Roster Analysis: The Bench Players

Corey Maggette

The Warriors’ sixth man could be getting set for a big year.  After a year in Nellie’s system, and hopefully injury free, I expect Maggette to start this year as fast as he started last year slow.   He should be helped as well by the emergence of Anthony Randolph at the power forward, and the additions of  backups Mikki Moore and Devean George to the roster, which will allow him to spend more time at his natural position of small forward. (You may note that I don’t allude to the emergence of Brandan Wright.  More on that below.)  By the end of the season, Maggette should be a leading candidate for sixth man of the year.

Maggette is a unique player among NBA small forwards, a bruiser who relishes charging into the middle and initiating contact with the big boys, but with the skill and finesse to finish his shot after taking the hit.  He gets to the line 8 times a game as a sixth man, and his ability to convert his free throws at 80% helps make him one of the most efficient scorers in the league.  Don Nelson marveled on several occasions last year at Maggette’s ability to get 20 points on 10 or fewer shots.  The sixth man role is perfect for Maggette on this team, as he is capable of getting the Warriors into the penalty almost immediately at the end of quarters.  It also allows him to focus solely on scoring, rather than moving the basketball, at which he is notably deficient.  You may see him affectionately referred to as “The Blackhole” in these pages — which is the nickname Larry Bird gave Kevin McHale, because when the ball went in to McHale, it never came back out — but when you are a finisher of the ability of McHale or Corey Maggette, that is not necessarily an insult.

Defense is a problem area for Maggette.  I think he’s a little too slow of foot to guard other wings well.   He proved surprisingly good at guarding power forwards last year, however.  It will be interesting to see where Nellie uses him this year.

Rony Turiaf

Rony Turiaf is hands-down the best back-up center in the league.  The ferocious defense and shot-blocking he gave the Warriors last year in what amounted to a lost season was absolutely inspirational to all who watched him play.  And I think to his teammates as well.  His rebounding, which had been a weakness, also improved by years end.  I think he benefited in that regard from watching Biedrins’ knack of contesting shots without conceding rebounding position.  He and Biedrins make up a terrific center tandem, one of the best in the league.

Turiaf also blossomed last year as an offensive player under Don Nelson’s tutelage.  By the end of the season, Nellie frequently had him playing in the high post, where he showed an impressive passing ability, ala Brad Miller.  Nellie also gave him a green light to look for his elbow jumper, which he drained with nice regularity.

A terrific player and inspirational leader, who’s only getting better.

Anthony Morrow

There is a lot to admire about Anthony Morrow.  He seems to be a great kid, very coachable, great demeanor.  He has quite possibly the sweetest jumper in the league:  .467 from behind the arc isn’t seen very often.   I love the fact that he is a gym rat, that he works tirelessly on his shot, on his conditioning.  I love the fact that he is focused on improving his greatest weakness, defense.   Unfortunately, I don’t see him getting very far in that endeavor, no matter how hard he works. You see,  Anthony Morrow is afflicted by an incurable basketball disease: Slow Feet.  He has a terminal lack of athleticism.

This doesn’t mean that AM can’t have a nice career in the NBA.  I just think it means he won’t ever be a starter.  At his height 6-5″, most of his minutes will have to come at the 2, and he is just not quick enough to hang with the other great athletes at that position.  At the 3, his size will become an issue.  It’s hard to defend a player giving up both size and quickness.

I see AM as a quality shooter off the bench.  A role player.  A Dennis Scott type, for those who remember the Shaq-Penny Magic.  Scott Wedman, Jud Buechler.   Korver, Kapono.  You get the idea.   There’s little question he’ll be valuable in the regular season.  We haven’t seen him in the post-season yet, but I have a feeling he might struggle to get his shot off against tighter playoff defenses.  Dennis Scott had Shaq, and yet he still had trouble getting his shot off in the playoffs at 6’5″.  Even Peja Stoyakovich, at 6’10″, has been having trouble getting his shot off in the playoffs of late, now that he’s lost his driving ability.

Stephen Curry

I have a great weakness as a basketball fan.  I watch a boatload of NBA games, but literally no college games at all, until the final four.  Not sure why that is, and I realize it makes me somewhat of a freak, but there it is.

So I have literally no first-hand knowledge of Stephen Curry.  I will have to rely on the judgement of Bobby Knight, who feels that Curry “is as good a passer as has ever played college basketball.”  Huh?!!  And the judgement of Don Nelson, who feels Curry may be the best basketball player he’s had since Steve Nash.  What?!!  Those are some pretty impressive judgements, by some pretty impressive judges.

To say I’m looking forward to watching Stephen Curry play in a Warriors uniform, in Don Nelson’s system, is an understatement.  How fast can Nellie make young Mr. Curry into an NBA point guard?  Can Curry and Monta Ellis co-exist in the same backcourt?  Will Curry contend for Rookie of the Year?  If nothing else, this Warriors season will be fascinating just to learn the answers to these questions.

CJ Watson

CJ Watson is a very serviceable backup utility guard.  I consider him to be one of the very best backup point guards in the league.  Unfortunately for him, he is now backing up not one, but two terrific players at the position, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.  His minutes may go down considerably as a result.

Watson is a legitimately great shooter, with an ability to drain the three at crunch time, and a deadly mid-range jumper as well that he is able to get off the dribble.  He has a rock-solid handle, and rarely turns the ball over.  He is very poor, however, at driving the basketball all the way to the rim, and at finishing layups.  Why, I have no idea.  He also has limited court vision, and difficulty finding the open man.  A friend of mine has apoplexy watching CJ trying to lead the fast break.  It often ends unpredictably.  But hey, that’s why he’s a backup and not a starter.  He does some things great, and some things, in the words of the immortal Borat, “not so much.”

CJ has gotten some criticism as well for his defense, but I actually think his defense is underrated.  He makes an effort to stay in front of his man, and he has great hands and anticipation, which gives him a decent steal rate.  I think public perception of his defense will improve a great deal this year, with Randolph joining Biedrins and Turiaf on the front line.

Devean George

I am very curious to see where Don Nelson uses Devean George.  At 6-8″ 235 lbs., George has the size to fill the classic Nellie backup power forward role that has previously been filled by the likes of Matt Barnes, Eduardo Najera, and even Chris Mullin.  And that’s where I expect him to play.  Backup power forward.  Hopefully, Nellie will be able to convince this career wing player to switch positions.

Why?  Because he doesn’t have the offensive talent to play the 3 for Nellie.  But at the 4, he will be able to use his speed and athleticism to run opposing power forwards off the court, a favorite Nellie tactic.  He’s also a decent if not great 3 point shooter, which will allow Nellie to spread the floor with him on the court.  Another favorite Nellie tactic: pull the opposing team’s power forwards away from the basket to open lanes for penetration.

On defense, George’s size should allow him to bang and hold his position on defense against opposing power forwards, for the limited minutes he will be on the floor.  A defensive specialist his entire career, he has what it takes to fill this role.  It will come down to heart: does George have the will to sacrifice his body in this way at this stage of his career?

Mikki Moore

I have never watched Mikki Moore much, as I’ve never been a fan of Clipper, Kings or Nets basketball.  What I do remember seeing in him is an enthusiasm for defense, and a decent elbow jumper.  Both of those things will go a long way on the frontline of this Warriors team.  As will his stated intention of serving as a defensive mentor to the Warriors’ young big men.

I’m not sure how many minutes Mikki will get, but I’m curious to see if the added insurance of having him on the bench will incline Nellie to give Turiaf some added minutes at the 4 behind Randolph.

Brandan Wright

Brandon Wright may be a very nice young man.  I have nothing against him personally.  But as a basketball player, I have very few nice things to say about him.

From the very first time I saw Wright step onto an NBA court, I noticed in him a distinct aversion to contact.  This is a player who simply hates to bang.  Not a great quality in a power forward.  Perhaps you can’t fault him, given the slightness of his build.  Except that Mr. Anthony Randolph, just as slight, is his exact opposite in this regard.  Wright allows himself to get pushed all over the floor by opposing power forwards, resembling to me nothing so much as a ragdoll, which is the nickname I have bestowed upon him.

Wright has also been very slow, in Don Nelson’s parlance, to “get it.”  He doesn’t seem to grasp the team’s defensive concepts, and is frequently caught out of position.  He appears to have no clue how to go about getting a defensive rebound.  He is a pretty good offensive rebounder, largely because other teams rarely guard him, and because the secret to offensive rebounding is slipping contact, as opposed to boxing out.

I am very doubtful as to Wright’s future as an NBA player.  He has the athleticism, but not the shooting ability nor skills to play small forward in the league.  If he’s to become a legitimate power forward, he needs to not only hit the weights, but learn the game, and somehow, someway, get a heart transplant.  I would love to be taken by surprise by him this year.  But after two cringe-worthy years, I’m not about to count on it.

Other posts in the Roster Analysis series:  Introduction, and The Starters.



The Warriors’ sixth man could be getting set for a big year.  After a year in Nellie’s system, and hopefully injury free, I expect Maggette to start this year as fast as he started last year slow.   He should be helped as well by the emergence of Anthony Randolph at the power forward, and the additions of  backups Mikki Moore and Devean George to the roster, which will allow him to spend more time at his natural position of small forward. (You may note that I don’t allude to the emergence of Brandan Wright.  More on that below.)  By the end of the season, Maggette should be a leading candidate for sixth man of the year.
Maggette is a unique player among NBA small forwards, a bruiser who relishes charging into the middle and initiating contact with the big boys, but with the skill and finesse to finish his shot after taking the hit.  He gets to the line 8 times a game as a sixth man, and his ability to convert his free throws at 80% helps make him one of the most efficient scorers in the league.  Don Nelson marveled on several occasions last year at Maggette’s ability to get 20 points on 10 or fewer shots.  The sixth man role is perfect for Maggette on this team, as he is capable of getting the Warriors into the penalty almost immediately at the end of quarters.  It also allows him to focus solely on scoring, rather than moving the basketball, at which he is notably deficient.  You may see him affectionately referred to as “The Blackhole” in these pages — which is the nickname Larry Bird gave Kevin McHale, because when the ball went in to McHale, it never came back out — but when you are a finisher of the ability of McHale or Corey Maggette, that is not necessarily an insult.
Defense is a problem area for Maggette.  I think he’s a little too slow of foot to guard other wings well.   He proved surprisingly good at guarding power forwards last year, however.  It will be interesting to see where Nellie uses him this year
The Warriors’ sixth man could be getting set for a big year.  After a year in Nellie’s system, and hopefully injury free, I expect Maggette to start this year as fast as he started last year slow.   He should be helped as well by the emergence of Anthony Randolph at the power forward, and the additions of  backups Mikki Moore and Devean George to the roster, which will allow him to spend more time at his natural position of small forward. (You may note that I don’t allude to the emergence of Brandan Wright.  More on that below.)  By the end of the season, Maggette should be a leading candidate for sixth man of the year.
Maggette is a unique player among NBA small forwards, a bruiser who relishes charging into the middle and initiating contact with the big boys, but with the skill and finesse to finish his shot after taking the hit.  He gets to the line 8 times a game as a sixth man, and his ability to convert his free throws at 80% helps make him one of the most efficient scorers in the league.  Don Nelson marveled on several occasions last year at Maggette’s ability to get 20 points on 10 or fewer shots.  The sixth man role is perfect for Maggette on this team, as he is capable of getting the Warriors into the penalty almost immediately at the end of quarters.  It also allows him to focus solely on scoring, rather than moving the basketball, at which he is notably deficient.  You may see him affectionately referred to as “The Blackhole” in these pages — which is the nickname Larry Bird gave Kevin McHale, because when the ball went in to McHale, it never came back out — but when you are a finisher of the ability of McHale or Corey Maggette, that is not necessarily an insult.
Defense is a problem area for Maggette.  I think he’s a little too slow of foot to guard other wings well.   He proved surprisingly good at guarding power forwards last year, however.  It will be interesting to see where Nellie uses him this year.
Rony Turiaf is hands-down the best back-up center in the league.  The ferocious defense and shot-blocking he gave the Warriors last year in what amounted to a lost season was absolutely inspirational to all who watched him play.  And I think to his teammates as well.  His rebounding, which had been a weakness, also improved by years end.  I think he benefited in that regard from watching Biedrins’ knack of contesting shots without conceding rebounding position.  He and Biedrins make up a terrific center tandem, one of the best in the league.
Turiaf also blossomed last year as an offensive player under Don Nelson’s tutelage.  By the end of the season, Nellie frequently had him playing in the high post, where he showed an impressive passing ability, ala Brad Miller.  Nellie also gave him a green light to look for his elbow jumper, which he drained with nice regularity.
A terrific player and inspirational leader, who’s only getting better.
ANTHONY MORROW
There is a lot to admire about Anthony Morrow.  He seems to be a great kid, very coachable, great demeanor.  He has quite possibly the sweetest jumper in the league:  .467 from behind the arc isn’t seen very often.   I love the fact that he is a gym rat, that he works tirelessly on his shot, on his conditioning.  I love the fact that he is focused on improving his greatest weakness, defense.   Unfortunately, I don’t see him getting very far in that endeavor, no matter how hard he works. You see,  Anthony Morrow is afflicted by an incurable basketball disease: Slow Feet.  He has a terminal lack of athleticism.
This doesn’t mean that AM can’t have a nice career in the NBA.  I just think it means he won’t ever be a starter.  At his height 6-5″, most of his minutes will have to come at the 2, and he is just not quick enough to hang with the other great athletes at that position.  At the 3, his size will become an issue.  It’s hard to defend a player giving up both size and quickness.
I see AM as a quality shooter off the bench.  A role player.  A Dennis Johnson type, for those who remember the Shaq-Penny Magic.  Scott Wedman, Jud Buechler.   Korver, Kapono.  You get the idea.   There’s little question he’ll be valuable in the regular season.  We haven’t seen him in the post-season yet, but I have a feeling he might struggle to get his shot off against tighter playoff defenses.  Dennis Johnson had Shaq, and yet he still had trouble getting his shot off in the playoffs at 6’5″.  Even Peja Stoyakovich, at 6’10″, has been having trouble getting his shot off in the playoffs of late, now that he’s lost his driving ability.
STEPHEN cURRY
I have a great weakness as a basketball fan.  I watch a boatload of NBA games, but literally no college games at all, until the final four.  Not sure why that is, and I realize it makes me somewhat of a freak, but there it is.
So I have literally no first-hand knowledge of Stephen Curry.  I will have to rely on the judgement of Bobby Knight, who feels that Curry “is as good a passer as has ever played college basketball.”  And the judgement of Don Nelson, who feels Curry may be the best basketball player he’s had since Steve Nash.  Huh?  What?  Those are some pretty impressive judgements, by some pretty impressive judges.
To say I’m looking forward to watching Stephen Curry play in a Warriors uniform, in Don Nelson’s system, is an understatement.
CJ Watson is a very serviceable backup utility guard.  I consider him to be one of the very best backup point guards in the league.  Unfortunately for him, he is now backing up not one, but two terrific players at the position, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.  His minutes may go down considerably as a result.
Watson is a legitimately great shooter, with an ability to drain the three at crunch time, and a deadly mid-range jumper as well that he is able to get off the dribble.  He has a rock-solid handle, and rarely turns the ball over.  He is very poor, however, at driving the basketball all the way to the rim, and at finishing layups.  Why, I have no idea.  He also has limited court vision, and difficulty finding the open man.  A friend of mine has apoplexy watching CJ trying to lead the fast break.  It often ends unpredictably.  But hey, that’s why he’s a backup and not a starter.  He does somethings great, and some things, in the words of the immortal Borat, “not so much.”
CJ has gotten some criticism as well for his defense, but I actually think his defense is underrated.  He makes an effort to stay in front of his man, and he has great hands and anticipation, which gives him a decent steal rate.  I think public perception of his defense will improve a great deal this year, with Randolph joining Biedrins and Turiaf on the front line.
I am very curious to see where Don Nelson uses Devean George.  At 6-8″ 235 lbs., George has the size to fill the classic Nellie backup power forward role that has previously been filled by the likes of Matt Barnes, Eduardo Najera, and even Chris Mullin.  And that’s where I expect him to play.  Backup power forward.  Hopefully, Nellie will be able to convince this career wing player to switch positions.
Why?  Because he doesn’t have the offensive talent to play the 3 for Nellie.  But at the 4, he will be able to use his speed and athleticism to run opposing power forwards off the court, a favorite Nellie tactic.  He’s also a decent if not great 3 point shooter, which will allow Nellie to spread the floor with him on the court.  Another favorite Nellie tactic: pull the opposing team’s power forwards away from the basket to open lanes for penetration.
On defense, George’s size should allow him to bang and hold his position on defense against opposing power forwards, for the limited minutes he will be on the floor.  A defensive specialist his entire career, he has what it takes to fill this role.  It will come down to heart: does George have the will to sacrifice his body in this way at this stage of his career?
I have never watched Mikki Moore much, as I’ve never been a fan of Clipper, Kings or Nets basketball.  What I do remember seeing in him is an enthusiasm for defense, and a decent elbow jumper.  Both of those things will go a long way on the frontline of this Warriors team.  As will his stated intention of serving as a defensive mentor to the Warriors’ young big men.
I’m not sure how many minutes Mikkie will get, but I’m curious to see if the added insurance of having him on the bench will incline Nellie to give Turiaf some added minutes at the 4 behind Randolph.
Brandon Wright may be a very nice young man.  I have nothing against him personally.  But as a basketball player, I have very few nice things to say about him.
From the very first time I saw Wright step onto an NBA court, I noticed in him a distinct aversion to contact.  This is a player who simply hates to bang.  Not a great quality in a power forward.  Perhaps you can’t fault him, given the slightness of his build.  Except that Mr. Anthony Randolph, just as slight, is his exact opposite in this regard.  Wright allows himself to get pushed all over the floor by opposing power forwards, resembling to me nothing so much as a ragdoll, which is the nickname I have bestowed upon him.
Wright has also been very slow, in Don Nelson’s parlance, to “get it.”  He doesn’t seem to grasp the team’s defensive concepts, and is frequently caught out of position.  He appears to have no clue how to go about getting a defensive rebound.  He is a pretty good offensive rebounder, largely because other teams rarely guard him, and because the secret to offensive rebounding is slipping contact, as opposed to boxing out.
I am very doubtful as to Wright’s future as an NBA player.  He has the athleticism, but not the shooting ability nor skills to play small forward in the league.  If he’s to become a legitimate power forward, he needs to not only hit the weights, but learn the game, and somehow, someway, get a heart transplant.  I would love to be taken by surprise by him this year.  But after two cringe-worthy years, I’m not about to count on it.

4 Responses to Roster Analysis: The Bench Players

  1. agree w/ most, but not Brandon. from what i remember, when he was out there in limited action, he acquitted himself quite well in points/rebounds and seemed to run the floor very well, ending up in the right spot more often than not. his length is not to be denied and he does get after it defensively in that regard, which may make up for his lack of power forward toughness (which could actually work to his advantage, as many opposing PFs may decide to launch a shot feeling no body up pressure from Brandon, only to have BW swat that shot away time and again). also, if the guards turn out to be defensively challenged, i can’t imagine a better front line waiting to contest them than what they’d be confronted w/ by the likes (& the length) of AB/AR/BW…and Turiaf’s hustle.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Arvid. Its feels great to get that first comment on my own blog!

    As for young Brandan Wright, I’m going to go into this season, once again, with an open mind. I hope he surprises me with a new passion and dedication to manning up. Perhaps losing his job to Anthony Randolph will finally light a fire under him.

    I’ll be watching him like a hawk on the defensive end. Hope you do too.

  3. I too think you are being way too hard on Brandan Wright. I admit he’s not the player I thought he would be. I actually thought he was the 3rd best player in that draft according to what I thought the Warriors needed. I thought he was a guy that could run all day. All my input came from outside sources; I never actually saw him play. Maybe the Warriors didn’t do their homework either? Anyway, he’s what now 21 years old? My son turns 21 next month and he’s still rounding into his adult body, not quite yet a finished product. I’m still hopeful that a finished product named Brandan Wright will turn out to be an asset.

    Have no quibbles with anything else you said. Good work.

  4. Pingback: Two Wrights and a Roster « Feltbot's Warriors Blog