“In small proportions we just beauties see….” — Ben Jonson
I listened to this game on the radio. Thank God we’re done with basketball that isn’t televised. Let’s get this party started!
Common sense tells us there is nothing to take away from this last preseason game. New Orleans clearly wasn’t in the mood to have fun: they left Chris Paul, David West, Emeka Okafor and Julian Wright on the bench. The Warriors went without four of their starters as well, but for more lugubrious reasons. Biedrins was being rested, but Randolph, Azubuike and Jackson were out with injuries.
I have never been overly afflicted with common sense, though. So I took away quite a bit from this game. This was the first real, extended “look” that we have gotten this year at a Warriors small ball unit that they didn’t have last year. In other words, a small ball unit that includes Curry with Ellis in the backcourt. The results were spectacular. The Warriors bench unit ran the Hornets bench unit out of the gym. The backcourt of Ellis and Curry pushed the tempo, hit the open shot, and distributed beautifully. And they also rebounded the basketball and turned the Hornets over. The Ellis-Curry tandem was +36 while on the floor together. Get used to seeing numbers like that.
Because the small-ball Warriors of this year will not resemble at all the small-ball Warriors of last year. Don Nelson was frequently heard to complain last year that “their smalls were better than our smalls.” I will venture to say that those days are over. For two reasons: a healthy Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. When these two players are at the top of their game, there is not a backcourt in the league that will be able to run with them. Add Corey Maggette at the four, and any one of the Warriors bigs and any one of their great wing players, and you have a team that will be running away from not just the New Orleans bench unit, but legitimate NBA playoff teams. Night after night.
I’ve seen it before in the Bay Area, with RunTMC. But this team is FASTER than RunTMC. Monta is faster than Hardaway. Maggette is faster than Mullin, who also played power forward in the small unit. And Biedrins and Turiaf are faster than all of the centers Nellie made do with on that team. Which brings us to Anthony Randolph. If Anthony Randolph is used at the 5 in the small ball unit, in a lineup with Maggette, Morrow (or Jackson or Buike), Ellis and Curry, then that will be not only the fastest team in the NBA this year, but the fastest team that has ever been seen in the history of the NBA.
Let the howls of the Nelson haters commence. Let them rise in chorus to the moon. It is music to my ears. Because the small-ball basketball that is about to be unleashed on the league is going to be music to our eyes. The Don Nelson fast break is back. Blowouts are going to follow.
Some quick observations:
Monta seemed to step it up in this game. Put it in another gear. I wish I could have watched it to see just how quick he looked, but listening to the broadcast it seemed that he was dominant. His mid-range jumper was falling tonight for the first time this season, which is certainly encouraging. He also seemed to have a nice chemistry with Turiaf, frequently finding him for layups on his drives. THAT’S what I have been looking for since the start of this season. Monta finished with 6 assists this game, which is what I think he will average this year.
He also got 7 rebounds, which should not be overlooked. Monta was one of the best rebounding guards in the league two years ago. He has a great knack of getting to loose balls, which is extremely important, obviously, when playing small. The Warriors missed this terribly last year, when loose balls seemed to ricochet around interminably on the Warriors’ defensive end.
Curry also had 6 rebounds. If this budding basketball genius also has Monta’s knack for getting to rebounds, we are going to see a lot more of this backcourt than anyone expects.
A blind and deaf man, reading this box score in braille, could tell immediately that Stephen Curry has one of highest basketball IQs in the league. 10 assists and 6 steals? From a rookie? This is obviously no fluke now: we’ve already seen a line like this from him, in the Phoenix game I believe. What is there to say about a talent like this? Words are failing me.
At one point in the game, on the fast break, Curry flung a 70-foot bounce pass that caught a streaking Maggette in stride for a layup. A pass that Barnett said reminded him of Magic Johnson. I guess words are failing him too.
Curry’s jumper was falling for the second straight game, and the Warriors announcers stated that his confidence appeared to be blooming.
I am so looking forward to watching this kid play. We have a rookie of the year candidate.
Can we ever take for granted the shooting performances we are getting from AM? I don’t think there can be any doubt at this point that a Mullinesque shooting talent is taking the floor every night for the Warriors. The trick to playing him, as it was with Mullin, will be finding a place to hide him on defence. If anyone can do that, it is Don Nelson. Tonight Morrow was matched up with the far bigger Stoyakovich. This was a dream matchup for him. Peja is far slower than he used to be. Even last year he appeared to me to be all but washed up.
Morrow can be used to great effect against players like this, that abound on the second units of NBA teams. Which is why Nellie was leaning towards playing Morrow off the bench before Wright got injured.
I keep coming back to this, but the efficiency with which Maggette operates on the offensive end is virtually unmatched in the league. Tonight he got 23 points in 27 minutes, on 7-11 and 8-9. Maggette is one of the best players on this Warriors team, and by far the most underrated by both the media and the fans. Don Nelson has found the perfect role for him, and he is blossoming in it. Hopefully he will begin to get his due when he walks away with the 6th man of the year award at the end of the year.
There has been some recent noise in the media — from commentators who are more interested in thinking up ways to trash Don Nelson than they are in thinking about basketball — that CJ Watson is “ahead” of Morrow and Curry in Nelson’s rotation. This is absolute nonsense, and will still be absolute nonsense if Watson winds up in the starting lineup, and Morrow and Curry come off the bench. JR Smith was not “behind” Dontae Jones in Karl’s rotation, and Manu Ginobili was not “behind” Roger Mason in Pop’s. Those players are leaders of the second unit for tactical purposes, and if Nellie consigns Morrow and Curry to the second unit, it will be for identical reasons.
Watch the minutes, they will tell the story. Here’s how it broke down this game. Morrow: 48. Curry: 38. Watson: 22.