No sense in recapping this game, so I’m just going to use this space to exorcise a couple pet peeves. Beginning with the biggest pet among my peeves, who goes by the name of Brandan Wright.
Brandan Wright: Keith Smart said in his postgame interview that this game was over after the first eight minutes. That coincides exactly with the length of Brandan Wright’s first stint on the court. I’m not saying that the Warriors could have won this game had David Lee played, or even prevented a blowout. They were indeed playing their fourth road game in 5 nights, already had 2 wins in their pocket, and had a good ready-made excuse not to show up. But I will say this: the Warriors were guaranteed to be blown out in this game the second Brandan Wright’s name was penciled in for Lee’s.
Brandan Wright is not an NBA player. I’m not saying this to be mean, which a lot of people have accused me of with regards to him. I am simply saying what I see with my two eyes every single time he takes the court. There is no way around it. He just isn’t an NBA player.
I’m not even going to bother talking about Wright’s offensive game, which is wretchedly limited to spoon-fed bunny hooks and tip-ins. His biggest failure is on the defensive end, and in particular on the defensive boards. Brandan Wright cannot get defensive rebounds against NBA players. He let Taj Gibson box him off his own board literally on every possession, without a fight. Wright got 3 rebounds total in his 16 minutes on the court. 2 were offensive tip-ins. One of those was a tip-in of his own miss, which is something of a specialty of his. His lone defensive rebound was a long one.
To realize how spectacularly bad Wright is without subjecting yourself to rewatching his minutes, take a look at Andris Biedrins’ rebounding line in this game. He got 5 rebounds, all offensive. Not one single defensive rebound. The reason is that Wright gave him absolutely no protection: The Bulls collapsed the box on every miss and Biedrins was swarmed. You want to know why Biedrins is so out-of-his-mind ecstatic about the presence of David Lee on his team? Make the first quarter of this game your Exhibit A.
This should have been one of the biggest games of Wright’s career. A chance to show that he belongs in the league, after 2 long years of struggle. Could you tell from his play that this was an important opportunity for him? Jim Barnett sure couldn’t. He stressed pre-game what a big opportunity this was for Wright, but by halftime was already registering disappointment: “He’s got to become more active and go after everything.”
It didn’t happen. Three minutes into the third quarter, when Wright lost Taj Gibson under the basket for an easy dunk, Smart had reached the end of his rope. Jeff Adrien was brought in, and immediately pushed Taj Gibson out of the lane, forcing him into a turnaround jumper that hit the top of the backboard, to Jim Barnett’s great delight.
The media have taken great pleasure lately in repeating the canard that unlike Don Nelson, Keith Smart doesn’t have a doghouse. Well, what would you call giving Brandan Wright all of 16 minutes in a 40 point blowout? When Lou Amundsen and Ekpe Udoh return to action, Brandan Wright may never again see a meaningful minute in a Warriors uniform.
It’s a mystery. A mystery of the human heart.
Reggie Williams and the Identity of the Warriors: 1) When you are limited to a choice between Rodney Carney and Reggie Williams as the first wing off the bench, you simply must choose Reggie Williams. Rodney Carney is not a good player, in any system. Reggie Williams, as Don Nelson showed, can be a very good player in the right system.
2) There is simply no reason to put Reggie Williams on the court unless you are going to call his number, every trip down the court. Reggie Williams is a scorer, and if his 50% shooting under Don Nelson is any guide, he has the potential to be one of the great scorers in the league. He could be the Warriors “microwave” — a role that many championship teams have found useful for their 6th men — if only Keith Smart would embrace the concept.
Keith Smart is mis-using Williams, because he has a reluctance to 1) Push the tempo; and 2) Use Williams as his point forward and let him isolate. Riley and Smart are going to have to come to a decision: either embrace this Warriors roster and stop trying to pound square pegs into round holes, or get themselves a new roster.
This Warriors team is an offensive juggernaut. And although they can improve defensively, they can never be much better than average on that end. Unless you play to their strengths, and let them go. The Warriors best defenders, Biedrins, DWright and Ellis, are at their best when playing uptempo. And the entire team is at its best offensively when in the open court. That is the path to point differential for this team.
Push the tempo. Undo the loco motion.
Free Reggie Williams.