. They were huge for us when they were bargains on our bench but they’re also part of the reason their current teams suck. When you pay bench players starters money you sacrifice dollars that can be invested in the core.  At the end of the day it’s a hell of a lot harder to get a solid core that goes six deep than it is to find players seven through ten.

Going into this offseason Bob Myers only has to focus on rounding out the rotation which will feel like a breeze compared to the work he’s had to do the last two seasons. Of course this ownership group always has one eye out for a blockbuster deal. That’s what the good teams do. If your team is in the free agency market hoping Rudy Gay signs I hate to break it to you but your bench isn’t the problem, it’s your core.

Enjoy the ride

The Warriors fan base is really breaking new ground this year because the underdog/loveable loser mentality no longer applies. The realization is that the Warriors advanced to the second round of the playoffs in spectacular fashion, followed it up with a huge free agent signing and created expectations that Bay Area basketball fans haven’t experienced since the 70’s.

I’m not saying that everyone shouldn’t be pissed when shit teams like the Bobcats or Wizards are allowed to walk out of Oracle Arena victorious. In fact, my TV almost didn’t survive those two games. What I am saying is that you don’t alter your long term plans based on those games.

The West is so competitive it’ll drive crazy. Consider for a second that if the Warriors had won just four games that they had no business losing they’d be 35-17 and NOBODY would be bitching. We’re one more winning streak away from being happy right now and if you can look past this season things only get brighter. Appreciate where we’ve come from and enjoy the ride to where we’re headed!