OK, so we have Stephen Jackson trying to force a trade, a disgruntled Monta Ellis even more disgruntled by the drafting of new kid on the block Stephen Curry, Brandon Wright out for the season, again, with a dismembered wing, news that Rony Turiaf is playing with a torn cartilage, and our lone remaining power forward on the roster, 225 lb. stringbean Anthony Randolph, already pulverized to a pulp and doubtful for the season opener. According to rumor, our starting point guard is a rookie, and our starting power forward is a 6-6″ small forward. Am I leaving anything out?
Oh yes: we have a snarling pack of Bay Area sportswriters circling Don Nelson like arctic wolves around a wounded bull moose, hoping for a big kill to swell their circulations.
Could this possibly be the time to consider betting on the Warriors?
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, absolutely yes.
The NBA season win totals have just come out, and the over/under on the Warriors’ wins this season is 34.5. I am jumping on this line with both fists. Betting the OVER. In other words, that the Warriors will win 35 or more games this season.
Crazy? I’ll let you decide. Here are my reasons:
1) All of the reasons I have previously outlined in my Warriors season prediction, and my analysis of their last preseason game. The Warriors have several nice big pieces who I pray remain healthy, but even if they don’t, I believe the Warriors small unit rivals the RunTMC Warriors in talent. Take a look at how many wins that team put up, with NO BIG MEN at all. With Monta Ellis healthy and Stephen Curry joining him in the backcourt, this Warriors team is finally primed to RUN. That spells wins.
2) The line is artificially depressed by the Stephen Jackson blowup and a hateful press. Brainwash yourself for an instant, and pretend that Jackson and Ellis were happy, and that the press weren’t out for the blood of Cohan, Rowell and Nelson. What would the Warriors line be in that case? We are getting this bet at a substantial discount.
3) This team won 29 games last season. A year in which the team was stunned by losing Baron Davis. A year in which Monta Ellis was out virtually the entire season. Biedrins was injured most of the season. Jackson played through injury most of the season. Maggette was out to start the season. Harrington was penciled in at power forward during training camp, then penciled himself out at the last moment. Jamal Crawford was in, then out. Anthony Morrow and Anthony Randolph were clueless rookies, not ready to contribute for most of the season. Nellie “rested” his veterans down the stretch, and the Warriors stumbled to the finish line with a roster of seven players. Seven.
Can this team win 6 more games than last year’s team? Yes, even if many, many, many things go wrong. The line affords us a considerable cushion.
4) Stephen Jackson. Yes, that’s right. I happen to think that Stephen Jackson is a great player, and right now the Warriors have him. I am willing to bet that even unhappy, he gives everything he has to help the team win. I think that’s just who he is.
I am also willing to bet the following: If Jackson is traded, it will likely bring reinforcement on the front line. Given this team’s depth at the wing behind Jackson, that may result in a net positive for the team. And even if disaster occurs, and Jackson quits or blows up or goes into the stands at Madison Square Garden, the Warriors will have enough to get 35 wins. This team has a surplus of very good wing players.
5) Don Nelson. It is astonishing to me that so many NBA writers are ready to write off the only man in NBA history who has built four franchises into playoff teams starting from scratch. The vultures are out in force against Nelson right now. The most corrupt and vicious among them, like Kawakami and Bucher, are peddling re-hashed (and still uncorroborated) stories of a greedy Machiavellian. And even the rare independent thinkers, like Bill Simmons, fear that Nelson may be playing out the string, and disinterested.
The hallmark of Don Nelson is a fierce determination to win basketball games. Whatever you may read about his personal qualities and motivations, you do not build four franchises from scratch into playoff teams by letting your personal ambitions get in the way of your ability to put a winning team on the floor. Don Nelson wins. He wins everywhere he goes, with players that no one else thought were any good. He wins to the consternation of other coaches. He wins to the consternation of the NBA pundits. And more to the point, he wins to the consternation of the bookies.
I have made a lot of money betting on Don Nelson over the years, in the regular season and in the playoffs. I made the nicest basketball score of my life betting on him and his band of NBA rejects against the Squeaky General and his #1 seeded Mavs at the price of 12 to 1. And I am going to keep betting on him, in the right spot, and at the right price, until the day he hangs up his spurs for good.
Some of you may agree with me, but feel that the Nellie I am writing of is a thing of the past. He was good, but he’s given up the ghost. He’s simply counting the days, and the dollars, until his retirement in Maui. To you I offer up these thoughts:
1) Don’t you know what an NBA lifer looks like when you see one?
2) In his recently published depositions in his case against Mark Cuban, Nellie revealed that his most cherished ambition was to become the godfather of the Mavericks, like his idol and mentor Red Auerbach was of the Celtics. That didn’t work out with the Mavs, obviously, but who’s to say it won’t with the Warriors? Nellie recently offered to coach the Warriors for FREE for the year after his contract runs out, in order to give something back to the franchise. What motivation do you think lies behind that extraordinary offer?
Nelson wants to spend his “retirement” as the godfather of the Warriors franchise. And everything, EVERYTHING, rests on how he shepherds this young team through the next two years.
3) In Stephen Curry, Nellie just found his next Steve Nash.
Feltbot recommends betting on Don Nelson.
See also: Important Update on the Warriors Bet