Running Begrudgingly: Warriors 105 Cavs 95 + Nets 107 Warriors 100

Since the The Kwame Brown Era was put on hold, the Warriors have been playing some small ball in their second unit.  Lee or Udoh at five,  DWright or Dom McGuire at four.  With Nate Robinson running the point, this second unit has been really pushing the tempo and getting out and running.  Playing with high defensive intensity, generating steals and early offense.  And just generally playing much better than the first unit.           

Because the Warriors first unit is still being held captive by Mark Jackson’s vision for this team.  They are walking the ball up the court against bigger, slower teams, and it is just killing them.  Take a Popcorn Machine look at how the Warriors first unit performed, particularly in the third quarter, against Cleveland and New Jersey. I simply don’t understand how Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson can believe that this Warriors team can win games playing halfcourt basketball.

The Denver Nuggets vs. The Warriors

The Denver Nuggets are a really good team, and the Golden State Warriors are a really bad team.  This is universally recognized.  But have you ever compared the two teams’ rosters, and wondered why the Nuggets are better than the Warriors?

The Nuggets backcourt is Ty Lawson and Aaron Afflalo.  Are they better than Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry?

Is Nene a better center/PF than David Lee? Doesn’t score more, doesn’t rebound more.  Is Gallinari better than DWright? Can’t defend small forwards, doesn’t shoot threes as well.  Is Mozgov better than Biedrins? Not on defense.

Are any of the Nuggets starting five better passers than their counterparts on the Warriors?

If you handicap the Nuggets’ starting five ahead of the Warriors’ then you know something about basketball that I don’t.

So why are the Nuggets so much better than the Warriors? Here are my top 5 reasons:

5) Veteran leadership off the bench:  The Nuggets picked up Andre Miller — who George Karl has called the smartest player he’s ever coached —  and Rudy Fernandez, to back up Ty Lawson at the point.

No offense to Nate Robinson, who has been a lifesaver for the Warriors empty bench, but both Andre Miller and Fernandez can run a team.  And Nate would not even be on the Warriors bench if Curry hadn’t gotten injured.

4) The Spread Four:  Danilo Gallinari becomes a really good player when he slides over to the four. Add Al Harrington to the mix, and the Nuggets are playing three quarters of every game with four shooters on the floor.  This makes them extraordinarily versatile, and virtually impossible to defend.

As chronicled ad nauseam here, the Warriors have had no spread four since the releases of Tolliver and Vlad Rad.  Dorell Wright has taken quite a few minutes there since Kwame’s injury, and rebounded quite well, but he’s really too slight to play a whole season there.  He’s already got a sore knee.

3) Pace:  During the Kwame Brown Era, the Warriors were 14th of 30 in the league in pace. They’ve since moved up to 12, out of necessity.

The Nuggets are #1.

2) Ownership and Management:  Unlike Joe Lacob, the Nuggets ownership is clearly invested in the core of their team, and committed to winning now.  As evidenced by the multi-year contracts they handed out this offseason.

And unlike Joe Lacob, Masai Ujiri knows the importance of a spread four. Knows the importance of a veteran backup point guard.

And knows the importance of a veteran coach.

1) George Karl: It really comes down to this, in the end, doesn’t it?  Take a look at that pace. 1st in the league. With a team that I would wager is not as fast nor as athletic as this Warriors team.

George Karl, while stressing defense every bit as much as Mark Jackson, understands the kind of roster he has, and how to help them win.

Run. Spread the floor. Pick and Roll.

Win.

Random Thoughts:

Jenkins:  I really like this kid.  Smart, under control, good shooter, crafty penetrator, solid defender. So why did he slip to the second round?

I think I know. He’s not fast. Doesn’t have the kind of jets that are so common among the leagues’ best point guards these days.

Which makes him perfect for Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson’s walk it up offense.

Klay Thompson:  A special shooter. But like Anthony Morrow, has trouble helping his team because he simply can’t guard.  Not guards, anyway.

It is somewhat mysterious that the Warriors are playing him almost exclusively at guard, where he is getting torched.  It may have something to do with Brandon Rush and DWright being much better rebounders than he is. Thompson had 0 rebounds in 22 minutes against the Nets. Zero.

If he can’t defend guards and is not willing to rebound, what is his position?

Ekpe Udoh: In my last post, I explained why I think Udoh is a more useful player than Greg Monroe.  It has mainly to do with the fact that Monroe sucks, in the same way that Vince Carter sucked.

Because Udoh, quite frankly, has been quite a disappointment to me this year. If he got any stronger, it is not obvious.  He is curiously weak in his core, and is getting pushed all over the floor by larger players.

And he has terrible rebounding instincts.  I was holding out hope that this was a result of his extraordinary help defense, but no.  He is focusing intently on rebounds this year, and it hasn’t helped.  The problem, besides bodily weakness, is that he seems quite poor at guessing how the ball is going to come off the rim.  He’s out of position and mistimes his jumps.

His offense has also disappointed.  Udoh is undersized, so to really be effective he needs to be able to hit a jumper, and use his mobility to get around bigger players.  Part of the problem might be how he’s being used — I think he needs to be in the high post, not the low.  But he has not looked good.

Kris Humphries:  Did you ever wonder why the Warriors didn’t go after Kris Humphries this offseason, when their paltry offers to Chandler and Jordan were rebuked?  I certainly did.

Unable to get a multi-year deal from the Nets (like Joe Lacob, they’re tanking to try to land a game-changing center next season), Humphries signed a one-year deal for a little less than $8 million.  Barely more than the Warriors shelled out for The Kwame Brown Era.

Don’t you think Kris Humphries would look good standing next to David Lee? Running the court, snarfing rebounds?

I know, Lee’s not a center.

23 Responses to Running Begrudgingly: Warriors 105 Cavs 95 + Nets 107 Warriors 100

  1. I hate Kris Humphries as a player more than Kim hated him as a husband. Monroe is so much better than Udoh it doesn’t warrant debate does it? Morrow a better defender than Thompson?? Hello? When Thompson was on Williams last night he actually did a nice job. He can defend well enough.

  2. Sorry, misread your take on Morrow. Thompson is much faster than Morrow–no comparison. Thompson has Morrow’s outside shot with sufficient speed and handle to get to the rim and defend. And very good ball IQ. Nice draft pick.

  3. Jenkins: “…Which makes him perfect for Joe Lacob and Mark Jackson’s walk it up offense…”

    Like a Curry without the extraordinary deep shot?

    Thompson: At the moment he’s not even in the discussion for the top 10 rookies despite all the PT he’s been given. In his defense, while he can’t learn quickness, he has been getting better on both ends of the court. When he tops out, he’ll probably be what everyone thought at draft time: slow-footed, under-strength, but smooth and smart. But for right now, give me Rush over Thompson anywhere on the court.

    Re Udoh, I think basic strength and skills development can only happen in the offseason, and Ekpe has had two very disruptive ones. But if he doesn’t get better results soon he’s probably playing himself off the team. He looked like a real liability against the Nets.

  4. Hey Felt – I have been enjoying your takes this season. I also appreciate Steve’s and your links to good articles like the recent SI article on Alex Smith.
    The bigger question for me is why does Jackson have his first team walking the ball. Didn’t he comment on a warrior broadcast last year that they needed to run. Didn’t he say coming in that the Warriors would run based on their guards.. I think Jackson has a messiah complex. Think of it, this guy actually has his own church. Try to think of people who have been successful at a career or two(NBA player and broadcaster) and then go on to start a church….. Unusual in the extreme. Most guys who have their own church did not start after some other highly successful career. Then there are his post game ramblings where he projects himself on the team and the game assigning undue influence to himself… Then you have Malone who, as you said, decided to have Lebron play in a walk it up style. Then you have Lacob who has always proclaimed this is his preferred style… I think in retrospect that Singletary had a messiah complex and that led to a lot of wild eyed thoughts and actions. Singletary believed his own personality would be the difference. Jackson is not as extreme as Singletary but I think he believes he is the biggest difference maker on the team. Contrast to Harbaugh, an actual messiah, who makes it all about football. Harbaugh is never interested in talking about his own approach or personality, he makes the players his heroes….

    • Bucky, everybody has a personal success strategy. For some, it’s “be smarter” (Bill Walsh, Rick Carlyle). For others, it’s “try harder” (Mike Singletary). Not sure what Jackson’s personal success strategy is, but it’s not Bill Walsh’s. Sometimes he sounds like Singletary, sometimes he sounds like a career salesman.

  5. Felt, just read over your tweets. Check out fastdomain.com

  6. Udoh’s problem is that he has no arc on his outside shot, refuses to get into the triple threat position and drive to the hoop, make the shot, or at least, get to the foul line. He doesn’ try to get around defenders because he is standing straight up and does not bend his knees to give him leverage to enable him to drive to the hoop. Nor does he pump fake near the basket nor go to the other side of the rim and use the rim to ward off opponents.

    It also seems that Jackson is playing him out of position and not near the hoop where it would be easier for him to contest other players driving to the rim and also provide weakside help.

    Where is the coaching?

  7. TrueHoop TV: John Hollinger. Some interesting NBA banter.

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=7480700&categoryid=2459788

  8. Thanks for your insights Feltbot.

    David Lee was pushed around by the more physical/stronger Kris Humphries which foul trouble didn’t help. I like Humphries much more than Kwame Brown (prior to injury) but not as a solution. At least the W’s rebound percentage would have been greater as he works hard on the glass. I was expecting Humphries to get a $40 million dollar multi-year deal this past offseason…

    RE: Klay Thompson – the TWO Landry Fields dunks off the dribble (from 3 point line) on Thompson sealed my opinion of Thompson’s ability to defend: he’s a small forward (who can’t rebound?). Klay can shoot and has a decent handle – so all is not lost. Also, like Curry – two players kids – there doesn’t seem to be any “meanness” or “nastiness” to their games… At all.

    Udoh – is who he is. Udoh’s a nice role player at best with a good +/-. He’s 24 – it’s not like he’s ever going to learn to rebound now. And we knew early on – the New Orleans workout video – that he would get pushed around. At least with Greg Monroe and his hyped-up stats – you could trade him right now for something better.

  9. Feltbot,

    Enjoyed the analysis of the Nuggets. If the Warriors had Nene, dont you think our record would be as good or better (even with MJacks as Coach). And Lacob would be a better GM?

    After Watching Utah compete with Dallas last night, what do you think o f the Jazz roster? Looks like they have a good combination of bigs but also feisty Guards. CJ Miles would look great in a Warrior uniform. Runs the court and shoots the 3.

    Looks to me like both the Nuggets and Jazz will finish much higher all the while doing a nice rebuild of their perennial playoff teams.

    It also stings that in the process, Utah gets another pick from the Warriors this year, or next! Can we get Kevin Oconnor as our GM? I admit a rhetorical question more than anything else. Keep up the great writing.

  10. Petey@10 I disagree on Curry: He might not seem nasty, but he’s a great rebounder, top five in steals, almost always wins when getting posted up by bigger players. And one of the clutchest players in creation.

    That bespeaks a certain competitiveness. Curry’s a baby-faced assassin.

    Frank@11. No doubt our record would be far better with Nene. With a Nene/Lee frontcourt we could even play Lacob style and win.

    As for Utah’s success this year, I am completely baffled. They seem to me to be one of the least talented teams in the league. I can only guess that they have been helped greatly by the lockout schedule: They are so deep in rough physical bigs that they’re getting away with bullying tired teams that would otherwise run them off the court.

    Or I could just be wrong about them. I certainly don’t know a thing about their rookie.

    • Love the “baby faced assassin” remark! As a stone cold blooded shooter/scorer? No doubt. And I agree that Stephen Curry is competitor. Stephen Curry is my favorite NBA player – a classy, skilled kid.

      But IMO he’s very passive in the emotion/fire/aggression department. Soft in the body language department when things aren’t going well. When Baron Davis knocked Stephen Curry hard to the floor to intimidate Curry several times over his first two seasons – nothing… I seriously thought he was going to cry.

      At least when David Lee was punked to to floor by Garnett/Perkins last season – Lee bumped shoulders with the bigger/stronger Perkins on the way to the free throw line letting Perkins/Garnett know it wasn’t alright.

  11. 6-7 Klay Thompson 1.6 rb per 18 min
    6-5 Marshon Brooks 4.4 rb per 29 min

    Lacob quotients: .09 to .15

  12. Is that the Lacob quotient? RB/min? I thought it might be some measure of a player’s ability to ram it through the hoop with conviction.

    If that’s the case, we can call the Lacob quotient the Knockem-Sockem Factor. As applied to well known players, the K-S Factor makes Dwight Howard a mythical godlike creature, Kendrick Perkins would rank higher than Kevin Garnett, Kwame Brown would outrank Biedrins, and Monta would rate up there with Michael Jordan, especially if we throw in some pound-for-pound handicapping.

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