What If: Warriors 108 Blazers 87

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.

Phenomenal.

And let’s end it there, looking forward instead of back.

 

 

14 Responses to What If: Warriors 108 Blazers 87

  1. Great as usual. Feltie you are the uplifting best.

    If only you were a Venture Capitalist or at a minimum a billionaire (we know you would do with the money).

    Lacob acts like he and he alone did the Big 3 acquisition for the Celtics. Like the saying goes, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan”

    He wants the credit and probably thinks he can do it on one or two years. All the while we lost our bench and coach. Oh well. Maybe Gruber can work on improving the ‘fan experience” and get us a new Cookie Monster mascot.

  2. For a reasoned Portland explanation of there loss to the Dubs last night, including “getting tired from all the running”, and David Lee bullying Marcus Camby, go to

    http://www.oregonlive.com/blazers/index.ssf/2011/04/portland_trail_blazers_jason_q.html

  3. What a gorgeous game, and it was no fluke. Let’s hope our owner watched and took notes and learned something. Everything he saw flew in the face of what he thinks he knows about basketball. I suspect we’ll really learn why we need a bench tonight against the Lakers. The great teams have great benches–and I don’t think Miami is a great team.

    We should probably thank Biedrin’s ankle and Law’s wrist. They forced Smart’s hand and allowed the talent to play the game they know how to play. Law is playing his heart out, though, trying to save his career. I wish him well.

    The Curry/Ellis debates resurface because everyone figures trading one is the only way we can draw a big player, and Lacob has entertained that possibility. Doing so would be a horrible mistake for obvious reasons. Look at the great wins this season when both of them were fully engaged. If Lacob is ambitious, he should keep the obvious talent AND put up the bucks for a center who will work for this team AND start building a bench. Biedrins was a noble experiment. It failed. It’s unlikely they’ll be able to unload him, but he might make a fine 2nd or 3rd backup (since we have him anyway).

    Thornton is the kind of player I tend to mistrust. But on this team I think he could be a huge asset. He has some bulk and surliness, and it looks like he’s committed to defense and rebounding. And there will many games when we’ll want to give him the ball and see if he can score.

    Can Reggie Williams be brought along? He’s scarcely played one NBA season and didn’t see that much time this year. Can his defense improve, his ball handling? He could give the team a lot of option at 3 and 2 — and might even be serviceable at point when the team gets stuck? Nelson was very, very high on him.

  4. Yes, Nellie would have had this team rolling for a year, but then what? We probably would have ended up with Smart in Yr 2 anyway and the same thing would have happened. Yes, the weak bench hurt us but recall that Riley was our GM under Cohan, too, so…and the weak bench is in part a result of the Lee trade, so….

    And I think that Lin will be a productive bu pg next year.

    Yes, the weak bench was a big problem, but the biggest problem here was Keith Smart. I think Lacob is about to fix that mistake.

  5. This is good, interesting stuff!! I really appreciate you taking the time to break down individual possessions. Thanks!!!

  6. ummm…. the banner ad should eventually make it to over the header…

  7. I was hoping we’d get a classy liquor ad. I can’t afford the stuff, but I like thinking about it.

  8. Bashing Joe Lacob AGAIN??? Sheesh, Felt…

    So if you were the new owner of the Warriors, you think you’d want your new coach to “shame” you into doing things HIS way and not your way? Doubt it.

  9. you guys are missing the point!!!!!!
    Our Team – you say the weak bench is part of Lee trade so Riley(nelson) are responsible – NO NOT AT ALL. The players traded were not the reason our bench was weak. Kelenna – DNP, Ronny – could have helped buy gimpy, and AR – traded by Knicks for little and DNP. The reason our bench was weak was Lacob would not resign Tolliver – that alone would have swung the bench to a positive, and that was not money but style of play. If it was money then we are even worse off than with Cohan… Morrow and CJ not signed for money – Oh I guess we are worse off . And finally not keeping Raja Bell or picking him up during season… These are all Lacob moves where just keeping what we had could have made a huge difference. The Lee trade had nothing to do with it. The Lee trade – despite the criticism was 3 backups – mostly useless for a player while not a dominant all star was at least an all star – that the Warriors have not had since I can remember. This is exactly the type of trade you want a really good player for pieces. Just to prove the point – Kawawhacki is brutally against the trade – so it must be good.

    BRYTEX – You are saying no new owner would let someone shame them into doing something they don’t want to do… That is the whole point. By Feltbot saying he would have to be shamed implies:
    1. Lacob is making the basketball decisions – BAD NEWS – We know Lacob’s preferences and this team has been trying to play Lacob’s style while built for a different style. The owner should not have to be shamed as he should not be making the basketball decisions.
    2. A basketball executive should not have to shame the owner as they should just be able to make the basketball decisions. BUT IN THIS CASE since Lacob has surrounded himself with yes men so he can make the decisions there is no one to either make the decision or shame him into it..

    Come on now, as regular FB readers you guys should be up to speed on these issues….

    AND BRYTEX – it is great bashing Joe Lacob again if you are bringing up new points and adding new nuances…

    Nice Jobe Once Again Felty….

  10. Brytex, if he were shaming me by winning games I didn’t expect to win, and placing a team in contention that I didn’t know had a chance to contend, then yes, absolutely.

    But then, I’m not Joe Lacob.

  11. I forget the timing, but several decisions were made before we even knew who Lacob was, Bell, I think. Cohan didn’t want go over the salary cap while he was trying to sell the team. Watson, I heard, didn’t want to be the third guard for the team and wanted a shot elsewhere.

    But it’s clear that Lacob had an influence before he officially became owner–Lin and most notably Amundson over Tolliver, whom Nelson wanted to keep. And there were plenty of things he could have done much sooner to strengthen the bench, especially if he were willing to put up a few bucks. At the very least they could have scouted the D league for players to fill in, who might have had a chance to develop this year for the future.

    Great teams have good benches. It is a factor Lacob did not recognize and still has not addressed.

    Great teams also have a clear identity and experience in winning. We saw many possibilities last year, and when David Lee was signed, a third major piece fell into place for the kind of team Nelson has been trying to put together for years, whose potential we have seen the last week.

    But Lacob called that identity into question and has still left it up in the air as to what kind of team the Warriors will be–and a whole season has passed.

  12. Beating the Lakers, at any time, under any circumstances, is a big deal! How about some hoopla here?

  13. Not sure how much hoopla is deserved when so much more could have been accomplished this season. But a new post will be up within the hour.

  14. Do you seriously believe that our starting five is better than the OKC, Memphis and Portland? By the way, we also beat the Lakers this season. I guess that means our starting five is better than theirs too. And Cleveland also beat the Heat. I guess Cleveland has a better starting five than Miami does too.

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