Niners Win: Bobcats 112 Warriors 100 + Warriors 99 Pistons 91

I watched a truly great game this weekend.  A football game.

And naturally, had a couple of Warriors-related thoughts as I watched it unfold.                                        

The 49ers were 6-10 last season.  If someone would have told you then that they had a Super Bowl roster on that team, would you have believed him?

The 49ers had a quarterback, Alex Smith, that was ridiculed by the Bay Area media, and universally despised among the fans. If someone would have told you that he had the talent and moxie to take the Niners to the Super Bowl this season, would you have believed him?

What if someone would have told you that you don’t need a superstar quarterback to win a Super Bowl?  Would you have agreed with that?

In the offseason, the 49ers owner didn’t shop his team all over the league.  He didn’t loudly seek to make a “big move” to get that desperately needed quarterback.

No, he hired a great coach who had the ability, not to change Alex Smith, not to turn him into something he isn’t, but to finally put him in the right system. A system that emphasized his strengths and minimized his weaknesses.

And the 49ers owner opened his pocketbook to surround the great, Super Bowl-bound 49ers core with the supporting cast they needed.

Bobcats 112 Warriors 100

Quite simply, Mark Jackson allowed the Charlotte Hornets – who were playing their third game in as many nights, on the dreaded back-to-back-to-back — to run the Warriors right out of the gym.  Paul Silas, for the first time this season, moved Kemba Walker into the starting lineup alongside DJ Augustin for a two point-guard backcourt. And he moved Diaw out of the lineup and Gerald Henderson in at the three, in order to create a three guard starting lineup that ran rings around the Warriors starting five.  And of course the Hornets have a spread five, Byron Mullens, and a spread four, Boris Diaw, who allowed Paul Silas to have 4 three point shooters on the floor at all times, and hopelessly spread out the Warriors bigger, slower defenders.  It wasn’t until 3 minutes were left in the first half, that Jackson showed the first sign of adjusting (or throwing in the towel) by putting his own three-guard lineup on the floor.

But the third quarter played out just like the first.  The final straw came when Jackson inserted Earl Barron for a 5 minute time-wasting stretch. Why? So the Warriors could continue to play big against the small-ball Hornets? Play the “right” way?

Was is it a surprise that the Warriors’ second unit got the team back into the game? It shouldn’t have been, because that was the first small-ball unit that Jackson played.  And the kind of team that the Warriors should have had on the floor from the start.

Look, do you think David Lee could match up with Byron Mullens?  Do you think David Lee and Monta Ellis could beat Mullens in the pick and roll?  Do you think they could have fouled him out?  When the Warriors finally went small again in the fourth quarter, they immediately picked up two quick fouls on Mullens.

Do you think Don Nelson would have allowed the likes of Byron Mullens to drop a 20 and 7 on his head? Ha. He would have run Mullens off the court so fast he wouldn’t have known what happened.

Are Tyrus Thomas and Boris Diaw man-eating fours?  Don Nelson would have started Dorell Wright at four, Brandon Rush at three.  And he would have transitioned to Rush at four, and the three point guards Jenkins, Monta and Nate on the wings.

And run the Charlotte Bobcats right out of the gym. Right from the start. The way it should have gone down.

You can buy Mark Jackson’s line that the Warriors didn’t show up for this game if you like.  I think the result was predestined, beginning with that 38 point first quarter.

Here’s a little taste of Mark Jackson post-game, with my annotations:

Asked whether the Hornets did anything to surprise him: “No. No. Everything they did we saw coming from a mile away.”

Really?  Wasn’t this the first time that Kemba Walker started with Augustin?  Wasn’t this the first time Diaw came off the bench?  Wasn’t this the first time the Bobcats employed a three-guard lineup?

“They didn’t show up. My guys didn’t come out ready to play.”

Either that, or they were forced into a nonsensical and horrible mismatch that made them look terrible.

“It wasn’t until we decided to do something with that group off the bench — got under their skin, hustled, extra effort plays, played Warriors defense — that we got back in the game.”

You mean got a lineup on the floor that could win?  Simply imagine what might have been possible if you had decided to play the basketball this team is designed to play RIGHT FROM THE START.  No, no.  I know, that’s the sins of the past.

“I’m embarrassed as a coach and disappointed in their effort.”

I understand the first part, but would leave off the second.

“[This performance] cannot and will not be tolerated.”

One can only hope.  The truth of the matter, Mark Jackson, is that your post-game comments were a load of BS.  The truth of the matter is that Paul Silas bent you over his knee and spanked you but good.

If I were the Warriors PR guy (can you imagine?), I would prepare a very simple form statement for Mark Jackson to read to the press after every game.

It would go like this:

“Tonight Coach _________ ate my lunch.  Any questions?”

Warriors 99 Pistons 91

Wow, is this Pistons team bad.  I mean they are horrible.  And again, I think they should have been run out of the gym.  It should be obvious to you that David Lee could have absolutely tormented Greg Monroe, if allowed to run the court, and if allowed to run pick and roll.  As it was, he was quite effective posting up the smaller Jerebko.  But this game should have been more lopsided than it was.

Unbelievably enough, through three quarters, it was the Pistons that were getting out on the fastbreak, not the Warriors.  With Jerebko, their spread four, leading the way.  Do you think Dorell Wright could have handled Jerebko at the four?

Well of course he could, and I’m now heading into repetitive terrority.  Let me just point out that the reason the Warriors EXTENDED their lead when Lee fouled out was because they finally got the right kind of lineup on the floor — a small-ball lineup, with Udoh at the five.

Now let’s move on to what was interesting to me about this game.  Which is the reason why the Pistons are so horrible.  I believe it starts with their young “star” in the middle, Greg Monroe.

Ekpe Udoh vs. Greg Monroe

Let’s get this out of the way first.  Greg Monroe was not the guy that Don Nelson wanted to draft.  Don Nelson got the guy he wanted to draft, Ekpe Udoh. How do I know this?  Let me run down the reasons.

First, Don Nelson was the real GM of the Warriors after Mullin left. He put Larry Riley in that job, and Riley worked for him.  Just as Riley is now working for the real GM of the Warriors, Joe Lacob.  Don Nelson drafted Stephen Curry, and he drafted Ekpe Udoh.  He traded for David Lee, and picked up Dorell Wright.  All four quintessential Don Nelson players.

Second, Don Nelson brought David Lee to the Warriors to play CENTER. He’s made that clear in interviews.  Why would he draft Monroe to sit on the bench behind Lee?

Third, Greg Monroe could not play for Don Nelson.  Nellie wouldn’t let him on the court.  Why not?  Well to start with he is a complete non-entity on defense.  He doesn’t block shots.  He doesn’t like to bang.  As Jim Barnett noted tonight, he just simply “disappears.”  And he is absolutely horrible at extending out to guard the pick and roll.  As Monta Ellis clearly demonstrated late in this game, after Mark Jackson finally rolled out the small lineup, by picking up two quick fouls on him.  Greg Monroe is a hopeless defender.

He also doesn’t run the court.  Slow as molasses.

These are the two reasons I believe Monroe is killing the Pistons, despite the beautiful stats he puts up.  The Pistons have quick guards and wings, and lots of spread forwards: Jerebko, Prince, Daye.  They are built to get out and run.  But Monroe mires them in the half-court.  And he doesn’t have that absolutely essential ability of good non-running centers, which is dominant shot-blocking defense.  He’s not Patrick Ewing, who almost won a title. He’s Al Jefferson (at best) who’s never won anything.

Do you think Monroe is a good player? I don’t care if he goes to the all-star game. I don’t think he’s a winning player. His stats are empty. Wake me up when the Pistons have a winning record.

Fourth and finally, Ekpe Udoh is a player Don Nelson would have loved for his intelligence, defense, mobility, and shot-blocking and passing ability.  A look at his all-around game against Monroe tonight gives an inkling.  Held him to 0 points in the fourth quarter. Blocked him three times, four for the game. 3 steals.

I’m pretty sure Nellie would have used Udoh’s defense to complement Lee. And I think he also would have made Udoh an understudy (and backup) to Lee at center.  Taught him pick and roll, pick and pop.  Taught him the HIGH post.  Played him at POINT-CENTER.

And used him to run bigger slower players off the court.

Like the Warriors should be doing now.

28 Responses to Niners Win: Bobcats 112 Warriors 100 + Warriors 99 Pistons 91

  1. I recall Riley saying after the draft that he picked Udoh bc he knew Nellie would not be back under new ownership and they needed to get more defense in there as a result. So I beg to differ with you. We may never know for certain.

    Monroe is better than Udoh. He is a low post scorer who also gets to the line often and rebounds better than Udoh. A center’s primary function on a fast break team is to get the rebound and outlet pass, not to run the court. Monroe is fast enough. I like Udoh’s strengths fine but his upside is as a good back up 4 on a good team. Monroe’s upside is an All-Star starting 5 on a good team. Riley is the GW Bush of the NBA. He’s an idiot but a good drinking buddy. Peter Principle at work.

    • Sorry, you’re going to have to produce a source for that “recollection.” I think it’s hogwash.

      The Ekpe Udoh draft was June 24, 2010. Nellie and Riley were still working together when they pulled off the David Lee trade on July 9th. Morrow was let go, and DWright signed, on the 10th.

      Joe Lacob didn’t win the bid for the Warriors until July 15th. And Nellie and Riley were still working closely together at that time at the Vegas Summer league. I saw them huddling together in the stands. Is that what they would be doing if they knew Nellie wasn’t coming back?

  2. Motown win:

  3. In an interview once, Don Nelson said something to the effect of, “These guys are professionals. If they needed motivation from a coach they wouldn’t have much of a career.”

    Nelson clearly didn’t want the job of cheerleader, but he also thought it was simply wrong for him to focus on it; he had other responsibilities, like creating detailed game plans, that only the coach could deliver.

    In contrast, Jackson and Lacob seem to think “motivation” is the primary role of a coach, and every time Jackson opens his mouth he talks about how his “leadership skills” affect the game.

    Between Don Nelson and Mark Jackson, which one had a better picture of a pro coach’s role with a pro team?

  4. feltbot,

    Good try to make Udoh’s pick feel better.

    “I don’t care if he goes to the all-star game.”

    Ofcourse, you have to care, that means Monroe will have a trade value even if he doesn’t help team win.

    • Udoh is not a bad pick. A really nice defensive player who’s improving on the glass. He’s a project offensively, and does not have a huge offensive upside. In fact, he needs another year or two before he’ll be an effective offensive player at all.

      BUT, Feltbot does not need to defend the Warriors pick of Udoh. Outside the top 5 picks, there is not another stud player in this first round: http://www.mynbadraft.com/2010-NBA-Draft-Results/

      I think Udoh fits in nicely with this Warriors squad, either in Jackson’s system or Nelsons. (With Jackson, he’s a 4, with Nelson, a 5)

  5. Felty: I agree that Nelson wanted Udoh and that is why Udoh was drafted over Monroe. Nelson knew that Monroe could not defend, and that is why Udoh was drafted. Monroe is simply not a defensive big man, no matter what position he plays.

    Also, the centers primarily responsibility is keeping the opposition from scoring inside. This is what Udoh does best. Monroe doesn’t and that is why the Warriors hit 52% of their shots from the field last night.

    It should be noted that against Detroit, Udoh played center, and D.Lee, PF. The Warriors should keep it this way for only Udoh can defend the rim, not Biedrins nor D. Lee. With Udoh playing a game high 26 minutes, the Warriors outscored Detroit by 13 points.

    Udoh only got to play so many minutes because he made more then 50% of his field goals. Jackson doesn’t have a clue regarding Udoh’s real contribution to the team-his defense and the team playing better offensively when he is on the court.

  6. Felt, I remember all of those other events you mention and I stand by my recollection of Riley’s stmt re Udoh. It was during his public statements about how he was then making the decisions ( not Nellie). Whether we believe that or not, I do believe that he picked Udoh and Nellie would have taken Monroe (who has clearly proven to be the better player). Udoh has terrific lateral quickness but he’s not a fluid athlete and is downright clumsy with the ball in his hands. Monroe has length and tremendous hands. He is a very efficient scorer including an excellent passer.

    I don’t have the time to go back and find the quote so if you think I’m making it up so be it.

    • OT, it’s no biggie. During the transition between owners, Larry Riley said lots of supportive, complimentary things about the new boss’s decisions. Some of them didn’t add up.

      You and Feltbot are probably both right.

  7. OT: Felt, I’ve noticed some strange posts in reply to my linked story on Chandler and the Warriors from an earlier thread. Another one today, while the two there earlier are now gone, I assume removed by you. I didn’t click on any of the links so was just curious? Some new names showing up here lately which sometimes can lead to a few “unfriendly URLs”. Hopefully you’re not having any problems.

    • Yes, some spam posts have been getting through my filter. I think I catch most of them eventually, but thanks for the heads up.

  8. Possibly of interest: Mike Malone voted by GMs as best assistant coach:
    http://www.nba.com/news/features/2012-gm-survey/index.html?cid=nba_12_twitter_L

    But is he the best assistant coach for the Warriors? I keep coming back to the fact that he was utterly complicit in one of the greatest crimes against basketball ever committed:

    Forcing Lebron James to walk the ball up the court.

    • I read through the votes and thought it was interesting that Derrick Rose was voted the fastest player with the ball. I would have thought that the Warriors alone had two players (3 with Ish) quicker than Rose.

      • What I found hard to believe was Oracle not getting any votes for best home court advantage……Miami vs GSW? Really? Heck, the Warriors even beat their players, no way their fans ever beat the Bay Area’s fans. Doing the Salsa? Maybe.

  9. Anybody watch the Lakers/Dallas game last night? I had it on during supper. It was easily the ugliest game I’ve ever seen. 73-70. Poor shooting, turnovers, uninspired play. Little practice, fatigue–I fear we’re in for more of the same this year, especially as the season grinds down. Ugh.

  10. white hat: you’re right–even if Riley did say the things I recall about drafting Udoh for defense bc he knew a new (non-Nellie) coach was likely, that wouldn’t mean it was the real reason he drafted Udoh. Just like when, the night or two before the draft, Nellie went on local TV praising Monroe’s talent, that didn’t mean he really thought the W’s should draft Monroe.

    Bottom line: I think Nellie was a very astute judge of talent and Monroe reminds me of a slighter but more nimble form of Bob Lanier on Offense, and not as bad as felt believes him to be on D. While Udoh, while very quick laterally, is not a fluid athlete and has substandard hands. I think Nellie would have seen through that right away in watching film.

  11. And what did you get for your last birthday present?

    http://www.tmz.com/2012/01/17/dwyane-wade-mclaren-car-crane-miami/

  12. Now, maybe a winning road trip?

  13. Cleveland:

    I forget exactly what he said, but Barnett made a comment late 2nd. half about Jackson getting an education when the team started running.

    Good win on many counts.

  14. He also doesn’t run the court. Slow as molasses.

    These are the two reasons I believe Monroe is killing the Pistons, despite the beautiful stats he puts up.

    You should watch more Pistons games. Monroe isn’t fast, but for his size and position, he’s fast enough. He even leads fast breaks at times.

    I understand fans who want to defend their teams and their picks. We have plenty of fans defending the Brandon Knight pick, even though I advocated for picking another big, such as Markief Morris or Faried.

    I think in this case, though, your fandom of the Warriors is blinding you to the fact that Monroe is the superior player (by quite a bit). Again, I think this is understandable, and I think we, as fans, all do this from time to time. I’m certainly not unbiased; I’m a die hard Pistons fan.

    However, the only people I’ve heard argue in favor of Udoh over Monroe anywhere in blogosphere or media is a small handful of Warriors fans. I think, in this case, that the majority’s getting it right.

    • I have no desire to defend the pick of Udoh — it is very unclear imo whether he’ll ever be anything but a bench player — just calling it like I see it. Using Don Nelson’s eyes, Udoh was the better fit for the Warriors, and he wouldn’t have drafted Monroe in any case. If nothing else convinces you of that, the fact that Nellie touted Monroe’s skills before the draft is absolutely conclusive.

      Couple of questions for you:

      1) I see you skirted the topic of Monroe’s defense. What do you think about it?

      2) Why in your opinion is your team so bad? Why is their chemistry so awful?

  15. Monroe is a good player, and no doubt you could build a decent team around him.

    Feltie made a valid point, though, that Nelson made his selection for his team, and didn’t just pick “the best athlete available.” Since he already had David Lee penciled in at C, Nelson’s primary goal at the time had to be to get players who would complement Lee. Under Nellieball, Monroe would have been a substitute to Lee, not a sidekick.

    It’s worth noting that the year Udoh was drafted, the Warriors finished the season with only 8 players, all of them nicked up. And the owner at the time almost always ran the team without a full roster. So Nelson wasn’t drafting for bench strength – he never got much – he was trying to build a compatible starting rotation.

    To Nelson, Udoh was a good fit with an undersized, non-shot-blocking center (Lee) and the two small starting guards on the Warriors roster. It has turned out that way, too. Udoh’s not an offensive wiz, but he has made a good contribution. Monroe couldn’t have had as much impact here. No doubt he’s a fine player, but not a good acquisition for the Warriors at the time.

  16. Pruiti’s updated rookie rankings:
    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7471424/sebastian-pruiti-ricky-rubio-kyrie-irving-rest-season-top-rookies

    Of note: Markieff Morris up to #4.

    And Kawhi Leonard makes the list. I was a little surprised when the Spurs drafted this “non-shooting” defensive swing man. Pop understands the importance of spreading the floor, and two-way play on the wings.

    But then lately I’ve begun to notice that Pop is letting Leonard spot up and shoot the three. To good effect!

    And I’m reminded of a couple of overlooked players that Nellie drafted at the bottom of the first round: Latrell Sprewell and Josh Howard. Oh yes I am.

    It really helps a franchise when the GM knows his business.

  17. NJ:

    Ugh. What happened? (Didn’t see it.) Why no more points–or even shot taking–from the bench?

    Yahoo has a list up of injuries so far:

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=ArN.pk9.1UHshPfqzZ7_8lu8vLYF?slug=mc-spears_nba_injuries_011812

    and it is staggering. Hard not to conclude cause and effect–no preseason or training.

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