I’ve said my piece regarding Bogut’s ankle. The Warriors media fell down on the job, and I felt it my duty to step up in their place. I gave you what I think is the truth about Bogut’s medical condition, I correctly predicted that he wouldn’t be ready for training camp, and I pointed out to you the Las Vegas skepticism of his ability to play
70 60 50 games this season.
I’m done with this for now, and hopefully forever. I’m setting aside my stethoscope. Now that Bogut has taken the floor, I’m going to evaluate him as any fan would, with appreciation and with hope for the best. He’s a great player when healthy, and it would be absolutely fantastic to watch him play at his highest level again.
We didn’t get anything close to his highest level last night, but what we did see was very encouraging. Two plays in particular stunned me. The first was when he beat Gortat down court for the layup. The second was when he put the ball on the floor with his left hand to drive around Scola for the layup. (If only Jeremy Lin and Charles Jenkins could go left like that!)
The rest of his game was pretty much as we expected. Solid rim defense and rebounding. On offense, the Warriors tried him in both the low post and the high post. His passing skills in the high post are undeniable, but I have some doubt about his ability to draw opposing big men out of the lane. He did drain his one open 15 footer, but his recent shooting percentages call into question his ability to hit that shot regularly.
One thing that did concern me is that when the Warriors did post him up, it was on the right block. That is unusual for right-handed players. And indeed, Bogut used these opportunities to get to his left-handed jump hook. What does this mean? Has Bogut given up on using his injured right arm in the post? Can he still shoot a right-handed jump hook? Why not set him up on the left block?
Having never been on the court yet this season, Bogut is of course nowhere close to being in basketball shape. He was completely gassed last night in short minutes. It will probably be around a month before he rounds into shape. And of course, Mark Jackson’s offense is a complete shambles. So for now, we’ll try not to pay attention to those minus sevens (-7).
David Lee and Stephen Curry:
Had horrible offensive games. I place most of the blame for this on Mark Jackson. Yes, most.
There is no other way to put this: Jackson’s offense seems designed to minimize the talents of these two players. And he chose not to interrupt whatever mess he was determined to run in order to get his two best players going.
Stephen Curry is one of the best shooters off the dribble in the entire league. He can stop and pop, he can step back, he can square up going left or right, and his range is unlimited. All that Curry needs to dominate a game is a simple high pick.
A simple high pick, like the Clippers set for Chris Paul, like the Suns set for Dragic, like the Raptors set for Lowry, like the Blazers set for Lillard, like the whole damn league sets for their talented point guards. This is not rocket science. Maybe that’s the problem, for genius-on-a-stick Mike Malone.
I may have missed something, but as far as I could tell, Curry got his first high pick at 9:40 of the 4th Q — Splash.
David Lee is one of the best pick and roll players in the league. Remember when Mark Jackson the broadcaster said, “The Warriors are doing the defense a favor whenever they post up Biedrins or Lee?” Whatever happened to that guy? Where did he go?
The first Curry/Lee pick and roll in this game occurred at 5:30 4th Q. Resulting in Lee finding Landry open for a dunk.
High picks. Pick and Roll. Not that complicated. If Mark Jackson and Mike Malone don’t know how to get two of the most offensively gifted players in the league going, then the Warriors need to start looking for a professional NBA coach.
Notes on Curry’s contract: The Stephen Curry who played for Don Nelson was a max player. I think the fact that he took this deal indicates great uncertainty in his mind about his ankle.
The Warriors might wind up getting a bargain, if Curry does put his ankle problems behind him. There is probably also little financial risk — the Warriors can insure against losing him for extended periods. Where the risk lies is in the salary cap, and the potential hit to the Warriors’ competitiveness for several years if he can’t stay healthy.
In the end, I think that Curry benefited greatly from the fact that the Warriors simply could not afford to leave him unsigned this year. For PR reasons. If Curry isn’t the face of this franchise, who is? No one sells more jerseys.
The Harrison Barnes Brand: There could be legitimate reasons for starting The Brand over Brandon Rush, but I can’t help but think it has more to do with the Warriors front office going all-in on building his brand, and creating some — however unlikely — ROY buzz. And, of course, establishing their credibility among their fan base.
I didn’t see Barnes do much to distinguish himself in this game, but:
Michael Beasley never got going, and he probably deserves some credit for that.
And he’s certainly not to blame for the hot mess that was the Warriors offense in the first and third quarters. They Warriors never got him a shot.
Carl Landry: Landry and BRush saved the Warriors’ bacon in this game. And in general, the Warriors second unit should be one of their greatest strengths this season. At one point in the first half, the Warriors reserves had outscored the Suns’ 24-4.
Landry hit every one of his jumpers, to the point that Mark Jackson designed an elbow jumper for him to seal the game. It would lovely if he could do that regularly, because he’s the player that will always be left open on this team. Can a 35% jump shooter do that regularly? Maybe he’s gotten better.
Klay Thompson: He’s not going to get many more favorable matchups than Jared Dudley — a converted spread-four of whom I have a fond memory flattening Brandan Wright in their first game as rookies. And PJ Tucker, whoever that is, whom he was matched up against in the fourth quarter. Tucker ate him up for an offensive rebound and put-back at 2:00 4th Q, which led directly to him getting yanked.
Thompson did a good job gobbling up uncontested boards in this game, but if he continues to find himself matched up against small forwards — and he will, particularly if Jackson likes the Curry/Jack backcourt — he’ll need to get a whole lot tougher in the paint.
If I have a bone to pick with Thompson, it’s that he doesn’t seem to grasp that basketball is war.
Jarret Jack: 30 minutes, including extended run in the 4th Q alongside Stephen Curry. The Warriors just can’t stay away from that undersized backcourt thing, can they?
I like Jack, and this backcourt might prove a necessity against some of the quicker backcourts in the league. But I’m not crazy about him running the point with Curry on the floor. Didn’t the Warriors dump Monta in order to get the ball back in Curry’s hands?
Festus Ezeli: Continues to amaze me. Phenomenal size and strength, phenomenal athleticism and running ability, phenomenal court awareness, phenomenal court presence.
Four, if you include the draft.