It’s pretty clear to me that given the superlative performance of their big men, the Warriors would have won this game against the Rockets pretty handily if they’d had Andre Iguodala. The Warriors were bedeviled in two areas last night: their perimeter defense, and Curry being unable to free himself from the predatory Patrick Beverly. Iggy would have made a major difference in both areas.
Bogut pointed the finger at the perimeter players post-game, saying that they allowed too much penetration, which was right on the money. Klay did a really good job on Harden last year, but this time around, with Harden healthier, Klay let him sneak into the lane a little too much — that’s where those 9 assists came from.
Barnes had a really good game on the offensive end (although his stats were padded considerably by the Warriors’ fouling end game). Also a great rebounding game, his first of the season. But he was otherwise completely invisible on defense, requiring help on every Parsons drive, and unable to slow his production at all.
Quite obviously, if you can put Iggy on Harden, and get Draymond Green onto Chandler Parsons, you have a different ballgame.
As for Curry’s problems, whenever you have a great defender ballhawking Curry that closely, there’s a simple solution — move Curry off the ball. So…. oops there’s the problem. The Warriors don’t have a working point guard behind Curry at the moment.
So, yeah, Iggy. Would have made a huge difference in this game. A winning difference.
Bogut: played a fantastic game last night, despite being overworked by the Warriors’ poor perimeter defense. And I really don’t want to take anything away from it, but it should be pointed out that Howard is still nothing like the player he was in the past. There’s no explosion there, is there? No lift, no bounce, no lightning fast rotations on the defensive end.
Mo Speights: was the shocker for most, obviously. He finally showed a little of what he can do on the offensive end. Those many Warriors fans who have been vocal in their hate of Speights should note what Bogut had to say about him post-game: that’s he’s one of the most talented players he’s ever been around, in terms of his skillset. That’s a pretty strong statement. And it indicates that there might be something to what I have been arguing, that he can be an extremely useful player when played in the right system. Which is to say, at center, guarding big players instead of stretch-fours, and spreading the floor and playing pick and pop on the offensive end. Mark Jackson hasn’t gotten that right so far this season, and may never have gotten it right, if not for the O’Neal injury.
Speights’ real limitations are not on offense — which is what he’s most getting hated on for now — but on defense. He’s simply a very low IQ player, and that was on frequent display last night. He appeared to forget several times that James Harden is left-handed when guarding the pick and roll. But we knew this coming in about Speights, right? The trick to getting value from him is to simplify his role as much as possible. That means playing him at center, keeping him as close to the basket as possible, where he’s a decent post defender, a pretty good rebounder, and provides a little rim protection as well.
Speights has struggled with what Mark Jackson wants from him this season — which is completely to be expected coming to a new team and new system. But also completely to be expected because Mark Jackson himself is struggling badly in all facets of his game plan this season, not least of all in his deployment of Speights. Speights’ confidence has taken a major hit, and his shot has suffered. But is it really reasonable for Warriors fans to hate on him for missing shots? No, not any more than it’s reasonable to hate on David Lee for missing his. Both of these guys have considerable track records — Lee has been over 50% his entire career, Speights is one of the best midrange shooters in the NBA (top five last season) — and what we witnessed last night was simply regression to the mean.
Speights tweeted “Don’t give up on me Warriors fans” after the game last night. Which tells you the depth to which he’s been feeling his bad play to start the season, and the hate he’s been getting from the fans. And I’ll admit that crusty and cynical old feltbot felt a little pang for him. I think Warriors fans need an attitude adjustment: lighten up and give him time to find his role on this team. And don’t blame him if Mark Jackson keeps putting him in positions to fail.
Mark Jackson: did a pretty good job last night, imnsho. I did notice Speights and Lee at center and the attempts at smallball. Unfortunately, the Rockets small lineup was better than the Warriors’ last night. They hit their threes, and we didn’t. That had something to do with the fact that our threes were principally being taken by Green and not Curry or Thompson. Yes, Iggy will change this.
What I didn’t notice was the Rockets getting to the rim against this unit. There are some defensive benefits to getting smaller and quicker players on the floor. It’s not all negative. This will be completely obvious if Jackson keeps going to these units after Iggy returns.
One quibble: If you’re going to play smallball, you must make a concerted effort to up the tempo. That means running after made baskets, not just after turnovers and rebounds.
Like Chandler Parsons and the Rockets did, while Barnes was still hanging on the rim after a dunk.
Nedovich: Getting DNPs now that Douglas has returned. I like Nedo. I like his IQ, his poise, his ball handling, his court vision. But you’re not an NBA point guard if you can’t shoot. It’s really that simple, sorry.
How many times is Joe Lacob going to repeat this mistake?
David Lee: pretty much returned to form last night, although his jumper is still wonky. But I can guarantee that no mention will be made of his defense on Terrence Jones (7 points on 2-8). As an athletic stretch-four, Jones is a very tough cover not just for Lee, but for the rest of the league. Take a look at his recent boxscores — he’s been lighting it up this season.
Due to the fact that he’s been marginalized in the offense by Mark Jackson this year, and is suffering through an undeniable shooting slump, Lee has been getting an increasing amount of hate from the blogosphere lately. Ethan Strauss just stated in his latest piece that “the majority of Warriors fans” want Lee to be traded. (I know Strauss is connected, but he must know, like, everyone.) And now Sleepy Freud has written a piece on GSoM arguing that Green should start at power forward. (Seriously, at 6-5 and 3/4? Sorry, but this is just as absurd as those wanting Barnes to start over Lee. Both Barnes and Green are too small to handle a full meal of the Kevin Love’s, LA’s and Blake Griffins of the West. The player who is currently blocking Green, and I don’t know how this isn’t completely obvious, is Harrison Barnes.)
There is only one true starting power forward on the Golden State Warriors. He’s a guy who can bang with the biggest and toughest in the league for 38 minutes a game, 81 games a year. While leading the league in 20 and 10 performances. He’s the ultimate gamer, who doesn’t ask out with a tooth in his elbow, or any other ailment. Who insists on playing with a severed hip flexor. Who shows up every single game of every single season, home or away.
He’s the guy who always seems to give it to Kevin Love, considered the best power forward in the league by the pundits and gurus. (And whose own defense is never remarked upon.)
He’s the ultimate teammate, willing to make any sacrifice for the betterment of the team. Who does exactly what the coach asks of him, even when the coach has got it completely ass-backwards.
He’s a guy who is so smart and so skilled on the offensive end, that George Karl recently stated you could run your offense through him.
He’s a two-time AllStar. Put there by coaches, not by the mouth-breathers who are currently voting in Kobe Bryant over Stephen Curry.
He’s the guy who led the Warriors in plus/minus last season. (This fact has been conveniently omitted from every single negative analysis of his play that has ever been published. Every single one. Why? Confirmation bias, anyone?)
David Lee is a freakin’ great player, and it simply astonishes me that Warriors fans, who haven’t had a power forward like him on their team in their lifetimes — and never will again — can’t appreciate what he brings to the table.
I see you, David Lee.