Monday, April 18, 2011

Saltzman Says...The Warriors get a D+

Golden State Warriors: D+

The Warriors didn't make the playoffs for the 16th time in 17 seasons.  At this point in the Franchise's history, making the playoffs should be considered a C.  In a league where 16 of the 30 teams make the post-season every year, a drought like this is unforgivable.  Making the playoffs is what they are suppose to do.  If a student does the bare minimum in class, it is a C effort, where as if they go above and beyond, it is an A or B effort.  The Warriors have been a D franchise for nearly two decades, and getting the 8th seed in the post-season would be a C.  If they could win a series, like in 2007, or get one of the top 5 or 6 seeds, that would be a B, and obviously getting to the Conference Finals or better would be an A.

Joe Lacob and Peter Guber: C-

The owners did more talking than walking in their first year as owners.  They approved the upgrade of talent over future with the David Lee trade, they made a lot of promises that haven't panned out and they continue to talk big.  They get a C- for doing nothing yet.  They seem to have the potential to be A owners down the road.  The hiring of Bob Myers, a great agent who knows basketball, to be an assistant GM is a step in the right direction.  We'll see what they do with the coach.

Larry Riley: C

Riley started his career with the Warriors as an assistant coach, and then his promotion to the front office started by dumping Jamal Crawford, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette.  While those three players are competing for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, the Warriors were downgraded with every trade.  However, the cost cutting has finally ended.  Now, with a more determined ownership group, and a more patient approach, the Warriors have spent more on scouting and on the draft.  Stephen Curry and Ekpe Udoh are certainly two building blocks for a strong future.  The Warriors signing of Dorell Wright this off-season (a deal worked out between Larry Riley and Bob Myers) was also a great piece.  A great outside shooter who can defend his position well could turn out to be one of the great free agent steals in a long time.  This off-season will test Riley.  Can he bring in a big man who can push Andris Biedrins in practice and play alongside Lee and Udoh.  A fifth big man to go with those three and Lou Amundson will be his biggest test.  Then, he needs to add a wing player that will be a defensive upgrade over the collection of Al Thornton, Vladimir Radmanovic and Reggie Williams.  Finally, he will need to bring in a third guard who can be a significant contributor.  Acie Law and Jeremy Lin showed flashes, primarily because they work hard, but they need an talent upgrade at the position, especially defensively. 

Nobody knew at the time that Wright would contribute so much.

Keith Smart: C

Smart was in a lose-lose when he took over for Don Nelson.  The Warriors needed someone who would light a fire in the players on the court and keep the locker room a great place to come to work.  However, even after accomplishing both, he couldn't match the strategy of more seasoned coaches, and he couldn't get his players to out talent more talented teams.  Being asked to make the playoffs without an all-star or a defensive presence in the paint is a near impossible task for any coach.  Yet ultimately, it might be exactly why the owners look for a more proven coach to replace Smart this off-season.

Players by Grade:
Dorell Wright: A-

Wright is the only A in the group because he is the only player this season that exceeded everyone's expectations.  Wright became the first player in the history of the NBA to score more points in year seven than he had scored in six previous years.  If that doesn't make him a shoe-in for the Most Improved Player award, then they should ban the award from ever being given.  He became one of the most reliable outside shooters in the game and gave him an opportunity to take part in the 3 point shootout during All-Star weekend.  He also was the team's best perimeter defender, which isn't saying much, but he did do a great job defending his man.  He was the best player on the Warriors at both ends of the floor.

Monta Ellis: B+

Monta was one of the leading scorers in all of baseball, became a great closer at the end of games, and despite getting banged up all year, was healthy enough to play almost the entire season.  He scored nearly 2,000 points, and he improved defensively.  Yet, as the Warriors best players, he rarely made his teammates better and he didn't play enough on the defensive end to warrant being the best player on the team.  Great players lead their teams to the playoffs.  He hasn't yet.  Baron Davis was the last great player on the Warriors.  Ellis hasn't become great yet.

Stephen Curry: B

Curry didn't play as well as people expected, but as a second year point guard in a point guard league, expectations were high.  He did become one of the most exciting offense point guards in the game in just two years, earned his way to All-Star weekend for a skills competition he won, and proved at times he could outplay some of the best point guards in the game.  However, as long as him and Ellis start together, they will both be downgraded overall because of their defense.  Until they play better defense, they will not be A players.

Ekpe Udoh: B-

The amount of potential on the defensive end is endless, yet he had no expectations on offense.  If he commits to the defensive end, without giving up his effort level on offense, he can become a great 1-2 punch with David Lee once they find another center.  Out of position, Udoh played admirably.  After sitting out the first few months of the season with a broken wrist, Udoh learned on the job in mid-season.  A lot to ask for a rookie.

David Lee: C+

For $80 million, clearly Lee is seen by management as a building block for a championship.  Together with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, it is clear that is what they looked at as a winning formula.  It got them to 36 wins.  To me, $80 million should help a team make a 16 team playoff structure out of only 30 teams.  Lee did play well at times, and his numbers clearly were an upgrade at the power forward position.

Acie Law: C+

Law is an average point guard at best, but he played hard, fought for his minutes, and justified his playing time.  He isn't the answer at point guard next year as Curry's backup but he had an admirable year in his second stint in Oakland.

Vladimir Radmanovic: C-

Not sure if anything was expected out of Radmanovic when he was thrown into the Stephen Jackson trade along with Raja Bell.  Most likely he will not be brought back, and for how little help the team has on the bench, it is sad that they wouldn't want there most consistent bench player.  That tells you a little something about how bad 'Bad Vlad' and his bench was.

Reggie Williams: C-

The fact that one of the worst teams in basektball has one of the top 3 point shooters in basketball in Williams and might not bring him back for another year should say something about the rest of his game.  His inability to develop anything beyond an outside shot is why he is deserving of his grade.

Lou Amundson: D+

When healthy, he showed what he can do in an NBA game, which is fight for rebounds, play some defense, hustle, and do a lot of the intangibles that is necessary from a bench player.  His time in a suit this year is as much a reason for the grade as his limited potential to do any more than what he did this season.

Jeremy Lin: D+

Lin showed flashes of toughness, defense, and some point guard ability.  He clearly was successful in the D-league which does say something about his ability to contribute in the NBA.  Will he be enough to backup Stephen Curry in 2011-12?  I don't think he has shown enough to warrant that yet.

Al Thornton: D+

Thornton has never lived up to his potential and he was given a chance to be a backup small forward on a team desperate for offense off the bench.  Thornton has Corey Maggette like potential off the bench, but he hasn't figured out how to do that night in and night out.  Until he does, he won't be worthy of a rotation spot on the Warriors.

Jeff Adrien: D+

Good is he was brought back this season after posting monster rebounding numbers in the D-League.  Bad is he never played well enough to showcase those skills in the Warriors rotation which is in desperate need of rebounding.

Andris Biedrins: F

Biedrins has now become a laughinstock around the league with his gutless play and one of the most overpaid players in the game.  He refuses to adjust at the charity stripe, and his shot is awful.  Don Nelson commented during the season that one of the reasons they let him go was by suggesting that Biedrins work with Rick Barry on underhand free throws.  What a brilliant idea, from one of the best offensive minds in the game and the greatest scorer in Warriors history.  No matter what Biedrins does next year, his 2010-11 will go down as one of the most pitiful by a Warrior in a long time.  And that is saying something.

Charlie Bell: F

It is sad that a player like Bell can steal money from an organization.  Absolute waste of space.  Must be released this off-season, or moved to a team desperate for expiring contracts.

Marcus Thompson III's take on the Warriors:  Here is the link

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