Feltbot’s Prescription

Through the first two games, the Warriors have looked pretty crappy.  I’m not going to rehash everything I’ve already posted about that.  Here’s Private Jackson with a pithy summation: “I just think, like Coach said earlier, the first two games, we look like a team (on which) everyone’s playing for a contract and we’re not playing like a team. That’s all I can see.”

You can apply this statement to everyone on the team, if you like.  “Everyone must look at himself in the mirror,” and so on.  Certainly Corey Maggette has had a couple of stinkers.  But the Warriors don’t look to CM to do anything on the offensive end but score.  That’s his role.  To me, Jackson’s statement rests squarely on the shoulders of Monta Ellis.  He’s the player who’s had the ball in his hands the most often.  He’s the player who has taken the most shots.  He’s the player who has done an absolutely terrible job creating for his teammates.  He barely even looks at them.  And he’s the player who, when Curry has left the game and he has had sole responsibility at the point, has been leading the team over a cliff.  Monta Ellis is the biggest culprit for the Warriors’ obvious lack of chemistry.

What can Don Nelson do about this?  After some thought, I have decided that the solution lies in the lineups.  Nellie has a lot of pieces on this team, and he has been doing a lot of experimenting with how they should fit together.  I don’t think he’s found the right lineups yet.  My simple prescription for fixing the Warriors’ chemistry is this:

Make Monta Ellis the starting point guard. Bring Stephen Curry off the bench with the second unit.

I can hear you now:  “What?  Didn’t you just say Monta Ellis was a lousy point guard?”   Yes, so far he is.  But paradoxically, I believe that on this team that means that he should be the starter.  Here are my reasons:

  • Get Curry out of Monta’s hair.  Monta has been giving off a very strong air of being irritated by Curry’s presence, both on and off the court.  I have been getting the feeling that Monta views himself as competing with Curry for leadership of the team.  And I think that’s been hurting his game.  He’s pressing.  Taking Curry out of the starting lineup will help Monta relax, and grow more naturally into the leadership role the Warriors need him to fill.
  • The Monta-Curry backcourt is inefficient.  Although Monta can do some nice things off the ball, he is not a catch and shoot player.  He’s the type of player that needs the ball in his hands to be effective.  But that, of course, means taking the ball out of Curry’s hands, and forcing the Warrior’s best distributor to stand around.
  • Get Kelenna Azubuike into the starting lineup.  KA is one of the Warriors’ best wing players, as he’s shown in the first two games.  He needs more minutes.
  • Turn a negative into a positive. With Randolph and Biedrins filling out the starting unit, this will be a team that will be forced to rely on a selfish Monta Ellis for its scoring.  A team that LOOKS for him to be selfish.  Just like defensive genius Mike Brown’s ponderous Cavs offense looks for Lebron to be selfish.  Just like the Lakers look for Kobe to be selfish when the going gets tough.  Just like Jordan’s Bulls, Iverson’s Sixers, Wade’s Heat, Roy’s Blazers.  This can work.
  • This will be a starting 5 that can really get after it defensively.  Four of the starters are plus defenders.  Even when they struggle offensively, this unit can generate point differential.
  • Stephen Jackson at point-forward.  The ball has been too much out of Jackson’s hands in the first two games.  This lineup restores Jackson’s role in the offense.  When Nellie wants to run a play, he can use Jackson as the point forward.  This can work.  It worked well last year in the handful of games in which the Warriors had a full and healthy roster.  It worked for Nellie in Milwaukee when Paul Pressey was the point-forward and Sidney Moncrief was the point guard.  It worked for the Jordan Bulls: more often than not Pippen or Jordan ran the point for that team, and Kerr and Paxon and Armstrong were off the ball post-up shooters.
  • This lineup doesn’t simply fix what’s wrong with the starting unit, it fixes the second unit as well.  That second unit will now be headlined, of course, by Curry and Morrow.  Morrow has had a miserable start to the season, largely because with Curry starting, there have been very few minutes for Morrow alongside Curry.   Morrow is almost completely incapable of getting his own shot, and Monta has a tough time creating open shots for him. Curry, on the other hand, has proven to have a genius for getting Morrow the ball in position to shoot.  The two have been lights-out when partnered in the backcourt.  Morrow MUST play with Curry, and Curry MUST play with Morrow.  Putting them together on the second unit is the answer.
  • Corey Maggette needs to play with Curry as well.  Everybody in the world has grown sick of watching Nelson run isolation plays for Corey Maggette, even though those plays are usually highly effective.  I am not someone who hates Maggette, or who thinks Nellie shouldn’t use him at the 4.  I like the idea of Maggette getting time at the 4.  I just think Nellie needs to help Maggette play better.  Stephen Curry is the answer. In the pre-season, Curry found ways to employ Maggette’s tremendous finishing ability on the move, rather than in stagnant, ball-pounding isolation.  He found Maggette on the wings on fast breaks, he found Maggette on back door cuts under the basket, and he found Maggette on sliding post-ups across the middle.  That is how and why Maggette was the most efficient scorer on the Warriors in the preseason.  A lineup with both Monta and Maggette has two isolation players who look for their shot first.  That leads to stagnation.  Play Curry with Maggette on the second unit.

Stephen Curry needs something close to starter’s minutes.  He’s proven himself to be that good.  He can still get them coming off the bench.  He can still be in at the end of games if Nellie so chooses.  I am not suggesting that his role on the team be reduced.  I’m am simply saying that both Monta and the Warriors can benefit most by having Curry’s prodigious talents put to use with the second unit.

21 Responses to Feltbot’s Prescription

  1. Good call in starting Azubuike. Curry can come off the bench with Morrow and Maggette.

    Starting Randolph was working well against Phoenix. He goes out, the Suns go on a run and never look back.

    Azubuike is a passer and does not need the ball in his hands to make any plays. Plus he is used to Playing w/Jax, Monta and Beans and should have some chemistry.

    Not sure why Monta playing with Morrow isn’t working – clearly it isn’t, but it’s unclear why it isn’t. Monta penetrating should open up the drive-and-kick to Morrow on the perimeter. Curry can penetrate somewhat, but Monta is much quicker.

  2. I’d have to say your proposed line up makes sense on many levels. I think it will expose/contrast the young vs. the vets units. And to really see if Ellis can lead or take over a game. We’ve have hoped but never seen that Ellis can constantly provide all-star level play. Plus, it makes the second unit potentially one of the best in the league…if Morrow can get open and hit his shots and Curry continues to improve his shooting.

  3. I agree that Buke should be starting. He’s a very very good complimentary player who doesn’t need to handle the ball too much. Thats what I love about him. He gets it and is either going to shoot or drive to the lane with all his might. No dribbling, or to use a current favorite of the GOP, dithering like Jax, Maggette and Monta tend to do.

    Monta and Curry need to stay out of each others hair, I agree, the problem is they are our best two players and if this team is to be successful, they need to learn to play together. I am afraid this will never happen because the aforementioned trio are far more concerned with their personal cred to sublimate their professional desires and delusions for the betterment of the team. In that regard, I agree, throw them all out there together, let them fight like hell for the ball and shots, then let the young, cohesive, second unit come out there and play fundamentally sound ball.

    Though I agree with the solution, I don’t agree that it will work. The personalities on the team ensure that. The wind got knocked out of my sail in re: this team not because of the talent level, or two losses, I am down on this team because the players just don’t give a shit anymore. Not much you can do to remedy that other than getting rid of them.

    Its early, I know, and you know me, I will be following along (perhaps with a little less gusto) but I am not feeling good about where this season is going. We are going to be in the same spot we were last year except with players who have openly stated their discontent and openly display it on a daily basis.

    But keep up the good fight Felty, if things turn around I will be here singing your praises.

  4. Hell, why not? More of the same sure isn’t going to work. Beyond that, if the first unit is playing selfish suckyball, it gives us the hope that in a few minutes the Curry-to-Morrow combo will make the game worth watching. I like your idea.

  5. In addition, it has been mentioned before that one way for this type of team to be successful would be to run, run, run with 10 guys. Having two complete (and competing with each other!) lineups rotating (not quite what you were saying, but close enough) and both playing significant minutes, they could run most other teams into the ground.

  6. You make a lot of good arguments, and if this move will help the team win games, then I guess I’m OK with it. I do like the idea of Jackson playing more point forward. The question I have is, does Curry deserve the demotion? I don’t think he does. So what I don’t like is the idea of taking Curry out of the starting lineup not for anything Curry has done, but because Monta has proven himself too immature to share the backcourt with his rookie teammate. I worry about what kind of message that sends to the rest of the team.

  7. I sounds like a really good idea. Im only hesitant bacause I dont see the second unit getting much time playing behind those starters.

  8. Would moving Curry to the second unit send a negative message to the team? I’m not sure that’s the case with a rookie. But I don’t know.

    Optimus, with Nellie, anyone who’s playing well will get plenty of minutes. Nothing’s written in stone.

  9. Feltbot,

    Looks like Nellie is following part of your prescription.
    http://48minutes.net/2009/11/02/monday-practice-update-no-turiaf-randolph-at-the-5/

    This will drive all of the chronic complainers completely over the edge.

  10. Hmmm… I love KA in the starting lineup, but didn’t expect it to be at the 4! Hopefully, this is a bit of misdirection. The key for me is getting Curry onto the second unit. And I think either Randolph or Turiaf should start at the 4, preferably Randolph. But he has to be ready, which he hasn’t shown himself to be so far this season.

  11. Interesting: The two teams that we’ve lost to are a combine 6 and 1. Houston just demolished Utah. Suddenly, our loses doesn’t seem so bad….

  12. Very good point PlayoffB. Houston is a really interesting team. Amazing that Scola could dominate Boozer to that degree in Utah. They are looking like a playoff shoo-in if their small frontline manages to stay healthy.

  13. I already didnt like Magette at the 4 and now Nelson is moving SJax (our worst rebounder) to the 4. Is AR really playing THAT horrible. I like KA is the starting lineup, but not with Jax at PF.

    The Brandon Wright injury was a HUGE loss for us.

  14. The more I think about this dilemma the more it makes sense that Monta HAS to go. Lets think about this. We have a wealth of wings and a style of play that allows them to succeed. In order to play that way, you need your guards to compensate defensively and on the boards. In order to do that, you need wingmen who have certain qualities (defensive toughness, rebounding ability, and strength). When this team succeeded playing small ball it had big, imposing guards. Baron, JR, Pietrus, Jax, et.

    Now we have two players, Curry and Monta who do not fit that role of big guard. What is worse? They are our best players. Conclusion? they have to play together. When they play together you lose defensive toughness and strength (I leave out rebounding because Monta can board for a little guy). We cannot win when we put our best players out there and we cannot win with our best players riding pine. MOVE MONTA. Get a high quality wing player a la Josh Howard and all of a sudden you have Curry with three athletic, tough wing players who can also board and defend. Biedrins, Randolph and Turiaf man the 5 spot and at times the 4 depending on matchups.

    Jax is going to be impossible to move, move Monta, get a nice piece and when the team starts winning maybe Jax will shut his trap.

  15. Or get Bosh. He has the perimeter skills to play 4 in our system.

  16. gmoney, I don’t disagree that moving Monta may be the solution. Your point that he is easier to move than Jackson is a good one. And you are right that most of Nellie’s small ball units have featured big 2 guards.

    Nellie did have a backcourt like Ellis and Curry once, though, that proved quite successful: Nick van Exel and Steve Nash. That backcourt took the Mavs to the conference finals in 2002-03.

    Check it out.

  17. This latest reported lineup move is a step in the right direction. I love that KA is being moved into the starting lineup. I would still prefer that Curry be moved to the second unit.

    I’m hoping this lineup is temporary, though, and reflects the Turiaf injury and Randolph’s slow start due to injury as well. If and when Randolph forces his way back as the starting 4, we will see which way Nellie jumps regarding KA and Curry.

    With Jack on Zach Randolph, we should find out right quick whether Jack’s heart is in it this season.

  18. Felt,

    What do you think about the Rudy Gay for Stephen Jackson plus whoever trade? Doesn’t seem like Memphis is interested in signing Gay longterm…

  19. Felty,

    I remember that squad very well. The reason that combo worked though was because Nick Van Exel was absolutely on fire during those playoffs. He started because he was hitting everything in the gym. He was the backup pg for most of that season. Then we traded for him and his fat ass couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. Good times.

  20. PlayoffB, Gay will be a restricted free agent. I think Memphis is just being frugal. They will match the best offer he gets. I doubt very much they will let him go.

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