If you want to know why the Warriors are not in the playoffs this year, you need look no further than their GM, Joe Lacob.
The Warriors proved a couple games ago that their starting five is better than the starting five of the #4 seed in the West, the OKC Thunder. They proved earlier this season that their starting five is better than New Orleans’ (the gimpy Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, Marco Belinelli version). They proved that their starting five is better than Memphis’ (here I’m forced to sub a healthy Andris Biedrins for Udoh).
And tonight they proved that their starting five is better than Portland’s. If you’re counting, that makes four out of the eight playoff teams in the West.
So we know, with absolute certainty, that the reason the Warriors are not in the playoffs this year has nothing to do with the quality of their starters. The starters that, with the exceptions of Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins (in the games he is better suited to start, as against Marc Gasol), were assembled by Don Nelson. Stephen Curry, David Lee, Dorell Wright and Ekpe Udoh were all brought to the Warriors by Nellie. Exceptional players all, that fit together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle.
It has to do with the quality of their bench. The bench that is without question the very worst in the NBA. The bench that was assembled by Joe Lacob. Left to rot all season long by Joe Lacob. And then completely disassembled by Joe Lacob at the trade deadline, for a second round pick.
Joe Lacob’s bench is the reason the Warriors’ aren’t in the playoffs this year.
That, and Joe Lacob’s coach. The Warriors came into this season with one of the best game coaches in the history of the league, the coach who was one of the best developers of point guards in the history of the league, and the coach best suited of any in the league to get the most out of this particular Warriors’ roster, that he envisioned, fantasized about, and then in a series of brilliant trades and drafts, finally assembled.
He was also a coach who would have been powerful enough to shame Joe Lacob into letting him improve the Warriors’ bench, when that was the last thing that Joe Lacob wanted to do. And brilliant enough to set the NBA on fire with a 7 man rotation until the shame set in.
This coach was fired unceremoniously, and replaced by Joe Lacob’s coach. Joe Lacob’s coach was a rookie on a one-year contract. A coach with no power to shame Joe Lacob. And a coach who was either too incompetent or too gutless to coach this team in the style for which it was built.
Joe Lacob’s coach was in Joe Lacob’s back pocket. And that meant, for most of this lost season, low post basketball with players unsuited for the low post. Walk it up, grind it out basketball with players best suited for the open floor. Clock-killing motion offense with players best suited for isolations, and early threes.
This season wasn’t lost, it was tanked. By Joe Lacob.
You probably think I’ve been repeating myself a lot lately. I don’t care. Because when I see this Warriors team beat Portland in Portland, and the Knicks in MSG, and Dallas, and the Chicago Bulls, playing the style of basketball they were MEANT to play this year, I get sick to my stomach. Thinking about what might have been. This season.
If Joe Lacob hadn’t bought the Warriors.
David Lee: We saw from Lee this game what Don Nelson would have gotten from him all season long.
17 shots. In a season in which Keith Smart has held him to an average of 13.
None of the idiotic post-ups that Keith Smart forced on him for the better part of this season. Not one.
Pick and roll, and pick and pop. That is what David Lee was created by God for. Why did it take Joe Lacob’s coach an entire season to figure this out?
Did you catch that beautiful David Lee outlet at :20 3rd Q? An instantaneous catch and lob to a streaking Monta Ellis over half court. There could be no better example of why this Warriors team should be the fastest in the league end to end.
So why did Joe Lacob’s coach have the Warriors guards walking back to take handoffs from David Lee for half the season? Why did it take so long to figure this out?
Maybe it wasn’t about figuring it out. Maybe it was about taking orders.
Stephen Curry: 21 shots in a season in which Keith Smart has held him to an average of 14.
They ran a graphic tonight of the 5 players in the league who have shot 45% from the field, 40% from three, and 85% from the line. A list that Stephen Curry has joined in both of his first two seasons in the league. Not one of those other players did it in their first two seasons.
Is this a player who should only get 14 shots a game?
Who should be mired in a walk-it-up, dump it into the low post offense?
The Curry/Ellis backcourt: Dominated some very good players tonight. And no, I’m not referring to the ghost of Brandon Roy. Andre Miller, Wes Mathews, Nic Batum, Rudy Fernandez. With no backup, playing 42 and 44 minutes, respectively.
Have you noticed what’s going on in Denver, under the great George Karl? The Nuggets are 15-5 post-trade, with Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton both getting 30+ minutes a game. That’s 5-11″ and 6-1″, to Curry and Ellis’ 6-3″, in case you didn’t realize.
How does Karl do it? First of all, by playing all-out Nellieball, as his lineup is now built to do. And second, by mixing in some great defensive wings, like Afflalo and Chandler. And another big wing, JR Smith.
In other words, George Karl’s GM is not Joe Lacob.
Lou Amundson: It’s great to see Amundson hit his free throws, but it won’t last. How do I know this? Because his elbow is outside his hand when he shoots. Check it out. It’s like shooting pool with a bent cue.
Amundson was hit with several beautiful passes in the pick and roll tonight. Did he finish any?
It is hard for me to be so critical of a player that tries so hard. And I recognize that his toughness is something that the Warriors starters all lack. The same thing could be said of Jeremy Lin and Acie Law.
But if any of those guys remain a featured part of Joe Lacob’s bench next season, the Warriors will again be on the outside looking in.
The Nightmare: Udoh layed a couple of eggs in the last two games, with nightmare matchups against Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby. 1 rebound and 1 block in each game.
And yet he was +5 against Dallas and +6 against Portland. Clearly, there is something there that doesn’t fit in a box score.
Here’s an inkling: In the second half of the Portland game, Udoh was matched up with the 6-7″ Gerald Wallace. A clear mismatch, right?
And at 5:30 of the 3rd Q, the not too quick Nate McMillan got around to trying to exploit it. He iso’ed Wallace on the right wing against Udoh. Wallace faked, then drove right. All over for the rookie power forward, right?
Nope. Udoh moved his feet perfectly, stayed in front of Wallace, and stoned his shot. Warriors fast break.
And let’s end it there, looking forward instead of back.