The Team That Joe Lacob Built: Bucks 103 Warriors 93

I’m referring, of course, to the Milwaukee Bucks.                  

The Bucks are one of those teams, like the (pre-Patterson for TRob trade) Houston Rockets, that are impossible for the Warriors to beat. A nightmare matchup problem, as evidenced by their 3-0 record against the Warriors since acquiring Ellis and Udoh for… yeah.

As constructed by Joe Lacob, the Warriors are the worst defensive team in the league 1 through 3. Curry and Thompson among the players with the slowest foot speed at their position. Harrison Barnes… well, we have ample evidence that he can’t guard anyone in this league, although the why might be a mystery.

Now, take the worst defensive 1-3 in the league and ask them to guard a Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and JJ Redick lineup. You see the problem.

As with James Harden, Mark Jackson’s solution was to attempt to double team and trap Monta Ellis at the three point line, to get the ball out of his hands. And as did James Harden, Monta Ellis made the Warriors pay with his extraordinary passing ability. Even with his favorite target Ersan Ilyasova out, the Bucks were able to put enough shooters on the floor for Ellis to find. (And just as an aside, I’m not sure that it’s the best strategy to double great passers like Harden and Ellis when they’re surrounded by competent three point shooters and a big man who can dunk. For the same reason that Nellie never tried to double Steve Nash.  You have to live with them beating you. Why let them get the whole team involved? Well, in this case at least, there may have been some politics involved.)

Stir in 30 minutes of the Andrew Bogut Myth, and it’s game over. And it will remain game over until the Warriors go back to the drawing board.

Monta Ellis: See anything you didn’t like about that performance? Anything for the haters to hate on? Too selfish? Inefficient on offense? Defense on Klay Thompson a problem?

Since I’ve spent a lot of time already this season clearing up myths, it’s time that I tackled anew the many myths surrounding Monta Ellis. Particularly since the Warriors spin machine has been very actively disseminating them this week through their pet media members.

And boy, are there a lot of them. Myths, I mean:

A selfish scorer: Ellis’ 5.7 assists/gm are second in the league to James Harden among shooting guards. He averaged 6/gm in his last season with the Warriors.

I’ve never understood this particular criticism. Do his critics actually watch the games? Unlike Kobe Bryant, if Monta Ellis gets a teammate open, he will pass him the ball. With a perfect pass.

Inefficient offensively: Take a look at Monta’s shooting percentage since JJ Redick joined the team on Feb. 23, against a very tough schedule. Over 50% in each of the last four games alone.

I’ve got news for the statphreaks. As I have been saying forever, Monta Ellis’ shooting percentage correlates directly with the quality of the scorers he has around him. Earlier this season, with Iyasova benched, and Dunleavy injured, and literally no other shooters on the team, Monta and Jennings were playing 2 on 5, through double and triple teams. Now, since Redick joined the team, and Dunleavy got healthy, Ellis is finally able to play with a spread floor. It doesn’t prevent the double teams, as we saw last night, but it means he no longer has to force his offense.

I’m sorry to throw a wrench into your plans to reduce players to algorithms, statphreaks. Sorry to explode your universe. But Monta Ellis is very soon going to make you all look like fools. Perhaps as soon as this season. But certainly, as soon as he gets himself to a contender.

Monta Ellis is one of the best offensive players in the league. A player who requires the attention of at least three defenders at a time. A floor warper, whose misses can even be efficient, in that they leave easy offensive rebounds against a completely out of position defense. An utterly unselfish, and fabulously talented, passer. A player who with the ball in his hands, and a completely spread floor, is virtually unguardable.

Was holding Stephen Curry back: This is an utter joke. What held Stephen Curry back were Joe Lacob’s rookie coaches, Keith Smart and Mark Jackson. Period.

Has Stephen Curry ever played better than he did in the second half of his rookie season under Don Nelson? No, he has not. Was Monta Ellis holding him back then? No, he was not. Because Don Nelson had the balls to put the ball in Curry’s hands and make him the man. That’s all it took.

Is Monta Ellis holding Brandon Jennings back? Did he hold him back in this game that you know he wanted as badly as any game, ever?

The Warriors are currently playing Jarret Jack alongside Curry in the second and fourth quarters. When Jack is in the game, isn’t he usually the point guard? Isn’t the ball usually in his hands, particularly when the other team’s best defender is on Curry? Isn’t he frequently looking for his own shot?

Is Jarret Jack holding Curry back?

Sister, please.

Is a bad defender: Did you see what he did to Klay Thompson in this game? What about to James Harden and DeMar DeRozan a week ago?

Here’s another little riddle for the statphreaks. Between We Believe and his trade to the Bucks, Monta Ellis played on a team devastated by injury and poor management, with no defensive center and no defensive wings behind or around him. Do you think that affected his ability to play defense? His energy to play defense? His desire to play defense?

Don’t answer that. I don’t want to melt your computer.

Is too small to pair with Stephen Curry: You mean like Jarret Jack?

You mean like Brandon Jennings and/or JJ Redick?

You mean like Nash and van Exel?

You mean like World Champions JJ Barea and Jason Terry? Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars? The Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe backcourt that destroyed Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain in the Finals, twice?

You mean like that?

Even if Bogut never plays effectively again, Joe Lacob’s trade of Monta and Udoh for Bogut and Jefferson helped the Warriors, because it was addition by subtraction:

This is one of the biggest myths, and quite frankly, stupidest lines of thought I have ever encountered. And as the Andrew Bogut fiasco gets worse by the minute, it’s currently being sold to Warriors fans with ever increasing desperation by Joe Lacob’s minions in the media. Kawakami in the Merc. Some clown I’ve never head of in the Chron. And even Tom Tolbert at KNBR. I can only guess that Tolbert enjoys his working relationship with Lacob, and would LOVE that color job some day.

I’ve dealt with the “holding Curry back” issue above. Another variant making the rounds is that trading Monta allowed Klay Thompson to flower.

Wrong. What trading Monta did was allow Harrison Barnes to be drafted (after Joe Lacob induced Mark Jackson to disgrace himself by shaving points in NBA basketball games, and won a coin flip). And it allowed Harrison Barnes to be played. (Note I’m leaving out all mention of the word “flower.”)

If Monta Ellis were still a Warrior, Klay Thompson would be playing his natural position, small forward. All game long, instead of just in the second and fourth quarters. Take a moment to think about that for a second. Is there a team in the league that could guard a Curry-Ellis-Thompson tandem? No, there is not.

How about that tandem with David Lee? Could anyone guard that? Throw in a couple middling priced defensive centers, a Kosta Koufos, for example. Or Omer Asik, whom Lacob passed on in free agency. Or Samuel Dalembert, whom Lacob passed on, twice. Or #30 pick, and Warriors saviour, Festus Ezeli (whose draft rights could have been purchased for $500k to $1m). Throw in a cheap defensive power forward, say EKPE UDOH on a rookie contract. Throw in some nice, cheap two-way defensive wings, like Brandon Rush. Or Mickael Gelabale, whom the TWolves just picked up for peanuts out of Europe. Throw that in, and what do you have?

You have a team every bit as good as the masterfully assembled Denver Nuggets. If not better.

But let’s backtrack and play along with the Warriors apologists for the moment, and pretend that Monta simply HAD to be traded. Because he and Curry actually hated each other. Or the Warriors were tired of dealing with his off-court issues. Some such nonsense.

If Monta HAD to be traded, would that make trading him for two years of the corpses of Bogut and Jefferson a good deal?

Yes, if watching the corpse of Bogut destroy the chemistry and effectiveness of this year’s Warriors team is a good thing.

Yes, if hanging $23 million in dead contracts around the Warriors necks, for two years, is a good thing.

Yes, if there was zero possibility of the Warriors making a better trade, in the offseason. Is that really a fact? That the Warriors couldn’t have made a better trade for Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh than $23 million in dead contracts and a tanked season?

Does opportunity cost count for anything? The fact that the Warriors foreclosed any other opportunity to make a better trade by making this wretched trade — does that count for anything?

Bill Simmons has recently discovered, and confirmed from multiple sources, that Joe Lacob was offered James Harden in this past offseason. He was OKC GM Sam Presti’s first call. (Here’s the link. To find Simmons’ discussion of this, scroll down to the #6 worst contract in the NBA, Richard Jefferson. It’s right after the #8 worst contract in the NBA, Andrew Bogut.) According to Simmons’ sources, what OKC wanted was Klay Thompson and a pick. Joe Lacob passed. He wouldn’t do it unless OKC agreed to take back either the Biedrins or the Jefferson contracts. OKC hung up on him.

Why did Lacob refuse James Harden? He did it because he’s cheap, and he had painted himself into a corner by taking on the horrible Bogut and Jefferson contracts. He knew he couldn’t afford — or simply didn’t want to go over the cap — to pay James Harden after this year.

By trading Monta and Udoh for Bogut and Jefferson, Joe Lacob passed on James Harden.

Passed on someone currently proving he’s the third best player in the NBA.

Passed on a Curry and Harden backcourt.

So before you smoke that bowl of opium Joe Lacob is desperately trying to sell you about the Monta Ellis trade, put a little pinch of that in the bowl first.

And tell me what your dreams are like.

108 Responses to The Team That Joe Lacob Built: Bucks 103 Warriors 93

  1. Its easy to be so negative when always viewing with hindsight. Thats whats making this blog so repetitive, and frankly, tedious to read. You pretty much know whats coming before reading…

    • geraldmcgrew

      That’s one way to look at it. But I’ve often found that my favorite writers say what I think and feel better than I can say it myself. With basketball writing, Feltbot does that for me. I found this post a pleasure to read.

      Feltbot was much more positive when he agreed with the team’s philosophy (way back when). If one shares a similar basketball philosophy, this blog is an oasis. If one does not, the vast majority of Warriors cyberspace is out there. I wish I could read more of his writing on other teams and their players and coaches since the Woes’ philosophy has become what it is, but I can see that there might not be time for that.

    • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend


      You are correct. The same lame bullshit hashed over and over manipulating different numbers occasionally.

  2. I noted this their last game together, at Milwaukee. After the game, Curry and Ellis met and made the customary embrace. But there was a look between them, especially from Ellis, which I’ve never seen before from him, that showed closeness and understanding. I have no idea what was said, but one thing I’m certain of is that Ellis bore no resentment towards the guy who replaced him to lead the franchise.

    Ellis has shown all the signs this season of doing what the team has asked him, this with Jennings, who’s complaining about his role with the team and looking to get out. We know Curry, and know he would have done everything he could to get along with Ellis and make the tandem work. This would have been a big plus that Milwaukee doesn’t have.

    And we really didn’t get much chance to see what they could do together. Smart kept Curry under wraps, and the two didn’t play much together Jackson’s first season because of Curry’s injury. Still, together they put up phenomenal numbers.

    The other thing we’ve learned is that Curry can’t carry the load himself. He needs support in the backcourt, which he got from Ellis. Or vice versa.

    Question: How well would the team we saw last night have performed against the horribly hobbled Warriors Nelson’s last season and Curry’s first?

    Question: Will this team match their 9-9 record the last 18 games?

    This was a horrible trade on so many fronts. The best argument to make is that it doesn’t make sense even had Bogut been as healthy as might have (vainly) been expected.

    Size matters. . . .

    I’m coming back to this.

  3. I’m happy for Monta, but the numbers don’t quite support this take on him.

    After Baron left, Monta’s +/- was upside down every year. Curry’s was much better. allows you to drill down in various ways to try to understand what was going on. It was reasonably clear that Curry made the score move the right way but Monta did not.

    You could then go to the off and def ratings and find that the offense was about the same whether Monta was on the floor or not, but the defense suffered.

    The main concern I had in reaching these conclusions was the fact that Monta played so many minutes. But, there were games he missed due to injury and the pattern was about the same.

    But, there are some things in this post that I agree with. One is to raise the question of what else could have been done. And, another is to point out the amount of money that the W’s are spending on players who aren’t making the team better.

    My impression is that Bogut has hurt the team in all but one game that he’s actually played. Well, I haven’t watched last night’s game yet. He does not look mobile, at least not often, and I haven’t seen any sign of his offense. I heard he hit a 3. Certainly that can’t be it. So is it back, elbow or ankle? I will be pleasantly surprised if he turns out to be particularly useful as anything but an expiring contract.

    And, I was a big fan of Udoh.

  4. While I agree with most of this take, do you really think that a backcourt of Curry, Ellis and Thompson would be much of an upgrade from “the worst defensive team 1-3 in the NBA”?

    Watching the Warriors-Rockets game on ESPN, Jeff Van Gundy made several comments about how amazed he was at how slow Bogut looked. There was no sugarcoating it like the W’s announcers do. It’s become kind of painful watching Bogut run like he is on stilts going through 3ft of water. No lift whatsoever either.

  5. So Klay is an awful defender but Monta is a good one? And, the evidence you use for Monta being good is that Hardin didn’t score a lot of points when Monta was guarding him? Unlike the 2-30 shooting night Hardin had when Klay was guarding him..

    • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend


      Feltbot ignores facts and manipulates numbers. Harden was shutdown by Monta because he went 7-17 and Steph Curry is unstoppable when he goes 6-20 according to Feltbot.

  6. Mr. Lacob earned the respect around the league by buying the team without taking a penny out of his own pocket. Mr. Lacob has taken huge loans from sheiks to commies.

    Look at the big picture fans, We have so much to be proud of our ownership. It’s fans duty to support Mr. Lacob by purchasing more season tickets and team sponsored merchandises. Mr. Lacob promises to spend more once he finishes paying back his loan.

  7. The myth that Joe Lacob cares about size:

    “But the trade spoke to larger issues, such as the long-term philosophy of this Warriors front office. ‘We believe in size, which had been a huge void here for a long time,’ Myers said.”

    From Feltbot’s link on the last post.

    Size indeed matters. We’ve had ample proof this season with the addition of a largish forward and guard, Landry and Jack, who have made all the difference in the world, backups the team hasn’t had in years. But the truth of the matter is that Lacob has not brought size to the team at all, not even with a projected healthy Bogut (more below).

    Jack and Landry are still small. Every single player on the team, aside from the centers, is small. Or the sizable players simply don’t have enough experience and versatility (especially scoring) to justify extended minutes on the floor.

    But we accept the limitations of the core of Curry/Thompson/Lee because of all the other things they bring to the court. So the task is to find the best ways to complement their size deficiencies at the other spots. You can’t just look at the starting lineup. You have to consider the players you can field for a full 48 minutes during a long season, as well as the adjustments you need to make for different teams. A backcourt of Thompson Curry—and Ellis—might have been small, but their play could have been staggered, to the benefit of the second unit, and they could have played in different combinations with other players—if they had them. And there are so many other players they need with size beyond a center—a backup, sizable 2, for example, or a better backup or complement for Lee than Landry.

    Size has to be more than height and bulk. It’s a matter of being able to put a hand or a body in the right place at the right time and requires as much quickness and experience and intelligence. Faried with his length and athleticism and quickness plays like a 7 footer. Sometimes a team might need sheer physical bulk to stop some of the dominant centers, blocking them out on offense or defense—but who exactly are we talking about, other than Howard (becoming more dubious)?

    And you have to consider the collective size of the team. Shoring up at one position has limited value if the others are weak. A combination of a larger, more athletic forward with Lee plus a better, stronger player at 2 would make more difference than having a healthy Bogut and the rest of the team we have now.

    Size has to prove itself with versatility. A center who cannot score not only can be played soft, thus putting pressure on the rest of the offense, but also may not contribute enough on defense to offset the loss on offense.

    Add, too, the amount of time centers can effectively play—about 20 minutes for most.

    And that is what Lacob has given us for size, centers with limited range and abilities, Brown and Biedrins.

    And Bogut:

    Bogut is not, has not been, and never will be a transcendent center. It’s not a slight on him. But it’s easy to prove. He didn’t make that much difference for a mediocre Milwaukee team, whose record has not dropped off since he left. He’s not that athletic, he’s not that quick, he’s not that talented.

    You also have to consider what Bogut means for the team. He is only effective on half court sets, where he isn’t that dominant on post play, which only exposes the weaknesses of the other players and takes away their strengths of speed and skill. Part of the problem may be that this is the way Lacob wants the team to play, but it is also the only way he can be effective. (Didn’t Skiles, pre-ankle break, complain about his ability to run the court?)

    Feltbot has been arguing the point for years. I suspect the only way to prove otherwise is to have Bogut get healthy and show he can make a difference—but it has to be more of a difference than the team might have had with other players. Skeptics, please point this out to me when it happens. In the meantime, that discussion will sound like that of the drunks waiting for Hickey in O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh.

    That all three—Brown, Biedrins, and Bogut—are or have been injured, or are prone to injury, is irrelevant, but this should have slowed decisions to keep or sign them.

    Certainly at the price paid for them. And what the three represent, with their salaries, is a debilitating clog in the salary and the team’s flexibility now and in the future.

    What were the alternatives? It’s impossible to get a truly good center at a reasonable price. So you find the best substitutes whose abilities and salaries do not detract from the team. In the addition to those Feltbot mentions, look at what Hickson is doing for Portland (23 points, 11 boards in Portland’s rout of San Antonio AT San Antonio) or Speights for Cleveland, both around 6’10”, both strong and versatile, both making about $4 million this year.

    If they don’t work out, you haven’t blown the salary cap and allow yourself flexibility to try someone else.

    Strength comes from depth and experience. The team doesn’t have these and Lacob has stunted its growth. If the trade weren’t made, how much money would the team have had to experiment with a center and shore up the other spots, come trade time, amnesty time, and next year? Somebody correct me—Bogut + Jefferson – Ellis + Udoh = about $10m. But also the team found about $9 million for Landry and Jack after the trade, so add that.

    And note that if Ellis were kept, the team would not have to worry about keeping Jack next year (whose FB value may go down as the season winds down).

    Also Ellis would have offered the team what it sorely lacks, a player who can penetrate at will and be clutch down the stretch. He blew by Bogut last night.

    And of course Biedrins could have been amnestied.

    Lacob doesn’t care about size. He’s obsessed with big people. I leave speculation here to the Freudians among us.

  8. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    Feltbot whatever happened to Pau Gasol???? You wanted the Warriors to trade for him for years. Dr Feltbot could see that he was injured. You are such a medical expert I don’t see how that slipped past you.

  9. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    Feltbot if you think James Harden is the 3rd best player in league you are an idiot. Where were you hyping up Harden when he was the 3rd best player on the Thunder??? It is easy to play Monday morning QB after Harden has a break out season. Harden wanted MAX money and very few teams were willing to give it to him.

    I like how you ignore the fact that David Lee did not play in the Bucks game.

    I would love to take you on the basketball court but you are a pussy and have absolutely no game.

  10. RE: Was holding Stephen Curry back
    Monta definitely held back Curry’s game… If one couldn’t see this – they’re legally blind and shouldn’t be allowed to drive motorized vehicles…

    I got a glimpse of Curry’s awesomeness near the end of Nellie’s final (09/10) season after ELLIS WAS SHUT DOWN FOR REMAINDER OF THE SEASON! Nellie handed the team to Curry, where he played lights out like an All-Star (almost winning Rookie of the Year), with D-League teammates – sans Ellis.

    In Curry’s first season without Ellis (2012/2013 season)?

    Stephen Curry – All-Star caliber season. 54 point game at MSG. Leading a Western Conference playoff team.

    Judge Judy? I rest my case…

    Any questions?

  11. RE: Addition by subtraction of Ellis leaving
    Stephen Curry flourished. He’s in essence – playing at an NBA All-Star level without Ellis. And his pick and roll pal – David Lee – is finally a legitimate NBA All-Star.

    Opened up a starting spot for Klay Thompson – who’s game blossomed immediately after the trade. Today? Klay is viewed upon as one of the game’s future stars. Rumored to be desired in a trade for the 3rd best player in the NBA… LOL!

    Allowed W’s to tank the 2010/11 season which allowed the W’s to keep it’s mid-lottery pick – team selected Harrison Barnes.

    After recent slump, the W’s still maintain the 6th best record in the Western Conference and is a clear playoff team – without Ellis.

    Judge Wapner, I rest my case.

    Any questions?

    • One more add…

      Festus Ezeli. An ancillary benefit of Ellis trade, acquiring Ezeli with a late first rounder – which has proven to be the steal of the NBA draft thus far.

      No Ellis trade? No Ezeli.

      Any questions?

      • Trade Review:

        Ellis, Udoh, and Kwame’s Expiring.

        which morphs into Ellis, Udoh, and Ilysova.


        Bogut and Jackson (Jefferson/Spurs #1) and tank remaining 2011 season to keep mid-lottery pick.

        Which in essence morphs into Bogut, Jefferson, Ezeli, and Barnes.

          Stephen Curry – now playing at an All-Star level.

          David Lee – 2013 All-Star and Curry’s pick and roll man.

          Klay Thompson – starting at SG and playing like a future star.

          Festus Ezeli – starting center for top 6 seed in the west – AS A ROOKIE! Steal of the 2012 draft.

          Harrison Barnes – potential up and coming player. NBA starting player on playoff team and avg. 9 points/4 rebs/.434/.350/.727. If draft held again today, he’d be drafted around where he’s at now.

          Bogut – big and smart defensive big man who’s not yet healthy enough to contribute now.

          Jefferson – smart, savy veteran who is a year away from starting on for the San Antonio Spurs – now playing as a role player.

          After recent slump, W’s STILL the team with the 6th best record in the West…

        • Steve, you have found the ticket!

          Then let’s accelerate the dumping of the good for bad or broken down players.

          We should trade Klay for Nene and maybe even David Lee for Eric Gordon and the Warriors would be in next year’s finals for sure! Lacob will make it up on volume!

    • thank you, P.Brian. and of course, thanks to the feltmeister per lo normal, for so efficiently channeling and distilling all the keep-ellis-in-oaktown advocates.

      how ellis is functioning in Mil is largely beside the point, because we who welcomed remaking the team without him could only go by years of seeing him toiling in the GS colours. he’s now playing for his next contract, and for his fifth different coach in as many seasons, so there’s plenty of motivation for him to modify his ways, whether in a greater willingness to share the ball or more reliably attend to bidness on the defensive end. his career in oaktown started to run off course immediately after he was given his franchise star-level contract and davis left the team, and he well may have learned some things about himself and playing with a team from the travails that ensued.

      his situation w. jennings in Mil might be superficially similar to his pairing w. curry, but jennings, as the incumbent when ellis joined the team, is the less experienced/established player, and he is still trying to win his big post-rookie contract. it’s less likely he felt the degree of entitlement that Mil was ‘his’ team to lead that ellis did with his new contract and the departure of davis.

      whatever the hoops x’s & o’s, or the amiable personal relationship between ellis and curry, there was another structural conflict in the dynamic of the team — the sibling rivalry, perhaps the most important lesson for life in the judeo-chrystyin old testament [cain abel – issac ishmael – jacob esau – brothers vs. joseph, and others]. ellis treated the ball like it was his patrimony. his advocates liked to praise his assist stats, but they were actually modest relative to how much he dominated the ball, and to most of us it was obvious how his default decision mechanism resulted in his attempting a difficult shot and missing rather than finding the right place/moment to distribute. the irony of maestro felt’s ellis advocacy is how much he also favors using the pick and roll, because ellis never demonstrated any affinity or fluidity with the play in oaktown, never developed chemistry with his long time ‘mate biedrins when the latvian was demonstrably competent playing with davis or jackson. ellis would look annoyed that the second defender was brought into his court space. as outside observers we can’t be certain, but it did not appear that ellis and lee were going to harmonize sufficiently (there’s anecdotal stuff from m.poole about ellis’ resentment of lee, not unlike his initial reaction to curry ; a sibling rivalry variation) for them to function either.

      speaking for myself, there’s enough in the present reality to try to comprehend without indulging in alternate realities construction — what if ellis and/or udoh weren’t traded, or traded for harden, und so weiter. neither does it distress me to see the team flounder at present, because that’s what the owner should expect, and he deserves no better until he scuttles his plan to deface open public space.

      • moto—

        Really, there’s a structural conflict in the backcourt combination of Jack and Curry. Jack is not that good at pushing tempo or running a fast break. And there are still issues on size and defense. But we accept this because it was the best compromise the team could make, and it was a good one.

        And I would argue that the Ellis/Curry conflicts would have been acceptable as well, though we may need some help interpreting Ellis’ motives. He has a poker face. But my real point about the trade, made below, is the package and its cost. And of course this has been repeated before.

        You’re right, speculation is idle. But I need something to counter the muck we get from the FO. It’s a matter of retaining sanity.

        The other option, of course, is to stop watching the games, more and more a temptation.

  12. Felt,

    I enjoy your blog a lot. If you are not opening my eyes, you are opening my bile duct; either way it is fun reading. Much like the subject of your article, Monta, your take was a mix of both. First of all, your take would have lacked steam if David Lee didn’t get hurt. You could see he was on in that game and would have made super-Monta an interesting footnote in a Warriors victory.

    Secondly, for a poker player and someone with an exceptional grasp of numbers you sure like to throw them out the window when they don’t support your theories. Monta has played well for 4 games? He had good stretches for the Warriors as well. Monta played good defense on Klay? I remember a great defensive effort against a top-of-his-game Brandon Roy that we talked about all that season. The reason we talked about it is because he didn’t have another after that. It isn’t what Monta CAN do that devalues him, it is what he DOES do, day in and day out. He gives good effort and toughness but he is an inefficient, ball-pounding, ball-dominant offensive player and a lazy, risk-taking defensive player day-in-and day-out.

    In what universe does Monta settle for the Jarrett Jack role? Maybe on the Lebron/Wade Heat or the Durant/Westbrook Thunder but not the Warriors. Sometimes it is harder to change your identity on the same team. I don’t see any evidence that he would have done so on the Warriors. Jack and Curry wouldn’t work for a whole game either which is why that isn’t a starting lineup.

    The myth of the Warriors depth? Eye opening. Klay as an emerging star and ideally a small forward? Eye opening. A better trade to be had than Bogut/Jefferson? Eye opening. Super Monta? Not so much.

    • Secondly, Monta should be in his prime right now. He has absolutely reached his ceiling as a player and that’s good enough to lead a team into the playoffs in the weak Eastern Conference.

      Moto’s take on Monta’s ability to use the pick-and-roll effectively is spot on. Evidenced by last game, it’s not something he’s being asked to do in Milwaukee. He’s a very good player offensively, good defensively and that’s it. He’ll never be the No. 1 option on a team that makes a deep run into the playoffs. And winning matters.

      • Who would he have run the pick and roll with, Ilyasova and Sanders were both injured?

        Jennings was at point most of the game. Including the first half when Ellis had 3 fouls.

        • It is the “Super Monta” Myth.

          I do think Monta is a great offensive talent out of place/position. For the better part of 3 seasons, he’s been on the trading block. NBA GMs aren’t chomping at the bit with offers…

          Milwaukee had to keep Monta – and may lose him if he chooses to opt out…

          • At least you don’t mention the “Andrew Bogut Myth”. You are making progress (albeit slowly)! LOL! Seriously, I hope you are able to pivot completely away from your earlier claims.

            As the season wears on AB trudges more slowly downcourt than ever. Often times he is playing just 3/4 of the court, and the Dubs are forced to go 4 on 5. Which aint half bad as the driving lanes are open! Has anyone observed Bogut in a full court sprint yet?

  13. warriorsablaze

    The James Harden Myth:

    “….what OKC wanted was Klay Thompson and a pick. Joe Lacob passed.”

    What pick did we have to offer? I know it fits into your Joe Lacob is the devil theme, but this deal was not a real possibility. Presti may have indeed been interested in Klay, but we didn’t have to assets to put a deal together.

  14. In evaluating the Warriors since Lacob became the owner, one could see at the time that the Warriors made mistakes. Hindsight has just confirmed those mistakes.

    We all knew that the Warriors should have amnestied Biedrins, not Bell.

    If Biedrins would have been amnestied, the Warriors would have money to trade Thompson and the rights to our first pick for Harden straight-up, and then sign Harden to a long term contract. The money would have been there.

    The trade for Bogut was a mistake because we traded for an injured player and if the Warriors actually reviewed his performance the last year or two they would have seen his performance had declined. Moreover, the Warriors were giving up they’re best defensive interior player for Bogut was not even 2/3’s the defensive presence of Udoh.

    The Warriors needed a mobile center to play with D. Lee. Bogut was the worse choice to meet the Warriors needs. Last year, a D.Lee-Udoh front court destroyed opponents in scoring.

    It’s beyond stupidity that getting rid of Ellis was addition by subtraction.

    And, if they wanted to trade Ellis, reports at the time indicated they could have traded him to Orlando for either Reddick or Anderson.Not that I would have been for either deal.

    By not amnestying Biedrins, and trading for Bogut and Jefferson, they were not in position of trading Thompson and what wound up as the Barnes pick for Harden, for the Thunder refused to take either Jefferson or Biedrins in the proposed deal.

    Ellis only had a slight minus rating last year because he had to start games with Biedrins who had a awful year, and Ellis shot too much and was not an efficient scorer.

    I do think a backcourt of Curry and Ellis could have worked, especially with the addition of Landry and Jack. Ellis shot taken would have been reduced.

    Ellis, is a two-point shooter. In recent years, his FG% has gone south. But, his shooting 2’s seems to have been restored with the addition of Reddick. Even last night he was 9-22, but he missed all 5 of his three pointers. If he reduced the number of three pointers he attempted, he FG% would have been fine. The real question is Ellis’ attitude which greatly affects his game. And when he wants to play defense he’s quite good.

    Nellie has always said that Ellis could be great as a point guard, but only good as a off-guard. I agree. We could surely use his assist numbers, and Curry does quite well playing the off guard.

    When Ellis played for the Warriors last year he had a better plus-minus than Thompson, who has even declined this year.

    I differ with you that Thompson is a good SF. He doesn’t garner offensive rebounds, get assists, or get to the foul line. Such limits his contributions to the team. His defense playing that position is also suspect. Right now he’s more like Kover, but not even as good as him shooting three’s. A good three point shooter shoots above 40%, but a great three point shooter shooter hit 44-45%. He’s not in that category this year.

    We do miss Rush playing a combo SG and SF this year.

    A starting line-up of Curry, Rush, Harden, D. Lee, and Udoh, next year would have been off the charts, with Landry, Jack, and possibly Ezeli (if we did not make the trade, and he dropped to 35 in the second round), coming off the bench. Would could have been. Thompson and Barnes would be hardly missed.

    • warriorsablaze

      We did not own our pick to package with Klay for a Harden trade due to Utah owning it from a trade years ago. Even if we hadn’t tanked and therefore given our first round pick to Utah (as we’re doing this year), you’re not allowed to trade first round picks in consecutive seasons…so, again, there was NO PICK TO OFFER TO HOUSTON. Say it with me, people… I’m tired of this Bill Simmons James Harden Myth.

    • Frank—

      It’s not hindsight. We’ve been saying this ever since the trade last year. Look at our comments then.


      Simmons said he got the Harden trade from several sources. OKC would not have gone to the Warriors without researching what the FO could and could not do. But at that point their salary was already locked up because of the Bogut trade. They still could have pulled the trigger and eaten the tax. If they hadn’t made that trade, they would have had all kinds of options.

  15. Building a winning team:

    Lacob, early on, said he believed a team should be built on three star players. Obviously he was influenced by his time sidelining at Boston. It works if you have physical, versatile two-way veterans of the caliber of Garnett, Allen, and Pierce.

    What the Celtics did not do is sink over a third of their payroll into a center—or centers—who had limited abilities. What was Lacob’s input at the Garden on this one?

    The Warriors don’t have anything close to that trio but do have a promising core three in Lee, Curry, and Thompson. The question should have been the best way to build on and around them, given their talents and limitations. With the difficulty and expense in filling the other slots with top players, their only choice was to build for depth and versatility—largely two-way players—with the best, affordable choices, while at the same time leaving their salary structure flexible to adjust down the road to take advantage of whatever opens up—amnesty players had at bargains, trades during the season and off, and free agents.

    Most, they had to protect at least five positions with capable players beyond the starting three. And they had to have satisfactory replacements in case of injuries.

    The only way to assess the Ellis trade is to weigh it in this light. Add up all the plusses and minuses, as has been done here for years. I say the team comes out ahead if they keep him. But consider what Ellis might have done with a stronger, better built roster.

    Also keeping Ellis would have left the team more money to shore up the other positions and would not have left them salary blocked last season, this season, and the next. All kinds of affordable players could have been tried out and developed who would keep the team strong and flexible. If they didn’t work out, let them go and try out others.

    If you want to let Ellis go, I can’t believe there weren’t other trade options, which weren’t pursued.

    They could have pulled the trigger on Harden. Lee/Curry/Harden/Ellis—ponder this starting four. I believe there still would have been significant money to play with, a lot if Biedrins were amnestied.

    Look at Denver. Watch out for Portland and Houston and even Milwaukee, who was able to pull the trigger on Redick.

    Salary blockage—Lacob suffers from constipation.

  16. B. Simmons never said the Warriors pick was this past year’s first round pick. It may have been Thompson and a first round pick in another year for Harden or even a second round pick, as the Thunder desperately wanted to get rid of Harden for they lacked the money to sign him

    . Clearly, the Warriors were offered a terrific deal and turned it down for they insisted on the Thunder taking either Biedrins or Jefferson. According to B. Simmons, the pick theThunder would have received was not an issue.

    Also, if Ellis had not been traded our starting line-up may well have been Curry, Ellis, Harden, D. Lee, Udoh, with Landry, Jack, Rush, and Ezeli, coming off the bench. Much better team that we will have next year.

    • @Frank – Intriguing for sure.

      If Ellis NOT traded, no Ezeli in your last paragraph (pick acquired in the Spurs trade).

      And if Ellis NOT traded, no way Klay Thompson sees the court – doesn’t play enough to garner the attention of Sam Presti in 10 minutes per game court time.

      And if Ellis NOT traded, no #7 pick – Harrison Barnes – to dangle in trade.

  17. Pre-game jitters:

    The Knicks creamed Utah by 30 points the other night, and did it without Melo and Stoudemire (Millsap was out for Utah). And they did it with bench scoring—71 points! (J.R. Smith 24, Novak 20, Kenyon Martin 10, Copeland(?) 12, and Kidd played but was quiet.

    The Warriors don’t have any scorers on the bench, no shooters aside from Landry at times and Jack, and there is weakness in their starting lineup.

    They are losing games because they cannot score enough points. (I’m not clear why Jack, Thompson, and Landry aren’t scoring more when together—any ideas?)

    Thomas was brought up for his rebounding and defense (where have I heard that before?). Can he score?

    Barnett said it the other night: you need to reward rebounding with fast breaks and quick transition offense. It’s not happening.

  18. White Hat—

    Great comment elsewhere!

  19. Thomas has always shot well and has a three point shot which the Warriors need.

    Travis Leslie is now on Utah’s roster.

    You can get more scoring from Landry by playing him more minutes and givingLandry some of Barnes minutes. Warriors need to take Barnes out of the starting line-up.

  20. OK, I said I was outta here, but it seems you guys need me to set things straight.

    NBA basketball is played at the limits of human reflexes, speed and strength. Under the right conditions, ANY NBA player (except perhaps Ezeli) can score at will. The players are doing as well as humanly possible. It’s up to a coach to create situations that improve the odds for his team.

    A good coach will structure a team’s offense to get his best shooters their best shots. On D he must do the reverse, reduce the odds against his team by reducing the likely success rate of an opposing team’s offense. The coach is the ONLY one who can plan and instill the team schemes required to make all that happen.

    For example, a winning offensive strategy doesn’t force Curry to take time to find his own way out of traps, it automatically/instantly makes the other team pay for trapping Curry. It’s a team game.

    A winning offense doesn’t have Jarrett Jack creating and finishing his own shots, it uses Jack to improve the odds of his team scoring. Under the current Warriors offensive system, Jack is almost always forced into the statistically worst shot in the game of basketball, a mid-range jumper. Make or miss, if Jack has to take that shot doesn’t that mean the opposing team has won the possession?

    Check this out:

    A map of the YTD Warriors offense against the 24-second clock looks like this:

    Time eFG%
    0-10 sec .558
    11-15 .490
    16-20 .468
    21+ .401

    Now just imagine the impact of putting a barely-walking Bogut on the floor. By the time that poor guy gets into position on O, the first half of the shot clock is gone. Work the numbers. From best to worst is a 28% difference in efficiency.


    I wonder if that could affect the game.

    Guys, what’s done is done, what is is. In hindsight it appears that Lacob has screwed over the team repeatedly with bad personnel decisions. But NOTHING he has done with personnel has hurt the team as badly as leaving a dysfunctional coach at the helm. And then forcing that coach to play a barely-functional Bogut.

    If you want to win, play winners.

    More importantly, play them well.

    Popovich would win with this Warriors team. What’s our problem?

    • Thanks for the post WH. If the Lackers miss the playoffs will D’Antoni be available?? :-) :-)

      • Bless you, PB42, that is a fascinating notion. I’m at the office right now so I must try to restrain any physical reactions to the idea.

        A wonderful idea…

        Yeah, baby, uh, uh, yeah.

    • +1 Welcome back!

    • Great stat—where did you find it?

      Your hat looks whiter. Did you wash it while you were gone?

      • The hat has been dusted off.

        Re the shooting%/shotclock, all NBA teams show decreasing efficiency over 24 seconds, but in the Warriors case it is exaggerated. They’re far more efficient in early offense than most teams, and less efficient in late shooting than the majority of winning teams.

        Part of that effect is due to personnel. This team was built to run. The other half of the equation is that the Ws half-court offense is frankly awful. With deadeye shooters in 4/5 positions, they can’t run plays that score. That is 100% a coaching problem.

    • Jackson made a lot of good decisions, pre-Bogut. Nor can he be faulted for this thin roster. I can’t help wondering if he’s being pressured by Lacob to play Bogut. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. And at the very least, we have to say Bogut isn’t in shape yet and is struggling. But playing Bogut may be the only way to convince Lacob his “philosophy” is flawed.

      I also wonder if he’s being pushed to start Barnes. I would really like to hear Jackson’s honest opinion of him, but we’ll never hear it.

      Pop wouldn’t have allowed this roster to happen.

      Welcome back. I’m kind of on the precipice about this team myself.

      • Rgg — two great questions. Regarding Bogut, it almost seems comical to think that Jackson doesn’t see how much better the Warriors are when Bogut is not in the lineup. Lacob, however, believes that a team should play at a slow pace in the half court in order to win in the playoffs. It’s just sad to see Curry, Thompson and Lee shackled by this thinking. Bogut is a good passer, but he’s not a threat to score, so his defender gets to play off of him and clog the passing lanes. It’s a shame.

  21. Z-bo in his first post, not me, accused Felty as provide an after the fact assessment.

    Even with no trade, Ezeli may have been available when the Warriors made their second round pick and drafted D. Green.

    White Hat: Right on! Your stats cry out for early offense.

    The Warriors should not want nor does it need the present Lakers coach. Nellie ran circles around him even when Mr. D. had superior teams.

    The Warriors should bring back Nellie to insure we make the play-offs or should be hired by Milwaukee as I’m not impressed with the Bucks offense.

    If he returned here, maybe then we would see the team run.It would make all the posters who hated the trade for D. Lee, who still love A.Randolph, hate Nellie, and supported Jackson be the coach, go nuts. Unfortunately, not going to happen.

    To: Joe Lacob. Your intentions are admirable, but your failure to rid the team of Biedrins when coupled with a bad trade and poor drafting the last two years, has resulted in the Warriors not likely being able to have a chance to field a good team until the end of next season when Bogut, Jefferson, and Biedrins respective contracts expire.

  22. Felty: Did you express yourself one way or the other at the time of the trade for Bogut whether you were for or against the trade?

  23. No interest in recapping the Knicks game. Melo didn’t show up, and his teammates followed his lead.

    I’m not judging the Knicks by this game, but I’m comfortable saying that anyone who thought they might do something this year, even with Amare Stoudemire, was out of their mind. For all their individual talent, this is one of the lowest IQ teams in all of basketball. Starting with their head coach. Woodson is apparently the last head coach in the league to realize that you can blitz Curry with impunity when Bogut is in the game.

    If there was anything at all that interested me in this game, it was the difference between Barnes and Klay when guarding Melo. Barnes wasted no time getting eaten up: committing his first foul on a mid-range shot fake, then “getting rookied” (Fitz’ term) when Melo pinned him on his back under the basket for an easy entry and Barnes’ second foul. You can read Mark Jackson’s dissatisfaction in his meager 16 minutes of playing time.

    Thompson, by contrast, refused to leave his feet against Melo, had no problem staying between him and the basket, and even blocked his shot on a post-up (4:35 2Q).

    Klay has made great strides in his game since the Warriors came home, with his defense, with his finishing, with his playmaking, with his shot-making.

    One last point: Did you see how Monta Ellis was able to bother Klay simply by pressing up on him and taking away his dribble? That is something that most small forwards can’t do — not quick enough. The fact of the matter is that Klay is not only a better defender of threes than twos, but he is a better offensive player against threes than twos.

    Those who don’t realize that Klay has the potential to be one of best all-around small forwards in the game are missing something.

    • +! Feltbot,

      the IQ of the Knicks can it be less than zero? What was Tyson Chandler thinking? Twice he guarded Bogut at half court. Once AB drove in for a layup Chandler look absolutely foolish. Not satisfied, the fool Chandler did it again as Bogut drove to the basket this time with agreat assist.

      Neither time did any of the Knick teammates provide help defense.
      Has anyone told Tyson, Bogut cannot hit a mid range jumper (okay threes are another story).

      Knicks deserve to face Miami in the opening round based on this game alone. In the words of Sir Charles, “turrible!”.

  24. Monta Ellis didn’t hold Curry back the second half of Steph’s rookie year because Monta was out hurt for a good portion of it, right? What other myths do you want to conjure up?

  25. Barnes is 20 years old Felt, give the kid at least until he’s 22 to trash him. He’s got incredible potential, he’s apparently a very hard worker, and he’s gonna be a good player. Let’s see what he does the next two seasons.

  26. 13 friggin’ points from the bench in a blowout. . . .

    • warriorsablaze

      Yup. Jack’s play has fallen off a cliff. Regression to the mean? Or second unit has become completely awful. If we manage to limp into the playoffs, we don’t stand much of a chance if pulling an upset without jack paying above his head as he did fir the first half of the season.

      • Then again, Jack only took 7 shots, Landry 1.

        There should be at least 3-4 players on the bench who can knock down shots, especially in an open game like this one, players who can step up and add scoring when they need it. Or is the second unit so wrapped up in its defensive mold, both in play and players, that it can’t score? The Knicks only had to get hot when the bench let the lead get down to 10 or so to make this a close game.

        I don’t buy this was a defensive win for the Warriors. The Knicks got all the shots they wanted. Or rather their best defense was their offense. By building a substantial lead and putting the Knicks in a hole, the Knicks were put on their heels and had to force shots.

        Why on earth didn’t they use Chandler for scoring at the basket?

        Strange, strange game.

  27. The last few games Jackson has begun to experiment. He finally is playing a small front court at times that does not include either Barnes nor Thompson.

    Last night, in the second quarter, with the Warriors leading by three 26-23, he started Landry, D. Green, and D. Lee in the front court, and Jefferson and Jack in the backcourt. The Knicks only scored 2 points over the first six minutes, and the Warriors expanded their lead to 14, 39-25. The Warriors then went big.

    I’ve been screaming for this for the last two months. Would like to see Jackson continue to go small with the same small line-up.

    For the first time in a long time, the Warriors played well with a big line-up.

    The shots Thompson now misses are not wide right, wide left, short, or too long, or go in and out. Last night, for the most part are limited to clanging off the top of the metal part that connects the rim to the basket.

    Every player has a great future when they play great in the last game.

  28. For all: Is there a way to compare Thompson and Curry’s 4th quarter scoring in the last 10 games or so?

  29. OK, here’s some homework for somebody. First go here:

    And scroll to page five and look at the chart with Sanders and Lee, and note the BIG RED SPOT for Lee.

    Wow! You really suck on defense D-Lee!

    It is a paper presented by Messrs. Goldsberry and Weiss (from your alma mater, Feltbot!) at the Sloan Analytics conference. I must confess I only skimmed it and am not sure I have the heart or stomach to read closely. Basically, though, it measures how many points players give up in the critical area under the basket, where scoring percentage is higher.

    I have these questions for G & W:

    1. How many full games have you actually watched Lee play? Are you aware of how many minutes he has had to play, night in and night out?

    2. Have you factored in the roster he plays with, especially the small forward Landry or the ill-equipped centers (same with the Knicks while there)?

    3. Have you factored in the total roster, its weaknesses, along with the defensive scheme employed, how well it’s employed, and what compromises it forces?

    4. And yes, factor in his contributions elsewhere on rebounds and points.

    Here’s is Goldsberry’s piece at Grantland, which links his paper:

    There’s a youtube there which he provides as evidence. I don’t find it convincing at all. Lee has to compensate for many things, and he’ll often get caught. He doesn’t get much help from his fellow forward or center (Landry because of size—and where was he on one of those plays in the youtube?—the others because of experience or mobility) or his guards, because of their limitations in strength and speed, who will channel drivers to the front court or just let them slip through.

    The big red spot is the team’s weakness not Lee’s. He’s largely the one who has to stand in the red zone and light it up. Also, because his stats have put him in the limelight, he’s going to get shot down. Lee does have limitations in size and speed, but the question should be, given all that he offers, what player(s) would best complement him in defense and help keep Lee on the floor?

    In short, I suspect the report is bullshit, superficial and meaningless, where analysts look at raw numbers out of context. But it’s hit the national attention, Yahoo in White Hat’s link above.

    I also fear a lot of people will take such crap seriously, GM’s and owners.

    It may be the future.

  30. There’s still hope


    What it will take for the Warriors to get into the playoffs and make a run


    The Little Off-Road Vehicle That Could

  31. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    Did Feltbot invent the internet???

    “But Monta Ellis is very soon going to make you all look like fools. Perhaps as soon as this season. But certainly, as soon as he gets himself to a contender.”

    So let me get this straight. Monta Ellis is so fucking amazing. He is one of best offensive players in the league. He is as good as Dwayne Wade according to Feltbot. But he can’t succeed until he plays for a contender. That has got to be the biggest pile of horse shit I have ever heard. IF HE WAS AS GREAT AS YOU CLAIM HE IS HE WOULD MAKE THE TEAMS HE PLAYS ON CONTENDERS!!!!!! Feltbot claimed last year that Monta would thrive on the Bucks and Milwaukee would dominate the East. The Bucks are 32-30 in the weak Eastern Conference while the Warriors are 33-29 in the tougher Western Conference. Feltbot considers the Bucks a success and the Warriors a failure. That is some seriously fuzzy math. The Ponzi scheme is over Feltbot!!!! Give it up. Anyone that has to go to a contender just to win obviously is not good enough to carry a team. Therefore Monta Ellis is not the elite player you claim he is.

    • Oy.

      Wonderful insights, FFG. Just a few Qs:

      Explain Charles Barkley’s (lack of) success. Or M Jordan’s first 6 years in the league. Or Paul Pierce’s Celtics without Garnett and Allen. Or Shaq with Cleveland. Or, hell, pick any really great player who never found himself on a winning TEAM in the TEAM game of basketball.

      Also, a slight correction: FB never said Ellis was as good as Wade. At mid-season last year I mentioned that they had identical stats on the season. Monta apparently picked that up and mentioned it in a video interview this year. That was just one of the latest dumb things Monta has said in an interview, part of a long list of dumb things he’s said. But FB never said it.

      And if interviews had anything to do with actually playing basketball, Harrison Barnes could talk his way into some game stats.

      • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

        The problem with that is all those players you just mentioned. They did lead winning teams. The teams they played went to the playoffs. Monta is not capable of carrying a team to the playoffs. Therefore he is not an elite player. Monta has never once been able to approach the winning % of Paul Pearce, Charles Barkley, Shaq or Jordan in his first year 6 years so you shouldn’t even be mentioning him in the same breath. There is a reason Monta Ellis has never been named to an All Star team the coaches he goes up against do not think that highly of them. I set the bar low for him just make the fricking playoffs and he can’t even do that.

  32. @ 31

    rgg, I love ya man. But with all due respect to both you and David Lee, Lee’s man/man defense is crap, and his help D is even worse.

    Blame it on his rebounding focus. Excuse him due to his excessive minutes played. But don’t imagine for a second that Lee’s D is even as good as “average.” He may not be the worst ever at his position, but in today’s NBA it would be hard to find another starting PF quite as bad on D.

    Playing Lee has huge plusses, of course. But he would be even more plussy with some D. Is there a coach in the league who would give him any playing time at all if he didn’t routinely deliver 20-and-10? NFW.

    So maybe D Lee could work on that D thing.

    ps, Lee should also spend some time in the weight room. His skinny legs and little Gumby arms don’t make the grade in today’s NBA. His physical weakness might be his biggest limitation.

    • I think my real point is that statistical studies such as the one above are suspect and essentially useless. And labeling Lee a bad defensive player doesn’t accomplish anything useful for the purposes of evaluating Lee or building a team.

      It’s not like he’s stupid or doesn’t try to play defense, like some offensive players. But there are some things that aren’t going to change, namely his quickness on defense. FB has noted before he’s going to get burned by quick 4’s.

      More importantly, if you’re trying to improve the Warriors’ defense, nothing is accomplished by focusing on Lee. He’s the one who gets caught in the red zone. Either trade him or look elsewhere to solve the problem.

      I would be curious to see that study broken down according to how well Lee has performed with different centers—and already we have a problem his entire career: he hasn’t played with a bona fide center. Still, what are his stats with quicker, athletic F/C’s like Ezeli or Udoh (who had a fine game the other night)? What player might best complement him in the front court? Or what would his defensive stats be if the team had a faster, stronger, experienced 3, who could help him cross match against certain players, certain teams? Or if the team had a similar 2, who contains better on the perimeter? And again a problem—the team doesn’t have now and hasn’t had such players.

      The other problem is that, aside from the wayward centers, he is the only player on the team with any size at all, thus gets pushed into heavy duty.

      • The centers’ stats on points allowed are probably better, but for a simple reason: they don’t have to guard scoring 4’s but low scoring 5’s. Playing Lee at center against the big guys and putting someone else on the 4’s has worked, as FB keeps advocating.

        • If the Warriors do play Lee at 5 as Felt advocates, they have to live with the bad defense on centers. He does need to be accompanied by a 4 who can handle his biz on the glass and a 3 who is willing to defend and rebound. The problem for the Warriors comes when a team has a spread 4 on the floor and a big center. If Lee is left alone in the middle with the center (even a usually low scoring center), the center will almost always score at will and rebound over Lee. Simply put, if the Warriors are going to go small, they are going to have to outscore people. But it’s not something they’ve shown they can do.

  33. Regardless of whether or not D.Lee is a bad interior defender, last year, when he played alongside E. Udoh, as I have repeatedly said, the Warriors outscored their opponents by far every 48 minutes they were on the court together. So, D.Lee’s problems defending the interior seems to lessen, if not disappear, depending who is playing alongside him. For a good center can affect a large majority of the shots taken inside. And the stats do show that Udoh is a impact interior defender. Unfortunately, he’s gone, and we have Bogut, who does not provide protection for D.Lee, given his mobility problems and the fact that he plays away from the rim.

  34. With D.Lee deficiencies on defense, that’s why it’s also important that when D.Lee plays center he is surrounded on both sides by good interior defenders.

    Felty likes D. Lee playing center. I suspect that Felty is aware of D. Lee’s problems on defense, but Felty is willing to sacrifice defense just as Nellie did. And like Nellie, Felty wants five offensive players on the court, and by doing so, believes that such will result in the Warriors outscoring their opponents in the crucial fourth quarter, regardless of the Warriors lack of defensive prowess by going small.

    Felty, correct me, if I have misstated your viewpoint.

  35. rgg: It’s good to see that great minds think the same. Athough some posters may differ regarding our analysis.

    • With the right system and right players, his defensive stats might look fine, and thus he wouldn’t be ridiculed in places like the Yahoo blog. What’s scary is if a narrow-minded FO took such studies seriously and decided Lee was expendable, as I fear could happen.

    • The Warriors have so many slots to fill, but I think my first priority would be a faster, taller, stronger two-way 4. I like Landry and he has made great contributions, but he falls short in all three categories.

  36. To understand the NY game, simply revisit that Warriors eFG%/shotclock thang.

    Yeah, Carmelo’s game was definitely “off.” Part of the reason was Thompson’s D against him: props to Thompson!

    But the Ws ran like madmen against the Knicks. And as soon as they put in fresh legs against the geezers (2nd quarter) it was game-set-match. Within minutes, the Ws 2nd team bumped the margin to 15. After that, they could have sealed the win anytime they chose to, and the Knicks players knew it. Game over, unless Mark Jackson found a way to screw it up.

    • I’m still baffled. I can’t believe the Knicks couldn’t have put more pressure on Curry both games, as other teams are doing. Didn’t they bring Woodson in to improve the defense?

      • Woodson’s D > D’antoni’s D, for sure.

        But the winning margin in this game was mostly just physics and physicality. The Ws moved the ball much more quickly in this game than they did in the game in MSG. They ran, and ran again. Then ran some more with fresh legs in the 2nd Q. Against the oldest team in the league, who happened to be on a tough road trip.

  37. Matt Steinmetz (correctly) analyzes a fantasy matchup between this year’s Warriors team and the We Believe team.

  38. @34 rgg,

    “Either trade him or look elsewhere to solve the problem.”


    Why accept poor D from DLee? Why make others cover for him?

    Lee is an extremely intelligent player with a huge bleeding hole in his game. Why not fix the problem directly? He’d be better off, and his team would be too. If Lee played better D, the Ws could pair him with a big who maybe isn’t only a defensive monster but also has some offensive ability too. The team would be better.

    • Well, have Lee do what to improve? As capable and hard working as he is, I can’t believe there isn’t anything he hasn’t tried. And my argument goes the other way around: he would play better D with that center—if he were mobile.

      Obviously I wasn’t serious about trading him.

      I’m debating which game to watch tonight. The Denver game might be illuminating (see Karl’s remarks @41). If I had two TVs I’d watch both for comparison.

      • My guess is that Lee will never become a better defender at this point in his career. He’s only getting slower and older. Also, his role on the Warriors as a minutes eater and scorer mean that he is unwilling to fight for position that might cost him cheap fouls. Why do Ezeli and Beidrins commit so many fouls? Their role is to fight for position. Lee was nicknamed the Golden Gate because he often lets guys get position or sweep down the lane for a bucket. Also, when he fouls, he rarely fouls hard — I’m not sure why that is.

  39. Coltraning cited these George Karl comments on the other blog, all of which bear repeating, relevant to the discussion above:

    Karl said that the smarter teams become, the more important it is to encourage the kind of athletic, aggressive open-court style that just so happens to be the most entertaining style of play.

    Coaching has now gotten so technical and scientific and there’s so much of it and there’s so much video and and there are so many statistics, that basically the reality of coaching is when you play 5-on-5 basketball it’s very difficult to beat the defense and the scouting reports and the preparation and the tendencies that we know teams have. So what we’re trying to do is play before those things can be settled in to.

    We want to play early. We want to play before the defense sets. We want to play when there’s mismatches running up and down the court. And to do that it takes a little extra work on working on your spacing and working on your commitment to run and play fast. I mean very few players want to play fast because you don’t get rewarded all the time. You have to run maybe 10 times to get 2 shots, maybe 15 times to get 2 shots.

    It’s like offensive rebounding. A lot of big guys don’t like to offensive rebound because you got to go all the time to get a few reinforcements. Our big guys here have done a great job the last few years. They really do run the floor well which helps the beginning of the spacing and gets the freedom of the ball. And then the other sport aspect of it is I just watch football. They’re playing quicker, they’re getting faster. They don’t want the defense to get set, they don’t want the defense to rotate in and match up their strength against your strength.

    We’re kind of trying to play not against the strength of a good defensive team, and the weakest part of the defensive team is normally in transition. I watch a soccer team like Spain play and so much of what they do is they don’t hold the ball. They ping the ball around and make quick decisions. And I’m sure they have great plays and great actions, but it’s basically don’t let the defense feel like they can zone in on you because you’re making quick decisions.

    And the writer sums it up thus:

    Translation: The analytics tell us the best way to play is in transition, and with maximum ball movement. That is, to give the fans what they want.

    • +1 Absolutely love Karl’s analysis. And I think we can all assume that it was Don Nelson’s, before him.

  40. Excellent points from Frank and rgg analyzing David Lee’s defense.

    I can think of several reasons off the top of my head why that MIT study is crap.

    1) First off, it only analyzes FG% in the restricted area, correct? So right off the bat you can throw out any comparison to players who don’t play as many minutes as Lee does. Why? Because those players have fouls to give, and Lee doesn’t.

    That can be seen in one of the examples Goldsberry gives, where Lee mysteriously turns away from a driving opponent, opening up “the Golden Gate.”

    Guess what? Goldsberry’s analysis doesn’t account for free throws allowed. Don’t you think that might be relevant?

    2) The Warriors have the worst perimeter defense in the league. That means a couple of things for David Lee. First, the Warriors middle is under constant assault. And second, he’s being given complex help responsibilies on virtually every play.

    Lee has to decide, on virtually every play, how much to guard his man, and how much help to give the Warriors guards.

    Do you think that might make him more vulnerable to back doors than other power forwards? Do you think that might make him just slow enough on certain rotations to show up in Goldsberry’s stats?

    3) Does Goldsberry’s analysis account for what I will call the “Dwight Howard” effect? Here’s what I mean: let’s take an NBA power forward and plug him into the Warriors lineup. Now let’s take that same NBA power forward, and plug him into a team with a healthy Dwight Howard backing him up. Do his FGA% stats in the restricted area stay the same?

    Only a complete idiot could think they might. And unless Mr. Goldsberry is able to account for the horrible defensive teams that Lee has been surrounded with virtually his entire career, his paper belongs in the trash.

    4) Does Goldsberry’s paper analyze Lee’s man to man defense against other power forwards? It does not. It counts the scoring of everyone, including centers and guards, when Lee is in the vicinity of the basket.

    Lee is not a shot-blocker, everyone knows that. That doesn’t necessarily make him a poor defender. And to my eye, Lee does a very good job when posted up man-to-man against opposing big men.

    You know why? Because he does his work EARLY, never backs down, and is strong enough to keep his man out of the restricted area.

    Something that is completely unaccounted for in Goldsberry’s limited analysis.

    OK, gentlemen, carry on.

    • I was plumping for this. Now I don’t have to read G’s piece.

    • 1) Lee plays lots of minutes, but his deficient physicality is a bigger factor in his “Golden Gate” defense than his reasonable concern over fouls. He’s a BRILLIANT player with SERIOUS physical limitations. His physical limitations show especially on D.

      In Lee’s job, his strength and quickness – or lack thereof – is a choice, not a given. Check out Jeremy Lin’s lockout summer training program. Lin chose to completely re-invent his athletic ability. Lee could too. He never has chosen to make himself as powerful or quick as his opposition. Sorry, but that’s a fail. This is the friggin’ NBA, dude.

      2) The Ws do have some pretty horrible wing D. Curry is slow, Thompson is slow but learning to compensate, Barnes is clueless, Jefferson is slow, JJack is competent but small, Green is manic and competent but can’t seem to find his offense so can’t be played much. But that doesn’t excuse Lee from the team’s need for him to cover spread 4s or challenge shots in the paint effectively. Curry’s D isn’t why Lee’s D sucks. Let’s not get sucked into projecting Lee’s issues on others. Let’s run with “no excuses.”

      3) Yes, Lee’s D would look better with a defensive monster backing him up. But if Lee’s D were better, the team wouldn’t need a defensive monster behind him. They could play a C who contributed more than defense. Someone who didn’t force the team to play 4-on-5 on O.

      Or run Lee at C with a 4 who had 3-point range. But only if only Lee could play D against Cs. If only.

      4) Rim D aside, the real problem with Lee is rebounding. What’s that you say? Lee gets numbers? Yes he does, but the Ws still give up a HUGE disparity in 2nd-chance points. Ezeli is the main reason it doesn’t look as bad this year as last. While I totally respect Lee’s numbers, let’s be honest. Early box-outs (Lee’s specialty) do help, but not when it’s simply mano-mano under the rim. Then it’s just vertical leap, power, timing and incendiary desire. None of which are Lee’s specialties.

      I LIKE David Lee. I just wish he’d get serious about being the best he could be. That would be awesome. What he is today, isn’t.

      • the data on 82games indicates that most of the lineups that combine lee with green have been successful, the major exception when landry plays the 4 and green the 3. if lee plays center, green has the length and smarts to help either in the paint or covering the 3 pt. line, but the preacher enjoyed his early season success with the lee-landry combo and will probably be stuck on it.

  41. SF is a position that requires getting offensive rebounds, assists and a decent two point shooting I have been critical of Thompson because he doesn’t get offensive rebounds, assists, nor is his field goal % shooting 2’s above average (45%) . But, if he can hit his three’s at a decent % such is ok, but we still need a better and more rounded small forward.

    In my opinion, Harkless, who we could have drafted or traded down for, has more potential that either Barnes or Thompson.. Barnes played two years in college, Harkless just one.

    As Harkless is terrific on the offensive glass and is hitting his two’2 at above 52% the last time I looked, and makes more steals, blocks, and commits less turnovers than Thompson. But he trails Thompson is 3 pont% and foul shooting %. After having a terrific four week run, his last two games he did not shoot well, butlast night he shot 6-9 from the field.

    rgg: Too much attention is drawn to an individual player’s stats rather than how he fits in with other players on the team.

    D. Lee does a lot of things well. On offense he shoots well and does get to the foul line. He also is a good offensive rebounder and terrific defensive rebounder. Even though he shoots above 50%, his lack of interior defenses results, I suspect, in the opposition shooting in the paint close to or above his FG%. Such can only be addressed by surrounding him with good interior defenders that lessens his responsibility inside.

    The Warriors still need a mobile and big inside defender as well as one that can hit the three. It will be difficult to find one player that can do both.

    • Frank – what stat’s are you looking at???

      For the season, Klay’s shooting 44.4% from two point range and 39.5% from three point range… And Klay’s AVERAGING 16.7 points per game. What’s not to like???

      Klay’s shooting percentages have RISEN DRAMATICALLY since his horrible start to the season.

      Earning more trips to the foul line, improving his finishing drives, driving more often to the basket, and more consistency/improvement with his perimeter shooting – Klay will undoubtedly become a 20 points per game scorer by next season.

      And Klay’s defense has been solid. No one-trick pony’s here…

      Klay Thompson will be an All-Star player candidate (like Curry was this year) by next season…

      KLAY VS. MOE
      Offensively, you can’t compare Moe with Klay…

      MOE AVERAGES 6 points a freaking game. Klay? 16.7 PPG.

      Oh you say Klay doesn’t pass? Klay averages 2.3 assists per game. Moe? 0.6…

      • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

        Frank has hard on for Moe Harkless he ignores both stats and reality.

        • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

          I made the comment above so everyone would know I am officially a troll on this blog. I actually work at a Burger King and was treated rudely by Feltbot when he came in one afternoon. He actually asked me to wipe down a table while I was on my break.

          There I said it! N0w you know the reason for my negativity.

          • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

            I did not make the above comment. Some idiot is a troll using my screen name.

          • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

            Funny that you consider the truth negativity. I guess if you are delusional and ignore facts and statistics you would consider that negative.

          • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

            And I am not always negative! I agree with Feltbot on the need for a Spread 4, Harrison Barnes, and the high IQ of Klay Thompson. And I also agree on the tard Bogut.

            Truth is, I could have my own blog and take all of his readers over there.

          • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

            FRAUD Alert the post above is not mine. I disagree with Feltbot on Monta Ellis, Barnes and Bogut.

  42. David Lee is a special offensive player with some unique abilities not found in many big men (passing).

    But why defend David Lee’s piss-poor defense?

    It’s OBVIOUS to me. And I’m just a simple man.

    The W’s also realize this and have attempted to mask it.

    Play David Lee at Center against horrible non-offensive centers and small ball situations. Check.

    Give up defending the perimeter all together. Install a pack-the-paint zone to mask bad individual defenders like Curry and Lee and hope it doesn’t rain threes. Check.

    Acquire complimentary defensive big men like Bogut and Ezeli (Udoh too) to specifically pair with Lee to help make up for his defensive deficiencies. Check.

    No need for advanced statistical analysis or in-depth reports from MIT, Cal Tech, or Harvard. One needs only to turn on a W’s game for 20 minutes to see Lee’s defensive deficiencies…

    For those who STILL disagree, I’ll buy pizza for a room full of CYO 8th grade basketball players – and within 20 minutes or so of watching a W’s game – receive an objective evaluation of David Lee’s defense…

    And it won’t be pretty…

    Stop the madness!!!

    • Agree! What if the Warriors changed their defensive philosophy to stop packing the lane, defend the three point line and then let D-Lee actually have to defend the paint. It wouldn’t be pretty.

      That being said, if the Warriors cut down on the number of threes they are giving up, and they keep making threes, they probably outscore most of their opponents in a game that is more fun to watch than what we currently get.

  43. White Hat: I don’t exactly buy your contention that D.Lee is a bad rebounder. D. lee averaged almost 3 offensive rebounds thru the first 55 games. Our opponents only garnered 19 more offensive rebounds thru the first 55 games. No big deal, and the Warriors probably would have had the advantage on the offensive glass if they played Jefferson, Ezeli,Landry and D.Green more.

    The Warriors have garnered more defensive rebounds that there opponents mainly by shooting a higher FG%.

    You claim that the our opponents killed us in scoring off of second chances. How many more second chance points were scored by our opponents over the Warriors this year? Even if so, why do you draw the conclusion that Lee is somehow responsible for that?

    It’s just possible that our opponents score more off of second chances than we do that may not be attributable to D.Lee defense.

    • Lee is good at positioning for rebounds, but when it’s a free-for-all scrum under the hoop he doesn’t have the leap, strength or heart to get them. Ezeli does, and so does Green. I could maybe find stats to support that, but don’t think we need them, just eyeballs.

      Imagine Lee with Landry’s arms, Ezeli’s hops and Green’s fantastic defensive footwork. Whenever I watch Lee play I wish he’d hit the training room. It’s all there for him if he’d bother to go get it. What a completely awesome player he could be. If only.

  44. Detroit:

    Phew! Close game! For a while there I was scared it was going to be a rout.

    5 friggin’ points from the bench other than Jack. Can Bazemore shoot? He hasn’t taken enough shots this season to tell. I’d like to see him lob a few. An outside shooter would open up the court for the other 2nd. unit players. Or if not Bazemore, they could have brought someone else up. (Cf. Tolliver, Reggie, etc. from the D-league).

    • I can’t believe they couldn’t have found a shooter, probably a guard, from the D-League. They could have had him cheap, and if he pans out, kept him next season. This game, and so many games this season, a fresh burst of firepower would have made a difference.

      And maybe he could get the bench players running. Anybody else find the management of subs tight?

      • lacob and son have the most influence over personnel decisions, so we should not expect most of those decisions to have the same priorities that we see at work for the mid market teams who need to see results on the court to secure their return on investment. lacob seems to have prejudices and arrogance that tend to bias him for or against certain kinds of players. they were probably biased against nate robinson — he’d have been more useful as a reserve than either tyler or jenkins and fits the classic ‘scoring boost’ off the bench and tempo changer. but he’s a bit unconventional, and lacob seems stuck in an antiquated, conventional hoops vision.

        • Nate is drawing $854k at Chicago, so I assume was too expensive—considering the other roster moves and the tightness of the cap. Plus, as you say, didn’t fit the mold.

          The other positions are expensive and hard to find, but I can’t believe there isn’t a guard who couldn’t be brought up. Someone who can run and shoot, who can push the tempo better than Jack, play point and move Jack to two, and if he’s good enough, spell or break into the first line. This would be a cheap fix that would help now and could potentially pay off later. Not having other scoring options, not being able to put up shots with the second unit, has hurt them all season.

          C. J. Watson came up through the D-league, right? Someone similar would be perfect.

          • yes, clearly money is a major factor. they never used the roster exemption that rush’s injury qualified them for. tyler was getting paid just 100-200k less than robinson’s minimum vet salary, and clearly could have been waived last summer after they drafted ezeli and green, but they had an original investment of 2m. to purchase his rights they could not write off.

          • I do like your appreciation of Nate. He can inject chaos into a stalled game. But also he showed he can run a team with results. And he could drive better than anyone else on the current roster. He was inexpensive and they had seats on the bench.

            I can see why they might have doubted Nate as a long-term backup. And I can see why they thought Jenkins might have had some promise. Now, of course, they have neither. Next season they will still need another guard, and this could be a problem, a serious one if they can’t keep Jack.

            Lacob & son seem to have preferences for “defensive” bench players. That was, according to Jackson, the justification for bringing Thomas up.

            Defensive players aren’t much use if:
            1. They can’t score.
            2. They can’t defend.
            Or they would probably defend better if they could put up some points.

            I fear that the Lacobs are listening to their statisticians.

  45. Funny when looking back at this article, the Warriors are in 2nd round of playoffs mainly because of Bogut, Greene, Barnes, and Curry. Monta is an amazing player, but he couldn’t do what all those guys could do collectively.