Feltbot’s 2014-15 Western Conference Forecast

Once again we have an ultra-competitive Western Conference, where 48 wins might not be enough to to get into the playoffs, and a handful of teams have a legitimate shot at the top spot. Here’s my forecast, along with my picks against the Vegas Win-Totals Lines. Regular readers know I’ve had pretty good success with these historically, and particularly recently, going 10-1-1 the last two seasons. But I found only two lines to bet this season, because I demand a lot of edge, and I just don’t see it this year. Sometimes the bookies are pretty good.

[edit: I’m now betting THREE Western Conference lines, going over on the TWolves.]

I’ll take a look at the Eastern Conference lines in the next few days, to see if there’s some money laying on the ground. If I make any additional picks, I’ll put them in the comments to this post.

[edit: I’ve made three Eastern Conference picks, plus a bonus bet. Details are in Comment 9.]

1) THUNDER (57.5 wins — No bet): The Thunder won 59 games last season with Westbrook in and out of the lineup, and never 100%. I expect them to be better this season. So why no bet? Simply not enough edge. There’s nothing about this team the bookies don’t know.

Monster in the middle Steven Adams could take a giant leap forward. There’s still a big question mark at the two guard. Jeremy Lamb disappointed last season. Sefolosha is gone, replaced by old friend Anthony Morrow, which will have a big effect on the defense. But if Westbrook can be persuaded to find Morrow when he’s open, he could have the best season of his career.

Chocolate Rain, Chocolate Rain.

As great as the Spurs were last year, they might not have gotten out of the West if Ibaka hadn’t gotten injured. The Thunder are Spurs kryptonite. I make them favorites to get to the Finals.

2) SPURS (57 wins — No bet): Still the best in the West so long as the wheels don’t fall off. They will fall off sometime, right?

That’s why I think you should lay off the 57 win line, even though the Spurs won 62 last year. Strictly a bet on injuries and age, and Pop can’t be relied upon to give a shit about the regular season seeding.

3) CLIPPERS (55.5 wins — No bet): The Clippers picked up some major help on the frontline in the form of stretch-five Spencer Hawes. They also picked up old friend Ekpe Udoh — it will be interesting to see what Doc Rivers makes of him after 2 seasons of injuries and languishing in Milwaukee. And Glen Davis came into camp much fitter than last season.

Jordan Farmar replaces Darren Collison as the backup pg behind Chris Paul. Farmar was a revelation last year, a much improved player before he got derailed by injury. This could be a slight downgrade, but is outweighed by the improvement in the frontline.

Small forward could be a hole. There’s aging, oft-injured Matt Barnes, and… who? Turkoglu? No, he can’t guard anyone. He’s a stretch-four. Chris Douglas-Roberts? It’s likely that their playoff small forward will be a vet they pick up at the trading deadline.

With the frontline help and a year with Doc Rivers under their belt, it’s possible that the Clips could take a step forward this season. I don’t see enough edge to bet this line, though.

4) Grizzlies (49 wins — OVER): The Griz are as far from a Nellieball team as it is possible to get. So why do I have such a weakness for betting them over? Possibly because I’m not as biased towards Nellieball as people think — I’m biased towards teams being played in the system that best fits their roster. But mostly because Vegas consistently underrates them. Or, more accurately, because their tiny market means they have fewer wildly optimistic fans pushing their Vegas line up than other teams do (see, Lakers).

What are the reasons why the Grizzlies could be undervalued? To start with, they managed to get to 50 wins last season after a horrific start. They had the best record of any team in the NBA after the all-star break. Rookie coach Dave Joerger struggled with the system and his veterans to begin the season last year. He’s a season wiser, and those issues have been worked out. Also Marc Gasol and Mike Conley missed significant time last year with injury, and they’re healthy now.

What else? New addition Vince Carter will add his firepower to Courtney Lee’s behind Tony Allen at shooting guard. Quincy Pondexter appears ready to move Tayshaun Prince to the bench. Stretch-fours Jon Leuer and Earl Clark — not to mention Michael Beasley [edit: Gone to China] — should earn significant minutes behind Zach Randolph, with Ed Davis no longer in the picture. They have solid veterans at backup center — Kosta Koufos — and backup point guard — Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih.

Depth and outside shooting used to be problems for the Griz. No longer. This is the deepest and most balanced Grizzlies team I’ve seen.

5) Rockets (49.5 wins — OVER): The Rockets won 54 games last season. Why are they being disrespected this season? It probably has something to do with them losing Chandler Parsons, Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in the offseason. And also with them getting waxed by the Blazers in the playoffs — fan perceptions help set the line.

I think the Rockets are greatly undervalued, for several reasons. First and foremost, according to reports, Dwight Howard is now completely healthy and looking like his beastly self in the preseason. If true, that could be huge. Howard barely looked 80% to me last season.

Secondly — and I’m alone in the world in this, I know — I think the loss of Chandler Parsons will wind up helping the Rockets. Parsons is a terrific young player with a very high ceiling, but he wasn’t the right fit for the Rockets. The Rockets’ most glaring weakness last season was that they didn’t have a wing stopper. James Harden and Parsons were basically sieves on the wing. The player that the Rockets have replaced Parsons with, Trevor Ariza, is just that stopper. He is one of the toughest wing defenders in the league. And he had a breakthrough season last year shooting the three.

Ariza could have a profound effect on the Rockets’ team identity. I think you need three great defenders on the floor to play great team defense, and when you add Ariza to Howard and Patrick Beverly, that’s exactly what the Rockets now have. I think the pundits will be shocked by the Rockets’ transformation at the defensive end — in one season they will go from being one of the worst defensive teams in the league to one of the best. Ariza is the missing piece and tipping point, just as Andre Iguodala was for the Warriors.

And don’t be surprised if James Harden suddenly becomes a much better defender himself now that he’s surrounded by great defenders, and sees the point. I predicted that would happen with David Lee last season — correctly — and the same thing will happen with Harden.

When you add Terrence Jones, the 22 year old stretch-four who had a breakthrough year starting at power forward last season, I think we’re looking at one of the best two-way starting fives in the NBA.

The biggest concern I see for the Rockets (besides head coach Kevin McHale), is their lack of depth on the bench with the departures of Asik and Lin. The intriguingly talented but erratic Donatas Motiejunas may see some time at stretch-five. If Ish Smith is really their backup point guard, that’s a major problem.

The Rockets will be players at the trade deadline. I’m putting my trust in Darryl Morey, and betting the over.

6) WARRIORS (51.5 wins — No bet): I was wildly optimistic at the start of last season, gleefully betting the Warriors over 49.5 wins, and predicting them to contend for the first seed in the Western Conference. So what’s changed?

First off, the Western Conference changed: The Spurs big three somehow proved healthier last season than the year before, and Russell Westbrook is now fully back for the Thunder. The Clippers, Grizzlies and Rockets look significantly improved, and are difficult obstacles as well. In short, the road to the top of the Western Conference no longer looks as open as it did last season.

Secondly, for the third time in five years, GM Joe blew up his coaching staff, and for the third time in five years, he hired a rookie head coach. New system (as yet undetermined), new evaluations of the roster, new game-coach learning curve, blah, blah, blah. Everything Warriors fans are so familiar with.

Third, and for the fifth year in a row, the Warriors have a brand new bench. Without seeing how the injuries to Ezeli, Rush and Livingston shake out, and seeing the system and rotations Kerr will employ, it is nearly impossible to visualize how the Warriors bench will perform. It could be improved, or it could once again be one of the worst in the league. Which is something of a GM Joe specialty at this point.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the Warriors have new injury concerns. I’m particularly worried about David Lee and Andre Iguodala, but in fact, these concerns permeate the entire roster. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a roster so reliant on so many chronically injured players.

In short, there’s too much uncertainty surrounding the Warriors for me to be confident of a prediction. They are an extremely talented team, in their starters at least, that has the potential to blow away the Vegas line if everything comes together. But as I see it, there’s also a significant possibility of everything falling apart.

It basically comes down to this in my book:

If the Warriors are mostly healthy, push the tempo and emphasize early offense, and have a pick and roll half-court system: OVER.

If the Warriors’ recent injury trend persists, they play at a middle of the pack pace, and go to a triangle half-court system: UNDER.

I hope to cover these issues in more depth before the season starts. (But unfortunately, there’s some uncertainty about my season as well.)

7) BLAZERS (49 wins — No bet): This is a wildly talented team that won 54 games last season. So why not bet the over? I don’t know, I’m just not feeling it at this price.

The Blazers are heavily reliant on LaMarcus Aldridge, and I have injury concerns about him. I’m also not sure the oft-injured Robin Lopez can duplicate his great run of last season, and I’m not a fan of the Chris Kaman pickup. I positively hate the Steve Blake pickup. He’ll be much more willing to feed LA than Damian Lillard is, but Blake will be chiefly running the second unit — at a slow deliberate pace.

And the West can be a tough place to get a win. I was much more comfortable betting the Blazers at over 38.5 wins last season.

8) MAVS (49.5 wins — No bet): The Mavs underwent a radical makeover this offseason. Gone are 3 starters, Sam Dalembert, Shawn Marion and Jose Calderon, and their sixth man, Vince Carter. Joining the team are Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons, Jameer Nelson, Al-Farouq Aminu, Raymond Felton, Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva.

Wow, looks like an upgrade at every position to me. So why are the Mavs only forecast a half win better than their 49 win performance last season? Questions of fit and chemistry I suppose. Tyson Chandler — if healthy — will be a big help to their defense, but if Chandler Parsons starts at SF, I’m not sure if Bill Russell could help this team. The Nelson/Ellis backcourt will be one of the smallest in the league, and even though I think Monta’s defense is greatly underrated, this backcourt can’t stop anyone. Add Nowitzki and Parsons, and you have to wonder whether the Mavs can hold anyone under 110. Not a stopper to be seen.

The Mavs do have stoppers on the roster though: Aminu and Jae Crowder. If you start one of them and bring Parsons off the bench their team starts to make more sense. But I’m not sure if the Mavs paid Parsons near-max to make him their sixth man.

Hard to overstate the importance of Tyson Chandler to the Mavs’ season. If he stays healthy and has gas in the tank, they could be very good. But if he goes down, watch out. The only other real center on the roster is Bernard James, who barely plays. Brandan Wright appears to be the main backup center. But Charlie Villanueva, who’s a lot like Mo Speights in size, shooting ability, and looniness, might be called upon to play a big role.

Trust in Rick Carlisle? There’s a ton of talent on the Mavs this year. But also a ton of questions, particularly on defense.

9) SUNS (44.5 — No bet): The surprising Suns won 48 games last year, and I’m tempted to bet the over simply because I love what Jeff Hornacek is doing with them, and they’re going to be one of the most entertaining teams in the league to watch. I’ve been in Phoenix the last three weeks, and virtually every day the story in the newspaper has to do with Hornacek being upset that his players aren’t pushing the pace enough. Or Hornacek instructing his team in the fine art of running after made baskets.

The Suns added jitterbug Isaiah Thomas to their team in the offseason, and it’s safe to say their backcourt, with Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and the surprising Gerald Green will give teams fits. Teams like the Warriors, especially, that lack small and quick guards.

The concern is the frontcourt, and the particular concern is the loss of Channing Frye. I’m dubious that Markieff Morris and new addition Anthony Tolliver can completely fill Frye’s shoes, because what made Frye so special was not merely his ability to play stretch-four, where he started, but his ability to play stretch-FIVE in crunch-time. He’s two inches taller than Morris, and a shotblocker.

10) PELICANS (43 wins — no bet): The Pelicans starting five will look pretty good to some on paper. Omer Asik, Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday. AD is a monster, and my previous injury concerns for him are alleviated by the acquisition of Asik at center. This is perhaps the scariest defensive front line in basketball. Ryan Anderson’s stretch capabilities, if he’s healthy, will complement Asik and AD beautifully.

Holiday is working his way back from a significant injury, but my chief concerns lie with Gordon and Evans. I’m skeptical that Gordon will ever be the player he once was, and as everyone knows, I despise Tyreke Evans’ game. Selfish, no court vision, bad outside shot, no defensive desire.

Another big concern is the bench: I don’t see anyone there.

The Pelicans are improved, but don’t yet have enough to contend for the playoffs in the West.

11) DENVER NUGGETS (41.5 wins — No bet) The addition of Aaron Afflalo might help this team, if he returns to playing the defense he used to play before he got paid. But I’m skeptical of the Nuggets. I’m skeptical of the return to health of Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and JaVale McGee. Heck, I’m skeptical of a 100% healthy JaVale McGee.

I’m skeptical of the roster construction. How can Faried and Gallinari play at the same time? A reconstructed Gallinari at three? Oh, the humanity.

And I’m skeptical of Brian Shaw. I think he’s a mismatch to this roster.

I’m tempted to bet under, but this was once a 57 win team, give or take an Iguodala for Afflalo swap. I’ll stay away, and regret it later.


TWolves (26.5 wins — Hmmmmm): There are a lot of decent vets on this TWolves team, and I could see them crushing this line if Flip Saunders plays to win. Rubio, Pekovic, Thad Young, Kmart, Barea, Budinger, Brewer, Mo Williams.

But the TWolves are loaded with promising youngsters who demand playing time: Andrew Wiggins, obviously, but also Anthony Bennett, Gorgui Dieng and (possibly) young Zach LaVine.

I see Flip as a likely seller at the trade deadline, and that and the fact that I’m not interested in researching this situation keeps me from betting. Others may like this bet though.

[Edit: I AM going to bet the over on the Wolves after all. CosmicBalloon’s comment @7 helped convince me. That and putting myself in Flip’s shoes: I believe he will want to hold this situation together for Ricky Rubio. This team has the talent to win games, and this 26.5 line seems awful low.]

KINGS (29.5 wins — No bet): I will never take the over on any team that has either DeMarcus Cousins or Rudy Gay. A team that has both….? And on the other side, I’m not real interested in fading a mere 29.5 wins.

I’m curious about Stauskas, but the rest of the team is wretched. I’m a seller of McLemore.

JAZZ (24.5 wins — No bet): Quin Snyder? That will be fun. Trey Burke versus Dante Exum? Or will they play together? Either way, that will be fun too.

I like Gordon Hayward, but Gordon Hayward trying to live up to a max contract? That won’t be fun.

With Marvin Williams gone, are they planning on playing Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors together on the frontline again? That won’t be fun, either. They’re both centers.

Looking at the rest of the roster, I have no clue what the Jazz are doing, and don’t care.

LAKERS (32 wins — No bet): What the heck are the Lakers doing? This is one of the worst rosters I have seen in my life. They appear to have cornered the market on mediocre PFs. Is Boozer starting? I think rookie Julius Randle will get eaten up, like Thomas Robinson did.

The Lakers don’t have anyone other than Robert Sacre listed at center. I guess PF Jordan Hill will be playing center. And PF Jeremy Tyler. I forsee spacing difficulties.

The ghost of Steve Nash is playing pg. His backup is Jeremy Lin. Both pick and roll point guards. Do they have a center to play pick and roll with? A spaced floor?

The ghost of Kobe will be ball-hogging his way into the record books, forcing Nash/Lin off the ball. Any chemistry problems forseeable? Also, minor point, Lin sucks off the ball.

And what position will Kobe be playing? He can’t guard twos anymore, even if he were still interested in playing defense, which he’s not.

And when Nick Young returns, will he be playing alongside Kobe and Nash? This could be not only the worst defensive team in the Western Conference, but the worst defensive team in Western Conference history.

I would dearly love to bet against the Lakers this year. Particularly if you assume that the bookies think the real number is 28, and stupid Lakers money (the stupidest money in existence) is pushing the line up, which I do.

But 32 wins doesn’t leave a lot of cushion.

And watching the Lakers lose is its own reward.

169 Responses to Feltbot’s 2014-15 Western Conference Forecast

  1. not particularly fond of either team, but OK and the rivers gang are both likely to stay above the woeyrs in the standings. my preferences (not prediction) from the others who seem to be bunched below those two and SA would be for Phx, Dal, Por, Mem to also surpass the lacobites, but more likely only two or three at most will manage to do so. Hou to me seems an enigma because neither howard nor harden epitomize reliability.

  2. I don’t feel the Grizz or Mavs are a threat, the Suns have an obviously superior roster and will have a better record than either team.
    I agree on ADavis in NO. He’s ready to dominate the NBA, maybe be an even better Tim Duncan. Dream of him, Steph and Klay as W’s!

  3. The west has undergone realignment. There is a window of opportunity, and the question is who is able to take advantage now before it closes.

    What distinguishes the Warriors from the top four teams is that the latter have kept a core of players and developed a consistent identity over the last years with a capable and seasoned coaching staff. Joerger with the Grizzlies is the exception in the latter regard; Rivers a veteran coach with a high rate of success, was able to bring coherence his first year to the Clippers.

    Meanwhile, Curry, whose potential was seen here his first preseason game, who was just ranked #8 by SI, will start his 6th. season with his 4th. coach, and for the first time since Nelson, with a team committed to focusing on offense. Once again, we will have to wait and see.

    As last year, their success may depend on how well they can make use of the bench they have—and how long it will take them to shed Lacob’s follies. Nedovic, Kuzmic, and Barnes played together many minutes last night and were ineffective against third string Lakers (four Lakers, then five were out). Barnes got some points on open looks, but his drives are just prayers—he doesn’t see openings or make them for himself and has no sense where the basket is when he goes up (he made one, though). Combined, their court vision and b-ball smarts are low on the scale.

    Rather, make use of what they have. Barbosa is much sharper and much quicker and has experience. Test him as third PG now, while they’re waiting for Livingston. If Rush is healthy, give him Barnes’ minutes at the 3. He looked good last night. And yes, see what Mo can do. I’m not convinced there’s that much drop off in defense from him to Kuzmic, if any. And Mo can shoot. Give him an active lineup and look at the overall +/-.

    We won’t know how effective running the offense through Bogut will be until they start playing regular season games against better opponents. Needless to say I’m skeptical but won’t mind being proved wrong. Meanwhile, a collision with another player and he collapses to the floor. . . .

  4. Thoughts on preseason game 2 v Lakers:
    – Aaron Craft is tough nosed but physically overmatched and offensively under talented at the NBA level. I don’t see anything so far from any of the training camp invitees to suggest they are worth a roster spot.
    – I thought Nedovic played well. Not as good as game 1 but solid. He is pushing the ball, getting the team into their sets, not turning it over, he is defending ok. What more do you want from your third string pg?
    – Kuzmic needs to be evaluated for what he is, a legitimate 7 foot center. As such, he occupies space, gets some boards, gets fouled, and hits his free throws, he even racks up the odd assist and steal. More than you can say for Barnes. He is a half step slow at a lot of things and I think it makes his game look worse than it is. If he were a 6’9″ pf, it might be fatal but size and some actual skill warrant patience to see if his processing of the game improves to make up the half step.
    – Klay looked super. Curry was much better than game 1. Bogut continued to look good.
    – DLee didn’t rebound well. As a matter of fact, as a team the Dubs sucked on the boards . Curry had 5, Bogut’s 6 were ok, BRush and Kuz had 4 each in limited minutes. Everyone else looked overmatched on the glass against the Lakers
    – Speights will be lucky to make the rotation. All he wants to do is hit his 18 footer. No other game.
    – I thought AI looked good until he got hurt. Much more assertive.
    – Barnes looked better than game 1 but that was a low bar. He does not have the fury for rebounding. If he plays more than Green once the games matter then that will be the first questionable decision so far on Kerr.
    – Green’s biggest enemy at this point is himself. He is over aggressive on defense and racking up fouls. On offense, he seems to be rushing to show off his improved skillet. I don’t know if it is in his DNA but the ability to moderate his edge might be the only thing standing between Green and stardom.
    – The offensive system still looks good. Pushing almost every time up and lots of effective movement in the half court. Defense was good too. If not for the rebounding and extra extended garbage time, this would have been a 25 point win.

  5. Barnes, Kuzmic, and Nedovic played 24, 16, and 15 minutes, respectively, much of it together. Together they 18 scored points combined, largely against Laker scrubs. And they didn’t do much to set up other players or get good shots themselves. The game got close the first half, when they were together. This is a deadly combination.

    Nedovic has a certain composure, but he is deliberate and slow. He’s not quick enough to drive to shoot or kick out. He might have been OK in Europe in deliberate half court sets, but only when he has a front court to work with. He won’t have that with the Warrior subs.

    • I agree you saw the game get closer with the subs but I saw it as the result of the rebounding disparity between the substitute front lines (16 for the Lakers and 9 for the Dubs) more than Nedo. Against a quick, hounding defender in Clarkson, who took a few stabs at picking Nedo’s pocket, Nedo deftly left him lunging and went about his business. Three assists and no turnovers.

      Nedo’s weakness is that when a quick defender and long front line take away the drive, his shot is not consistent enough to bail out the offense. But, if he could also shoot, he probably wouldn’t be the third PG.

  6. cosmicballoon

    What we are seeing so far is GOOD NEWS. Hopefully Kerr doesn’t overplay the starters in the preseason. We need them healthy, strong and full of energy when the regular season starts.

    Feltbot, I can’t disagree with your assessment of the West. The one team I think is a pretty good bed to top the Vegas line is the TWolves. Of course Kevin Love was their best player, but they are sure to improve on defense with him gone. I believe it was their defense that cost them all of those close games last season because Love almost always avoids help defense, instead getting into rebounding position. The offense will see a drop-off, but with Rubio running the show, we might see an under-talented team maintain a high octane offense. I predict 30 to 35 wins for this TWolves squad.

    • The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to bet the Wolves. You make a good point about their defense. The difference between Love and Young is immeasurable, and they have quite a few other good defenders on the team: Wiggins, Brewer, Rubio. This team could win some games.

      I’ve edited my post to reflect this change.

      • concur, that the Min team and the coach/g.m. have a greater motivation to prove the Neinsagers wrong, over ambivalently competing in the annual tank race for lottery chances.

  7. The White Hat Rode Into Town...

    Dudes. Check out any recent photo of David Lee. He has finally taken The Hat’s advice and hit the weight room.

    David Lee is finally large and in charge. He’s got all the same skills we’ve seen for years, with more power and athletic ability.

    This will be David Lee’s career-defining year. How far that can carry the team is limited only by teamwork, primarily a coaching challenge.

    The Hat sez 57 wins and the Ws play for the championship of the West.

    Wanna bet?

    • Hat, your faith in Lee is off the scale. Lee delivers 20/10, more or less. A significant contributor but not a game-breaker. He’s still just David Lee, on Stephen Curry’s team.

      • Welcome to the Feltomania blog, JPB.

        The Hat tends to be contrarian. He makes claims without evidence. He is usually correct, though. That’s annoying as hell, but it’s a fact.

        Tell me, JPG, does a person’s history define them? Does it prevent them from improvement? How about this: does a brilliant ball player have to accept his well-documented previous limitations, or can he expand his ability?

        Lee has always been a smart, quick, under-sized big with too little strength and so-so conditioning. But this summer he took a page from Draymond’s offseason playbook, and replaced 10 pounds of excess with the same weight in muscle. The man is stronger and faster with all the same skills.

        Lee has always been one of the 10 best bigs in the league. This year he’s the strongest and fittest he’s ever been. The mind reels.

        • http://www.nba.com/warriors/news/media-day-qa-david-lee

          “I’m making a much bigger conscious effort on staying healthy, doing the right things, eating right, getting the work in in the weight room, stretching, things like that are things when you’re a younger guy you can just roll out on the court.”

          And a recent photo, and yes he looks a lot more muscular.

          • And notice Lee says he started stretching, no doubt to protect his core from further injury, as prescribed by Dr Moto a few months back.

  8. Just completed my Eastern Conference review, and found a few lines to bet:

    1) Atlanta Hawks over 41 wins. They won 38 last season without Al Horford, and… I really don’t understand this line. Milsap at four, DeMarre Carroll became one of the better two-way threes in the league last year, Korver and Teague in the backcourt. This is very solid team. They added great wing depth — and defense — in Thabo Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore. They have good frontcourt depth. And a really good coach from the Popovich tree in Mike Budenholzer.

    If Horford stays healthy this line gets crushed. If he doesn’t, it could still be close.

    2) Milwaukee Bucks over 24 wins. They only got 15 wins last season, and I can’t really articulate why I’m so positive on such an utterly fluid situation. I’ll borrow from Shakespeare in Love: “It’s a mystery.”

    Here are some reasons: 1 — Larry Sanders is back, and looks good, and needs to repair a reputation in tatters. And when Larry Sanders is good, he is very very good. 2 — I became convinced that Jason Kidd was a genius with balls of steel last season when he transformed the Nets on the fly. After watching the Greek Freak play point guard for one preseason game this year, I am even more convinced. 3 — Jabari Parker will in my opinion be the runaway rookie of the year. He is an incredibly gifted player. He will be playing out of position at the three until the Bucks find a taker for Ilyasova, but it won’t matter. 4 — Brandon Knight, Nate Wolters and Kendall Marshall won’t set the world on fire at point guard, but they’re good enough. I am particulary optimistic that Kidd will know how to bring out the best in Marshall — one non-shooting point guard to another. And I just witnessed a preseason game in which Marshall got Milwaukee’s bigs the most easy looks they’ve had in… their career. 5 — Antetokounmpo. An incredibly gifted player, amazing with the ball in his hands. Kidd will find a way to unleash his talents. 6 — Pachulia, Henson, Dudley, Mayo, Bayless. Decent bench depth.

    7 — 24 wins. That’s a pretty low bar in the Eastern Conference.

    3) Washington Wizards under 49.5 wins. I’m in disbelief that this line is still up after Bradley Beal broke his wrist (he’ll be out 2 months), and I might have made this bet even before he got injured. Martell Webster is coming off back surgery, and planning on retiring after this season, so how confident is he?

    More to the point: Trevor Ariza was HUGE for this team last season. Pivotal. Can 36 year old Paul Pierce replace his defense? Pierce was a great defender in his prime, but didn’t look at all good against threes last season. I’m dubious

    Just as adding Iggy was a tipping point for the Warriors’ defense last season, and adding Ariza will be for the Rockets’ D this season, I fear losing Ariza will be for the Wizards’ D this season. South.

    Then there’s the Nene injury risk….

    And the high bar of 49.5 wins. The Wizards have been getting a lot of hype, and I think this line reflects that optimism.

    4) A friend of mine gave me this bet. I’ve got the Bulls record against the Cavs record, getting 4 wins. (The Cavs line is 58.5, the Bulls 54.5.) This might be my favorite bet of the bunch. The Bulls are going to be incredible this season. The Cavs? Lebron’s got some knuckleheads to knock.

    This line isn’t available in Vegas, but I’m sure you won’t have any trouble getting this bet down with your friends either.

    • From what I hear the Bucks also have realized (as you did a long time ago) that Henson is a natural 5, not a 4. That bodes well for his future. Supposedly he put on 15 pounds of muscle since last season. You didn’t mention Middleton, who apparently can’t play a lick of defense, but they need shooters and he can shoot. I said last season I’d trade Barnes for him, and people laughed. They’re not laughing now, I’m sure.

  9. Wow, Kevin Durant is out a minimum of two months with a broken foot. The West is once again wide open.

    • A non-contact injury that OKC is probably terrified of being something worse than it appears. Who knows how long it will take for him to fully recover.

  10. We’re not going to learn anything from these Lakers. Much more interesting sub patterns, however.

    GO MO!

  11. The Kerr/Gentry offense is fascinating. There are as many Princeton elements as Triangle, a splash of Flex, a dash of the Bob Knight passing offense, and several elements I haven’t figured out yet. The offense seems beholden to no one school of thought.

    They are pushing the ball pretty mush every time with the pass or the dribble and if the easy bucket isn’t there they are maintaining the pressure with immediate attacks that are flowing into (or from) the offense. Beautiful. I think we are seeing how the staff wants the team to play. The Lakers are not putting up a lot of resistance but I think we have to acknowledge the direction is right.

    • Add D’Antoni to the mix, under whom Gentry was an assistant and who was a strong proponent of pushing the pace and building up a lead early. And I am happy to see this.

      • Pushing the pace really doesn’t fit into the full triangle scheme. D’Antoni, from McCallum’s book Seven Seconds or Less:

        He delights in cutting up every chestnut about the NBA. “I’ve heard you don’t lose the game in the first five minutes,” D’Antoni will say, “but if you get down six in the first five minutes, then you lose by five, didn’t you lose the game in the first five minutes? I’m from West Virginia but I took a little math.” Or: “Most coaches believe defenses are more vulnerable late in the shot clock, that you can get them out of position with a lot of passing. I don’t know why defenses wouldn’t be more vulnerable before they get set. That’s why we play fast.” Or: “People say that when you play fast you’ll be a high-turnover team. I think you’ll be a low-turnover team because you don’t throw as many passes.”

  12. YT @12 Yes, I am delighted by the direction. The Warriors are pushing up court every single possession, leaking out and making outlets. Even more incredible, they are running after made baskets. Literally every time. I have been rubbing my eyes. They haven’t played this way, just on the running side of things, since Don Nelson, and it has perplexed me no end.

    When you have such extraordinary passing and open floor shooting talent, running is the completely obvious way to leverage that talent to the hilt. And it’s finally happening, in Joe Lacob’s fifth year.

    I’m also delighted by the passing offense, at least in conception. Because the Warriors are executing this offense with EXTREME PACE. Kerr is clearly borrowing more from the Spurs here than from Phil Jackson’s langorous post-up offenses.

    I’m a little dubious that the Warriors will get away with initiating this offense without a high pick, though, once the season starts, and particularly the second time through the league, when the offense has been scouted.

    And I’m particularly dubious of the triangle stuff working. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Warriors’ post-man always looks to pass out of the post — because we don’t have Jordan, Longley, Shaq, Kobe or Gasol. Without a real post threat, I think it will be very easy for good defensive teams to thwart this offense.

    I saw Kerr use Iggy in the post a bit last night, and that’s a decent idea, if you like Iggy midrange twos. But at least he has a prayer of getting to the basket against shorties; that threat enables him to draw a double; and he’s a great passer.

    Lee is also a triple threat in the post, but that of course relies on working around the bad spacing created by Bogut. His jumper looks pure this season though.

    Other than that, there’s no one the Warriors can use in the post. It looks like Kerr is committed to using Barnes off the ball — A great idea advocated repeatedly here. And Bogut is useless in the post except to pass. Did you see him fling up that left-handed airball last night? As far as I noticed, his only attempt to shoot out of the post.

    The Warriors did quite a bit with Bogut in the high post. I guess that’s the Princeton you refer to. And I think that’s by far the best place for him, even though his man doesn’t need to guard him.

    It will be very interesting to see the mix of offense the Warriors play once the real season begins. I think right now they’re focused on putting in the new stuff, and I think we’ll see the ball in Curry’s hands more once the season starts.

    Overall, I’m delighted, though. This is looking like a 55-60 win team to me, so long as Iggy and Lee stay healthy.

    One thing I’m certain of: Klay Thompson is going to have a MONSTER season. He’s been validated now by both his team and the national team, and he’s no longer going to be shy about assuming his rightful role on the team. He could also be considerably fresher this season, if Kerr takes some of his responsibility for chasing point guards away from him, as it appears he has. And of course, if the Warriors don’t extend him before the season, this will be a contract year.

    He’s a great player, and he’s about to come into his own.

    • They can play Mo in the post.

      I’m serious.

      I’d rather see him in the lineup over Kuzmic and against smaller, faster teams, over Bogut. Bogut’s defensive abilities are negated against up tempo teams and he doesn’t (won’t?) offer much of a threat on offense. He can body up better than Kuzmic. Put him in with an active, capable lineup of starters, and he can produce. He can run the pick and roll with Curry, and probably could with Barbosa. He can get a shot off because of his size. Or they can park him in the corner. I’d like to see a 3 point competition between Barnes and Mo—Mo has better form.

      Or come sub time, I’d like to see him play with active subs who can move and create, who push the tempo, like Barbosa and maybe Rush if he returns to form. I believe they ran a lineup with Barbosa, Rush, Iguodala, and Speights last night, and it was effective. Nedovic is too damn slow to react and isn’t much of an offensive threat; Barnes is even slower to react and has to wait for players to set things up for him.

    • warriorsablaze

      You must not have watched the first few games where Bogut had some nice floaters and baby hooks go down… and even a 15ft jumper that looked smooth. He’s certainly never going to be a beast in the post, but he’s also not “useless”. I much prefer him in the role of high post facilitator or high PnR screener, though. He’s no David Lee on the roll, but he sets better screens and has done pretty well attacking and facilitating from that position…so it’s a good option.

      The best part about the offense so far is that it seems to have enough different elements and ways of attacking that it will be harder for teams to overcome it even after scouting.

      Missed last night’s game, but I heard Bogut is now shooting FT’s left-handed. It’ll be interesting to see if that provides any improvement over the course of the season.

      • Bogut passed up several opportunities last night to drive or shoot, in most cases making ill-advised passes. As for his left-handed shooting, you have to wonder if it is a concession that his right elbow just isn’t working well, which, as he says himself, is off and on.

        No one is going to complain, of course, if he shoots with some consistency.

        • the lefty foul shots is a pretty clear sign that bogut trusts that side to be more reliable and consistent, with the structural damage on the right side the obvious reason. he also might be applying a bit of right brain to the task, relieving the left brain from thinking too much about the shots.

  13. Unfortunately, I’m leaving today for another two weeks out of town, and may not be able to write anything more before the start of the season. Sorry about that, and thanks again for your patience.

  14. “In a league known for coaches with egos that arenas can’t hold, Suns coach Alvin Gentry unabashedly admits that 80 to 90 percent of the offense he runs is what Mike D’Antoni installed and taught him.”


  15. Rgg@12,

    The Triangle (or whatever it is) is a half court offense. There is no reason you cannot push the pace and attack early before engaging that part of the offense. In addition, I think many people are influenced by the famous implementation of the Bulls and Lakers Triangle’s who had great post up players so their actions featured lots of post up shots that slowed down how quickly the ball moved. This is not a requirement of the offense. The actions can be and should be customized to the skills of the players.


    I think that some adaptation by opposing defenses against the Dubs’ post players is inevitable but it isn’t as easy as you think. Let’s say Bogut’s defender sags off in the high post because they don’t think Bogut is a threat. If Bogut dribble screens a handoff to Curry or Klay, wiping out the perimeter defender, the post defender is out of position to recover to an open Splash brother.

    Also, you may be underestimating how the players around the post player can influence the effectiveness of that post player. One of the bread and butter Triangle plays (and one that the Dubs are running) is to toss the ball into the mid post and send a cutter on the baseline side of the post player straight at the basket. If the cutter’s defender is even slightly out of position then the post defender must hedge toward the baseline or the cutter takes a handoff for a dunk. (Kobe must have had a hundred of these in his Triangle days). The other half of the option is if the post defender does hedge baseline then the post player can turn middle for an easy score. If the defense played flawlessly you only used about four seconds, you pass into the next option and see if they can keep it up. Purpose and patience, it is deadly.

    • The point is that they are pushing the tempo and looking for early offense, a hallmark of D’Antoni’s and Gentry’s systems. This is the most significant and encouraging thing to say about the offense, at least in the early showings.

    • As for half court sets, we’ll have to wait and see what happens during the regular season when starters are on the floor and defense tightens up. Starting Barnes over Iguodala, as they did against the Lakers, is somewhat intriguing because it spells Iguodala and allows him to play with the subs for more consistent play throughout the game. But it puts two weak or non scorers on the floor. Hard to believe that won’t just put too much pressure on the other three starters, regardless of how they run the offense. Barnes may well prove to be the Achilles heel of the team.

      • My hope now with Barnes starting is that as Felt suggested a while back, perhaps, they simply want to increase his value back up to the level where he can be traded.

        Ideally, if we can get a first round pick next season for Barnes, especially a lottery pick, it would be a huge win.

        • If they don’t trade him and Iguodala goes down, they likely will go to Barnes and really don’t have good alternatives here, unless Rush returns to form. We saw how well that worked last season.

      • I think the Barnes over Iguodala thing is only to mitigate the loss of Livingston on the subs, getting another playmaker in that group. That is the only rational reason I can think of. If Barnes starts when Livingston returns then Kerr is making a questionable decision.

      • for the present, barnes gets to enjoy a homecoming in Des Moines vs. Den. the full price tickets to that game are going for as much as a regular season contest in a major venue. unfortunately his home state does not have an n.b.a. team he could help market and be traded to — big league pro hoops were last seen in the vicinity with the Tri Cities Blackhawks that became successful after moving to St.Louis (one of the two teams that ever defeated a russell/Bos team in the finals, both coached by Ramsay), eventually shedding its Mississippian roots to migrate further south.

  16. One of the impressive things about the offense is how seamlessly they go from a primary break to a secondary break to half court action, all the while attacking and probing for openings. They are obviously attacking over the top on the break, getting up to the wings to see if an opening materializes early but I love what they do when that doesn’t work. The next pass or dribble sets up a quick flex cut of back cut and they immediately attack the rim. Even when that doesn’t result in a shot, they’ve stressed the defense for 94 feet, everyone looking inside and out comes the ball to the three point line with shooters waiting. If that isn’t open there are two or three players already in motion starting the half court action. A defense can’t breathe. So cool, and less than 10 seconds have come off the clock.

    • Nicely put!

    • Slick observations. It’s a joy to watch the early stages of this offense develop.

    • Love it! If Barnes understands this concept, he can be valuable as a finisher on the break, or shooting threes from the wing.

      I advocatw trading him, but if that doesn’t work, hopefully Kerr can maximize what he is good at.

      • barnes does not contribute anything (even if he should improve slightly) that can’t be replaced for less than the $3 m.+ per annum he will cost the team, if they fail to trade him and exercise their options to retain him. and the cost of retaining barnes will probably affect the offer green gets from the team when he enters restricted free agency in July, because they’ll be obsessed with the lux tax bill from re-signing thompson.

  17. Anybody watch a feed of the Denver game? How does Barnes play 35 minutes and only get 8 shots off and 0 (count ’em) zero free throws?

  18. Barnes shouldn’t even be in the rotation let alone starting and have his own commercial.

    I just can’t believe the lengths this organization continues to go to pump up a dead corpse.

  19. Jerry West on Harrison Barnes now:

    “He’s gotten to be a much better shooter,” executive board member Jerry West said. “He’s really strong and an incredible athlete, and his skill level has improved. I think we’re going to see a much-improved player this year. I think the way we’re going to play will be beneficial to him. I just think this is going to be a breakout season for him. … I think this summer he realized, ‘I have to be better,’ and he’s worked his fanny off all summer.”


    This sounds like wishful thinking on West’s part, or maybe he’s joining in the Barnes promotion for a trade, as we all here would like to believe. But as much he’s conceding that Barnes lacks the skills he needs, what he noted before Barnes was drafted, this after two years in the NBA playing substantial minutes.

    There are many ways to measure the cost of the Barnes investment. One is the loss of a more talented player who might have been drafted over him. Another is the loss of whatever player they might have gotten in some kind of trade early. And lost here as well is 1-2 years of development for that player, which would be paying off now.

    The same can be said of all those offensively challenged bench players we’ve seen come and go over the years, and of the players now with low ceilings—Nedovic, Kuzmic, others.

    Meanwhile, in the Phoenix/Spurs game last night, both teams got 50+ points from their subs, the scoring balanced among 3-5 players.


    • Rgg-
      I’d like to take West at his word. The most interesting thing he said is that the style the Warriors play now will benefit Barnes. This new style will benefit everyone on offense, it appears.

      As for Barnes, if his skill level has improved, it means his shot is better and his dribbling ability is better. It’s highly unlikely he has developed as a passer. If he has improved finishing on the break and shooting the three, he’s going to be a nice complementary piece to the rest of the Warriors top 7 or 8 players. He will fill a pre-injury Branden Rush role. It’s probably his ceiling.

      • “As for Barnes, if his skill level has improved, it means his shot is better and his dribbling ability is better.”

        I’ve seen him a bit this pre-season. Looks like the same guy he’s always been.

    • if you followed hornacek and Phx last season much, his rotations often give reserves solid minutes, in part to sustain the pace he favors. the minutes in this exhibition weren’t far off from what he’ll be doing in the regular season, now that he has added tolliver and i.thomas. the young center len was listed as injured. the guard trio of dragic, bledsoe, thomas all did well against the SA ‘C’ squad.

  20. Just checking,

    There is no way, financially speaking, the warriors can keep their current starting 5 after klay’s extension next year?

    Therefore, logically dlee or iggy is probably on the move this season or next summer? I would like to hear thoughts on potential plans to accommodate paying klay. Ride out this year with the core and trade dlee or iggy for scraps next summer?

    Just curious on the most logical direction the dubs are heading down.

    • The cap is going way, way up and Lee only has two years left anyway.

      They can keep these guys together + Dray for a few more years. That is, if they want.

      • thanks for the response, i thought cap was going to go up the following season (2016-17) and that lacob would want nothing to do with the luxury tax.

        Great! now I can just look forward to inevitable barnes deal.

        • the cap will see a boost both next summer and the one following. what the owners (league office) are still playing games with, how much bigger the boost will be in ’16 to reflect the new t.v. contracts with disney and turner (more than 2x the present deal). keep in mind, barnes’ contract balloons to $3.9 m. next season if they don’t trade him and exercise their option, and thompson’s salary will be increasing roughly 4x if they re-sign him. the lacobites are likely lux tax payers from the thompson deal alone, and will be looking to ‘trim fat’. marketing/p.r. will find new founts of inspiration if they keep barnes around and ‘trim’ more useful reserves like green.

        • Realistically, there will be no “Barnes deal.” If he is traded, it will be as an “also-thrown-in” on a trade of significant players.

          Barnes is apparently a likable, hardworking guy, but the bottom line is that he’s never learned how to create opportunities for himself on the basketball court. He’s missing something – The Hunger, or the chip on his shoulder, or the smarts, or… the something, the edge that an unpleasant Kobe, or a too-slow Mullin, or a too-small Draymond has.

          I wonder if there has ever been so much written about such an insignificant NBA player.

          In general, I’m happy with Lacob’s direction of the team, and I don’t subscribe to Feltbot’s anti-Lacob speculations about his character, his ego, etc. At the same time, Lacob has made some big mistakes. Drafting Barnes doesn’t count as one of them. Continuing to promote Barnes at this point, does.

  21. Easily one of the ugliest Warrior box scores we’ve seen in some time:


    So why, exactly, are we excited about Bogut getting 7 assists—and 1 point and 4 rebounds?

    • And zero turnovers.

      The ball is in his hands further away from the basket so he can create for others. Unfortunately at 15 ft he can’t shoot or impact the offensive boards the same way.

      • 0 turnovers because Bogut is only being lightly guarded, if at all. And yes, he’s awfully tall and can see above players.

        But they’re running the offense through the slowest player on the team. Sometimes Bogut brings the ball up himself—and I’m waiting for a speedy guard to blitz and make a steal. I really doubt this will be of much value when the season starts and the pressure is on.

        He doesn’t get that many offensive rebounds anyway. Also the better coaches don’t value those boards that much.

        Running the offense through Bogut isn’t Gentry, is it, but rather Kerr? And maybe Lacob.

        • cosmicballoon

          “Running the offense through Bogut isn’t Gentry, is it, but rather Kerr? And maybe Lacob.”

          Rgg-this is terrible speculation. We have no evidence to back up this claim. We know Kerr has new offensive ideas and that he brought in Gentry to implement them. Lacob is not influencing the offense. He did provide the pieces tho, so half of the blame/credit should lie with him.

          • The first part is not speculation but a question—is running the offense through Bogut something Gentry would do? I suspect heavily not. Gentry’s hallmark is uptempo offense, which we saw the first three games.

            The relationship between Gentry and Kerr is ambiguous and probably will never be made clear. But, I believe by Kerr’s own admission, Gentry will have a heavy hand in running the offense. Which makes sense. He has years of experience. Kerr has none.

            As for Lacob, it’s definite he brought in Barnes and Bogut—and you’ve read all the criticism of those moves. It’s also hard not to believe the FO is not dictating the minutes each gets. There’s no other way to explain all the minutes Barnes has been given, especially last season. Kerr announced he would close with Bogut, something Jackson did not do. Was this by mandate? We’ll never know. But there has to be pressure from above.

          • It’s also clear from his interviews that Lacob brought in Barnes, this in spite of West’s reservations and the many scouting reports that questioned Barnes’s skills and motivation, these made before draft day, many of which were posted here at the time.

          • Lee averages fewer than 2 turnovers a game career, a low number considering how much he is involved in offense. So we have to wonder why he got 5 last night. (I didn’t see the game.)

        • rgg, the play by play recorded two bad passes by lee in the fourth quarter alone, plus he had the ball stolen from him three times, two by wade in the first quarter. Mia was the first opponent in the preseason to apply serious team defense.

          the lacobite agit prop unit has been fairly successful in saturating the media and fan blogs with the grand new/old schemes for offense with increased passing to and from post players, but there won’t be anything the experienced and adept opponents haven’t seen before — they’ll adjust and adapt. the campaign promise is for barnes to find his comfort zone and shifting iguodala to the sixth man.

    • Yikes.

      Let’s hope the game was just experimentation. Trial and error.

      There was an awful lot of error, though.

  22. Rush left the game early with back spasms. Also it looks like Livingston will miss the first two weeks of the regular season. At least.

  23. Sheesh. 19 points (7-11, 2-2 on threes) plus boards and assists for Richard Jefferson tonight in 26 minutes. He started for Dallas and was playing with subs: most starters sat. And they almost won.


    He really looked tentative for the Warriors, though obviously was a veteran who knew his craft. Then again, he wasn’t played much and had injuries, I think. What could they do with such a player now, in place of—

    • I never understood why Al Jefferson didn’t seem essential to the Ws. Except for the fact that he calmly, routinely, outshone The Golden Child Barnes.

      Can’t really pity the guy, but gee wiz, he’s a helluva ball player who has never gotten his just recognition.

  24. Shucks, I guess I am dumb. One last attempt to get this posted after all my other tries failed to show up:

    Jermaine, you are the absolutest dudissomo! All joy to you! You have spread the joy, my friend. Thank you and bless you.

  25. Feltinomicus, please repair your friggin website. C’mon now. It’s not at all difficult.

  26. I have really been impressed with the Warriors offense in the few games I have watched. Love the Warriors early offenses, more slashes to the hoop, and running at every opportunity. I suspect that Gentry responsible for the new look offense but acknowledge that Kerr as the head coach is to praised for installing it. If the Warriors keep this up the inability of the Warriors to get to foul line last year should be rectified.

    Felty your dreams of Thompson being a all-star may come to friction this year. His improvement can be seen from both his summer and preseason. By his altering his shot he has become a consistent outstanding shooter. His offense will also improve by his driving more and getting to the foul line. He still is not an assist man nor can he be one, but such does not distract from his tremendous offensive output.

    Barring injuries and the Warriors continuing playing up tempo, the Warriors should easily exceed their projected win total. The system is that good.

    Very disappointed so far with Blatt as coach. Thought he would be one of best but after seeing the Cleveland offense, simply not that impressed. Nevertheless, Cleveland should win the East based on the quality of their roster.

    • Frank, it’s too soon to anoint Thompson as the Second Coming.

      Re Coach Blatt, he has some personal adjustments to make in addition to his team adjustments. It’s the Big Time for him now, center stage on the biggest stage in the world. He’ll figure it out, or at least get used to it, and the Cavs are going to thoroughly Kick NBA Ass from game #1 onward. Bet on it.

      • ps

        The Hat has predicted 57 wins for the Ws.

        That is Pure Gold from The Hat, my friend. Make the best of it.

    • “He still is not an assist man nor can he be one, but such does not distract from his tremendous offensive output.”

      Sure he can. Didn’t he have 5 assists the other night against Denver?

  27. I’m not saying Thompson is the second coming as he’s still not an extra possession guy like K.leoard. As he makes few steals, offensive rebounds, and there totals will not offset his average number of turnovers he commits per game. But his increased FG percentage and trips to the foul line will be noteworthy as will his improved defense learned from Coach K.

  28. Dallas will be a force in the West this year. In part, because of an improved roster of an already good team. And in my opinion the addition of Parsons is a huge step forward as he on the cusp of stardom.

    The Suns may once again continue to surprise this year.

    • 1000% agree, Frank. As FB has pointed out, they’re only missing a solid rotation of bigs. As FB didn’t point out, Dallas is one friggin’ awesome Nellieball team, they’re led by one of the most creative coaches in the league, and the.entire.team.has.the.hunger. Would you want to apologize to Dirk or stare down Monta in the locker room?

      • They might be a Nellieball team, but without long defensive stoppers on the wing, they’re not a team Nellie would have built.

        • Nellie certainly coached many worse teams than this year’s Mavs, but yeah, there’s no SJax there. Or even a Marion, now. No shut-down wing defender.

          On the other hand, the Mavs did about as well as the Ws last year – and unlike the Warriors, this year they’ve upgraded half the positions on the team, either offensively (Chandler > V. Carter) or defensively (anyone > Calderon).

  29. Not in Kansas anymore, Toto, Part 467:

    “In the span of less than a week, Dallas Cowboys running back Joseph Randle has gone from stealing underwear to becoming a spokesman for it.

    “MeUndies — a Los Angeles based lifestyle brand that is transforming how people perceive and purchase their underwear — is now partnering with Randle, according to MeUndies head of marketing and business development, Dan King.

    “MeUndies will pay Randle enough to help defray the cost of the $29,500 fine the Cowboys imposed on him after he was caught shoplifting last week while also supplying him with enough product that the Cowboys running back will have all the underwear he needs for a long time.”


  30. So much, I suspect, is clear from the first preseason games:

    1. Nedovic will be the backup PG until Livingston returns.

    2. Barnes will continue to get serious minutes, possibly as a starter.

    3. Kuzmic will be backup center until Ezeli returns—and if he goes down again.

    The rest of the bench is fuzzy, given the limited new players or the limited play of the others who might have potential and who are more experienced.

    • 1. Probably.

      At PG last night, Nedo looked like a man with a plan. The kind of offensive plan that was MIA last year for the subs.

      2. Sadly.

      Barnes did an OK job defending Harden last night, but he still mostly plays like The Invisible Man.

      3. Positively.

      Preseason playing time doesn’t really tell us much about regular-season rotations, but Kuzmic is coming along and will definitely see minutes this season. Especially since Speights is still Speights.

    • Agree but with qualifiers on one and three:
      – I think you could see an Iguodala/Barbosa tandem in addition to Nedovic at Backup point guard. I think Nedovic is the most pleasant surprise this preseason and it is comforting to know he might finally be a capable fill-in.
      – I think Kuzmic has also surprised this preseason but I’m less confident in his readiness. Speights should be in that mix but no veteran has looked more out of synch with the new offense than he. I would guess a small lineup with DLee and Draymond. Who knows what to expect of Ezeli; at this point, anything he gives you is found money.
      – Barnes p/t better be a missing-Livingston thing or ugh!

  31. Facing another week out of town, and odds of me writing something before the season starts are growing long…

  32. Disagree on Houston. Going backwards this year. Offense a mess. No bench.

  33. Ezeli’s back!

    And the unit of Ezeli, Green, Haliday, Igoudala, and Barbosa played with energy and effect. These are basketball players. Send the rest of the guys down to Santa Cruz (and wait for Livingston and Rush to recover).

    Kerr complained of turnovers, and I suppose someone is going to argue they haven’t got the system down yet. But it looked to me like they were overpassing and could have done better if they improvised or took shots they can make. The main starters are not sloppy or unskilled.

    Barnes, of course, doesn’t help, and man it’s painful to see him start. Yes he got some buckets and boards, but the offense dragged with him in.

    And Green isn’t played to advantage.

    • And I see the bean counters are back at it, toting up turnovers, instead of looking at the underlying causes.

  34. And now I see FB’s tweets:

    “Why is it that we have Nedovic, and the Clippers have Cunningham?”

    I had the same thought.

    • I guess when you draft a guy number 1 (Barnes and Nedo), you’re kind of committed?

      Cunningham indeed looked good, a young, 6′-4″, 200 lb PG.

      • Rookie GMs might feel more “committed” to high draft picks than veteran managers do. Nelson never hesitated to bench anyone, even his own picks.

        Lacob & Co. seem more defensive about their draft acumen than most team managers.

        In Lacob/Myers’ defense, Barnes (and Nedo) have both shown improvement this year. But Barnes’ development in particular has been costly in terms of games lost – and lost fan respect. After last season, it’s almost impossible to figure why anyone thinks Barnes should be a starter, or even a regular rotation guy.

  35. Definitely over-passing, Draymond had at least two of those. The new offense is responsible for some of it with less experienced passers asked to pass and players not always where they should be. The fact that you are playing a lot of inexperienced players who are amped up to show what they can do is another. I hate to say it but Curry has some of the worst turnovers around. At least twice, with a double-team approaching, he dribbles right into the corner where the trap snaps shut and he coughs it up. Some of his turnovers are on passes that are grotesquely lackadaisical. I don’t mind the risky but purposeful passes that don’t pan out but some of his are head-scratchers for such an elite talent.

    • my principal critique of curry would be the inconsistency of his competitive focus, with inattentive passes one of the chief symptoms. he’s clearly surpassed by paul in the quality we could call ‘constant fire’. it might be a personality trait, and will probably keep him flirting with, but excluded from the elite one percent.

    • The hook pass is fundamentally unsound. Our junior high school coach would not allow it. A 2-handed chest pass or 2-handed over-head pass will suffice and is far superior. Thats what Iggy uses. And he had 0 turnovers last night. Curry uses the hook pass, usually with a hop or jump, much to his and the squad’s detriment. Kerr should forbid it. Excellent point above, dribbling into the corner trap, I noticed it too.

      • warriorsablaze

        Unfortunately, Curry is 6’3″… the hook pass is usually thrown over the double team which consists of not just the opposing PG, but also a wing or often a big. A 2-handed chest pass isn’t gonna happen. He either needs to get rid of it before the trap is set or dribble out of it.

        He lands the pass 9/10 times…but when he fails, it’s usually a catastrophic turnover.

    • I’d have to see the replay, but if Curry dribbled into the corner, it may have been his only option or may have been the plan—I don’t recall his doing that last year. He does have good court vision. And if he didn’t have options there or quickly got double teamed, it may be because other players weren’t in place or the plan wasn’t working in other ways. Why were those two players able to get free to double team him?

      Curry, I’m sure, is doing what he’s told to do—or trying to. As we saw last year, that got him into problems. Also the pace was slower. He works best up tempo, when he can think and react on the fly.

      Jim Barnett made a comment last year about Curry’s seeming distraction He said he looked bored.

      • A double team is dictated by the defense. In the half-court, it does not require the offensive players to do anything wrong. It is a standard defensive option in PnR and dribble screens. What it does require is, if you see it coming, a slipped screen and quick bounce pass or if you don’t see it early, a quick backwards dribble to create a little space and one or more teammates flashing to a gap in the trappers with a quick bounce pass. Curry is not making that backwards dribble and he never makes the bounce pass. See Steve Nash highlights for the prototypical handling.

        Don’t get me wrong. Curry is awesome but he has his flaws. I think Moto has it right. His inconsistent focus is the biggest one. As a corollary I would say inconsistent attention to detail. His great talent simply makes the flaws stand out in stark relief.

        • But Curry can do all those things, and has. The question is why he didn’t. Again, I’d like to see a replay, and maybe when the season begins we can ring one up and analyze? I’d be curious to see this.

          Curry has a quick head and sometimes gets ahead of himself. But often he screws up because he’s anticipating something from the other players that isn’t happening, for one reason or another.

          If the passing/floor spacing scheme is sluggish and dull, which it was that game, Curry is going to get caught whenever he has the ball. I’m guessing having the novice Kuzmic and Barnes, with his limited court vision and slow reaction time, on the floor was the problem.

          Curry functions best when the tempo is pushed and he has capable players to work with. He’s not Rondo, who can penetrate regardless or power his way through a double team.

          As McGuinis said, build the team around Curry and his talents.

    • This may seem odd coming from someone with my avatar photo, but the “cheerleader” link above is truly disgusting.

    • just a gentle reminder from the oligarchy that we still need at least a century or two before we see gender equality even in the economically/educationally advanced parts of the world.

      • The young lady, btw, is modeling a ready made by the Dadist Marcel Duchamp, “Fountain” (signed R. Mutt).

        • that costume is a poor simulation of the sculpture, and obviously duchamp didn’t design his piece with a costume in mind. if we consider how he ‘signed’ it, that is probably a comment that men are no better than canines in their urinary habits, a rather different implication than its misapplication on a woman’s body.

          • The woman, I’m sure, knows exactly what she is doing, moto, making an ironic and absurdist statement, not debasing herself or women. And I seriously doubt Duchamp would take offense at all about how she appropriated a urinal he found somewhere and presented as art.

            We die a little bit when we lose our sense of irony and detachment.

        • rgg,

          To at least 1/2 of the population of the entire planet, the image you posted is disgusting, repulsive and horrific.

          The image is sickening. If that’s what passes for humor in your world, you are an asshole. Citing the fame of its creator makes you even worse, an unrepentant asshole.

          • Could the tear in her eye suggest a less virulent interpretation?

            Perhaps a statement quite contrary to your reaction is intended?

          • K.M.R.I.A.

            I’m not going down the rabbit hole with you anymore, Hat.

          • FB, try to imagine a pro athlete sending that photo out on Twitter. How long do you think would he be suspended? Would we be having a debate about the artist’s “vision?” I can tell you how my female co-workers would respond if someone passed that around at work.

            Hey, rgg, print out a copy of your lovely photo and plant it on your desk for your students to see! Make sure to tell them you’re only trying to make a joke about Joe Lacob. I’m sure they’ll love that.

          • An interesting way to learn you are Irish, rgg.

  36. If I were a gambler (I’m not), I’d be tempted to take the Jazz 24.5 line. They do have some depth and they’re putting up points in the preseason. Also I’m looking forward to seeing Snyder shaking things up and getting these guys on a roll.

  37. Rgg @36,

    I suspect you and our fearless leader will need to find a new whipping boy because Nedovic looks different this year. Also, in the first Clippers game Cunningham checked Nedo for a couple of minutes and Nedo owned him. For that matter he got the better of Farmar that game too.

    And in the “beware of small sample size” and ” the grass is always greener” departments, last night v Phoenix Cunningham scored 3 pts on 1 for 4 shooting and missed both his free throws in 15+ minutes.

    I think Cunningham looks good too (more ready than say, Justin Holliday) but there is a reason he has been kicking around the fringe of the league.

    • Actually, I liked the kid when I first saw him. But his ceiling may be low. He is a half a step slow on offense and defense. This was noted here during the summer league games, I believe, where he didn’t perform well at all. You have to wonder how he’ll do against NBA guards come regular season. Then there are questions as to whether he’ll be anything more than be an OK shooter, that an improvement on his part.

      His calling card was his ability to penetrate and score or kick out (the “European Derrick Rose”), and I’m tremendously skeptical he’ll be able to do that in the NBA.

      Then there are questions as to how well he’ll hold up. He’s had many injuries since being drafted, 4 or 5, I think. He may be overextending himself.

    • Cunningham played with the second unit last night — different role, different players. Also, Bledsoe is one of the premier defenders in the league, and IT can make things tough on PGs too.

      I’m pretty comfortable saying Cunningham is a better PG right now than Nedovic will ever be — after watching summer league, I’m skeptical that Nedo is even an NBA player — the biggest reason why Iggy is needed on the 2nd unit in Livingston’s absence. I doubt Nedo even makes the rotation, and we should pray he doesn’t.

  38. The most enjoyable hour of NBA discussion I have ever witnessed. Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons with Haralobos Voulgaris.


    Major Warriors content. Confirmation of my Hawks bet. Confirmation of my Bulls v Cavs bet (remember to get 4 wins). Confirmation of my belief that the totals are very good and tough to bet this year. Support for my belief that NBA playoff games have been rigged. Coach handicapping. And much more.

  39. It appears written in stone that Barnes is starting at SF.


    At least until Livingston returns.

  40. [edit: NOT betting this after all. See below.] Crazy tempted to bet the Pistons over 35.5 wins. I hate Josh Smith, but he’s a really good player when confined to PF and forbidden to shoot (a Sisyphean task, admittedly). I hate Greg Monroe, but I think there’s a good chance SVG dumps him on an idiot GM at the deadline. I utterly hate Brandon Jennings, but maybe DJ Augustin supplants him.

    I love SVG. I love all the players he scored this offseason, especially Jodie Meeks. A Drummond/Smith frontcourt could explode under SVG’s direction. I like Kyle Singler, particularly if SVG can force Jennings and Smith to pass him the rock (a Sisyphean task, admittedly). I like a low bar, like 35.5 wins in the East.


    Ok what the hell. Pistons over. Just don’t make me watch them play.

  41. A nice tribute to Steve Nash, a “too-small,” “unathletic” player who set new marks for basketball excellence his whole career, and helped change the entire game as a result.


  42. Denver—

    Not that encouraging, especially with Faried and Lawson out.

    I’m not sold on this system at all, whatever it is. It’s slow getting set up, and often players weren’t getting good looks on their shots, other than Klay, especially Curry. Lee often gets the ball in the teeth of the defense, and they’re not making use of his quickness. As for defense, they were off and on all night, often porous.

    Credit to Bogut, however, for some putbacks and that baseball pass to Iguodala. And I’m excited about Barbosa and Holiday.

    When Livingston returns, what are they going to do with Barnes?

    • warriorsablaze

      Yeah… bummer to have the 2nd most efficient offense in the league in pre-season (Cleveland #1) and the most assists. 29 assists on 34 baskets I believe for tonight.

      Not to mention it’s a new system they’ve only been working on for a month. It’s only going to get more refined as the players get it down.

      Your ability to only see the negative in everything is impressive, if sad. Only you could be discouraged by this preseason performance.

      As for Barnes, hopefully he’ll get moved by the deadline, but I fear he’ll will be a dead horse we’ll be kicking for a long time. Holiday made the team and is probably better than Barnes right now. Don’t expect the PT to reflect that.

      • We’ll see. This game was a tuneup for next week and shouldn’t have gotten close. I think my main concern from the games I’ve seen is that neither Lee nor Green are played to advantage, and both are intelligent, capable players.

        The pressure is on Barnes. There is depth on the bench now and there are many possible lineups, once Livingston returns, that don’t include him.

        • Barnett commented last night that Barnes should be able to take Gallinari on the dribble. He didn’t. He couldn’t.

    • Rgg,

      I guess I’ll be the system’s Pollyanna to your Debbie Downer. There was nothing wrong with the system. The offensive issues had to do with a Curry forcing some shots he didn’t need to force. I noticed Erik a Green lighting up Curry and getting in his ear and Curry trying to come back with a counterpunch that simply wasn’t there. It also had to do with Lee forcing passes and dribbles into turnovers. Mostly it had to do with the black hole that is Harrison Barnes. He is useless.

      The drop off from Iguodala to Barnes on defense is even more pronounced and has a trickle down effect to the starting 5’s worst defenders, Lee and Curry. Iguodala mitigates a lot of their shortcomings. Barnes makes them worse.

      I would go so far as to say returning Iguodala to the starting unit, benching Barnes, and playing Nedo or Holliday on the second team would be better until Livingston returns.

  43. Justin Holiday makes the 15 man roster, all other hopefuls cut.

  44. Bogut, of course, played well last night. He made an outside shot, got some aggressive put backs (we didn’t see many of these last year), and made some nifty passes.

    (Why can he throw a long, bullet pass with his right arm but not line up a free throw?)

    If he’s going to be on the floor for long stretches, this may be the best way to use him. And the system seems to energize him. Or maybe he’s just healthy now. He looked off at the end of last season before the rib injury.

    But that doesn’t mean running the offense through him or having him on the court so many minutes is best for the team. They can pick up his assists elsewhere. Other players can bring the ball up faster, with more effect. I don’t recall many plays running the offense through Lee up top, who will draw faster defenders at PF, but he also offers more options: he can shoot or drive, and he is a very good passer. And in general, his quickness isn’t being used.

    Defensive boards for Bogut and Lee looks light. Anyone know the reason?

    • Defensive boards “look light”

    • rgg, you simply see some things differently than some of us. the example at hand, passing the ball with ‘mustard’ is barely comparable to the foul shot — the shoulder and larger muscle groups get involved without adversely affecting the accuracy, and that is partially determined by the release point, considerably different for the foul shot vs. passes.

    • Dubs were out rebounded decisively at the center position and at small forward. Mozgov, Nurkic, and McGee are a load on the glass. Lee’s per minute boards were about normal. He and Draymond partially offset the center disadvantage but Barnes/Iguodala gave it all back to Gee/Chandler/Gallo.

      Ezeli gave them nothing. Any reason given for his short P/T?

  45. While I’m at it, if offensive production is up this season, it may be for a simple reason: they’ve got scorers on the bench they did not have last year. That increase may not reflect the superiority of the new system, in fact might mask better alternatives for the team.

    • warriorsablaze

      Small sample size, pre-season caveats aside… nearly all the players have put up ridiculous efficiency numbers this preseason. This includes the starters, not just the bench. Everyone has been markedly better on offense. Even Barnes, but that’s low bar.

      • +1

        The effectiveness of the offense at this stage is pretty impressive. If this is like other implementations of Princeton/Triangle offenses, it will take months to ingrain the reads and counters to the pressure and disruption that will come from the best defensive teams but it is a promising start to my eye and to my reading of the stats.

        • But if the team does show offensive improvement, it it the system or the roster? The answer, of course, could be both, but which is the strongest contributing factor?

          So once the season gets going, we can make comparisons with last year. But note that when Iguodala went down for several weeks (and let’s hope that doesn’t happen this year), the team was 5-7. When he returned, they went on a tear, 11-1, with a 10 game winning streak. However much we questioned MJax’s control offense, which was indeed mysterious, they could pass and move the ball and score effectively—and often did. So the key factor is having the right guys on the floor, especially Iguodala.

          But also, however poorly MJax developed and played the subs, he didn’t have much to work with in terms of skill and experience. That has changed. Kerr has much more to work with in Livingston, Ezeli, Barbosa, and the others. Holiday looks like a winner.

          Then, of course, there’s Barnes, who, as you say, has to be putting a drag on the starters now, who was a significant factor in the team’s drop off when Iguodala went down and who contributed little to the bench players come sub time last season. With all the cameras and software they have now, there ought to be a way to determine how much a player tenses, disrupts, and spreads an offense whenever he is on the court, regardless of whether he passes or shoots or even has the ball. I bet they could make a nice computer graphic animation of this. And in the case of Barnes, not much at all. When he gets the ball, most often he sits with it for seconds, dribbles around maybe, and passes off. A smaller percentage of the time he takes ill advised shots or drives. Give him a clearing, which has to be created by the rest of the offense, and he can score, though not at that impressive a percentage.

          Then there’s the question of who to close out with. The team was effective with Bogut sitting many games and playing smaller but faster lineups last year. Kerr seems to be committed to closing with Bogut. I guess we will find out here.

          The most significant factor for the coming season’s success may well be bringing the right subs along and getting the right lineups on the floor throughout the course of the game—and sitting the right players or moving them out. Not the system.

          • Absolutely, improvement will be a function of system, improvement of the players we had, and the new players replacing inferior players. But when you look at those factors, for the purpose of analyzing the preseason you can almost get rid of the new players because the main new player hasn’t played and another has been hurt a lot (BRush). The Dubs are first in points per game, first in shooting %, first in 3 point %, and first in assists per game. (Cbssports.com). In assists per game, they are over 10% better than the next closest team.

            We cannot predict how all this will translate to the regular season but as I try to extrapolate what I can see now and apply it to the future, I see good movement, good shots, and the measurements to back up my observations.

          • warriorsablaze

            Of course….it will be a combination of many factors. Basketball is a complex game.

            Bogut doesn’t slow us down. It’s not a sprint. It’s all about intent. If the intent is to push it, the keys are to inbound and push after made baskets and to make forward outlet passes to guards moving up-court, not coming back for the ball like we did so much last year. Bogut doesn’t interfere with either.

            The question for you is why you are so intent on twisting yourself into knots to avoid giving any positive credit to Kerr. Sure, he’s not SVG, D’Antoni, or whatever other coach you favored, but like any new coach he’s not good or bad until there’s evidence either way. So far, there’s at least some evidence that he will not get in the way of the talent on our roster… if he has neutral impact, we’re already a largely improved team.

          • I like it WAB! you’re right:

            Steve Kerr = Schrödinger’s cat

        • Putting the same points differently, assuming health, the Warriors have the players to come out of the gate next week strong—and should. It need not take months to learn and get in focus and hit high gear—and shouldn’t.

  46. One other thing, I mentioned after the previous game, Curry’s near-allergy to the bounce pass. In this game, I would bet he may have never had more bounce passes in a game. It didn’t hurt his 11assist, 3 turnover night.

  47. Home and working on some preseason comments.

    Meanwhile, can’t figure out why my Ipad is showing comments my Chrome browser on my desktop doesn’t want to.

    • Welcome home. Hope all is well with you and yours.

      Your iPad’s browser may not do the caching that PC Chrome does.

      A couple of weeks ago you mentioned that you were running a WordPress add-in that turned on site caching. If so, turn it off. If not, check with your hosting service to see if they’re doing something different.

    • EvanZ seems to be right in most cases, that hitting the reload or refresh button rings up comments and notices in the sidebar (for me, Mac/Safari, IPad/Safari). I won’t get all the comments when I open the site the first time in a day. Is this related to the way Safari caches, your plugin, or both?

    • My problem was seemingly solved by clearing my browser history.

      I’m loathe to disable caching, as that makes the site a lot faster to navigate for most. I did disable another plugin that monitors performance, on the theory that people like that are assholes.

      • I’m curious why your site was slow to load, as it is largely text. I recall only one complaint. I’ve never had problems, except when your host has the hiccups.

  48. Here’s a must-see for Draymond fans:


    Replace ANY starter with Green, and the group does better. I wonder if Steve Kerr knows this.

  49. Agree that Warriors should place Holiday on the final roster. Warriors have really upgraded their backcourt reserves in the off-season. Glad to hear Simmons extolling Livingston’s addition.

  50. Warriors will really be able to defend the rim when Livingston returns and Iggy returns to the starting line-up and Barnes subs in.

    Warriors will get off to good start and barring injury will go deep in playoffs.

    Warriors will be great team when they obtain better players then Speights and Barnes.

  51. I know Livingston won’t be in the opener and may not play a few weeks, but has anyone heard word that he is even working out and practicing now?

    • warriorsablaze

      Brandon Rush and Shaun Livingston both participated in practice, and Rush is now probable for opening night. Livingston is still doubtful.— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) October 26, 2014

  52. @51

    I suggested some kind of analysis for the strain a player puts on offense (or in Barnes’ case does not). There is one:

    “You have to respect the shooter. But have you ever wondered which players get the most respect?

    “Good news: We can now track it scientifically. Stats LLC has privately crunched the data from SportVU player-tracking cameras in all 29 arenas last season and generated two advanced metrics to assess a player’s gravitational pull on a defense.

    “The first, called ‘gravity score,’ quantifies how closely a player’s defender sticks to him off the ball. Generally speaking, bigs have higher gravity scores because their primary defender must also protect the basket and muscle for post position. They rarely let the big get too far away. On the other hand, guards typically have lower gravity scores simply because defenders have more liberty to shade off their guy on the perimeter.

    “The second metric, called ‘distraction score,’ quantifies how much a player’s defender is willing to help off the ball to stop the ball handler. The worse he is as a shooter, the more likely his defender will be distracted by the ball handler. To shed light on who are the most effective floor-spacers in the NBA, I created a composite score that combines the two metrics. The result is what I’ve called ‘respect rating.’ For reference, the average point guard checked in with a 62.0 rating and centers registered an average 57.8 rating.”


    Who is #1? Curry!

    This is kind of interesting.

    • By that measure, Barnes might be rated last. Against Houston, he faced Harden and still didn’t score.

    • I have been calling Curry the most heavily blitzed point guard in history. This would seem to support that.

      • Make that the strain a player puts on the opposing defense.

        The effect should be obvious to any experienced coach without resorting to metrics, but in a world where GMs and owners are increasingly swayed by stats, they might help persuade some changes.

        I wonder if the entire lineup and offensive system could be similarly measured. It would be a way to evaluate, say, the schemes we’re seeing now. I’m also curious what Bogut’s score is, especially when he plays out.

        The problem with rankings is that they don’t tell us how significant differences are. The difference between #1 and #10 may not be especially meaningful and it may ignore other significant factors.