No, I’m not referring to today’s invitation of Vernon Goodridge to training camp. It’s tough to know what to make of this move: I think its probably a standard invitation to someone who’s unlikely to make the roster. Perhaps it also increases the pressure ever so slightly on Anthony Tolliver. But Goodridge is something that Tolliver is not: a guy who can give you a couple of minutes at center, a shot blocker, and a defensive player with athleticism and quick feet. From his tape I don’t see much offensive potential at the NBA level, although he does run the floor and catch alley oops. My chief thought on this invitation is “What in the world has happened to Chris Hunter?” Anyone know? I thought he proved he was an NBA player last year.
But let’s get back to The Next Big Move. I sense one coming. My spidey sense has been tingling ever since the Warriors signed Jannero Pargo, just like it tingled when the Warriors moved Corey Maggette, and I immediately predicted a blockbuster move for a power forward. (I thought it might be Stoudemire, but I’m ecstatic that it’s David Lee.)
Why am I tingling again? It’s because of an intriguing combination of clues. As a veteran Nellieologist, I happen to know that he loves big 2 guards who can defend. Here’s a list of 2 guards that Nellie has drafted, traded for or signed beginning with RunTMC: Mitch Richmond, Mario Elie, Latrell Sprewell, Michael Finley, Greg Buckner, Raja Bell, Stephen Jackson, Kelenna Azubuike. Do you see the theme there? Every one of those players had the size, the strength, and the WILL to be a shutdown defender. They also had the size and strength to be versatile: they could be played against small forwards as well.
Now here’s a few of the small forwards that Nellie has employed in the same period: Vincent Askew, Adrian Griffin, Josh Howard, Matt Barnes. See the theme there? Every one of these players was a shutdown defender, and was versatile and tough-minded enough to take on power forwards.
There is only one conclusion that you can draw from these lists: Don Nelson PRIZES length, strength and defensive ability in his wings. Having these types of players to shut down the opposing team’s best scorers is one of the chief ways that Nellie creates point-differential.
This current Warriors roster, since the loss of Jackson and Azubuike, is severely lacking in these types of players, these Nellie-ball chess pieces. Yes, Dorell Wright is a shut-down defender and a terrific addition. But does he have enough offense to earn starter’s minutes? And at 6-9″ can he be used to guard 2 guards? I think the answer to both questions is no.
Reggie Williams is 6-5″ and a terrific offensive player, but can he be a shut-down defender? I think the answer to that is no as well.
Monta Ellis showed last year that he has surprising defensive ability against bigger players. But does he have the will to battle those bigger players again over the course of the season? And will his fragile body allow it? Major questions.
The recently signed Charlie Bell is a defensive-minded player. But at 6-3″ he’s too small to be a shut-down defender on the wings.
The upshot of this is that I believe that when Nellie looks at his current roster he still sees a significant hole: the need for a big wing who can both score and defend. Let’s call this Clue #1.
Here are the rest of the clues that have me tingling:
Clue #2: With the recent Pargo and Lin signings, the Warriors currently have 5 players 6-3″ and under on the roster. This is a very significant imbalance, and one that indicates very strongly to me that one or more of these players is going to be traded before the season starts.
Clue #3: In the recent interview he gave to Greg Papa, new Warriors owner Joe Lacob praised Stephen Curry and David Lee as two very good players, while appearing to slight Monta Ellis. He also stated his belief that the Warriors needed three stars in order to win, and seemed to hint that Riley was working on something big.
Clue #4: I’m going to throw everything Monta Ellis into this clue: The drawbacks to his pairing with Stephen Curry in the backcourt, not least of which is his own doubt about his role; his past disgruntlement with the organization; his head-butting with Don Nelson over playing point-guard; his fury over the drafting of Curry; his initial freezing out of Curry; his general aloofness and lack of leadership with his teammates; resentment over no longer being the face of the franchise.
And this: his deafening silence since the blockbuster addition of David Lee.
Clue #5: Some very intriguing small forwards have been featured in trade rumors lately. Of most interest to Warriors commentators and fans are Carmelo Anthony and Andre Iguodala. But I think it’s extremely unlikely the Warriors wind up with either of them.
All signs point to Carmelo Anthony leaving Denver soon: His reluctance to sign an extension, the firing of the Denver front office, the owner’s statement that he would not allow Carmelo to hold the Nuggets hostage like Lebron did the Cavs. But how does Carmelo get to the Warriors? It is difficult to see how Monta Ellis fits in a backcourt with Billups, Lawson and JR Smith. And assuming Carmelo would want to come to the Warriors as opposed to the Knicks, as is rumored, does he want to give up his leverage before going to free agency?
Andre Iguodala plays the same position as Evan Turner. But I think there are two reasons he doesn’t wind up on the Warriors. First and foremost, he can’t shoot. I don’t think Nellie takes a 31% three point shooting wing player on his team. Secondly, Monta is a horrible fit for Philly. They already have a very promising point guard, Jrue Holiday.
Clue #6: Which leaves my candidate:
Danny Granger is rumored to be on the block in Indiana. They just drafted a small forward with the 10th pick, Paul George, who they are very high on, particularly after his lights-out showing in the summer league. They also have Mike Dunleavy coming back, and as much as they’d like to move him, they won’t be able to.
Indiana also has a desperate need for a point guard that is keeping Larry Bird up at nights. Reading between the lines, I do not believe TJ Ford will be their starting point guard by the time the season begins. Trading Granger for Monta Ellis makes a lot of sense for the Pacers.
And as for Granger on the Warriors? Oh boy. A lights-out shooter with the size and quickness to get his shot off in the playoffs. A shut-down wing defender with the size and versatility to guard not just 2s and 3s, but also 4s in the small ball unit. You’d have to think the Warriors would do this trade in a heartbeat. Nellie has praised Granger effusively in the past. He’s a quintessential Nellie two-way wing baller. Slotting him in at the three would allow Reggie Williams to take over the starting 2 guard position, and Dorell Wright to come off the bench. And immediately allow the Warriors to start thinking about the next level: