This Warriors road spanking of the Wizards is what NBA dominance looks like. Now that Iggy has returned, the Warriors are once again the best team in the Western Conference, for all the reasons I predicted they would be before the season started.
Provided: That Iggy returns to full health.
And provided: That Joe Lacob steps up, opens his moth-eaten wallet, and does his job.
Andrew Bogut: It is a frequent theme of this blog, nay, the central theme, that Head Coach is the most important position on any basketball team. That the coach is central to the success or failure of the team (unless you’re given Phil Jackson’s teams). But also, that the coach is central to the success or failure of each individual player. By playing him in the wrong system, a coach can make a great player look bad; and by playing him in the right system, a coach can make a mediocre or limited player look great.
Never has this point been illustrated better than by what’s currently going on with Andrew Bogut. Bogut is an extremely limited offensive player, who has suddenly started to look great on the offensive end. Has he suddenly become a better player?
No, Mark Jackson has suddenly become a better coach. Here’s what’s going on:
- No more postups. Can you remember the last post up that Bogut was given? Neither can I. And for good reason: he’s wretchedly inefficient at them.
- On the move. Instead, Bogut is getting the ball, and all of his baskets, on the move. Cutting without the ball. Alley-oops. Pick and roll. Making himself available when his man cheats.
- The Curry/Lee Pick and Roll: This play was a real struggle to start the season, with Bogut on the floor. The problem was that no matter how badly Lee beat his own man, Bogut’s man was waiting under the basket for him to challenge or block his shot. What we’ve seen in the last two games, though, is Lee hitting the cutting Bogut with bounce passes before this can happen. For dunks.
- Finishing his own Pick and Roll: Although I’m certain Mark Jackson insisted on this change, here Bogut deserves a share of the credit. Too often in last year’s playoffs and to start this season, Bogut simply did not want to look at the rim in the pick and roll. In fact, he very often didn’t even want to roll. But even when he did, he played hot potato with the ball, looking to pass it as soon as he caught it. Now, in the last few games, we have suddently seen Bogut start to roll aggressively, and throw up some sort of shot near the basket. (And many of these floaters have actually gone in. But whether they go in at a high percentage or not, Bogut must keep taking these shots. It is essential that his offense be respected if the Warriors are to break the Curry blitz.)
Hit him on the move. This is how you use a highly intelligent big man with limited range. This is how you take advantage of having the best passing team in the NBA. This is how you make Andrew Bogut an offensive contributor, rather than a millstone.
Bogut is playing like a legitimate All-Star right now. One wonders whether he would be an actual All-Star this season, if Mark Jackson had figured this out just a little bit sooner.
I hope his calf strain doesn’t return.
David Lee: 21-11-6, ho hum.
David Lee is quite possibly one of the greatest offensive big men who has ever lived. He is a perfect offensive player.
By perfect, I don’t mean just the obvious things, like shooting and finishing ability. I also mean all of the myriad little things that go into being a perfect offensive player, that “the majority of Warriors fans” either take for granted, or are completely unable to appreciate. Let me see how far I can get with a list:
- Showing up every night on the road: Just to mention something that wasn’t true of Chris Webber nor many Hall of Fame big men, not to mention 95% of the big men currently in the NBA.
- Understands all of the plays, and runs them perfectly: also untrue of 95% of players, and 99.9% of big men.
- Fulfills whatever role the coach asks of him without complaint, no matter how idiotic and insulting. Now we’re up to the second decimal point.
- Great hands. Is that typical of NBA big men?
- Great handle, going both directions. Probably the best handle in the league among big men.
- Great court vision.
- Phenomenal passing ability: Take another look at Curry’s off-the-backboard alley-oop to Bogut, and notice where Lee’s no-look backwards flip to Curry hit him. Right on the hands, right at the nose, ready to be shot.
- Utterly unselfish.
- Fabulous decision-maker. Whether that decision has to do with moving without the ball, setting a screen, shooting versus passing, shooting versus driving, going for the offensive rebound, Lee does the right thing, at the right time, more than any other big man I have ever had the pleasure to watch.
The Warriors’ great chemistry is something that is being increasingly mentioned by the broadcasters and media. But what no one seems willing to recognize or mention is just how important David Lee is to that chemistry. He is the ultimate facilitator, the ultimate glue guy, as well as the guy who is leading the NBA in points in the paint.
In fact, the Warriors media seem to have great difficulty in even understanding what creates great chemistry on basketball teams. Most of these luminaries fully expected, and openly desired, for Harrison Barnes to supplant David Lee at power forward this season. Putting aside the obvious absurdity of thinking Barnes has the size, strength and will to bang with frontline fours, just take a moment to consider what that would have done to the Warriors’ team chemistry. What happened to the Warriors’ offense when Iguodala got hurt, and Barnes took his place in the lineup?
It fell off a cliff.
Why? Not shooting, not driving ability, not athleticism. It was ballhandling, passing ability, decision-making, IQ. Intangibles.
Chemistry. That’s what the great players bring. Players like David Lee.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. All this stuff just bores the pants off Warriors fans. They like dunks, and short-sleeved jersey models. Let’s get to the stuff that really matters.
Did you happen to notice that Lee held Trevor Booker to 6 rebounds, while shortening his night? Booker got 19 and 13 rebounds in his two previous games.
Anyone notice that besides me?
I didn’t think so.
Klay Thompson: 26 points on 14 shots. Not a lot of players around the league, or indeed in league history, are capable of that sort of efficiency on a regular basis.
People like to mention Bradley Beal in the same breath as him.
Stephen Curry: I think he intended to bank that pass. What did he say about it?
We are so blessed to be able to watch this guy play.
The Bench: Joe Lacob, do your job.