Of Yoenis Cespedis and Harrison Barnes, Billy Beane and Joe Lacob

Billy Beane is quite clearly the class of baseball. The best talent evaluator as well as the best GM at timing and executing really complex moves whether tactical (for the season) or strategic (for the future).

I think dumping Cespedes for a stretch run and playoff run with Lester is a sign of his genius, that in all probability no other GM in baseball would have had the guts to pull off. Because Cespedes was in many ways the most exciting player on the As, probably the most identifiable player on the team, a big fan draw. One of the faces of the franchise.

He was also their 12th best hitter, in terms of On Base Percentage. And all of us who’ve seen or read Moneyball know just how much Beane values OBP. (For good reason. His understanding of the true value of OBP revolutionized baseball, just as efficiency stats have revolutionized the NBA.)

Cespedes prefers swinging for the hills rather than situational hitting. Loves the show of the big knock more than he wants to do the right thing for his team. But Cespedes is no Vladimir Guerrerro. He doesn’t hit for a high average to compensate for his lack of plate discipline.

Beane and Melvin approached Cespedes in spring training to try to get him to change his approach: shorten his swing, use the whole field, be more selective. Cespedes “gave it a try”, but then gave up on it as soon as the season began.

Beane also asked Cespedes not to participate in the Home Run Derby at the AllStar game — because Beane knows that the HRD has frequently harmed hitters in the second half of the season, either by exhausting or injuring them, or by throwing their head and swing and approach out of whack. Cespedes again ignored him. His brand was more important.

I think there are a lot of analogies between Cespedes and the player on the Warriors I’ve labeled “The Brand”, Harrison Barnes. Both are physical specimens, both are great athletes, both are thought to possess all of the “tools”. Both are a focus of their fans’ excitement, and also of their team’s — and their league’s — marketing campaigns. But in reality, both are hugely flawed players, and both are obsessed by their brand, to the detriment of learning fundamentals and team play.

It came out in the paper today that Beane was planning to move Cespedes this winter if he hadn’t found a trade this season. I’m pretty sure that Beane doesn’t like Cespedes’ approach, and understands that it likely means that it will cap his development. He will underachieve in his career. Given that the bad GMs in the league will bid his price up way above his true worth when he reaches free agency, then it follows that he HAD to be traded.

And the opportunity to land one of the best big game pitchers in baseball for a playoff run meant that he had to be traded now. I expect the A’s offensive attack not to skip a beat. Gomes is just as good against lefties this season as Cespedes. Their myriad of platoon players against righties (this year, Beane is instructing the league in the use of platooning), Fuld, Reddick, Vogt, etc., can be plugged in and be even better.

Brilliant move. And one that should be instructive to Warriors fans. Joe Lacob quite clearly made a huge error in overruling his basketball people to draft Harrison Barnes. He made another huge error forcing the rookie Barnes into the starting lineup over Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson (choosing hype and ticket sales and jersey sales and ego gratification over proper development and learning how to earn minutes). And he made a final huge error in not realizing that Barnes’ value got inflated beyond all measure in his rookie playoff run, when Barnes got to play POWER FORWARD, and was being guarded by POINT GUARDS. The time to sell Barnes was right then, right after his rookie season. Instead, Lacob and his minions seemed to actually believe the humongous dung-heap of Barnes-hype that they themselves created to dump on the heads of season ticket buyers.

The Warriors finally woke up and got around to trying to move Barnes this summer, but it was too late. They fell flat on their faces. Rumors abounded that Barnes was being shopped for a first round pick, any first round pick. And not one single GM took the bait. Particularly not Minnesota, from whom the Warriors were trying to entice the 13th pick.

The difference between the sagas of Cespedes on the As and Barnes on the Warriors illustrates the fundamental difference between the two franchises.

Lew Wolff hired the best baseball man in the business to GM his team, and gave him total authority.

Joe Lacob?

He hired himself.

109 Responses to Of Yoenis Cespedis and Harrison Barnes, Billy Beane and Joe Lacob

  1. Joe Lacob, the only man to buy a NBA team without taking a penny out of his own pocket. Clearly the smartest of them all.

  2. I also think it is a brilliant move and win or lose, it is the right move to go all-in for the World Series at this time. Beane seems to have a good sense of who he is, what he believes, and what his job is. The Lacob committee seems to be, to quote from a John Le Carre book, “…a committee is a horse with four hind legs.”

    Interesting analogy between Cespedes and Barnes but I think that analogy is off in one way. Cespedes has all the tools and coordination of an awesome player but chooses a mental approach that doesn’t maximize those abilities. Barnes has the extreme but narrow athleticism of a high-jumper or straight-line sprinter but doesn’t have a broad enough athleticism or coordination to translate those abilities into being a player, despite efforts to the contrary. The results may have a similar look but I think they have different origins.

  3. I also had some random thoughts on recent topics. They got pretty long so I’m going to split them into a series of posts starting with…

    Emulating the Spurs. I’m not convinced this is a good idea. (Yes, I noticed they are the world champs and could easily be repeat champs). At the core of my doubt is the argument between whether you fight fire with fire or do you fight fire with water. In other words is the Dub’s best shot to win a championship by copying the Spurs or going at it their own way? At first, I was thinking the former but I realized that was more of an aesthetic choice than the best option. The Spurs are beautiful to watch but they’ve been working towards this for years, refining their system and collecting the right players (with the luxury of a core of 3 HOF’ers and a young super-talent who would all be damn good in any other kind of system). I think the chance that the Dub’s could overhaul their roster enough in the near-term to compete at the Spur’s game while not giving up what they already have as strengths, is minute. Which is why I think…

    • The Warriors can pass, can space the floor, can pop the 3, can push the tempo and look for fast breaks, like the Spurs. They have the players and they have done this and done it well.

      IF the coaching staff decides to go this way. They seem to be the biggest obstacle, according to FB’s post.

      • The Spurs have eight players with a 3 point shooting percentage over 37%. The Dubs have two. The Spurs have two centers who can pick and roll and one who can pick and pop; all are effective and play substantial minutes. The Dubs have Speights who can pop but didn’t play much and even less at center. The Dubs aren’t going to be the Spurs. A couple of pickups or trades this offseason weren’t going to give them the personnel to be the Spurs either. If they try to play like the Spurs without their personnel, they’ll lose.

        The Dubs should push the pace; all teams should but they’re already at least as fast as the Spurs. They need players that can get the ball deep in the paint in transition to complement Steph and Klay. Iguodala should be that guy and Lee should hold his own. Livingston can do that too.

        What the Spurs really do differently is they have a system that they run and their players fit their system. They run this system until they get a good shot. What the Dubs need is a system that fits their players. It won’t look like the Spurs because it can’t but they have the passing depth and the IQ to run a read-and-react offense well. A system should help the complementary players the most, statistically but also keep Steph fresh to take over if needed in the fourth. And their commitment to the defensive end should help them get easy shots too via induced turnovers.

  4. Love for Lee and Barnes, yes thanks. Love and Martin for Lee and Klay, no thanks. You are creating as many problems as you solve with the latter option. If you think that Steph is the key to the Dub’s offense, you are removing his defensive protection by trading Klay. This is a big deal. And don’t be too quick to dump any of our starters. We have all read any number of stats suggesting our starting five was the best in the league, including the hallowed Spurs, aesthetics be damned. I would tread lightly on the idea of changing two fifths of it. Which leads me to…

  5. Shaun Livingston, yes thanks. Why? 1) Has anyone thought about what that second unit is going to look like defensively? Around an Ezeli or other big you will have Green, Barnes, Rush, and Livingston. All long, mostly capable defenders; all switchable and a turnover-inducing machine waiting to happen. You worried about spacing? I’ve got spacing, it is the Green deflection to Livingston, and the oop to Rush for the flush with the defense two steps behind. 2) Was the biggest problem on the second team the inability to hit the three? No, it was a) advancing the ball without turning it over, b) getting into an offense, and c) having an offense to get into. Livingston addresses two out of those three problems. 3) Assuming we have a more sophisticated substitution pattern than the hockey style subs, who will fit in with the broadest number of starters? A jitterbug smurf point guard or a point guard in a wing’s body that can realistically sub in for Iguodala, Klay, or Steph and keep the machine churning. 4) If we do go hockey-style, should we expect improvement from Livingston’s second team mates so that the mantel of spacing isn’t hung solely on him? It is well chronicled that improvement in players continues to about the age of 25 or 26 and then holds until 29 or 30 before the inevitable decline. Any second teamers fit the bill of having a reasonable expectation of improvement? Oh, three of them. The other two, the new ones to the team, are still in their prime and one of those had an injury recovery year. I think we forget it would only take a small offensive improvement from the young players to make them competent. If you have the best starting five, you only have to hold the fort on the second team. Did I mention they might actually run an offense? 5) One of the keys to succeeding in the NBA is having an advantage, usually physical, at your position that you can take advantage of. It might be quickness, height, strength. Livingston has height and knows how to use it. It is on the coaching staff to find away to take advantage of that. And about that coaching….

    • though he’ll be starting, the key reserve along with livingston and green will be lee. if he isn’t putting close to .50 of his playing minutes at center, with bogut sitting on the bench 20-25 min. every game, they’ll be disappointed in ezeli (out with lingering knee problems) and kuzmic (out with a stress fracture in a leg). if kerr is earnest about featuring his centers in a multiple post offense, even when ezeli is on the court he’ll have to play the 4 on offense and let lee, green, or anyone with ball skills handle the post or pick and roll.

    • “Why? 1) Has anyone thought about what that second unit is going to look like defensively? Around an Ezeli or other big you will have Green, Barnes, Rush, and Livingston. All long, mostly capable defenders; all switchable and a turnover-inducing machine waiting to happen.”

      No 5-man hockey rotations. Didn’t we learn that already?

      • One curious thing I found last season perusing popcornmachine was that a lot of coaches play there second units as a group including the well respected sort like Carlisle of the Mavs. The difference was that the first couple of minutes and last couple of minutes of the sub’s time was blended with the starters so the gradual changing of the guard was less notable.

  6. Kerr, rookie, meh. The assistants? Gentry, Adams, et all, outstanding. Once upon a time, Phil Jackson was a rookie with two old hands (Tex Winter and John Bach) to handle the offensive and defensive systems. So, the approach while not ideal is not a pre-determined disaster. I’m very curious to see how that works.

    I’m almost scared to say it out loud but I’m bullish on this team. Any number of injuries could foul it all up and of course, I would love a little more depth but I think that with some injury avoidance luck, FB’s prediction for last year will apply this year: 57 wins.

  7. I wish first string NBA players would by consensus stay out of international competitions, including the Olympics. They have nothing to prove and the games prove nothing.

    In part because of risk of injury. Paul George’s looked horrible.

    Instead, let 2nd stringers, D-leaguers, and college players compete to make the team so they can develop and get attention.

    On a minor note, Curry is not a coach K type of guard and this type of play won’t show him to advantage. K prefers slashers like Rose.

    • Looked terrible. Not sure he can ever be the same after that. Going to need a steel plate at the minimum I should think.

      Looked like Rose was second string, to Irving, and Curry the shooting guard on the second unit? You’re right, Curry won’t be allowed to play his game on this team. If he plays at all.

      With George going down, Klay might play a big role though.

  8. Felty, it appears the Warriors were offered more value for Barnes then he is worth. As according to Ric Bucher the Magic offered Aaron Afflalo and a first round pick for Barnes and the Warriors turned it down. If so, the Warriors blew it. If the Warriors had not hesitated on the Love trade the Warriors present roster may well have included Afflalo and Martin as our shooting guards plus Love at power forward, and a first round draft pick. Ouch!

    • I’m sure there were cap considerations there. Afflalo makes more than $7m per, and his contract has several years left. Warriors simply couldn’t afford to pay that to a backup wing, particularly when they were trying to land Love.

      Your dream scenario of Afflalo, Martin and Love would have the Warriors over the cap for several years, and unable to pay a backup point guard. Impossible.

      • Afflalo has two years left and 2015-16 is a player option. That hardly seems a deal-breaker to me and would have negated the need to sign SL.

        • OK, then, how about the fact that neither Iggy nor Afflalo want to come off the bench? And that it would leave very little left over for a backup point guard. Not to mention every other need.

          You shouldn’t have to pay that kind of money for a bench wing player. 3 and D wings abound in the league and can be added very cheaply. One of the reasons Iggy’s contract was such a gross overpay.

          I would have offered Barnes for the draft pick alone, leaving behind Afflalo. But then, I’m sure the Warriors tried that, and were rejected. The draft pick was the prize for swallowing Afflalo’s contract.

          • “You shouldn’t have to pay that kind of money for a bench wing player. 3 and D wings abound in the league and can be added very cheaply. One of the reasons Iggy’s contract was such a gross overpay.”

            Who exactly is so cheap and available? And rated top 10 in RAPM?

            $12M per year for Iggy looks like chump change now compared to some of these other guys.

            Also, we’re talking about getting not only Afflalo but also a #10 pick. Maybe we flip Afflalo for another pick. If that deal was on the table, it was crazy not to take it.

          • Please don’t talk to me about CRAPM. Iggy was outplayed by JJ Reddick in the playoffs last season. That was real.

            Trevor Ariza is a better player, imo. Younger, healthier, bigger, better 3 pt shooter, not afraid to drive in crunchtime, hits his free throws, comparable defensively. He just got 4 years, $32m. So $4 million a year less.

            What’s Draymond Green make? Would the Warriors be worse off with him starting at SF as opposed to Iggy?

            Whats Jimmy Butler make? Tony Snell?

            What’s Danny Green make? Sefolosha? Matt Barnes? Tony Allen? Jae Crowder? Shawn Marion? DeMarre Carrol? Caron Butler?

            Paul Pierce is making $5m this year. Is Iggy going to be a better 2way player than him? $7 million better?

            I haven’t even scratched the surface here. Adequate 3 and D wings abound in the league at a cheap price. It is literally the cheapest puzzle piece there is to fill. Nellie was able to fill it, every single year of his career, with either rookie draft picks or rookie DLeaguers. Mitch Richmond, Mario Elie, Latrell Sprewell, Raja Bell, Josh Howard, Matt Barnes, Azubuike, etc.

            If you want to be a great team builder, you should NEVER blow $12 million a year for one player in this slot, unless you’re getting a 2way AllStar. Iggy is light-years away from that.

            He’s the most expensive role player in the NBA.

          • Iggy is not a two-way star. But he’s made every team he’s been on much better. If you don’t want to believe that, it’s your issue.

          • Every single player I mentioned made every single one of their teams better. Is it ok to pay them all $12 million?

            Would it be ok to pay Iggy $15 million because he makes his team better? $2o million?

            3 and D players that will make your team better abound in the NBA at prices between $1-5 million.

            If you can’t understand the ramifications of that as it relates to Iggy’s contract and the question of smart and efficient team building, then it’s your issue.

          • “Every single player I mentioned made every single one of their teams better. Is it ok to pay them all $12 million?”

            They’re not all worth as much as Iggy. They don’t make their teams as good as Iggy does. Did you watch the Warriors without Iggy? Do you honestly believe Danny Green would provide the same effect he does? He is not nearly as good a ball handler, and not even close defensively. Iggy is a game changer, always has been.

  9. AW tweet on last night’s injury:

    “Owners and GMs united tonight: Paul George injury could be tipping point for use of stars in international play. ‘Game-changer,’ GM told me.”

    Or rather not using them, tweet found here:


    Though owners might not have leverage. But I say the top tier players should just drop out themselves. The games are meaningless and often boring. And they might now.

    Seems to me there were concerns about injuries in NFL preseason games. Players aren’t playing full tilt, with the same concentration. But also hopefuls might be playing all out—and recklessly. The international bball environment is similar.

    Besides, I miss the old days when college players went up against the Russians. This was exciting, and we got to know the players. And it might be a better way to evaluate new talent in this kind of competitive environment.

    Problem is, few prospects stick around in college now.

  10. Kerr talks about starting Barnes:


    (Superficial) discusion here:


    I have to wonder how much Kerr is being pushed by the FO to make use of HB, to protect their investment (and ego) or maybe promote him for a trade.

    Taking Iguodala out of the starting lineup makes little sense. Iguodala’s defense and playmaking and even scoring were essential to the performance of a very effective unit. Barnes adds nothing, in fact reduces the intelligence and options of the starters.

    Starting Barnes in place of Lee makes no sense whatsoever.

    They need a capable backup 3 for a variety of situations, even an average one, which Barnes is not.

    And I repeat my comment yesterday. Everyone keeps saying he can provide value as a stretch 4, but he is inconsistent there. More importantly, he can only produce when surrounded by good players—thus pushing them into heavy minutes. He doesn’t add any value to the team itself, but rather drains it. He cannot create for himself or facilitate offense. The shots HB is allotted, 8 per game his first two seasons, takes shots from other more useful and capable players. And playing HB at 4 takes away Green’s minutes there. If Rush does return to form, they could dispense with Barnes altogether, splitting up his minutes between Rush and Green.

    We saw this most when Iguodala went down last season. Some complete player needs to step in here or other situations and Barnes couldn’t. I don’t care what offense MJax ran—the isolations should have given HB good match-ups where he should have scored. And if he could have handled those, he’d be a much more versatile and valuable player. He should have anchored the subs in other ways and provided more help with the starters. He didn’t. He can’t.

  11. The inability to trade for Afflalo and a first round pick for Barnes shows how financially mismanaged the Warriors have been. With the cap going to be significantly raised next year they would not have suffered over the long run the financial hardship you suggest.

    Barnes starting is a joke. The Warriors are slowly but surely becoming Comedy Central.

  12. It should be noted that if the Magic offered Warriors were offered Afflolo and the 10th pick for Barnes before they signed Livingston they could have drafted either Payton or Shabazz as back-up point guard, and receiving Afflalo who is far superior to signing Livingston and probably Rush for that matter. What a screw-up!

  13. With healthy Rose, McDermott, and Gasol, the Bulls look like they could challenge Cleveland in the East.

  14. YouTired@3

    “The Spurs have eight players with a 3 point shooting percentage over 37%. The Dubs have two.”

    Actually I made the same point @20 in the last post. Some qualification is order. Our two 3 point shooters are far superior to any of the Spurs’; about half of those eight are bench players who play limited minutes and take limited shots. Also GSW took 25 3 pointers a game last season, the Spurs 21.

    More relevant, however, is percentage, 40% for the Spurs and 38% for the Warriors, a significant difference. The Spurs bench players’ accuracy can put shooters on the floor at any point in the game to spread the floor and maintain scoring.

    My real point is that the Warriors can and should be a 3 point shooting team and should exploit the special talents of Curry and Thompson. The problem is the roster, and it wouldn’t take that much to improve that, if the organization were of a mind. Another 3 point shooter in the starting lineup would add his points and open up the court for the others, inside and out, especially Curry and Thompson. If Iguodala improved (too hopeful), that would make a difference. I’m skeptical Lee will pick up the shot. As it is, though, Parker takes few 3 pointers, 1.5 a game, and Duncan almost never. They obviously compensate in other ways, and Leonard’s shooting is significant.

    Some modest-priced three point shooters on the bench, however, would help, as they do for SA, who could come in as the situation demanded. (Starting Bonner in the playoffs didn’t work, but you see the idea.) GSW only has Rush, still an unknown.

    But even a few more two-way players, though not outside shooters, would help the offense. As I said before, the Warriors only have four in the entire roster. I’m hoping Livingston can fill in here, but they need more.

    Green’s so-so shooting is made up for by his defense and play making abilities. Barnes’ is not.

    • My point was that we cannot emulate the Spurs because we don’t have that three point depth and PnR centers they do. The Dubs will have to do it differently. With a little more defense than the Spurs; some continued improvement from our young players (to include 3 point shooting); and some better two-point results driven by a better offensive system, mostly by complementary players.

      Of course, a good player that can also hit the three would be great. That is one of the main reasons Love would be an upgrade over Lee, especially if you keep Klay. (I am more than skeptical that Lee will ever hit the three; his wrist-rocker mechanics make it impossible.)

      I’m arguing against the notion that we should have gone for 3 point shooting above all other skills for our backup point guard and by extension, picking up Shaun Livingston was an awful mistake; his ball handling, passing, two point skills, defense, and multi-positional ability will more than offset the lack of triples.

      I’m also arguing against the notion that an intelligently updated variation of the triangle or similar system would be ineffective. The biggest problem our offense had wasn’t Steph and Klay, it was the complementary players. That is who the system is for primarily; secondarily it should be to keep Steph from wearing down from carrying the weight of creating offense all game. He can be fresh to free lance and take over the last six minutes when needed.

  15. AW on changes in international competition:


    Little as I care about the owners’ interest in protecting their investments, I like the 22 years and under idea. International competition is just meaningless. There’s no issue of national pride. We know who the best players are. They prove it in games broadcast around the world.

  16. Speculation on Kerr and the triangle—

    It is a constant effort on this blog to cut through impressions and statistical noise. So I have this question about Kerr and the triangle: How much is he using it to distinguish and promote himself to GSW and the NBA? After Mark Jackson’s offense—and the public airings of questions about his offense—Kerr certainly had to sell himself to Lacob, who for the first time became concerned about running some kind of coordinated system. And Kerr/triangle—it has branding potential in the media.

    The triangle’s biggest selling point to those who want to be impressed is that it was used by Phil Jackson to win so many championships. This was something for Kerr to latch onto and say in an interview, and it’s where he had (limited) experience.

    Doubts about the triangle have been voiced here, for strategic reasons. Nor is there any substantial body of evidence to suggest it might work with the Warriors. It hasn’t been used successfully by any other team in the NBA, any team with players similar to the Warriors, by any team other, of course, than PJax’s star studded lineups. Shouldn’t that tell us something? (Is there? Someone correct me—I can’t find any.)

    So has Kerr locked himself into trying to make it work or will he be flexible enough to ease away from it?

    • Old Grantland piece on PJax and the triangle:


      “. . . it’s so strange that — today — not one team in the NBA uses the Triangle. It’s a dead offense.”

      The article largely gives Jackson’s POV and defends his success with Chicago and LA.


      In general, Jackson sees the league imprudently moving away from post-oriented sets: “The game is evolving into a 3-point shooting game. You can’t win a championship with a European offense, like what Phoenix has run for the past few years. But that seems to be the style people are copying. My issue with a team like Miami is always, ‘Who is going to score in the post?’ An interior game is still key, even if you don’t have a high-scoring center.

    • Of course we can look at cases where the triangle failed—Rambis and the Wolves.

      “Rambis was an assistant coach for Phil Jackson and came to the Timberwolves after the Lakers won a NBA Championship in 2009. Rambis tried to implement the the triangle offense in Minnesota which was probably the biggest mistake of his coaching career. The triangle is best when you have players to run the offense, but the Timberwolves just did not have them. Rambis struggled in Minnesota, compiling a 32-112 record before he was fired in 2011.”


      And I found this criticism elsewhere:

      “The triangle offense limits the point guard’s ability to freelance and create, something Kahn wanted to change with Rubio’s arrival for next season.”


      Plug in Curry, who can shoot, for Rubio.

      • Cherry picking where the triangle failed is bad misdirection. Half the league ran a PnR centric offense. Many of those teams sucked, many of those coaches got fired. Triangle and similar offenses have been in decline because it takes longer to learn. You need consistent coaching and personnel. It is an investment few teams are willing to make.

        • Cherry picking? It has failed spectacularly for every single coach and team that has tried to run it without Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant.

          That’s the whole orchard.

    • warriorsablaze

      Of course, Kerr has never said we are running the triangle..in fact, he specifically said he only wanted to use certain elements and it won’t look like the old Bulls teams.

      The only person who thinks we’re running the triangle –as opposed to just incorporating elements of it– is Feltbot. It’s a strawman he created so he could write a few 1000 words arguing against it…. thus causing you to subsequently write a few more 1000 words also arguing against it.

      Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what we ran in summer league.. Coach Nick lost some cred when he got a little over-hyped about Barnes in the 2013 playoffs, but his breakdowns are pretty good. He gets into what the elements are, how they are different from traditional triangle offense, and points out some non-triangle sets they ran.


      • Since we’re on the subject of straw men…

        Was what was run in summer league in limited practice time with unskilled, low IQ big men what the Warriors will run in the regular season after a full training camp with Bogut and Lee available to man the pinch post?

    • I confess to being an amateur, but one way to make an argument is to look at examples from the past and analyze them. My main point here is that you won’t find any examples in the NBA other than PJax and MJ or Kobe and Shaq, but not the triangle being run successfully with players like the Warriors (Rambis couldn’t run it with Love?), or with any other team. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I couldn’t find other examples. From which I conclude, at the very least, that we have no way of knowing whether the triangle will work or not.

      The truth of the matter is, we don’t know what kind of offense Kerr will run and he doesn’t either. We won’t find out anything until he fiddles around for a while.

      I’m not clear what running a little bit of the triangle is. Either you run it or you don’t. As I understand it, roughly, it means committing players to running a set of variable patterns, forming those triangles with various players, in various places, as determined by the face of the defense. It avoids set plays, so if they’re not running the triangle, what on earth are they doing?

      In Coach Nick’s analysis, below, we are being asked to pretend that we are watching the Warriors starters instead of summer league players, playing against NBA opponents. My favorite moment comes at 2:00, when he says “both Bogut and Lee can hit this [midrange] shot at above average percentages.”

      Why on earth is this convincing or even useful?

      What would Coach Nick do with the youtube of summer league triangle Feltbot showed us?

      • warriorsablaze

        “In Coach Nick’s analysis, below, we are being asked to pretend that we are watching the Warriors starters instead of summer league players, playing against NBA opponents. My favorite moment comes at 2:00, when he says “both Bogut and Lee can hit this [midrange] shot at above average percentages.”

        Why on earth is this convincing or even useful?”

        With the shear amount of idle speculation you do here… tens of 1,000’s of words of it… I don’t see why this particular speculation is any less useful. BTW, as silly as it seems…. and certainly some small sample size going on, but Bogut shot over 50% last season from that range. Certainly not a top option, but not necessarily the disaster you might believe it to be.

        “I’m not clear what running a little bit of the triangle is. Either you run it or you don’t.”

        Why? Any system can be broken down into parts. Some parts can be re-purposed in other systems, and others discarded. I mean come on, it’s a basic foundation of life. Again, Kerr has never said we are running the triangle…so if your question is “are we running the Platonic ideal of the triangle” It seems like the answer is no.

        Coach Nick already commented on twitter about the original Warriors SL video when it first came out… which got him so excited he made his own breakdown, for what it’s worth.

        Of course, it takes some imagination to see a finished product from a rough draft…. aren’t you a writer?

        • For the life of me, I can’t remember Bogut taking more than a half dozen shots from 10 feet out. I suspect you’ll find he turned down 80% + opportunities. And this is the point. He has to pose a threat to shoot, otherwise he won’t be defended out, as happened, and the defense can pressure elsewhere.

          • warriorsablaze

            I was half-joking… though he actually did hit a good % on a small number of shots, I wouldn’t emphasize that action for Bogut… how would that look with a small lineup of Lee and Green? Assuming Lee can get his midrange J back this season, of course.

          • 12 shots.

      • So the teams you mentioned won something like 9 of the last 25 championships, right? The pathetic Timberwolves stunk trying to run it. OK, how many teams have won with the Spurs system, besides the Spurs? Speculation that it is only good for certain kinds of players is trying to extrapolate too much from too little information. Maybe that is it or maybe the Timberwolves just sucked and no system could have saved them. We may not know if Kerr/Gentry’s variation of the triangle will work but there is even less evidence to suggest it won’t be an improvement over isolation offense.

        Also, the ability of an offense to have unique and versatile implementations is largely a function of the type of offense. For example, the Flex Offense is a “pattern” offense. You have players in certain positions on the floor and they run a series of cross screens followed by down screens followed by cross screens, etc. There are not a lot of ways to vary it. There are a million pattern offenses. Triangle is a “read and react” offense where you have players in certain positions, a player initiates some type of movement and based on how the defense plays that movement, certain options are available to the person with the ball. Based on the option selected, players fill the empty spots on the floor and other options present themselves until a good shot is available to someone. It is like having dozens of mini-plays that are always situational. The trick is for all the players to know the triggers, the options, and their job for each option.

        You can run Triangle concepts (but be different) by altering things like the positions on the floor that the players fill or the actions you have them run as the options. Read and React offenses are made to be versatile but like anything else, it can be deployed as doctrine or it can be deployed as concept. I’m hoping for concept.

        • Btw, Coach Nick must have been sniffing glue when he said Bogut could hit that 15 foot elbow shot.

  17. While we’re on the subject, did anyone ever figure out Keith Smart’s “motion offense” four years ago? All I remember is seeing Curry get trapped in double teams.

    • Curry is still getting trapped in double teams. Even with 4 other All-Stars playing with him. Did you watch the Team USA scrimmage the other day?

      He needs to recognize those traps earlier.

      • What he needs is an NBA PNR coach, a stretch-4, and a center who can convert. That’s it.

        He wasn’t getting trapped as a rookie under Don Nelson.

        • warriorsablaze

          He wasn’t getting trapped as a rookie because he hadn’t earned enough respect yet for other teams to warp their defense to stop him.

        • I can see you didn’t watch or don’t remember the second half of his rookie season. Not to mention the fourth quarters of the last two seasons.

          He wasn’t getting trapped for the same reason he NEVER gets trapped when playing with Lee at center and Green at the four.


        • “What he needs is an NBA PNR coach, a stretch-4, and a center who can convert. That’s it.”

          That’s it? lol

  18. Then there’s this:

    “Jackson wrote that Winter’s brainchild [the triangle] ’embodied the Zen Christian attitude of selfless awareness’ in his 1995 book, Sacred Hoops. ‘In essence, the system was a vehicle for integrating mind and body, sport and spirit in a practical, down-to-earth form that anyone could learn. It was awareness in action.'”


    Uh oh.

    As I understand the triangle, it necessarily means taking time to set the triangles in motion, which runs the clock and goes against up tempo offense. It might be suited for college play, with their longer shot clock, or in Winter’s time no shot clock. But it works best—and only worked?—when you have utterly dominant players like Kobe and MJ, who can beat any defense any time, inside or out, and who will draw multiple defenders, opening up the court for outside shooters—like Kerr. The Warriors have no one comparable.

    The language used to describe offenses in much I’ve read is rather loose and probably meaningless. I’ve seen “triangle” or “Princeton” used to describe offenses simply that encourage ball movement and taking the ball out of the PG’s hands, when there really isn’t strong connection to those systems. (Gentry is described as Princeton-like.)

    Then there’s a question of how Gentry’s experience will be used, or if it will be used at all, who is very much an up tempo coach. Or is he going to try to learn the triangle and assist in implementing it? Why?

    If Kerr is going to make use of the experience on the staff, he’ll need to conference those guys and come up with an offense that best fits. I’m guessing (hoping) they’ll run a few experiments with the triangle but have other options.

    Theory is no good until it’s proven in practice. And by all accounts, the triangle takes time to implement. And it will take Kerr time to get it going, who has no experience in implementing this or any other complex system. How much of the season will they risk in waiting for that to happen?

    We’ve gone from low offensive strategy (Jax) to a highly specialized and debated system. There are all kinds of ways to accomplish ball movement and floor spacing, which do work. Why is the triangle the best option or even worth considering?

  19. Q: How is Curry like Alex Smith?

    A: He has had to play much of his career with limited rosters, under a succession of coaches—now his 4th. in 6 years—several of whom were questionable and had limited understanding of offense.

    Curry was ready to go right out of the box—you saw it in his first preseason games. I think my main frustration with the team is that they haven’t made best use of him, that they are experimenting once again.

    Stan VanGundy made all his staff watch the tapes of all games last season, which he had already done. Planning comes from understanding what you have, your players’ potentials. Then devise a system.

    “The triangle offense limits the point guard’s ability to freelance and create, something Kahn wanted to change with Rubio’s arrival for next season.”

    Linked @ 17.

    The goal should not be fitting Curry into a system, but rather how to build a system around Curry which allows him to use his quickness and intelligence. Push the tempo and give him some space and set a screen and open him up with the pick and roll, he can figure out all kinds of things, as we have seen so many times. The evidence is there in abundance, if anyone looks. He needs freedom to improvise.

  20. Cleveland, I hear, is going after Shawn Marion. What kind of contract can he command now?

    Drop Barnes anyway this can be done and pick up Marion. Marion could spell Iguodala, stand in if he goes down, shore up the subs, and, in general, work in any number of combinations. After next season they can start shopping for another SF.

    Barnes is due $3m this year, has a team option next for $3.9, and a qualifying offer at $5.2m after that. This is moving towards serious money. Any takers on how long they’ll keep him at those prices?

    • warriorsablaze

      He’ll probably get more than the vet minimum, which I believe is pretty much all we can afford.

      I think this is pretty much a make or break year for Barnes. If he doesn’t show SOMETHING, I imagine they’ll try to get whatever they can for him either at the trade deadline or right after the season.

      • be assured that whatever barnes produces, the lacobites will consider it promising. if kerr reflexively puts barnes ahead of green and livingston in the rotation (and how could we not expect it), their commitment will be very clear.

    • I certainly wouldn’t keep him around.

      The idea I floated yesterday is trying to trade Barnes to Indy for a pick. They probably laugh in our face, but that should tell you something about his (lack of) value.

    • Dumping Barnes and picking up Marion would make a lot of sense if the Warriors had a real shot at the finals this year. But they don’t, and the FO most likely has made that assessment. Also likely, given that assessment, they plan to give Barnes minutes to see if he can yet pan out or at least prove trade value, thus conceding wins.

      I still think such a deal, if possible, makes sense. If Barnes plays as he did last year, they’ll be forced to surround him with starters thus pushing their minutes, especially Iguodala, who will need the rest and may go out. With Marion, they can spread minutes and stabilize any rotation. Healthy, such a team could still make a lot of noise.

  21. OT: I stumbled across this, nothing whatsoever about the NBA or sports, just a really funny excerpt taken from the Golden Age of television.

  22. The real lesson of the Spurs is that they have an offensive system that they run with discipline until they get a good shot. That should be the Dubs’ goal, should it not? Getting a good shot. Everything else is aesthetics.

    The Dubs should get up the court quickly on a primary break and get the low hanging fruit, they should continue to probe for easy buckets in a secondary break, and then settle into a (hopefully) smart half-court offense that results in a good shot. Concentrating on other factors like pace is forgetting what the point is.

    • No argument—

      —unless pushing the pace opens up good shots. And the Warriors can run better than most teams and run up the score and set opponents on their heels.

      Early offense certainly is important for that reason. One of the objections I have to the triangle is that it requires deliberation and time to set up, explained here:


      I linked this site before, the best I’ve found so far. It compares the triangle to Pop’s offense, and as a coach you can make more sense of it than I. Here he analyzes an example with the Lakers:


      And here’s the problem in evaluating it. It works with a dominant player like Kobe and their strong front court, who draws enough attention and presents enough threat that tempo doesn’t matter. Note, too, that it can work with so-so guards in Brown and Blake.

      But the Warriors’ strength is in their guards, quick, good shooters. I’m skeptical they can be plugged into such a system without loss. At any rate, we have no similar triangle teams for comparison.

      Of course they’ll want to get Curry off the ball much of the time, but there are so many ways to do this. And sometimes a deadly effective shot is Curry’s walk-up three.

      I do agree Livingston can help out, that healthy the team should be solid.

      • Rgg,

        I think you are laboring under a misunderstanding. The Triangle, and any other half-court offense, has nothing to do with the ability to aggressively outlet the ball and attack the other team in a primary break. For teams that run a disciplined half-court offense it is to their benefit to get up the court quickly so if they don’t get an easy look they have a few extra seconds to run their offense. This is the reason you will see Pop yelling at his team to go faster when they slow down. A difference of 5 – 6 seconds between walking it up and running it is 2 – 3 more cuts you give your half court offense to break down the defense before you have to hoist up a bail-out shot.

        • Unless teams are committed to triangle offense and use that as their primary tool. I’ve forgotten, but did the Jax Bulls or Lakers run that much? My impression is no.

          The other point is how well the triangle works with the Warrior’s major strength, its guards, and again there are no precedents to study here.

          We’ll see what Kerr does, and be sure to jump in during the season. At least we’ll have something to talk about.

    • Confirmed.

      • cosmicballoon

        Spells the end of Nedo’s chances of being a Warrior contributor. Not that he had much of a shot to begin with.

    • He missed summer league last year with a sprained ankle, and I think he’s had at least four more injuries since that have benched him—calf, ham, and now the stress fracture.

      Stress fractures talk a long time to heal, right? They’ve got to get another PG going.

    • I wish this mattered. I guess it matters only in the sense that those two kids are taking up roster spots that could go to some more useful vets.

  23. Summer break—

    I admire Draymond for this. He knows he’s a terrible golfer, but does it for a charity to raise funds for his former HS.

    • (This was years ago. I think he still does it.)

    • I would pay to see Green and Lacob paired up in some celebrity event. Draymond would completely unsettle and drive JL crazy before they made the turn.

  24. Lebron has lost a ton of weight this offseason.


    It’s crossed my mind that one of the reasons that he left the Heat might be that he no longer wants to play PF. Extending his career might be more important to him.

    • cosmicballoon

      …and he looks really odd in those short sweat pants. I know it’s the rage right now among the NBA players, but LeBron just looks silly.

  25. EvanZ @8:

    Based on both players’ histories, Danny Green is far more capable of winning you a playoff game in the fourth quarter than Iggy.

    But it’s not just Danny Green you get for Iggy money. It’s also a significant upgrade at another position, or perhaps two other positions. That’s the real point.

    Simply comparing the two players is besides the point. This is about an efficient allocation of resources, with team building in mind. The Warriors had the worst bench in the NBA last season. And are likely to have one of the worst again this season. The size of Iggy’s contract has a lot to do with that.

    This is where the conversation started: Iggy is grossly overpaid, at one of the deepest positions in the NBA.

    (P.S. I see you’ve ducked this question: How much worse would the Warriors be if Draymond Green took Iggy’s minutes? I believe Draymond is making $915k this season, less than a 12th of what Iggy makes.

    When answering, bear in mind the interesting things the Warriors might have done with the spare change. Like Pau Gasol + Isaiah Thomas + Jodie Meeks. Just as a for instance.)

    • 100 percent Feltbot!

    • “(P.S. I see you’ve ducked this question: How much worse would the Warriors be if Draymond Green took Iggy’s minutes? I believe Draymond is making $915k this season, less than a 12th of what Iggy makes.”

      I’m not ducking anything. They’d be significantly worse without Iguodala. We’ve seen them play without him and they were awful. It’s great that we have Draymond, but he’s going to play 4 more than 3 in any case.

      I’d rather have Iguodala at $12M than Lee at $15M. We’ll have to agree to disagree here.

      And I’m all for signing the Danny Greens of the world. We signed Shaun Livingston instead. That’s out of my control.

      • 1) As I remember, the Warriors tried to replace Iggy with Barnes, not Green. What would have been the result of starting Green at SF, and playing him for 35 minutes in Iggy’s place?

        2) PF/Cs of Lee’s quality are a lot harder to find than good 3 and D wings. Position scarcity has a major effect on NBA salaries.

        Do you play fantasy sports? I think this point is obvious to most fantasy players. With a limited budget, I would much rather pay big bucks to a PF/C and look for a bargain wing, than the reverse.

        Or in the Warriors case, I’d rather start Draymond Green at SF for $915k and have three excellent bench players than pay Iggy $12 million.

  26. The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

    Scalabrine, apparently, was offered a chance to stay with the Warriors. His comment that GSW coaching “was not as hard-pressing as I thought it was going to be” needs interpretation, but probably reveals passive-aggressive behavior on MJ’s part. Things must have gotten pretty weird in the locker room. When will the Erman tapes be released? Did Dita Beard erase them?

    This picture is emerging, however, that however little voice MJ had in decisions, the FO had no control of him either. Thus Steve Kerr, and Lacob is quite clear here, that Kerr was a “great organizational fit,” though it’s not at all clear what that means.

    Organization Man:

    “A key point made was that people became convinced that organizations and groups could make better decisions than individuals, and thus serving an organization became logically preferable to advancing one’s individual creativity. The author [William Whyte] felt this was counterfactual and listed a number of examples of how individual work and creativity can produce better outcomes than collectivist processes. He observed that this system led to risk-averse executives who faced no consequences and could expect jobs for life as long as they made no egregious missteps.”

    from Wiki, referring to Whyte’s book of that title. Note that Whyte studied corporations, not gov’t agencies.

  27. Aaron Craft gets partially guaranteed contract, which I think means little more than an invite to training camp.

    Does anyone detect a pattern here?

    Man, when are these guys going to learn. Craft was a very fine college point guard. He’ll be a pinball in the the NBA.

    • craft is the kind of player who could hang around and earn his spot by his contributions in practices. the preacher had an easy rationale for his soft practices — his core rotation guys had to expend themselves in the games, particularly on defense, and several were usually dinged up. at present, the reserve guards who’d serve as foils in the practices, livingston and NN, are dinged up. if they don’t need the roster spot, the cost of the minimum contract is inconsequential, cheaper than the departed armstrong’s.

      • They’re got to bring along a 3rd. PG, hopefully one who might step in if Livingston goes down, or at least one who stands a chance to develop.

        Summer league looks to be a complete waste—they didn’t bring in anyone who might be useful later.

        • craft is almost certainly the coach’s pick, a harmless concession to the new boss. he doesn’t meet the lacob/myers size requirement (bazemore, NN, livingston) nor west’s preference for speed, handling and shooting skills.

      • I’m curious. Who in the organization selects summer league players?

        • the lesser lacob and travis schenk probably have significant input on d-league level scouting and evaluation, including the summer league roster. the lesser riley might still be involved as well, since his main brief is scouting now. most likely myers supervises, authorizes the contracts, and has some familiarity with most of the prospects, because many were evaluated for the draft and left out.

      • cosmicballoon

        Perhaps Craft is the next Tyronn Lue?

  28. rgg@24,

    Utilizing the fast break effectively seems to be a logical objective. However, here are the last 10 NBA champions with their ranking on fastbreak points and the Dubs’ rank the same year. Only one champion made the top 10. There may be a little too much obsession going on here related to pace, fast breaks, etc.

    Fastbreak Points by Team
    Year Champs Dubs
    2014 SA-14th 10th
    2013 MI-20th 9th
    2012 MI-14th 15th
    2011 DA-16th 1st
    2010 LA-27th 1st
    2009 LA-12th 1st
    2008 BO-20th 1st
    2007 SA-20th 1st
    2006 MI-10th 1st
    2005 SA-12th 8th

    • warriorsablaze

      This is more or less a Nellie fan blog… you’ll find no concessions to any alternative to a fast-paced, uptempo style.

      Not that I disagree, in general, I prefer a faster paced style. myself.

    • If the Warriors had a different core than Stephen Curry and David Lee you might indeed find concessions to a different style.

      Those players were brought to the team by a man who understood their true identity, and had the perfect system for them.

      So long as Joe Lacob tries to deny them their identity, the Warriors will be a botch. A hopeless grafting of mismatched styles. A visionless mess.

    • What Feltbot said.

      But again, factor in the rosters in each case. And the topic under discussion is the triangle and how effective it would be for the Warriors. My main concern is up tempo basketball and early offense, which fits the Warriors and may well not work with the triangle, not the fast break, which can’t be counted on throughout the course of the game.

  29. re Aaron Craft signing:

    Again baffled. If you plan on running triangle or Spurs’ offense, don’t you want your point guards to be able to shoot?

    Aaron Craft is not an NBA player. And Lacob doesn’t seem to have learned a thing since the days of Jeremy Lin, Ish Smith and Acie Law.

    • If you were a member of GSW inner circle, you would also be in awe of Lacob as the smartest man in NBA. Five minutes of Lacob equals if not greater than the hours of brainstroming from entire front office. No one, please allow me to repeat, no one second guess Lacob’s decisions.

      You obviously are not in the inner circle of GSW.

  30. There’s nothing binding about Love’s commitment to stay in Cleveland, is there? Didn’t Howard commit to LA and bolt after a season (I’ve forgotten)?

    It’s unlikely Love will leave with Lebron on the team. But you have to wonder if Love would have stayed with the Warriors had any trade happened, especially with the Martin/Klay sideline. It’s unlikely they would have done that well to keep him.

    • it is not possible under the c.b.a. and his present contract for love to commit to anything binding (i.e. a contract beyond June 2016) until July 2015.