Had a great time at the Warriors game tonight, courtesy of my poker buddy Micah Brown and his killer halfcourt season tickets. Thanks Micah!
Jump for a few of my observations:
Stephen Curry: Let’s start with the bad news: I’m pretty sure Curry’s ankle came up sore in this game. I didn’t see him actually tweak it, but I did see this:
Late 2nd quarter, dead ball, Curry bends over and grabs his shorts, looking at his ankle. David Lee walks over and appears to console him with a few pats on the back. Mark Jackson then subs Charles Jenkins for Curry.
Curry walks to the bench with his head down. I see a subtle head shake. During the ensuing timeout, I see Curry talking to the trainers. They glance down at his ankle as he talks. Another head shake.
At the start of the third quarter, Curry remains in the lockerroom. Marcus Thompson reports via Twitter that he’s icing his ankle. Curry returns to the bench mid-third quarter, and sits out the rest of the game.
According to the Warriors post-game, the icing was routine and precautionary. Mark Jackson stated that he took Curry out “because he was tired.”
Does that make sense to anyone? Sits out the first preseason game, and gets 12 minutes in the second? I can see taking him out if he’s tired, but was he still too tired to start the third quarter? I’m not buying it.
It feels like my current role is to be the constant bearer of bad news and pessimism. Trust me, I don’t like it anymore than you do. Particularly in this case. Stephen Curry is my favorite player in the league, the biggest reason I enjoy tuning in to Warriors basketball. If his ankle problem proves chronic it would be an unspeakable tragedy — for him, for Warriors fans, and, I believe, for the league. I was convinced by his rookie season that we were watching a future hall of fame basketball player.
I sure hope I’m dead wrong about this.
David Lee: Great basketball player, a true man in the paint. He and Ezeli dominated the paint defensively. If he gets to play with Bogut, some eyes are going to get opened.
I think he’s going to get a lot more minutes this season than we’ve been led to expect. A lot more.
Festus Ezeli: Wow. Wow. Wow. Please go back and read what I wrote about watching him in the summer league. Every single word applies to what I saw in this game, going against one of the league’s toughest front lines.
Utah went at Ezeli in the post relentlessly, because that’s what they do. And wound up with next to nothing. This kid can bang, he can defend the rim (4 blocks), and he’s SMART. He got juked off his feet by Al Jefferson to start the game. And never left his feet against Jefferson for the rest of the game. Stayed out of foul trouble. Stoned Al Jefferson. Wow.
On offense, he caught and slammed a couple of Curry alley-oops. And he made a nice spin move under the basket for a foul and two free throws. He drained both of them. I think he’s got a 60-70% free throw stroke. This is all the Warriors need from him if he continues to play so spectacularly on defense.
And he runs the floor. I’m telling you, this kid is Nene incarnate. How in the world did he drop to the Warriors at #30?
If my eyes don’t deceive me, the Warriors got the steal of the draft in this young man. How’s that for going out on a limb? I’m ready to say it, right now.
I’m ready to say this too: He’s better than Derrick Favors. In fact, based on tonight’s performance, the slimmed down Enes Kanter is better than Derrick Favors. So much for my fantasy league sleeper tout — going to revisit that.
Brandon Rush: Got his second straight start, which I think is a solid indication that the starting role is his. And I think that’s exactly right, as I will point out in my next post, which concerns the Warriors’ position battle at the small forward.
Rush looks to be in fantastic shape, and although his shot was off, did basically everything in this game that he did last season. Great defense, amazing shotblocking on rotations. On offense, spread the floor, made some plays, put the ball on the floor for a rocking slam.
Fantastic ballplayer. Love him.
Klay Thompson: Not really tested on defense, going against one of the league’s worst backcourts. On offense, meh.
I think Klay is a special player offensively, but one thing was made clear in the fourth quarter of this game: with Monta gone and no Stephen Curry on the floor, the Warriors no longer have a player who can get his own shot.
No Curry, no closer.
Jarret Jack: Possibly not in shape. Possibly uncertain of the Warriors’ system (I don’t blame him – the fourth quarter of this game indicated that Mark Jackson is uncertain of the Warriors system). But not playing with anything close to the assertiveness I witnessed last season when he was leading the Hornets.
Charles Jenkins: Deadly catch and shoot mid-range jump shooter.
Had a lot of trouble running whatever it was that the Warriors were trying to run in this game. Don’t ask me what it was. I can’t tell you, except that it wasn’t pick and roll.
Not a penetrator. Can’t get to the rim. Can’t create for his teammates. Can’t go left. Can’t spread the floor.
Needs a system. Do the Warriors have one? 83 points in a preseason game.
The Harrison Barnes Brand: When he came in mid-first quarter, it was for Klay Thompson, which I thought was interesting.
The Warriors immediately iso’d him on the left wing , where he drove by his man, and finished a two-handed slam through a foul for the and-one. Very impressive. [Edit: Courtesy of the video @2 below, it was a give and go -- thanks Steve. It's hard watching basketball live!]
It was downhill from there. I think it’s clear that this kid will need some seasoning. He wants to jack the ball up whenever he touches it, and took a lot of bad, contested mid-range jumpers.
Defensively, wasn’t really tested guarding the likes of Marvin Barnes and Gordon Haywood. 1 rebound in 20 minutes. -17.
Carl Landry: Adam Lauridsen recently pointed out that Landry has increasingly turned into a jump shooter in his last few seasons, and that he shoots his jumper at 35%.
He missed every jumper he took in this game, and looked bad doing it. They weren’t close.
He’s very good around the rim, though. And a good rebounder. The Warriors need to keep him in that role, which makes pairing him with Ezeli or Biedrins problematic. He was at his best when on the floor with David Lee.
Andris Biedrins: That donut looks mighty familiar. Oh wait, there was a steal and a block.
Pretty sure I saw him clutch his osteitis pubis on the way upcourt after a battle on the boards. So soon?
Jeremy Tyler: Next.
There’s nothing next? Ok, that’s it then.