2013-14 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers and Busts

Wrote this list of 2013-14 fantasy basketball sleepers and busts up off the top of my head this evening. It’s possible I’ll add to it towards the end of training camp, so fantasy visitors might want to check back.

As always, all of my opinions are price sensitive, ie. directly correlated to where the players are projected.                           

SLEEPERS

David Lee: There’s nothing new under the sun with David Lee, so why is he a sleeper? For the same reason he was a sleeper last year, and virtually every year: Because he’s perpetually misranked!

This year he’s projected at 42. He finished last season at 23. The year before that at 27. What gives?

The prognosticators are always dreaming up reasons why Lee’s production will suffer. Two years ago, new coach and system. Last year, Bogut will take away his rebounds. This year, the same, plus Harrison Barnes will beat him out.

It’s all nonsense. David Lee is the best big man on the Warriors, and one of the best in the entire league. He will start, he will get his minutes, he will play 81 games, and he will rank in the 20s. Just like he always does. Book it.

Al Horford: Horford’s a lot like Lee, solid and dependable. And he’s already projected at 16. How could he be a sleeper?

Something’s changed. Josh Smith, who vied with Horford on the Hawks’ pecking order, is gone. And I have a sneaking suspicion that Horford is now the undisputed Man. The guy who is going to be featured in the offense.

He’s projected for 17.6 points/game. Too low.

Dwight Howard: I show him projected at 56th, and there is still a big injury risk here. He automatically destroys your team in the FT% category. And yet he’s still frequently getting drafted in the second round. That might not be as big a mistake as it sounds.

I’m not sure it’s a mistake to draft Howard with your third pick, IF you had a low first round draft pick, because if that’s the case, you’re already screwed, way behind the guys who landed Lebron, Durant, Harden and Curry. An unfortunate fact of life in the flawed snake draft system.

So if you’re team is sucking, it might be time to gamble. Draft Howard, tank FT% completely, and pray that he miraculously returns to top form. It gives you a chance to make up value on the leaders.

If you determine on this plan, make sure you identify all the players whose ranking suffers from FT%, like Blake Griffin and Andre Iguodala (see below), and draft them early. Their FT% can no longer hurt you.

Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo: Both these guys are projected in the 90s, but are currently going much higher in drafts. So in a sense, they are no longer sleepers. You have to pay up for them.

And there is risk here, given that both are in logjams at their positions. Harris with Mo Harkless, who’s a better defender, and Oladipo coming off the bench behind Aaron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson.

Both Harris and Oladipo are monsters though. Harris was ranked 63 in the last month of last season, and Oladipo is putting up crazy stats, particularly assists, in the preseason.

I think it’s smart to assume that Orlando will find a way to get these guys on the court, possibly by trade. Jameer Nelson is a particularly likely candidate to be traded.

Kyle Lowry: This is what I might term a Hail Mary sleeper. Only to be drafted if you think your team is way behind. There’s all kinds of risk with Lowry, he’s always injured, he’s almost always in a beef with his coach, etc. But when the stars align for him, as they did in 2011-12, he’s a top 20 talent, way better than his mid-40s projection.

If you’re getting your butt kicked, and drafting in the late 30s or lower, Lowry gives you a lottery ticket to get back into the game.

Andre Iguodala: I show Iggy projected at 66th, about how he performed last year. I think he could finish more than 20 spots ahead of that.

Why? Assists. He’s projected at 5.4, and I think he’ll average over 6, and possibly close to 7. The preseason has made clear that not only will Iggy be the Warriors de facto backup point guard behind Curry, but he will frequently be the point guard, or point-forward if you prefer, when Curry’s on the court. He is poised to take over Jarret Jack’s crunchtime duties, and move Curry off the ball.

And with targets like Curry, Klay Thompson and David Lee, you can expect Iggy’s assist totals to explode. Perhaps not to the level of the 14 assists he got in one preseason game, but that is a sign of things to come.

My stat service also shows a projected decline in his shooting %, perhaps due to taking more 3s. I think that’s misguided. How seriously do you think Iggy is going to be guarded this season, with opponents preoccupied with Curry and Thompson?

Exactly. He’s going to be wide open, my brothers. A lot.

Note: Iggy’s biggest negative, aside from not scoring much, is his atrocious free throw shooting. If you have already drafted Dwight Howard, which means you’re already tanking FT %, grab Iggy as soon as possible. His value has skyrocketed for you.

Klay Thompson:  Something that’s not well understood about the new-look Warriors is that the 6-6″ Iguodala is going to be guarding the other team’s most dangerous scorer, and that player will be a back-court player far more often than a small forward. Which means that the 6-7″ Klay Thompson will be spending far less time chasing around point guards and shooting guards, and far more time playing small forward. Which means that his rebounding totals are going to go up, right?

Not reflected in the projections.

Also, it is highly likely that Thompson will remain in the starting lineup, and the black-hole Harrison Barnes will be replaced by the great passer Andre Iguodala. This means that Thompson will be getting better looks this season, right? And that his shooting % could go up?

Throw in the fact that Thompson started slowly last year, and had finishing problems that appear to have been addressed in the offseason, and the jump in shooting % could be substantial.

Also not reflected in the projections.

Enes Kanter: Hard to call this guy a sleeper when he’s never played full time and yet is already ranked 64. But let’s just say I believe in him. I’ve seen his post moves up close and personal.

Solid minutes + Highly skilled + High IQ = On feltbot’s team.

Isaiah Thomas: This guy is never projected to win the starting point guard job, yet always ends up with it. And when he has it, he produces for fantasy owners: he was the 57th ranked player in the last month of last season.

This year, he’s once again projected as a reserve, behind Greivous Vasquez. I think there’s a decent chance, though, that he winds up playing alongside Vasquez quite a bit. Vasquez has the size to slide over to the two, and he’s also not a great defender of quick point guards. If I were Mike Malone, my 4th quarter backcourt would be Thomas and Vasquez.

Thomas is ranked 174. If I needed a reserve point guard, though, I’d start looking for him in the 90s.

Thabo Sefolosha: How are the Thunder going to make up the scoring that James Harden and Kevin Martin took with them? Jeremy Lamb? The 20 year old shot 35% last year, and is shooting 28% (!) in extended action this preseason. Lamb isn’t ready, so I’m expecting a big minutes increase, and a bigger role, for Sefolosha this season.

Currently ranked 117th, I would definitely scoop him with my last pick.

BUSTS

Anthony Davis: I was right to include AD in this category last year, since although he slightly exceeded his projection when healthy, he spent nearly 20 games on the DL. As I predicted.

The fact of the matter is that AD is very slightly built to play PF/C on a regular basis, and doesn’t seem to possess the preternatural strength of the young Kevin Garnett. He gets knocked around a lot, and I’m not sure at age 20 whether this season will be any different than the last. AD is an injury risk.

He is also projected around 11th by my rankings, which is damn high, and increases the injury risk to owners.  On the other hand, his production so far in the preseason indicates he might make a huge jump, and be better than 11th in production when he’s on the court. So what to do?

Here’s my recommendation: If he falls to you at 15th, say, grab him. If you’re 11th and he falls to you, and you feel like you absolutely must have him, then go ahead and draft him. But if he starts off the season like a monster, sell high as soon as you can. Trade him for equal but safer value.

That’s a win-win. Value for you, and injury risk for your trade partner.

Carmelo Anthony: What? Few things have been more predictable than Melo’s output over the last few years. Tons of points, no assists, etc. So why might this year be different?

The reason is that I see an increased risk of injury. Shoulder, knee… Melo took a lot of pounding last year playing at the four, and I think his body is wearing down.

And equally importantly, I think the Knicks might have trouble realizing their stated intention of moving him back to SF. Amare Stoudemire is beyond iffy this season, and Andrea Bargnani is not just iffy, but too horrid a defender/rebounder to be played at PF. He needs to be hidden at center, his best position. The pressure to play Melo at PF will be intense, particularly since that’s his best position.

Andrew Bogut: High IQ. High assists, rebounds, blocks. Starting the season 15 lbs. lighter than last, and with his ankle feeling like new. Ranked 93. What’s not to like?

That 62 game, 30 minute projection.

First of all, the Warriors don’t need him for 30 minutes a game. And second, while I root for him, I have very little confidence that his osteoarthritic ankle will allow him to play 62 games, regardless of how it’s feeling right now. Arthritis is never cured; it simply sleeps.

Typically after long summer layoffs with light activity.

Ty Lawson: Ranked 32 although he finished last season at 45. I think there’s a significant possibility that Lawson falls off the edge of the earth this season.

To start with, the Nuggets system has changed, and could there be a more drastic change than going from the NBA’s #1 running team under George Karl, to the triangle-trained Brian Shaw, late of the half-court Pacers? It’s unclear whether Lawson is even a decent half-court player (why did Karl so frequently turn to Andre Miller in the 4th quarter?), so a decrease in the Nuggets pace could have serious deleterious effects on his fantasy production.

To end with, the Nuggets’ personnel has changed. No more Gallinari, Lawson’s best target. No more Iggy and Koufos. In their place are rookies (Fournier), scrubs (Foye), the streaky (Chandler) and the brain dead (McGee).

Pass.

Harrison Barnes: No, I’m not going out of my way to trash Barnes, as some might think given my history of realistically evaluating his skills. Barnes might eventually turn out to be a good NBA player, but that’s not what we’re concerned with here. We’re concerned with whether he’ll be a useful fantasy player, this season.

The answer is no. Whether or not he lands the starting SF assignment, Barnes is currently buried behind better players on the Warriors roster. Iggy, Thompson and Lee. He’s also competing with Draymond Green and Mo Speights for minutes. I don’t see any chance Barnes puts up fantasy production this season, unless something radically changes in the Warriors roster. And my rankings agree, placing him at 196.

And yet, I see a lot of fantasy owners buying the hype and drafting him. Don’t do it. He’s a late season waiver wire guy, at best.

(See also: More 2013-14 Sleepers and Busts.)

51 Responses to 2013-14 Fantasy Basketball Sleepers and Busts

  1. I much prefer auction leagues. I have found David Lee to be going for much higher than his projected value and after using a big chunk of change on Curry and Damian Lillard, have not been able to afford him. A couple of $1 sleepers: John Henson and Portland’s Mo Williams. Henson because of injuries may get a lot of early playing time an Mo because he will be the 6th man on the Trailblazers.

  2. FB – the website is taking a long time to load, like 40 seconds. Usually for me it used to be about 5 seconds.

    • There was an issue with the host company last night, maybe that was it? Is it still taking this long? Anyone else experiencing this? If so, are you using pc or ipad?

      From my computer, the site actually seems a little zippier since I switched hosting.

  3. I think Jackson will follow the same script as he did last year when the Warriors were effective. Play slow ball in first half and quickening the pace in the second. So, we’ll probably see Boguy and Spieights playing center in the first half. If this is Jackson’s approach don’t see Warriors being ahead at halftime.

    Felty, don’t agree with you that ll at center and Green at PF is our best line-up in crunchtime. Good coaches know how to destroy Lee inside. Saw this last year. Personally, I see Dedmon, , even though inexperienced, making the Warriors more efective than either Bogut or Speights, and JON is also better than either, if healthy. If the Warriors are to be successful running on the second half, JON and Dedmon need to be on court, not Bogut and Pieights, and D. Lee has to remain at PF.

    • warriorsablaze

      You’re overrating Dedmon by a mile. He’s a borderline NBA player with some upside and good size/athleticism… but he’s way too raw to contribute meaningful minutes in the NBA right now. If he makes the team over Seth (as he should), he’ll be in the D-league for much of the year unless everyone gets injured. Like Ezili, he has NO hands. You can’t have a guy who can’t catch the ball in the game at crunchtime.

  4. Bogut will be useful against certain teams and certain lineups. In fact they could limit his play to preserve him throughout the season and get the most bang for their bucks. Speights and O’Neal can also fill in at center, and hopefully later, Ezeli. There will be many times they will be more useful because of their offense and likely greater mobility. And Dedmon and Kuzmic should be able to get spot play to help bring them along. This way, all the centers are spelled and preserved. The team has 6 centers, assuming Dedmon stays, almost 42 feet of them.

    And they can start making the transition for the post-Bogut era. Next year the team will still have Speights and Kuzmic, hopefully a healthy Ezeli (team option, and we’ll find out this year if he returns to health), plus Dedmon if they keep him, all four for under $7m. If O’Neal is healthy and spry enough, maybe they can keep him another year for insurance at a bargain price. That should cover the center spot, though with some tradeoffs.

    Again remember how well the team played defensively last season with without Bogut, with Ezeli and Biedrins, and without the perimeter defender Iguodala. If they had Iguodala last season, they would have been much, much better defensively. And offensively. This can be repeated this season and next.

    And I’m not sure how much tradeoff there will be. We lose bulk, of course, and it will be harder to bang against the behemoths, but I’m still not convinced Bogut is that useful against the more versatile and athletic centers. In Kuzmic and Dedmon, there is youth, speed, and mobility, and quite possibility better offense. Kuzmic has experience and is not dumb. He should learn quickly. Maybe they can get Speights to bang on occasion. There is no reason to have confidence Bogut will play at pre-fracture levels for the next three years.

    Then consider how much better the team would be with whatever player they pick up, and they’ll have a lot of money to spend.

    Assumed here is that they will finally abandon the notion they have to build the offense around a center, which hasn’t worked in all the Lacob years, but rather leave the offense in the hands of their most capable players in a system that exploits their talents.

    They really need to free up roster spots as well. 6 centers you can’t play or develop doesn’t make sense.

    You can find next year’s salary picture here, 2014-15:

    http://www.hoopsworld.com/golden-state-warriors-team-salary

    Note the trade exceptions on Jefferson and Rush, about $15m. I’m not sure how these work.

    Keeping Bogut, however, will greatly limit their ability to add substantial players the next three years, fill in other weaknesses, and give the team a future.

    Let him go.

    Maybe if Bogut plays well enough this season he will draw a big salary from a rival next summer, who will then be hampered with salary and roster problems.

    • It’s still too early to make any decision about Bogut’s contract. The Ws are keeping their options open. I doubt if they’ll sign him any sooner than they have to – just as they did with Curry. That will give them plenty of time to evaluate.

      JON probably doesn’t have more than 1 more season in his legs, and certainly not at anywhere near fulltime minutes. Ezeli and Dedmon are both very raw. Kuzmic has looked surprisingly polished at times, but we don’t know if he’s up for the NBA game. Speights is generally seen as an underachiever, not someone to make a big bet on (and there are no bigger bets than an NBA franchise). Lee is Lee. He won’t match up well against all comers.

      So unless Bogut breaks down or busts out, he’s the Ws big-body C. Rather than rooting for the team to dump him, I’m rooting for him. In the mini-battlefield under the hoop, he’s the best the Ws have.

      In addition, despite Bogut’s ankle problems, his combination of smarts and skills would be hard to replace. His shooting and mobility still aren’t up to par, but I think among Cs maybe only Marc Gasol is better at passing and assists – making his teammates better. When was the last time you saw a healthy, experienced, skilled C available in free agency?

      The ONLY downside to Bogut is the possibility that he will have continuing ankle problems in the future. But Grant Hill had an even worse ankle, botched surgery, an infection that almost killed him, multiple YEARS of repeat surgeries and recovery – and he went on to play another 10 years or so afterward. So Bogut having problems is not a sure thing. Likely, maybe, but not fersher.

      • don’t be surprised if bogut’s back makes him miss more games than his ankle this season. back problems knocked him out of at least fifty regular season games in Mil and five more last season. his back might be a big factor in his ineffectiveness finishing shots around the rim.

    • your friend in salary cap questions like trade exceptions is cbafaq.com.

      jason richardson to Cha for a lottery pick and trade exception. mullin shipped out more salary (richardson’s) than what he took back in. myers shipped out more salary to UT than what they had to ingest, net result, trade exceptions. they work as a variation of a multi-team deal when those deals get formulated around who has cap room and who does not. with trade exceptions, the third team isn’t known or involved at the initial trade, and might never appear (a ghost proxy as it were), if the trade exception isn’t utilized. rowell didn’t want to use the trade exception in the richardson trade because it meant adding a salary. in these times, we’re not likely to see amounts like those in the lacobite’s possession very often, because a necessary element is a team with cap space to ingest a lot of salary — Cha back in the good times, and UT for biedrins and jefferson. UT’s cap room resulted from letting two high priced vets leave in free agency at the same time.

      • I’m lost again. I’m hopeless. Are the Rush/Jefferson trade exceptions anything they can use before they expire?

        • best to assume those trade exceptions could go unused again. to expend one of them, a team wishing to subtract a contract would be a candidate for a trade partner, but the lacobites wanting the player and his contract is another matter, of course. teams all want the max talent they can cost effectively fit in their cap ; GS won’t take garbage just because they have trade exceptions to pass budget muster.

          trade exceptions are intended to give the teams a little breathing space for trades within the restrictions of the salary cap. without them, it would be even more difficult to trade draft picks (limited rookie scale contracts) for established vets. the owners generally like to have escape routes from their mistakes and the trade exception opens a few more. in a way, it’s a palliative for the confines of the salary cap, like Bird rights (which necessitated ‘cap holds’ for otherwise expired deals). the salary cap itself is a strange creature intended to help the merely rich owners compete with the super rich, protect teams from their own worst excesses, and most importantly control expenses by suppressing player salaries.

  5. With Bogut making 33 percent of his tip-ins (Felty would even make 80 percent) )one can only imagine the number of OR’s he puts back-in the basket. He shoots only 45 percent from the field and can’t make foul shots. This is who guys you want to start, play, and resign? And if you love the Warriors being outscored by their opponents put Speights and Ezeli, when he returns on the court. And based on Green’s last season the same can be said for him.

    Dedmon has bad hands? He hasn’t turned the ball over his last few games. Same can’t be said for Bogut.

    • All good points, Frank. Can’t dispute one of them.

      Other than Udoh, do you have any other suggestions besides Bogut? For all his warts, he’s the best big-body C on the team. Right? Or no?

      One good thing is that we already kinda know the Ws are going to play smallball as much as possible, so Lee’s probably going to get lots of minutes at C. That leaves all the bigger Cs on the bench unless/until the team needs them to match up with an opponent.

  6. Bogut (Bucks) vs Howard (Orando)

    This is just one review of Bogut, many of the years healthy, against a top center throughout his career. With only a couple of exceptions, there is little evidence he can score effectively against Howard or cut down Howard’s rebounding and scoring. Or that his absence made that much difference.

    I don’t see transcendence.

    2005-6

    Win 104-86
    Bogut 2-7 5 pts 6 RB
    Howard 6-11 14 pts. 17 RB

    Lose 93-108
    Bogut 2-6 6 pts 6RB
    Howard 8-15 19pts 14 RB

    Win 94-89
    Bogut 3-6 6 pts 3 RB
    Howard 2-12 11 points 14 RB

    Lose 105-108
    Bogut 2-5 5 pts 3 RB
    Howard 7-12 19pts 17 RB

    2006-7

    Lose 94-117
    Bogut DNP
    Howard 7/10 15 pts 11 RB

    Lose 81-99
    Bogut 0-1 0 pts 3 RB
    Howard 4-5 10 pts 9 RB

    Win 116-111
    Bogut 2-7 4 pts. 9 RB
    Howard 9-9 21 pts 11RB

    Lose 73 – 98
    Bogut 6-14 12 pts 9 RB
    Howard 2-2 6 pts 7 RB

    2007-8

    Lose 86-103
    Bogut DNP
    Howard 7-12 25 pts 11 RB

    Win 100-86
    Bogut 5-7 11 pts 9 RB
    Howard 6-13 20 points 13 RB

    Lose 83 – 102
    Bogut 2-9 4 pts 3 RB
    Howard 4-9 16 pts 12 RB

    2008-9

    Win 98-80
    Bogut DNP
    Howard DNP

    Lose 94-110
    Bogut DNP
    Howard 4-8 18 pts 8 RB

    Lose 80 – 106
    Bogut DNP (look at the lineup)
    Howard 8-13 28 pts 12 RB

    Lose 101-108
    Bogut 7-9 16 pts 8 RB
    Howard 7-10 24 pts 13 RB

    2009-10

    Lose 82 – 99
    Bogut 5-11 10 pts 10 RB
    Howard 7-10 22 pts 11 RB

    Lose 92 – 117
    Bogut 6-15 15 pts 10 RB
    Howard 8-11 17 pts 10 RB

    Lose 98-100
    Bogut DNP
    Howard 10-15 25 pts 20 RB

    2010-11

    Lose 72-78
    Bogut 1-4 6 RB
    Howard 5-10 18 pts 17 RB

    Lose 89 – 93
    Bogut DNP
    Howard 9-12 31 pts 21 RB

    Lose 87-97
    Bogut 2-5 6 pts 7 RB
    Howard 9-16 28 pts 15 RB

    Win 96-85
    Bogut 12-20 31 pts 18RB
    Howard DNP

    2011-2012

    Bogut did not play all season
    All losses, 3 of the games close

  7. Bogut will have to learn how to screen without throwing his butt around this year. They’re going to call illegal screens closely now.

  8. Zach Lowe predicts:

    “The world is assuming Golden State will play a ton of small ball after catching fire in the playoffs using Harrison Barnes at power forward. But it caught a lot of that fire against a smallish Denver team, and Mark Jackson’s track record suggests he prefers keeping two big men on the floor — whether or not that is the best strategy. I’m betting that’s the case again this year, and that small ball is a low-minutes change-of-pace thing and nothing close to a majority-minutes foundation.”

    Which explains a lot of the pre-season experiments. I predict heated reaction you-know-where.

    Note #2, the possibility of a lot of trade activity. Will GSW try to be players? There may be some bargains.

    http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9860683/32-bold-predictions-2013-14-nba-season

    • I don’t agree with Lowe. Jackson gained a lot of confidence in his small ball units last year. Iggy will only reinforce that.

      • I also disagree… at least with the reference to MJ’s reputation. Beans and Ezeli didn’t even average 20 minutes per game combined… we finished most games with Lee at Center, even when Bogut was back. We played tons of small ball last season. Also, small ball doesn’t mean there’s no center. We’re gonna see lots of lineups with Green/Barnes at the 4 with Bogut or JON at C. I suspect that we’ll have more center action this season due to Bogut (maybe) being healthy and our depth… but we’re going to see lots of different looks. Hopefully MJ will figure out the best times to use the different line-ups and not try to force square pegs into round holes too much.

  9. If healthy, JON is our best center on both sides of the court. JON, Iggy and D.lee is the best front court in the crucial fourth quarter, not D. Lee, Green and Iggy in the crucial 4th quarter as Felty suggests as Green not a consistent shooting. Also, Lee terrible as defensive center. If not JON , then Dedmon. This front court hard to beat in 4th.

    Suspect backcourt of Curry-Thompson not as strong as Jack-Curry in the crucial 4th given Thompson’s inconsistent shooting.

  10. Key stat to watch is opponent’s FG percentage. If opponents FG percentage 444 percent or lower Warriors have right players on court and Erman is the man.

  11. GooseLosGatos

    I would not be terribly surprised if Barnes got traded this season while both his ‘perceived’ value and the excuses for not playing him are high.

    Biggest Fantasy Sleeper – Valencuinis (Raptors). Warriors tried to trade up to get him in the ‘Klay’ draft but couldn’t find a partner. Put on a lot of muscle this off-season, very physical down low (yes, I know the rep of Euro bigs) with three or four fairly refined post moves. He’s also a gym rat who is one of the few big men who actually love the game.

    • You know you’d get takers for a Barnes trade from several here. But do other teams value him that highly? I only recall his being mentioned in package deals, x plus Barnes. I’m also curious what the GSW FO really think about him, but of course we’ll never hear.

      • I suspect we could recoup some of our lost ‘Iggy’ 2114 & 2116 picks where we no longer have a first-rounder and possibly get an expiring contract but that may be way too optimistic.

        What this whole Barnes thing has reaffirmed for me though is the huge disconnect between how the media & public perceive a player and his actual worth.

        I’m not a Kobe hater per se but I’ve always felt Kobe’s actual worth as a player based on the level of talent around him when he won his championships has been grossly inflated by virtue of his ‘brandification’ on the part of the media needing ‘the next Jordan’, Nike’s brand building brilliance, league marketing dept. and the general gullibility of the ‘average’ fan (probably fall into that category myself).

        • woeyr fans should practice looking at ‘their’ players as if they lived somewhere east of the continental divide. barnes would be just another average, promising second year wing. ‘average’ at this level of competition is pretty frikkin good, and those average types can come up with a handful of great games when the gods smile. barnes’ very good games came on the playoff stage. right now, is he hugely better than dorrell wright (representing ‘average’), whom he replaced ? wright had his handful of very good games too.

          some of those ‘average’ players have a quality barnes hasn’t shown since high school, that only partly comes from physical skills. they stood out in college competition, and were often their team’s leader or best player. curry, thompson, green. nate robinson has that quality. you’ll sometimes hear the ‘jordan rationalization’ to excuse this in barnes — they played in Chapel Hill in a structured system, team oriented, und so weiter. though jordan wasn’t the leader on his college squad, his ‘mates knew his skills and competitiveness could dominate in any game, and that is not barnes. we can defer making conclusions about him for now, because of his age.

          marketing and hype has permanently distorted jordan’s stature as a player — he’s certainly among the all time best, but there’s no such thing as *the* all time best, which is how he’s been anointed. after his playing days, he’s really building his legacy as a narcissist and plutocrat.

    • Will Valanciunas exceed his #60 ranking? Not a lot of experts are sleeping on him this year.

  12. GooseLosGatos

    I read something on the ’12 draft last week that caught my attention. The ‘rumor’ that Jerry West wanted to trade out of the top 10 (not take Barnes) and instead take Tyler Zeller but he was ‘out-voted’ by Lacob & Meyers.

    Makes sense as Zeller I thought had an under appreciated rookie season and is the kind of hard-working, lunch-pale player who may never light up the stat sheet but will give a team 12 years of very good man-to-man & zone defense with smart but not stellar offensive production while doing all the ‘little things’ that help teams win.

  13. You’ve pretty much convinced me on Barnes but I still hold out hope beacuse as Jerry West has said Barnes has ‘the one skill set you can’t teach’ – work ethic which can carry a player far. He’s also commented on his need to improve his footwork which is probably one of the most under-appreciated skills and has a ‘huge’ impact on a player’s handle.

    That being said, I suspect the Warriors will try to move him while his value is at its peak. Though it was disturbing that his name was conspicuously absent from any questions on the annual GM poll released yesterday but maybe these GM’s are brighter than
    I thought.

    Be very curious to be a fly on the wall in these Warriors ‘evaluation’ meetings.

  14. Preseason jitters:

    “Mark Jackson’s track record suggests he prefers keeping two big men on the floor — whether or not that is the best strategy.”

    Zach Lowe, link @10.

    Or perhaps we should replace Jackson with Lacob. Lacob at the outset said he wanted a larger, more defensively oriented team, and that has determined all his moves. Until Iguodala, all his major trade efforts have been directed towards centers, the top names, who were unavailable, then settling on bad compromises (Brown, Biedrins, etc.). (I don’t include Jack and Landry because there was no commitment, and they were in fact let g0.) Minor acquisitions have largely been oneway defensive players with limited offensive or playmaking abilities (Amundson, McGuire, etc., and most bench players now). There really isn’t that much offensive power on the team now, not after Curry, Lee, and Thompson.

    We have every reason to believe Lacob is still pursuing this plan and wants to have a more deliberate, physical offense, despite the overwhelming evidence of the past three years, especially last season, that the team has better options that work, that his plan won’t work. We also have every reason to believe Lacob thinks future success depends on Bogut, that he will try to keep him, in spite of his limitations and health risks.

    In preseason, Jackson has experimented with two centers. The starting lineup has been Barnes plus Bogut, presumably because Barnes is larger and more athletic, presumably would be a better defensive threat for the same reason.They’ve had him drive or find a shot on offense, presumably to offer more physical threat. The evidence on both ends so far is not encouraging and there’s good reason to think it won’t work. The offense has also centered on Curry/Bogut, and there’s every reason to believe they intend to play Bogut major minutes, including crunch time. We’ve also seen how well that works.

    Then injuries put Bogut and Barnes out last game against the Lakers, and it was like a weight had been taken off a spring. The lineups controlled the game and scored easily, even with Curry’s weak shooting that night. OK, it was a preseason game against the Lakers. But they struggled to get 48 minutes of offense the previous preseason games, where a lot of players should have been able to step up and score, if they had them.

    The bet on Barnes is that he will develop essential skills to go along with with his athleticism. Even his shooting, which is average, is suspect. I’d be curious to see how well he shoots when he is not contested vs how well when he is. The ball handling and court IQ, offense and defense are not there. I’m skeptical these can be developed at this stage of his career. Most top athletes build these skills as they develop in their youth. (And I believe that was the rap on him at UNC.)

    The initial thought when they traded for Bogut was that Bogut plus Curry could be the focal point of offense. Pass to Bogut, who draws a crowd, who drives or kicks out to an open Curry for the 3. This plan has not worked either, and it will not work. Yet they’re still trying to give it a go. It only works if Bogut can post up low and drive to the hoop, or play out and draw defenders. We haven’t seen that yet. And then there is his FT %. But unless he can drive on the pick and roll or take a shot himself, he won’t draw defenders out—and he hasn’t shown those either and isn’t. Also running the offense through him takes the ball out of the hands out of the faster and more mobile scorers and playmakers. And it slows the tempo of the offense. On defense, Bogut is limited in up tempo games because of his range and speed.

    It’s likely idle speculation, but the team has a chance to build on its real strengths. The team could look for more experience and more two-way players. They could save money for a major acquisition next season if they let Bogut go. Instead on banking on centers, they could look for sizable, versatile alternatives. Or pull the trigger on the odd chance a workable center turns up. If Barnes has market value, he could be traded. See Lowe’s thoughts on the possibility of trades this season. Something might open up if Lacob decides to pursue other options.

    I hope I’m wrong in all this, of course.

    But I’m entering the season perversely tempted to contemplate the desirability of injury to a couple of players.

  15. The smart money must be reading my blog:

    The Warriors opened the offseason at 22/1 to win NBA title, now 10/1.

    I bet the win total at over 49.5. The line has since moved to 52.

    • warriorsablaze

      Interesting that it’s moving up… considering our preseason hasn’t exactly been gangbusters. Almost getting to a point where you might bet the under. To me, 52-55 is pretty much best case scenario with all cylinders firing…. but maybe (hopefully) they’ll surprise me.

  16. One thing Zach Lowe @10 and I do agree on this season: The Nuggets will miss the playoffs. They’ve been destroyed.

  17. It looks like Mark Jackson is still over-thinking the Thompson/Barnes decision.

    http://blog.sfgate.com/warriors/2013/10/23/warriors-at-sacramento-shootaround-david-lee-misses-session-will-illness-harrison-barnes-ruled-out-for-wednesday-and-thursday/

    Or is he just covering up pressure from the front office?

    • warriorsablaze

      There are legitimate things to think about… not who is the better player, of course… I can’t imagine anyone seriously putting Barnes above Klay right now; but there is some logic in having Klay’s scoring come off the bench, and finish the game. Barnes just isn’t aggressive enough to be “the man” in a second line up. He can be fine as the 3 rd scoring option in the starting line up behind Steph and Lee… with Iggy being the all around guy. A Harden OKC role from Klay isn’t going to hurt the team.. he’s still gonna get his 35 minutes, with Barnes probably hanging around 25.

      • barnes will not be in the top four in minutes played if everyone’s health is good. he could end up six or seven in minutes. the first sub into the game isn’t always the best player on the bench, but determined by who first gets a rest out of the starters. last season, landry was often the first sub in, when ezeli started games. the best reserves often finish the games in tight contests — a critically important role. last season, green was in those situations as often as barnes.

        if barnes has turf toe on one of his big toes, he’ll probably miss some regular season games with flare ups. if the team has problems winning games with him absent, the preacher is making some bad calls.

  18. Stage 2 of hosting issues: this post has gotten lost on the internets. Sigh…

  19. GooseLosGatos

    I love Bogut’s game but given his age and injury issues – if this were insurance and using probability tables – he’d have a very very very very expensive policy – I would wait until end of season to decide to make an offer.

    • warriorsablaze

      If you lock him up now, though, you get him cheaper. If he doesn’t end up being part of our long term plans, bigs with reasonable contracts are always movable.

  20. warriorsablaze

    Pretty exciting, yet ugly game tonight. Curry, Bogut, and Iggy all had pretty good games overall. Lee was pretty awful and missed a clutch free throw to lose it. He did lose a tooth, though, so props for the heart.

    The bench lost this game for us…though the starters certainly didn’t help down the stretch. I hope MJ blends the line ups more in the season. Douglass, Baze, Green, Speights, and JON is not gonna get it done as a crew. 3 starters were + double digits, while 3 reserves were – double digits… says a lot.

    • thompson shot poorly, o’neal and speights took the bulk of the shots for the reserves with poor results. (17 attempts, 14 pts.) the reserves will need either thompson or curry on the court ; barnes won’t do enough on offense to help. malone has made a difference. thomas a good reserve lead guard and a leader in this game. Sac got to the free throw line for twelve more attempts — another indicator of good coaching. nine fourth quarter points will usually lose the game.

  21. It’s becoming clear that the Warriors have a slim non-offensive bench with Douglas, Bazemore, and Green. A healthy Barnes and playing Dedmon will help. For now, Iggy has to play PG.

    Speights touches the ball and it’s going to be shot. Terrible in second half. Bogut offense good, but turned the ball over in crunch time and neither he could get a defensive rebound in crunch time.

    Thompson’s shooting a mess in second half (saw that a lot last year) and the guy anointed as having an excellent basketball IQ drove into a plethora of Kings defenders and turned it over.

    Curry only consistent go-to guy on Warriors. . Last, year we had Landry and Jack.

    JON will be fine with playing time. Iggy has to bigger part of offense.

    Jackson killing the team by not running.

    Team good on defense, but weaker this year offensively.
    This team has shown in preseason it’s is a mess and Barnes will not change things much. Warriors have to give others a chance and go get back-up PG and SG.

    First place in Western Conference. Only in your dreams. The “smart” bet is to take the under.

    • Shooters are going to have their ups and downs, but the Ws team play was sloppy tonight. No defensive switches onto Thomas – Curry got hammered repeatedly on screens and got no help. No gang rebounding like last year. Sloppy, inconsistent offensive execution, too heavy reliance on Hail Mary shots from Curry.

      The bottom line was that at the end of the game the preacher got outcoached and the team got outplayed. From what I saw tonight, I think Sacto is going to surprise a lot of people this year, though, so the dubs shouldn’t feel too bad. I hope they just learn from it.

  22. Yuck.

    Just looking at the box score. Not having another perimeter scorer hurts, with the subs or even filling in with the starters. Isn’t Douglas supposed to have a shot? But the backup guards only took 7 shots.

    Run Nedovic and Douglas, and let them start shooting?

  23. Watching the game tonight I had a laugh imagining Popovich as Warriors coach. Watching his head explode would have been worth the price of a ticket!

    Jackson is usually perfectly stoic on the sideline, but even he looked mad and disgusted tonight.

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