More Rookies: Warriors 105 Mavericks 101

Not going to get too excited about this win. The Mavs are an incredibly old and bad basketball team. So bad, I don’t think even getting Nowitzki back will help them get into the playoff picture. If by some miracle the Warriors actually wind up contending for the eighth seed, I think it will be against the Twolves, Blazers and possibly the newly-hardened Rockets.

So let’s talk some more rookies.              

The Harrison Barnes Brand: Barnes has certainly impressed on the boards in three of the last four games, although there are significant reasons to discount these performance. Horford was out for Atlanta, and Pachulia got knocked out, the TWolves were missing not just their entire front line, but their 6 best players, and the Mavs start a front-line of three old ghosts. The Mavs were apparently so concerned about getting back on D that they completely abandoned the offensive boards.

And against OKC’s intact and athletic front line, Barnes got outrebounded by Durant 10-1 in 29 minutes, earning a rebuke (and a benching) from Jackson. OKC is a nightmare matchup, though.

And these are quibbles. Regardless of the opponent, these last four games made it clear that Barnes can become a good rebounder if he chooses to. Barnes has an impressive nose for the ball — unlike Brandon Wright, for example, or even Ekpe Udoh, he has a knack for anticipating exactly where the ball is going to come off the rim. And he’s a quick leaper.

With Festus Ezeli and David Lee rooting opposing bigs to the floor — which they are now doing extraordinarily well in tandem — there are going to be a myriad of opportunistic rebounding opportunities for Barnes going forward. If he decides to make rebounding part of his brand — if he chooses to put forth effort on the boards every game, not just when Mark Jackson is holding a blowtorch to his feet — he could become a heck of a player.

Because it’s starting to become clear that a lot of NBA scouts were completely wrong about Barnes. Particularly those who had him pegged as another Glen Rice — a one-dimensional catch and shoot player. Barnes is just a much better athlete than Rice was — I wonder how those scouts could have missed so badly on that. He’s much faster running the court, much faster driving the lane, a far better jumper and  a much more athletic finisher than Rice was. And he has the potential to be a much better defender.

Yes, like Rice his handle is suspect, and yes, his playmaking instincts are undeveloped. But on the other hand, now that Jackson has encouraged him to play aggressively, he has shown enough impressive one-on-one moves, and made enough plays for others, to give me hope that he might become a complete player. One play in particular caught my eye in the OKC game, where he executed a spin in the lane and fed David Lee a perfect pass. Hmmm.

Some other things that have impressed me: His finishing ability at the rim, left-handed as well as right. He’s fundamental and smart on defense, with some ability to create steals, and disrupt fast breaks.

And that three-point shot. It looks effortless and repeatable, because like Glen Rice (and Stephen Curry), he shoots it on the way up.

Klay Thompson: Things aren’t going so hot for poor Klay are they? Another horrendous shooting performance (2-14) has dropped him to 33% on the year. And he once again nearly rookied the Warriors out of another game, with that quick three with the game tied and the Warriors able to play for the last shot. Now THAT’S a shot he shouldn’t have taken. This is clearly a kid whose confidence has been shaken. He’s rattled.

But that’s not the worst of it, in my opinion. It’s becoming increasingly obvious, isn’t it, that Klay Thompson can’t guard two-guards? They’re lighting him on fire and roasting marshmallows.

OJ Mayo was simply the latest. Thornton. Iguodala. Korver. KMart. Opposing two-guards’ eyes are simply lighting up at the sight of poor Klay.

I was completely perplexed by Jackson’s decision to stick with Thompson on Mayo in the OT. It nearly cost the Warriors the game, as Carlisle went right at this mismatch every time down the court, to the tune of 9 points. Take another look at these two plays: at 1:40 Mayo drives around Klay for the layup, and then at 0:45 simply puts him in the spin cycle to create an easy jumper in the lane.

This is not a correctable problem. It’s not an effort problem. It’s not an experience problem. It is, as I predicted, a foot speed problem.

What’s that old maxim? In the NBA, you are who you can guard.

That makes Klay Thompson a small forward.

Draymond Green: Wow, did Green ever open some eyes these last two games. He is beyond impressive on the defensive end. If you are who you can guard, then Green can play three as well as four, with a little two thrown in. His defensive instincts are superb, and he moves his feet better than I thought possible.

And he has a little dog in him. That desire to get right into someone’s jersey. To reach into his chest and yank his heart out. Like Stephen Jackson did to Nowitzki. And Paul Pierce did to Kobe.

Could he be a stopper? Lord knows that with Rush gone the Warriors desperately need one.

On the offensive end, Green already looks like a veteran. He’s one of those guys with the ability to slow the game down, and find the right play.

All that and he’s got a three point shot.

Of Small Forwards and Two-Guards: Have I mentioned that the Warriors have four small forwards on their roster, and precisely zero two-guards? That’s what Thompson’s defensive struggles and Green’s defensive emergence have made increasingly obvious.

What is the solution to this problem? To start the season, Jackson’s fourth quarter solution has been to bench Harrison Barnes, move Klay Thompson to small forward, and insert Jarret Jack at the two.

But last night, with Barnes playing so well, Jackson was reluctant to take him off the floor. And he was equally reluctant to bench Klay Thompson, although Thompson clearly deserved it. Why? Does benching Thompson in favor of Barnes and Jack somehow send the wrong message to the slumping sophomore? Risk wrecking his confidence or something? Risk Mark Jackson’s relationship with Joe Lacob?

Deciding between Thompson, Barnes, Green and Jefferson — and Jarrett Jack — in crunch time will be quite a difficult conundrum for Mark Jackson going forward. On all sorts of levels.

The Warriors future success will frequently hinge on this decision. Jackson got extremely lucky against the Mavs. He got it wrong, and got bailed out by an extraordinary performance from Stephen Curry.

Some fascinating sub-plots are brewing.

Festus Ezeli: I realize it was merely the ghosts of Kaman, Brand, Murphy and Marion, but what Ezeli did against the Mavericks was incredible. He is truly a defensive anchor on the court. That defensive intelligence is off the charts.

He can be a truly formidable offensive rebounder — seven in this game — because his speed allows him to get back on defense even after taking chances. He made the Mavs pay for cheating off him.

That finishing ability. What Warriors fan doesn’t get shivers watching Ezeli thunder slam? Not something we’re accustomed to here. Why not run some pick and roll for this kid?

What is Ezeli’s upside?

I’m not ready to say “Bogut who?” but I am ready to say the Warriors actually have a shot to win some games with this kid in the middle. That’s really saying something, about a rookie center.

What a find.

51 Responses to More Rookies: Warriors 105 Mavericks 101

  1. thanks for the prompt summation, feltmeister. if jefferson didn’t get dinged a game ago, the preacher could easily have found a way to lose this game by giving him most of green’s minutes. as it was, jackson made it much too close with keeping thompson out there during the second half. if k.t. isn’t scoring, his defense vs. mayo could hardly justify his minutes.

    green played like one of the smartest guys on the team. his ‘mates failed to convert some of his best plays : at the end of the third quarter and the score extremely tight, he saves an offensive board, but thompson throws a pass away and green gets back to prevent Dal from closing the quarter; he forced a turnover in the fourth and passed to thompson for a break away, but k.t. was too slow and indecisive to make a hoop or assist. green is quick, long, and smart enough to defend the perimeter effectively, where the rest of the team is severely deficient, likewise in transition d, where the team is even worse. his scoring in college suggests he’ll require attention from opposing defenses.

    cuban essentially blew up his team by not giving chandler a contract, letting both terry and kidd go, with the vain hope of acquiring and signing howard and/or d.williams. carlisle is earning his salary juggling the reclamations and castoffs he’s left to work with. if howard gets hurt again or if he doesn’t like d’antoni, he should get credited for causing three different teams to crash, but he’ll probably just be rewarded with an absurd contract.

  2. From Petey on the back end of the last thread:

    PeteyBrian | November 19, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Reply
    Just argued with my buddy – who belittled the W’s win because no Dirk…

    I told him – a road win, is a road win. On back end of a back to back. Against a Dallas team vying for a playoff spot no less. With 3 rookies and a 2nd player in the game at the end… With 2 of their best 6 players out (Bogut and Rush) – their two best 2-way players as well. And with Klay Thompson – shooting like crap.

    D. Green is a basketball player. He’ll likely have a long career. Barnes and Ezeli. WHAT A DRAFT! 3 rookies – impacting games.

    Curry – showed me a lot of toughness this game…

  3. Felt,

    Thank goodness you programmed some extra minutes on the DVR this time. I always Tivo an extra hour…ALWAYS.

  4. As you very ably presented, the rookies are a persisting bright spot in the young season. I’m trying not to get carried away but I can’t help dreaming about where this W’s draft class might wind up ranked in W’s annals if they continue on their current learning curve. More importantly, how they can help the team win.

    Despite the rookies, the biggest bright spot for me was the command and toughness of Stephen Curry. To my eyes, that has been missing much of this season. The baby-faced assassin with a game as beautiful as a Monet painting was on full display in the second half last night. I’m hoping he can bottle that essence for use on a regular basis.

    • What happened, as Curry himself noted post-game, is that Jackson finally gave him the ball to run pick and roll in the fourth quarter. Frequently with a small-ball lineup that could spread the floor (Green at the four).

      It’s not that Curry has somehow gone missing the last two years. It’s that Jackson, for the first time in his tenure as head coach, simply let Curry be Curry. The results speak for themselves.

      • I agree with this. It was nice to see Jackson actually trust Curry to win a game and not hamper him by playing strictly off the ball with Jack taking over. That has to do wonders for Curry’s confidence level.

  5. Felty, how can you call a 6-6 team “incredibly bad”? Washington is incredibly bad. Dallas is 10th in ORTG and 18th in DRTG. That smacks of “incredibly average” more than anything else, and that’s without Dirk.

    And hey, given Barnes’ progress thus far, how are you feeling these days about the tank job? Obviously he’s the net result of all that. Was it worth it?

    • I’m surprised an advanced stats guy like yourself could so easily lapse into being results oriented. What the Warriors “earned” by their tank job was not Harrison Barnes, but a 50% chance at the 7th pick, which they won by coin flip. And a head coach who threw away his integrity, coaching to lose.

      Was it worth it? As I remember, you were an early proponent of tanking and crowed through every minute of it. So I guess you must think so.

      Me, I like to watch winning basketball. I got more enjoyment out of watching Nellie go 7-5 the last 12 games of Curry’s rookie season — and wind up with Ekpe Udoh — than in two years of watching Joe Lacob tank for Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.

      Some GMs can get it done regardless of draft position. And honor the game of basketball in the process.

      • “I’m surprised an advanced stats guy like yourself could so easily lapse into being results oriented.”

        I’m process-oriented, and I approved of the tanking process, as you know. What I’m wondering is if given the choice would you give up Harrison Barnes right now because of the way you feel about how we acquired him? Don’t you feel like it’s dirty money?

      • I’m not really sure what you’re asking. If you’re asking me whether the ends always justify the means, as it seems you are, I suggest you reference your upbringing and education for the answer.

        If you’re seriously asking me whether I’m going to hold Joe Lacob’s process against Harrison Barnes himself, I suggest you re-read the analysis above.

        But what I really think you’re doing is exalting your pro-tanking position on the back of Harrison Barnes’ early results.

        Hey, knock yourself out.

        • That’s a lot of strawmen. I asked you a question, and you don’t appear to be able to give a straight answer.

          If someone gave me $1M and then told me it was drug money, I’d give it back. It’s a very simple question. Would you “give back” Harrison Barnes, since you feel so bad about the means which we acquired him?

          And don’t worry about holding anything against Barnes. Assume that he would find a happy home for another team.

          So would you give up Barnes to satisfy your concience?

          • No. Nor would I unsleep with my best friend’s wife, because you know what, the sex was freaking incredible.

            I think you were more entertaining when you were tweaking me about Bogut after his first game. Not that you’re results-oriented or anything.

          • I’m not results-oriented at all. As you already pointed out, I was in favor of tanking to keep our pick from the beginning. Hell, I was for tanking well before last season even started.

            It seems to me that you are the one who is results-oriented if now having Barnes and seeing how good he might be, you wouldn’t give him up, even though you don’t approve of how he was acquired.

            If that isn’t results-oriented, then I don’t know what that means (and maybe you don’t either).

      • barnes’ value as a player neither justifies nor ‘redeems’ the sorry exhibition put on by the lacobites after the trade with Mil. in a better world, they’d have missed the coveted lottery position by a game or coin flip. at least they showed their true colours, and we learned how effective the coach could be at losing while trying to win (which is how they were selling it, right ?).

        they succeeded in improving the team. they also proved themselves to be moral midgets (one of the most brilliant episodes of ‘the Wire’, directed by Agnieska Holland), and we already knew that many of that ilk can do well in bidness.

        prof. zamir, should an orphan or foster child grow up and become a content and well adjusted citizen, does that justify the tragedies or blunders that made him or her homeless ? ethics and aesthetics (that team played ugly, ugly hoops last winter) are both abstract notions ; does that mean they shouldn’t influence our decisions ?

        • @Moto – There’s also the “sorry exhibition” that the Milwaukee Bucks put on after the trade in actually missing the playoffs in the sorry Eastern Conference! LOL!




          In Jerry West I Trust – I say…

  6. Felt, the Mavs are old, but not “incredibly bad.” Not as long as they have Carlyle for coach and Nowitsky waiting in the wings. The Ws scratched out a nice win against a (at this time) mid-pack team, and they did it with one of their starters playing terribly. (Let’s hope Thompson can get past his sophomore slump sometime soon.)

    On another topic, if Green can indeed be a credible 3-pt. threat, playing him in place of Landry gives the Ws a spread-4 small-ball lineup as talented as anything Nelson ever ran. It was great to see the coach going that way for a few minutes last night.

    Green is surprising. Not tall, but incredibly long arms. And though he doesn’t look very athletic, an extremely busy player on both ends of the floor. I wonder what he’ll be like when he gains NBA-level, 82-game fitness.

  7. Barnes had been an enigma.

    In the last three games that he played well, on some three attempts, he missed the rim, and he also shot the ball over the rim shooting an easy lay-up.

    Last night, in shooting 4-6 from beyond the 3 point line, he did not shoot by placing the ball over his head, but instead shot from the side of his head in other games. Like to see whether he can get to the hoop when there’s a real defensive presence inside.The guy’s a work in progress.

    As for Thompson, he lacks confidence and has a low basketball IQ . His poor decision making goes way beyond knowing when the shoot and when not to, as he makes poor decisions passing the ball, moving without the ball, and playing defense. He’s going to have the same problems regardless of whether he plays SG or SF. Even this is only his second year, I don’t see him improving significantly with regard to basketball IQ.

    I would like to see Jenkins more playing time. Think a combination of Jenkins-Curry might be even more effective then Jack-Curry.

    • Agree on Thompson’s decision making, Frank. Effort is not the problem, he just does dumb things – bad passing, bad shot selection and a lot of bad positioning and footwork on D. Re the latter, if he played smarter on D, his foot speed wouldn’t be as much an issue. Mayo is not that speedy but he torched Thompson last night. He played O better than Thompson played D, not quicker.

      • I believe Klay’s poor decision making comes from having to be THE MAN at Washington State. He was counted on to take every shot, and pretty much do everything for a team that simply didn’t have the talent to play with the top teams in the then-PAC 10. We can say he has a low basketball IQ, in reality, he probably just needs to learn the game a little better. Mark Jackson also needs to take away that green light he’s given him to shoot at any moment on any fast break. He needs to encourage him to become a play maker, rather than a straight up shooter, IMO.

        • Yeah, PB, and he was thrust into being THE MAN again after the Ellis trade last year. Unfortunately, the coach’s plan for THE MAN was to lose ball games. Not good preparation for a member of a winning team.

  8. I wouldn’t mind seeing Klay playing more with the second unit. They often could use the offense, he’d have a lighter defensive load, and the pressure would be taken off. It wouldn’t be a demotion but a stage in his development.

    But that leaves the question: who should be in the starting lineup?

    • Mr. Jenkins, perhaps? No less an authority than Stephen Curry says Jenkins is the best mid-range shooter on the team, and he’s a solid player who won’t cost games with dumb lapses. He’s good to drive the lane, too, which adds (replaces?) a missing element in the offense. If only he had a 3-pt shot…

      Draymond Green, maybe? He’s done well so far, but there are still a lot of questions about what his best role might be, as well as his fitness level/athleticism, quickness, ballhandling and night in-night out shooting ability. Or it could be Barnes, but really, he’s no guard. As a ballhandler/decision maker he’s a big step down from Jack.

      Really, the best option going forward would be a smarter Thompson. Right now, we may be seeing the downside of throwing him in the fire last year. He’s missing some fundamentals that a rookie with a more normal first year might have had coached in.

  9. Thanks Felt!

    I see this W’s team starting to jell now and play together as a team… I’m smelling playoffs. I’ve watched the Timberwolves, Mavericks, Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Trailblazers all play now – are they all better than the W’s??? Really?

    Felt has a great point about Thompson’s defense – then again, it is only his second year… Look at James Harden’s 2nd year for comparison (defense too). I questioned Mark Jackson’s decision to keep him on the floor while he’s been playing awful… Thompson – should get his confidence back soon – he’s too good a scorer.

    • The Harrison Barnes naysayers – are running out of jacked up things to say… Like the “expert scouts” who said he wasn’t so athletic… LOL!

      Harrison Barnes is playing like a freak – 20 points on 16 shots, 12 rebounds, 8-16 and 4-6 from 3 pt… And he didn’t get several rookie calls (fouls) or he’d have 6-8 free throws too!

      And when Harrison learns how to play decent NBA defense… Watch out!

  10. YouTube is going to televise the majority of D-League games this season beginning with games Friday night. If you’re interested in watching the Warriors (Santa Cruz) games here’s the link to YouTube’s channel.

    • Interesting article. It suggests that over time the statistical probability is that GSW’s long range shooting success will return to its historical norm. If true, then given their current record with lousy shooting, the Ws should be totally freakin’ dominant. Any time now.

      Woohoo! Don’t worry about making the playoffs, baby, we’re rolling straight to the finals!

  11. Deadspin NBA Shit List: Don Nelson, Drunk On His Own Genius (And Scotch)

    • if that strauss guy is serious, he’d be pathetic for perpetuating that parcel of half-truths. the piece reads like a parody of all the blessed nelson bashers’ rants, but most people reading it will get their prejudices and smug ignorance affirmed. is strauss another mouthpiece for lacob ?

      • Yeah, Moto, the article was pretty slanted. I got a big chuckle out of this part:

        “Baron Davis left for Los Angeles. Jason Richardson was traded for Brandan Wright, a useful player whose health and minutes suffered under Nellie. No good came of Nelson’s relationship with Anthony Randolph, either. Randolph’s wild style theoretically should have meshed with Nellie’s…”

        Reality check:

        BDavis leaving had nothing to do with Nelson, that was the result of Robert Rowell playing contract negotiation hardball, badly, after elbowing aside his GM Chris Mullin.

        BWright a “useful player?” He was mostly injured with GSW, did nothing with the Nets and currently plays only rarely with the Mavs. He got 4 minutes against the Ws the other night.

        Anthony Randolph is on his 4th team in 4 years, on probably his last-ever NBA contract, still getting near-zero playing time even under another “wild man” coach, George Karl.

        I guess when a writer has an agenda, he can ignore reality and just throw out any damn thing to see if it sticks. Too bad. Cheap, off-the-mark shots invalidate the whole article, and make me discount anything/everything from the publisher, not just the author.

  12. Shop with a Warrior

  13. Another good win! These guys are gelling as a team… I’m loving it. Klay Thompson’s back! Curry and Lee outstanding! Green/Ezeli/Barnes – rookie crop strong!

    Defense, rebounding, passing – I like watching this team.

    Get healthy Bogut!

  14. A really good win, especially after falling behind in the first quarter.

    Great D, especially on the wings! The Nets were 6-23 on 3-pt shots (26%).

  15. Game highlights

  16. Was at the game last night, kind of anxious to see which Curry would show up. It appeared to me, the light went back on for Curry in the 4th quarter of the Dallas game and he started making plays that are now a distant memory from his rookie season. I wanted to see if it was a mirage and one-third through the game it appeared that Curry couldn’t get anything done on the court against Deron or Brooklyn. In the 2nd half it got untracked for him though and I saw the light go back on. Thompson got his shot back and thus his game. For Curry, it’s more than that – he’s got a genius for making plays all over the court. The variety and breadth of his skill set is enormous when he’s playing happy, with confidence. He has a nose for the ball and those bone-head plays we’ve been seeing the past two seasons, start to succeed much more than fail. When the light goes on for him, he actually resembles a point guard. The constant threat of his deep range makes his stutters, change of pace and direction fakes all more effective and significantly compensates for the athleticism differential. His threat as a shooter helps sell his shot fakes, which is his way to break down the defense and get shots for himself or teammates closer to the bucket.
    A happy Curry is a confident Curry. A confident Curry starts to achieve a form of greatness. It’s clear this Curry we all met during his rookie season has started to emerge the past 2 games. I’m crossing my fingers that this continues.
    Favorite moment was when he got fouled on the three and emphatically raised four fingers one-by-one. To me, this meant he knew the FT was going down. That’s what I remember from his rookie year. A player that KNEW his FTs were going down. He knew it. We knew it. That’s Curry with the light on.

  17. Probably not a good game for the Nets, but a great win for us. My only quibble is that Curry and Lee played 42 minutes. I was looking for more sub time for each second half when they had a ten point lead, to see if a second unit could hold it a few minutes.

    The Nets may be victims of their offense. From a Nets blog:

    “And Avery’s offensive system SUCKS. Nets have to get the ball upcourt as quickly as possible, and do some crisp passing, because as I hope you have noticed, waiting until there are 5 seconds on the shotclock is not an effective way to create a goot shot attempt.”

    • A follow up and reply to Satchel @23:

      I wonder to what extent Curry’s seemingly listless play in the first half is a reflection of what he’s asked to do. To what extent does our offense resemble Avery’s, described above?

  18. rgg, that’s in synch with Felt’s “it’s the system, stupid” blog a couple weeks back. I don’t know what Curry was being asked to do in the first half, so clarify what you meant. I guess I don’t see systems too well, because I just saw the spark go on for him. Maybe it’s as simple as a few successful plays in a row and he gets it going. Most players react the same, it’s just the Curry to me has a broader skill set to turn on or off.

    • “I don’t know what Curry was being asked to do in the first half, so clarify what you meant.”

      Well, I don’t either, and if there was a system, I’m not sure what it was. But obviously he was holding back trying to get the rest of the team involved. This is what Nash and the other great point guards do.

      But I don’t think that works for him or makes best use of his talents. He lacks the strong penetrating moves of Rondo or even Nash that might make control offense work, where he can drive and shoot or dish off. But I’m not sure he has the offense to make such a plan work, either. Rondo had Pierce and Allen and Garnett to pass, powerful players who can also shoot outside. When Lee is shut down, he doesn’t have many options, not against a strong defensive team.

      If the goal is to get the offense going, the plan should be to get their top offensive player involved first half—Curry.

      My take on Curry is that he plays best when he is fully involved and is the center of the team, when his special skills of shooting and running the ball are tapped. This doesn’t mean he is selfish, though, because at the center his goal is to get the whole team involved. And I think it may simply be true, that when holding back, he becomes inattentive. I become inattentive myself in that kind of offense.

  19. I can’t believe that Jackson pulled Jenkins after he hit three straight shots over a three minute period. So much for Jackson being a self-described “flow” coach. Last year, Jenkins was the fifth best player in the NBA shooting 2’s. Such requires he get plenty of playing time. Until now, he has let him sit on the bench and rot there. He’s a much better shooter and assist man than Jack and turns the ball over less.

    Jackson also doesn’t know when to call a time-out when his team is completely lost on the court.

    Jackson didn’t set one screen that would have opened up the court for Curry to shoot. After the game, Jackson said he was not alarmed that Curry didn’t shoot. Hey bro, if Curry doesn’t take many shots, the Warriors are not going to win many games. Make sure he shoots. That’s in your job description.

    Small ball went nowhere last night was we got killed defensively, and shot poorly.

    To date, Ezeli and D.Green seem only able to play defense, and have no offensive games.