First off, I’d like to thank all the true connoisseurs of haiku who graciously bit their tongues after reading my last post. I have no pretensions to being a poet, nor of knowing how to write haiku. I simply had the idea to write a single, hopefully entertaining sentence about each Warriors player, rather than my usual verbose and repetitive paragraphs. (No one out there is as sick of my voice at this time as I am.) That led me, for better or worse, to haiku.
As for this game against the Knicks, it might seem like a run of the mill blowout of an absolutely wretched team, but I found in it several things that caught my interest. And so, hopefully with my little exercise in brevity carrying over a bit into my prose, here we go:
Let’s Go! Let’s Go! Let’s Go!: That’s what I heard Mark Jackson yell repeatedly from the sidelines after the Warriors rebounded the ball. And as you may have noticed, the Warriors genuinely pushed the tempo in this game. More than any other game since the healthy start of the season.
They even ran once after a made basket (Draymond Green was of course the inbounder). And they did it once against the Bulls as well. How I would love to see that become a staple of their offense. We all know how important those early offense looks are to Curry and Thompson and Iggy.
Perhaps Mark Jackson is more comfortable running now that the Warriors have a true #FullSquad back (it shouldn’t make a damn bit of difference). Or perhaps that 83 point fiasco in Chicago set his pants on fire.
Curry: Not a true point guard.
Thompson: Earlier this season, Mark Jackson stated that he wouldn’t “break” his offense to get Klay going. He seems to have broken his word on that, because the Warriors are opening every game running plays for Klay.
Klay has struggled with his shooting in the middle part of the season, leading to rumblings among the fan base, and sniping at feltbot, his ardent champion. Personally, I think it’s had a lot to do with the Iggy injury. Klay was badly overworked as a result, and I believe that killed his legs.
The Iggy injury also hurt Klay in that Iggy was a chief setup man for Klay earlier in the season, and his absence/removal from the point guard role has made it a lot tougher for Klay to get open. As has Mark Jackson’s systematic refusal to push the tempo.
Hopefully, Iggy’s return to health will result in a corresponding return of Klay’s shooting.
If I’ve had a bone to pick with Klay up to this point, it has been his lack of aggressiveness in getting to the line. He fixed that in this game, with several superb drives.
Shooters like Klay don’t need to be quick and athletic to wreak havoc in the lane. With the attention paid to his outside shot, he can always get his first step by his defender, just as Larry Bird and Chris Mullin could. And once Bird and Mullin got that first step, they didn’t have to hurry. They were superb at keeping their defenders right on their backs, and tricking them into bad fouls. The number of And One’s those guys created on their drives was remarkable, and something the preternaturally gifted Thompson could easily emulate with a little study.
If he does, it will be utterly impossible to shut him down.
Bogut and Lee: After watching Bogut grab some early pine in this game, the thought occurred to me that Lee haters should compare his career home and away splits to Bogut’s.
Great NBA players show up on the road.
Iggy: Fabulous defense on Melo. Looked great pushing the tempo. His shot is still a mess. (Is that a haiku?)
Hope that hammy holds up. The resurrection of the Warriors bench is definitely helping that.
Blake: Amazing what a veteran backup point guard can do for a second unit, isn’t it? This seems to be a lesson that Joe Lacob has had to learn again, and again, and again.
9:50 2Q: That Blake drive and wrap around dish to O’Neal for the slam has to be the highlight of the game.
Crawford: An o-fer, and looked bad doing it. He seemed disinterested in this game. 2 palming violations and a discontinued dribble, man alive.
I was initially excited when Crawford was added to the point-guard-less and sixth-man-less Warriors. Leading the offense with the ball in his hands, and being asked to make plays, Crawford can be an asset. As he proved for the Celtics.
But playing off the ball at the two-guard? I’ve been saying, and I will repeat: Crawford is one of the worst two-guards in the entire league. Can’t shoot. Can’t defend.
A poor shooting percentage can be overlooked in an effective point guard. As can defensive liabilities. But in a two-guard?
I can’t know how this went down, whether or not the Warriors knew all along they were going to get Blake, or whether they only considered him when Jackson expressed dissatisfaction with Crawford at the point. But however it went down, I do know this: the Warriors front office screwed this up badly.
Before the Crawford trade, was there any chance of adding Blake while keeping Bazemore to play the two?
Bazemore: As I’m sure you know, Bazemore is lighting it up right now for Mike D’Antoni in the Lakers starting lineup. This was discussed quite a bit in the previous thread, and I’m not going to rehash it all. But I will make a few quick points:
1) Regardless of how his offense develops from here, Bazemore has value in the NBA because he’s a great defender, with quickness and length. That is the primary reason D’Antoni is predicting he has a real future in the league.
But it doesn’t hurt that he can run the floor, shoot the occasional three, and has a knack for getting to the rim. In the right system, Bazemore might prove to be a more valuable player than Tony Allen.
2) The Warriors lost Bazemore the same way they lost Jeremy Lin. By forcing him into the primary backup point guard role, which he was clearly not ready for. (And unlike Lin, never will be.)
They also lost these players because they hired inexperienced coaches who had no idea how to play them so as to bring out their best.
3) I have a feeling that Warriors management might be looking at Mark Jackson a little cross-eyed over Bazemore’s instant emergence under D’Antoni.
They should look at themselves in the mirror too. Bazemore is playing small forward for D’Antoni.
Those were Barnes’ minutes.
O’Neal: When he was in his prime, he was a far better player than Bogut. An MVP candidate. Because he’s a two-way center, who not only defends and rebounds at an elite level, but has go-to offensive ability. O’Neal can get you a bucket in a variety of ways. Pick and roll, post-up, face-up jumper.
Unlike Bogut, O’Neal’s man can’t cheat off him without paying the price. And unlike Bogut, O’Neal can be played in crunch time. He makes his free throws.
What’s shocking is that O’Neal is playing at a higher level than Bogut, right now, at the age of 35. He appears to be healthier than he’s been in years. Watching his slow start to the season, I wasn’t sure we’d ever see his shot fall again.
On the defensive end, he might not be the shotblocker that Bogut is, but he’s not chopped liver. He’s not as good a rebounder anymore either.
But he’s still better running the floor and getting back on defense. And as for guarding pick and roll, there’s no comparison. O’Neal comes out of the lane.
Not arguing for a change of roles. Just pointing out the obvious. If Bogut and O’Neal manage the miracle of staying healthy in the playoffs, the Warriors have a pretty good tandem.
Barnes: It’s a good thing his three has been dropping, because his floor game…
I want to direct your attention to two plays:
2:10 1st Q: Barnes does his best Brandan Wright impression. Assigned with boxing out Melo, he gets stuffed in his baby carriage and walked right under the basket.
Melo offensive rebound, and layup.
1:30 1st Q: On the Knicks’ next possession, Barnes lets the same thing happen again.
Melo offensive rebound, and free throws.
I’m sorry, an NBA player cannot allow this to happen. If you can’t hold your ground, grab, hold, elbow, kick, bite. If that fails, howl and flop.
Show some freakin’ fight. Show some freakin’ HEART.
Show that you care about winning.
Green: Speaking of which… Along with Iggy, Green was instrumental in causing Melo’s wretched 7-26 performance.
Never gave Melo an inch. Bodied him, grabbed him, pushed him, pulled him.
Got under his skin.
6:35 4th Q: Melo tried his bully act on the offensive boards on Green. Green hooked up with him, fought him tooth and nail, layed the wood on him. Until the exasperated Melo gave up trying to play basketball, and threw Green to the floor.
Offensive foul, Warriors ball.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is what a winning NBA small forward looks like.
I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that more of them are found at the bottom of drafts, than at the top.
Mokur: So long as Bogut and O’Neal stay healthy, Mokur might lose his minutes. Because he’s a center, not a power forward, which makes him third string. And because Jackson doesn’t understand the value of a stretch-five.
Jackson went straight to Nellieball on the second unit in this game, with Barnes and Green at the four. Although that probably had more to do with matching up with Melo at the four than anything. Let’s see what happens the next time the Warriors play a big team.
I did enjoy that fourth quarter beat down Mokur put on former defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler, though. And after him, former Lacob project Jeremy Tyler. (Jim Barnett: “He never learned how to play the game.”)
By the way, if it ever actually came to a fight against Chandler, I’d take Mokur by knockout.
And lay 2-1.