Solving Lacob’s Cube

The amateur GM of the Warriors has given his rookie coaches a lot of difficult puzzles to solve over the years. Veritable Rubik’s Cube rosters of mismatched pieces, that Keith Smart and Mark Jackson struggled to color coordinate. One-way defensive centers who were poor offensive partners for one of the most talented pick and roll point guards to ever play (The Kwame Brown Era, Bogut, Ezeli). Backup power forwards who weren’t power forwards (Lou Amundson, Jeremy Tyler, Jermaine O’Neal, Mo Speights). Defensive wings who couldn’t shoot the three (Dominic McGuire, the rookie Green), or actually defend (the rookie Barnes). Backup point guards who couldn’t shoot the three (the rookie Jeremy Lin, Ish Smith, Acie Law, Charles Jenkins, and yes, Shaun Livingston), or run the team (Charles Jenkins, Nate Robinson, Tony Douglas, Kent Bazemore, Jordan Crawford), or both.          

Let’s call these perplexing Warriors rosters Lacob’s Cubes. They proved largely unsolvable to Smart and Jackson, even as the Warriors’ increasing overall talent level led to better and better records.

Steve Kerr has quite a bit more talent to work with than did even Mark Jackson, largely due to the extraordinary development of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. But even Steve Kerr is faced with a heck of a Lacob’s Cube this season. The perpetual problem of Bogut’s offensive fit with Curry and Lee. The apparently mandated return of Harrison Barnes to the starting lineup, most probably in an effort to raise his trade value, and the disruptions that is causing. And the renewed and now long-term problem of having a non-shooting point guard trying to run the second unit.

This season’s Lacob’s Cube had me a bit worried to start the season, particularly since it was being set before Lacob’s third rookie coach in five seasons, one who was making disturbing noises about the triangle, while Lacob’s nominal GM and spokesmodel, Bob Myers, was making disturbing noises about playing big whenever possible.

My worries may have been misplaced. It’s very early, but I am very encouraged by what I’ve seen out of Steve Kerr and his coaching staff so far this season. Ecstatic even. Kerr has set to work on Lacob’s Cube with a fury, and to my eye, the returns have been impressive. There appears to be a fine and aggressive intelligence at work on the Warriors’ bench right now, that has me extremely optimistic that we’re on the verge of a breakthrough season.

Here is how Steve Kerr has set about solving Lacob’s Cube:

THE BOGUT BLITZ

Remember when Stephen Curry was the most heavily blitzed point guard in NBA history? It’s no longer happening.

Remember when Jerry West said that the blitzing of Curry was “on the coaches”? After last night’s game against the Hornets, I now think I understand completely what he meant.

I confess West’s comment was a bit of a puzzler to me at the time, because I was pretty sure Joe Lacob wasn’t going to tolerate the benching of Andrew Bogut — whose inability to shoot and refusal to roll and attack the rim were the chief causes of the blitz (along with Curry’s own supernatural shooting ability) — and also because I simply couldn’t conceive of the Warriors depriving the player I consider the second coming of Steve Nash of his ability to run high pick and roll.

Steve Kerr has opened my eyes a bit. Here’s what he’s done so far this season to avoid the constant blitzing of Stephen Curry:

1) Point-Bogut — Rather than creating penetration of  the enemy’s defenses via the traditional method, the ground flanking attack, Bogut achieves penetration from the air. He uses his great length to hold the ball up over the defense, and his great vision, intelligence and passing ability to drop bombs behind enemy lines with perfect timing and accuracy. He truly is an extraordinary passer from the high post, a pleasure to watch.

2) The High Hand-off and Roll — I was completely blown away by this variation of Bogut high-post action that I witnessed for the first time last night against the Hornets. Bogut caught the ball in the high post, and Curry took his man around the Bogut screen. We’ve seen this before. Usually at this point, Curry cuts down the lane, looking for a Bogut feed, or Bogut hands the ball off to Curry as he comes around, and Curry drives the lane or pulls up for a jumper.

But this time something different occurred: Bogut gave Curry the hand-off, and then rolled himself. He was wide open in the lane, and Curry fed him for an easy layup.

Think about this play for a second. Is it not another way to play high pick and roll, that makes it almost impossible to blitz? Bogut’s man can’t blitz Curry coming around the pick, because the ball isn’t yet in Curry’s hands. It’s still in Bogut’s. Now Bogut hits the second coming of Steve Nash with an easy return pass, rolls to the hoop, and… the defense is dead.

Ingenious.

3) Side Pick and Roll: If the defense is blitzing the high pick and roll, why not move it to the side? By doing so, you make it much more difficult for the defense to trap Curry effectively. Why? First, because there’s a big difference between leaving Bogut wide open at the top of the key, and leaving him open a few feet from the rim. Second, because it’s far more difficult for the weak-side defenders to give help after Bogut catches.

This was also run very effectively last night in the Hornets game. The beauty of these last two solutions over the first is that they don’t take the ball out of Curry’s hands. I’m pretty sure that Steve Kerr doesn’t want to Keith Smart Stephen Curry. Besides being bad basketball, there’s no future in it.

4) Big Money: Moving Draymond Green into the starting lineup has had a big effect on the Warriors’ spacing. Lee works on the elbows and under the basket, Green draws the defense all the way out to the three point line. Quite obviously, this helps open the floor both for pick and roll and high post action. When Bogut is out of the middle, the basket is ripe for attack.

Will Green continue to start once Lee returns?

5) Kicking Bogut’s Ass into Gear: This is a very underrated aspect of what we’ve seen in the last few games. Steve Kerr has somehow gotten Bogut interested in rolling to the basket, and attacking the rim on the catch. He’s gotten some easy layups and dunks out of it, and some not so easy where he demonstrated an unusual willingness to take the foul and go to the line.

This has quite a bit to do, obviously, with the ingenious tweaks to the Warriors offense that have Bogut operating in spaces where it is far easier for him to attack the rim. But it also involves a radical change in Bogut’s mindset.

Steve Kerr is attempting to de-Biedrinize Bogut, and if he succeeds, it will do wonders for the Warriors offense. If Bogut can keep defenses honest, for real, then the Warriors could achieve a Spurs-like efficiency in the half-court.

Will this take? Will it survive the Hack-a-Bogut that is most assuredly coming?

THE LIVINGSTON EFFECT AND THE SHOWCASE

Joe Lacob’s curious off-season signing of the non-shooting Shaun Livingston to a major deal set another incredibly difficult problem before Steve Kerr, one that I predicted from the start: how to achieve spacing on the second unit?

Little did I know how bad this problem would actually be. I was envisioning the difficulty of playing Festus Ezeli and Livingston together with Draymond Green on the second unit. I simply couldn’t imagine that The Harrison Barnes Showcase would cause Andre Iguodala to be added to the mix.

The result has been an unmitigated disaster, with the Warriors’ second unit getting worked in virtually every significant game. It simply can’t score.

Well, almost unmitigated, because in the last two games Kerr has taken significant steps towards solving this particularly tricky part of Lacob’s cube:

1) The Iggynobility of The Showcase:

It should be obvious to everyone by now that Iggy and Livingston can’t play together. They are essentially the same player. Long defensive wings, whose offensive shortcomings are overcome by their great playmaking ability off the dribble. But only one of them can dribble at a time, no? And when one of them is dribbling, the other is wasted. Neither of them is a credible enough threat off the ball to provide a decent scoring outlet, nor to prevent their defender from cheating off of them.

Iggy and Livingston don’t complement each other, they cannibalize each other. This is a major reason why both of them are performing way below expectations this season.

So what has Kerr done about this? In the last two games, he’s started subbing Iggy for Barnes earlier than normal. This has had several positive effects. First, it’s getting Iggy some run with the starters, helping to get him going in his normal complementary role. Second, it has enabled Kerr to bring Barnes back with the second unit, which desperately needs his three point shooting. Third, it has enabled Kerr to play Barnes at stretch-four on the second unit, which is not only his best position, but an absolutely essential configuration for a Shaun Livingston-led second unit to thrive.

Bravo. What else?

2) Mogut: Formerly Mokur, but with Speights’ recent explosion of defensive prowess at center, and continued futility from the three point line, he will until further notice be known as Mogut.

In the last two games, Mogut has replaced Festus Ezeli as the first center off the bench. Kerr has stated that he simply wants to reward Speights for his great play, but there is more to it than that. The second unit desperately needs the shooting ability and spacing that Mogut provides. It literally can’t function with Ezeli on the court.

This has the added benefit of preserving Ezeli’s health until Bogut goes down, and he’s needed on the first squad.

3) Blurred Lines: So far this season, the most capable initiator of offense on the Warriors second unit has been Leandro Barbosa, aka The Brazilian Blur. In fact, if it weren’t for his penetration, the unit would be getting blown out. He’s saving their bacon.

So who is the true point guard of the second unit? In the last 5 games, Livingston is averaging 1.6 assists. Barbosa 1.8.  And Iggy 2.4.

Who will be the true point guard of the second unit going forward this season? There is a lot of solving left to be done here. A lot.

So far this season Steve Kerr has had the good sense and strength of will to defy Joe Lacob’s desire (reiterated by spokesmodel Bob Myers before the season) to play big at all times. (The return of David Lee will put that to a real test.)

Now Kerr is beginning to chip away at The Showcase. Will he do away with it altogether? Since Shaun Livingston is now “healthy”, Iggy is no longer needed to run the second unit, the Iggy/Livingston pairing is such an obvious disaster, and Barnes has shown signs of grasping his new role in a motion offense, and gained confidence by being force-fed wide open looks with the starters, perhaps Kerr will soon consider moving Iggy back with the starters, and Barnes to the second unit where his shooting is badly needed. I would frankly be surprised if The Showcase lasts much longer, and amazed if it continues past the trading deadline.

THE LEE LINCHPIN

With so many plots and subplots already boiling and bubbling in Steve Kerr’s underground laboratory, it’s fascinating to think about what he might do with the Warriors’ lineup once two-time All-Star power forward David Lee returns to action.

Kerr has already indicated some reluctance to return Lee to the starting lineup, because “we’re winning with Draymond starting.” I think what he means to say is that Lee and Bogut occupy the same spaces and roles on the court, cannibalizing each other to a degree, and congesting the Warriors’ spacing.

And it’s undeniable that Lee’s offensive ability could prove a godsend to the second unit. Particularly if he’s played at his best position — center — in a smallball unit with a stretch-four.

Could Livingston/Lee pick and roll with a spread floor be a thing? Unless you like watching Livingston post up, you better hope so.

I have an even better idea, because I’m not convinced it’s a good idea to start Draymond Green 82 games against the Randolphs, Griffins and Loves of the league. An idea I have been advocating for over a year, and that Kerr is now employing with Barnes and Iggy.

The early sub.

Let Lee start the first and third quarters, and absorb the opening impact of the bruisers, the way Bogut and Ezeli have so usefully done against the opponents’ frontline centers. But then sub Lee out early for Green, giving the opponents’ first team a completely different look.

Then bring Lee back for Bogut, along with the rest of the second unit, so that he can get some minutes playing pick and roll center on the second unit alongside Green.

The Lee-Green front line has been by far the most effective unit by plus/minus on the Warriors in the last two years, even though virtually all of its minutes have come in crunch-time. By far. Look it up.

It also happens to be the unit that in Bogut’s absence beat Lebron’s Heat, in Miami, twice. A feat no other team was able to accomplish.

Throw in a little Barnes, a little Rush, a little Barbosa, and even Shaun Livingston might start looking good.

Cube solved?

127 Responses to Solving Lacob’s Cube

  1. In addition to the improvement from last year of Thompson and
    and Green, Barnes name should be included, and also Ezeli, although he was hurt most of the year.

    I think the chances of Barnes being trading is fading fast given his stellar
    Performances the last few games and the Warriors wanting to keep their payroll at a reasonable level. And I doubt he’ll be removed to the second unit when Lee returns

    Know think that Iggy and Lee will be retained this season but I can envision one or both of their high salaries being jettisoned this summer

    The play Bogut now runs from the side when he rolls to the hoop was run by C. Gatling many times.

    The defense has really improved this year. Thompson is holding SG’s to shooting 40 percent down from 46 percent last year. Curry’s has allowed PG’s to shoot 52 percent down from last year’s 56 percent. Livingston is holding PG’s to shooting 28 percent to Crawford’s 49 percent last year. 82 games.

    Bogut is holding opposing centers to shooting 43 percent, Ezeli 46 percent.

    Speights who should never play center is allowing his opponent to score at 54 percent and when he plays power forward 50 percent.even with his shooting well overall for season the Warriors are still outscored with him on the court hopefully with David Lee playing with the second unit that will reverse.

    It’s really time for ally-oops to both Barnes and Livingston.

    Presently a player near the hoop will hit Bogut cutting to the hoop from near the foul-liine. The time has come for guards at the top of key or the wings to cut to hoop and receive the ball and lay it up. Barnett indicated the other day that such play cannot be stopped it can’t be stopped because perimeter players are looking inside when the ball is down low and their opponent on the perimeter who can easily run by their opponent.

    • it might prove beyond kerr’s acumen to preserve or appreciate(in the economic sense of course) the commodity value for both barnes and iguodala. we’ll have to see if the wing/guard combo of livingston, barbosa, and barnes is granted serious minutes. without restoring iguodala’s value, he won’t fetch much on the market. if his doldrums extend through the season, he’ll end up the equivalent of the r.jefferson signing by SA, and liquidating him would also be following jefferson’s trail, which of course was part of how iguodala ended up in oaktown.

  2. excellent as usual guv’nor felt. early insertion of the sixth man with a proficient practitioner ready on the bench such as green, has been applied in many times and places, at least as far back as havlicek of course (lots of stuff Auerbach or Wooden or Holtzman used goes back to the 30s), and j.jack in his single season with the preacher.

  3. Very nice analyses on Bogut and Lee, but your discussion of Livingston gives the mistaken impression that Kerr moved Iguodala to the 2nd unit with the intention of pairing him with Livingston.

    The truth, however, is just the opposite — since Livingston was injured & wouldn’t be available until after the season started, having Iguodala come off the bench was the only alternative. (Unless, of course, you think Leandro Barbosa is capable of orchestrating a team’s offense, in which case you should excuse yourself from the adults’ table ASAP.)

    As I noted a couple of days ago (in a comment on the previous post), we’re now in the awkward transition stage of passing the 2nd unit from Iguodala to Livingston. This will likely result in Iguodala starting again, but Kerr has to deal with exactly the same issues you described accurately regarding Lee’s return from injury — how to reintegrate a starter without disrupting the chemistry of a team that is playing well right now.

  4. Felt, thanx for writing again, wonderful ideas. I think Barnes improvement working with Coach Adams shooting and Kerr says he plays excellent defense, the equation changed, and Barnes is no longer on the trade block (of course a GM will hear offered deals and you never know). Certainly Barnes confidence improved starting. Probably the Warriors stick with what they have this season and contend for the title, barring significant injury.

    • Barnes wasn’t on the trade block to begin with. The “showcase” is basically a figment of Feltbot’s imagination.

      If GS wanted to trade Barnes, they could have easily done so in the offseason.

      • Monte Poole on the pre-game show tonight says Barnes was on the trade block and possibly might still be and with added value, if I understood his comments correctly. Anyone else see that segment?

      • After Speights stopped shooting the long ball, Speights shot very well the last third of the season. This gear his offense has gone off the chart. His low post bank shot is now absolutely deadly. His poor defense and penchant for making turnovers hasn’t changed but his offense so overshadows his defensive liability that the Warriors can allow him to play center. However, we’ll see if he remains a positive when he plays against the top teams in NBA.

        • Speights is averaging one turnover a game this season, just slightly above his career average.

          His ability to shoot is in part influenced by the coach’s confidence in him and willingness to let him shoot. Last season, not much of either. He will also be able to get up a good shot, in part because of his size, in part because he goes against slower centers who may not come out fully to guard him. As for pressure against top teams, I’d be more concerned about Barnes.

          I’m not clear why Speights is such a bad defender. He lacks Bogut’s size and vision, but has greater speed and mobility. And he can muscle up against centers. His defense will in part be determined by the quality of the defenders alongside him, especially at the 4, also on the perimeter. Playing with the scrubs last season he didn’t have much help with either.

      • WheresMyChippy

        “If GS wanted to trade Barnes, they could have easily done so in the offseason.”

        For what? A sack of potatoes?

  5. They were offered Lowry last year and turned it down.

    Warriors probably smart enough to change what’s not broken.
    Doesn’t matter much whether Lee and Iggy in starting line-up.
    No predictability in what combination the best. Glad to see turnovers falling. We’re self-inflicted and therefore correctable.

    Time to sit back and enjoy. Some posters can’t do that.

  6. Thanks, boss. Rubik’s cube is an apt metaphor for this team. At least this season we have a more complicated puzzle to work with. Last season we were untying knots.

  7. LA—

    Bogut fans: Tell me you weren’t surprised as well. Bogut can and should be able to score against smaller defenders. And tonight did. But it’s as FB has been saying all along, that you have to hit him on the run.

    Mo fans (I believe there were two last season): I’m not surprised at all. But he has to play with a better lineup. Last season he got lost among the scrubs, along with the rest.

    A win was to be expected. But a rout like this shows the team hitting on all cylinders. My minor quibble is that the bench players didn’t do more garbage time, with Livingston and Barbosa on the floor. And they need to do everything they can to get those guys going. Give them a better lineup. Why wasn’t Rush in?

    • nine players in the principal rotation is fairly conventional, and this season the woeyrs’ nine are pretty respectable. the main upset came in the shape of speights, essentially replacing ezeli in that nine. the other four who are active are clearly developmental projects, and ezeli justifiably belongs there with the gaps in his game. rush could take most of the season to regain his faculties, and if they are intent in gaining home court for a round or two of the playoffs he has to earn his minutes.

    • Rush played the last 5-plus minutes of the 2nd quarter and, to be honest, looked awful. Out of shape (IMO) and out of sync.

      Good thing Barbosa has been a pleasant surprise, because the best hope (as Moto alludes to below) seems to be that maybe Rush can contribute toward the end of the season.

      • Below, above, up, down, whatever. :)

      • Send Rush down to Santa Cruz for game conditioning and getting some shots up? He won’t develop on the bench.

      • I’m not sure that Rush is completely healthy yet. In the few times he has sprinted full speed, he looks like he still has some pain, or at the least stiffness in his leg. Not surprising at all, but it also means that he probably doesn’t have much quickness or explosion. I don’t think we can count on Rush as being much of a contributor for a while.

        The one thing he does need to be able to do is catch the ball and then shoot it. He could be the Warriors Matt Bonner.

  8. No complaints about the Warriors’ start, but the real season begins in about a week, when competition stiffens and games get bunched up. They will have three tests:

    1. Can they win the many games against lesser opponents they should win?

    With their depth and talent, this looks likely.

    2. Can they manage the health and condition of the players over the season?

    There are signs this may be a priority for the team, finally. Also, Kerr isn’t following the honor system of giving most minutes to team heroes. So maybe he will experiment. When (if) Lee returns to form, Kerr will have all kinds of options in the front court, and should be able to spell their minutes, maybe even give them a night off. Bogut especially will need the rest over the course of the season. A backup point guard, however, still is a question. When competition allows, I wouldn’t mind seeing Livingston playing more with the starters.

    3. Can they beat the top tier teams?

    Remains to be seen.

  9. icymi last night, Curry pulling off the Magic dime on the Laker’s home floor:

    http://instagram.com/p/vfUYlNmpOs/

    I agree with MT2, there was a delicious malice in the Warriors’ performance last night.

  10. Mo’ on Mo:

    My argument isn’t that Speights is a great player who will ensure a deep run in the playoffs. Rather, he presents a set of skills and options in the front court that, if developed, might help turn the tide.

    Look at his game against the Spurs, a close loss, while with Cleveland.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?id=400278702

    19 points, 7 boards, 4 blocks. And the Warriors especially need more offensive options against the Spurs to spread the floor and take the pressure off the guards.

    Also the win against Memphis, with Philly, early in his career:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?id=300410029

    22 points and 5 boards in 21 minutes.

    I see potential.

    • Mo is also a much better fit with the Warriors and their style of play than he was with any of his previous teams.

  11. Small Sample Size Theater, Starring the GSWs!

    Average Scoring Margin “shouldn’t” matter. There’s no difference between winning big or just winning, and most coaches won’t waste their best players on running up scores against teams they’ve effectively beaten before the final buzzer. Winning teams can field a poor 2nd unit to “survive” just well enough to edge out a game.

    The playoffs are different. In the playoffs, teams’ best players generally spend more time on the floor, and a poor 2nd team (one with a negative +-) becomes almost a non-factor. So we shouldn’t be able to tell much about the playoffs from a simple, thoughtless math exercise like regular season ASM.

    However, year in and year out, Average Scoring Margin correlates fairly well with playoff results. Check the ASM rankings from last year, for example, and SA is at the top, followed a who’s who listing of good teams. Golden State was 6th, about where they realistically ranked in competitiveness.

    At this moment in time, the Ws lead the league in Average Scoring Margin for the season. By a wide margin.

    http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/average-scoring-margin

    It means nothing.

    Or does it?

    • you noted the sample size yourself. and we’ll know more about the quality of the sample when Sac and the rivers gang (25 Dec) get another opportunity. Por enjoyed a very nice scoring margin average for most of last season, then aldridge went out. even if we see the current average sustained through mid-Jan, the team still has to endure some tough scheduling in Feb, and we still have no idea how they might look if bogut missed two or three weeks. he and curry looked ordinary vs. Phx after strong efforts the night before, and they lost.

  12. Scoring differential tells how good a team is.

    rgg, you may want to consider that the reserves last night probably never played before together. To soon to make any judgments on Rush.
    Disappointed in Holidays play so far.

    • Holliday reminds me of Kent Bazemore as a rookie. The game was moving a little bit too fast for him, and he was moving too fast in order to try to keep up with it. Hopefully things slow down for him quickly, and maybe he can contribute. I wouldn’t pass judgement on him.

  13. Feltbot, you may want to watch the Showcase very closely for the next 5 games. Barnett was speaking glowingly of him last game, especially on that finger roll where he went around Boozer.

    I still think Barnes doesn’t have the instincts to be a great player, but he is moving in a more fluid way, especially when he’s attacking the basket. It makes you wonder if the positive reinforcement that seems to bubble out of Kerr (Speights has noted it), has made a difference for Barnes. Also, Bogut almost looks spry out there on offense. Obviously this is attributed to the offensive scheme that has him touching the ball a lot more, but he also seems motivated and happy. Two things that we never saw under Jackson. If Kerr can keep the minutes down for his starters as he has done so far, this team is going to be very dangerous.

    • What’s going on with Barnes is directly tied to the difference in how he is being used, and playing with the starters. I predicted before the season that he would look much better if he were started, so this isn’t a big surprise for me. I also predicted that fans and media would once again start overrating his ability as a result.

      I’ll expand on this in my next post.

  14. Kerr calls Curry the best point guard in the NBA.

    http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Curry-takes-big-leap-forward-as-do-Warriors-5899560.php?cmpid=twitter-desktop

    Is he the favorite for MVP this season? I don’t think it’s far fetched.

    • I prefer a different interpretation. The team is finally figuring out what to do with him, or seems to be doing so.

    • little doubt he’ll be a top three candidate in the m.v.p. vote ; the bigger question for me is the cumulative impact from competing over the summer and expending more energy and court mileage for defense — will he end up missing games and how many.

  15. Nice piece Felty! I am going to check in more often now that the season is started and will contribute more as well. Glad to see you coming around on Bogut, if I am not mistaken, you weren’t a huge fan of his in the past. He may be the best passing big in the game now that he is being given a chance to display his full game. He reminds me so much of Arvidas Sabonis the way he waves the ball around far above his head and makes passes from angles you simply don’t see in the NBA any longer. You know me and my love of Nellie, so I am sure you would be a bit surprised to know that Bogut is my favorite Warrior. Something about his grit, nastiness and fire always stuck with me, even when he was hurt and a zero on offense. But now? Now he is confident in the half court, actively asking for the ball and flashing strong when in the past he would shrink. We see his handle come out all of a sudden and even better, he is attacking the rim unafraid to go to the line. Imagine if Nellie had him, what he could do with Bogut. Point Center?

    As for AI, you are dead on, he is redundant on this team and if you can sign both Livingston AND Barnes and maybe another player for what you pay AI, then you gotta move AI. I would argue Livingston is an even better fit with the second unit AND the starting unit because he is a true pg, unlike AI. It’s just a matter of him getting his legs under him. For now though, we will just have to work with the embarrassment of riches we have.

    One final question, what you got against the triangle? It’s the perfect offense for the talent we have.

    • if you are assuming what you see this season is the triangle because of kerr’s politicking and self-marketing over the summer, fine, but methinks there is only vestigial traces of the triple post. bigger portions of flex and princeton, is my impression.

    • I worry about SL and AI recovering fully from recent injuries, especially given their ages. I believe HB is finally fully recovered from turf toe. I can’t explain the return of HBs first step and explosiveness otherwise.

      • Marc, you have voiced my own private surmise about Barnes’ turf toe.

      • Marc, its a combination of things as I see it. First, he is playing with the starters again and is clearly most comfortable as a complimentary player. Second, this system suits his abilities perfectly and lastly, as you observe, he is clearly healthy again. You forget how strong he is and how he can hold his own inside while still being skilled enough to play from the three point line in. He’s definitely a weapon when healthy and deployed correctly.

      • Have we seen explosiveness? With time and as open lane he can drive, but otherwise? Admittedly his layup the other night was impressive. His lack of an explosive step was the rap on him back in college days.

        His report at DrattExpress again:

        http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Harrison-Barnes-5705/

        • Thanx rgg, and the report also says he had trouble finishing at the rim. Perhaps its more the role, like GMoney explains above and which you indicate as well. I would like to see Iguodala start again.

    • Great to have you over here Gmoney, love your perspective on the game.

      As for what I have against the triangle, would you put Steve Nash in it? QED.

      Also, imo, the triangle is all about the post player. Do the Warriors have any dominant post players like Jordan, Kobe, Shaq, Gasol? Should Lee be playing in the mid-post? I totally disagree with your assessment that triangle is the perfect offense for our talent. Not all passing offenses are equal. The Spurs initiate most of their offense off pick and roll, and because we have a superstar at the point, I think we should as well.

      I also agree with Moto, that the Warriors aren’t running much triangle. I would estimate about 10% of the time. Note that Bogut high-post is not triangle.

      As for Bogut, it’s not so much me coming around as Bogut himself coming around. As he does, my opinion will change. My previous opinion of Bogut has largely had to do with how he meshes with our best player offensively, and his abject fear since joining the Warriors of attacking the basket and getting fouled. The last few games have been a revelation that must have Mark Jackson shaking his head.

      Bogut is crediting Steve Kerr with “turning his career around.”

      http://www.warriorsworld.net/2014/11/18/warriors-news-bogut-credits-kerr-for-turning-around-his-career/

      But although I love the role Kerr has invented for Bogut, the chief change in his play has come from within. If he’s finally willing to attack in pick and roll and risk the foul, then hurrah. Long may it last.

      Pretty clear that the Warriors have a building conundrum surrounding Iggy, Barnes, Green and Livingston. And like you I’m starting to entertain the idea that it might be Iggy whom Lacob would like to send off. But good luck getting rid of that contract.

      And I think you’re nuts, if you think Livingston or Barnes is a comparable player or better fit. Iggy is a stopper, with a stopper’s mentality. Barnes will never have that. Iggy’s not a great shooter, but he shoots the three OK. Livingston not at all.

      There is one good reason to dump Iggy, and that is Draymond Green. He should be the Warriors starting SF.

      A lot of people are going to make the mistake of undervaluing Iggy and overvaluing Barnes based on their play this year in the respective roles and units that Kerr has chosen for them. I won’t be one of them. Stay tuned, I’m cooking up a post on this topic as a tonic for the Barnes delirium that has very predictably begun to re-infect the Bay.

      Let’s see, did I leave anything out? :>

    • Btw GM, love the Sabonis comparison.

  16. Feltbot, c’mon– you have absolutely crucified Barnes’ basketball ability and heart on this site. Over and over. And not because of turf toe. Has Kerr given Barnes a new basketball heart? Is Steve Kerr the Wizard? I’m a patient man. I can wait for you to admit you misjudged Barnes. It’s not a crime to be wrong.

    • You’re not as patient as you think.

    • there are at least two dozen die hard partisans over on goldenstateofmind.com who are similarly waiting for Professor Dr. Zamir (has several different blog monikers including ‘theCity’) to recant more than two seasons of doubt he cast upon the boy wonder barnes. more the merrier.

  17. I actually think we do have the players collectively to run the triangle for a couple of reasons. One, with Bogut as a viable offensive threat finally, you can run the triangle through him, and due to his immense passing ability, it can be wildly successful. Two, with their wealth of athletic swingmen, the Warriors can always exploit the post when Curry goes out. Livingston, Klay, and Barnes all have the ability to score on smaller player inside. Especially Livingston, when he starts rounding into form I think he is the ideal pivot point in triangle schemes. Finally Lee. When he comes back he will excel in the post with cutters running off him and options to score himself. Love me some Draymond, but he does’t have that ability.

    As for AI, I am not nearly as optimistic as you are on his game. After that series against the Nuggets I was enamored, he was amazing, and when we signed him? Over the moon happy. But seeing him come out timid, again this year I have lost faith in his mental toughness. Is he a good defender? Yes, do I think he’s that much better than Livingston if he were to be healthy? At least on the perimeter I would say
    no. Offensively however he plays so scared and it drives me nuts. To have that ability, that athleticism, to be able to get into the lane almost at will and then to just wet the bed and pass it out for a three is too painful to watch. Especially when he finally does get fouled and goes to the line and looks horrible bricking up free throws. I say Livingston is a better fit for the following reason, our big need is a backup PG and a player who can get to the rack and the free throw line. As good as AI is, Livingston is a better pure point and ball handler and as athletic as AI is and with the moves he has, he is not a legitimate threat to go to the rim. Still, he is very important this year because Livingston is no guarantee given the severity of his past injury.

    More on Curry and the triangle later.

    • Asking Bogut to create his own offense in the low post is a far cry from the way Kerr is currently using him, in the high post, and on the move. He’s one of the worst low post centers in the league. And hates playing there. One of the reasons he’s so happy with Kerr.

      Livingston and Lee can play in the post, but are not the dominant players you need there to make triangle your primary offense. Will anyone double team them in the playoffs? That’s what is needed to make that offense work.

      No, they won’t. Because when you have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, teams will be begging you to take those midrange twos. Begging.

      Not to mention, Lee is so much more talented in pick and roll and high post that it’s a crime to post him up. To paraphrase Mark Jackson, the broadcaster.

      Livingston as athletic as Iggy? Hmmm. I sense an enamored gaze. I will grant you the FT%. One of the chief reasons I argued against signing Iggy. He’s a crunchtime liability (but so is someone who can’t shoot from outside). And I’m as worried as anyone that Iggy’s knees and defense are in decline.

      It doesn’t matter. No one in their right minds will take Iggy’s contract next summer. Probably not even if they stupidly love Barnes, and he were thrown in. They might take Lee + Barnes, though. Lee is expiring.

      • + + + + +

        Laser-focused truth, FB.

        Kerr’s offensive schemes suggest that it’s the way he sees things too. It’s going to be very fun to see what happens with a fully functional Lee available. For Kerr and his coaching staff, Lee is another shiny new offensive weapon to throw in the mix.

      • Iggy as a crunch time defender outweighs his free throw ability to me. He is the defensive player I trust most not to foul and to make the smart defensive play down the stretch. Green is starting to get there, and so are Thompson and Curry, but Iggy is a master at avoiding content, while still forcing a tough shot.

      • Couple of clarifications. First, when I say Kerr runs the triangle, I am not saying he runs what was run in Chicago. He made abundantly clear early on that it would be impossible to run that same offense today with the changes to the rules. Instead he said he has introduced triangle principles. Second, these triangle principles are not the crux of their halfcourt offense. The way I am seeing the game, they are employing these principles as an ordering mechanism after the break fails and before they get into a full halfcourt offensive set.

        With regards to the triangle, you don’t need to have a dominant offensive post player. They ran it very successfully with both Luc/Cartwright (low post) Grant/Rodman (high post). Most often, you aren’t using the post player as your scoring option, but using him as a pivot point from which to cut off of and create openings. During this time, the post player has a million options at his disposal, and a smart player can use them to get advantageous shots. How many times have you seen the Warriors cutting off the ball with the ball in the post or high post and getting open threes and then open backdoor layups? How many times have you seen bogut fake like he is passing it out to the three point line to trick a defender only to drop it to Klay, Curry, and Barnes cutting to the rack. Jordan scored in the post, yes, but most of his offense came cutting off the ball to get open looks in the mid range. All it takes is a modified cut and that mid range shot is now an open three. I think we will see more as the season develops, but from what I am seeing thus far, the triangle principles are keeping this team from getting stagnant.

        As for Livingston, I guess I am going off of his performance in the playoffs last year. He was absolutely fearless attacking the rack and was very very good on defense, guarding Lebron a lot of the time, and well to boot. What is more, Kidd put the ball in his hands to run the point and took it out of Deron Williams’s hands down the stretch. He really showed me something. I am simply projecting what a healthy Livingston can do on this team when surrounded by this level of floor spacing. I admit I may be optimistic, but in his last real playoff setting, he truly excelled and showed physically he was back.

        As for the pick and roll, I think you get the same thing with the triangle except the ball handler ends up being the screener. I actually think Lee, like Bogut will be a better player in that role than as a pure, traditional pick and roll big. Rodman was an absolute gem passing out of the high post, and I can see Lee being very good in that role as well. We will have to wait though, he hasn’t really had a chance to stretch his wings in this system yet.

        And don’t underestimate the stupidity and desperation of some owners. You can say what you will about AI, but he does have certain qualities that make the players around him better. Put him on a contending team and ask him to play that role, he could excel and a team may be willing to take that K. For now though, that is all premature. Lets see how he does this season and how far his contributions can take this team.

        • there’s another contingent of the partisans who insist that kerr is adapting the SA offense, and the stuff you describe can also be fit into that trope if you apply similar mental manoeuvring. yet SA offense ≠ triple post. like religion, it’s there if you choose to believe in it.

          • Faith in religion satisfies a fundamental human need to find meaning in this vast and intimidating world. I’m having a hard time finding a similar,compelling need to search out the triangle this season. I simply see a ton of it in the Warriors play. This comes from years of religiously watching and following Jordan and the Bulls. Like I stated, Kerr already mentioned that the triple post is outdated given the change in rules and how the game is played. You are seeing a variation if it. Given the vast majority of his playing experience came with the Bulls, under Phil, I don’t think its such a stretch to say they implement triangle principles…especially since he himself said as much.

          • +1 moto. I think the high post, dribble handoff stuff is all Spurs. How many times have we seen Duncan and Parker run that?

            Virtually every motion offense employs “triangle principles”. It’s a fundamental of spacing. My rule of thumb is that if you’re not setting up and feeding the mid-post first, it’s not TRIANGLE. I think most coaches would agree with that.

            And as I mentioned, the Warriors are running offense from the mid-post around 10% of the time, at most.

          • Felty, I am admittedly no expert in the triangle, so i decided to do a little research. Based on what I am seeing here, I don’t understand the pre-occupation with the double post concept. As you can see, triangle principles can be deployed in any number of ways.

            I mean this is quibbling really, who cares what he runs, all that matters is that it works and will continue to improve as the season goes on, but thought I would share this anyway because its informative.

            http://www.coachesclipboard.net/TriangleOffense.html

          • I agree that it’s not that important, as we can all agree that Kerr is running a motion offense that takes advantage of the team’s high IQ and passing abilities.

            If we are talking triangle, though, I stopped reading when I saw this line in your link:

            “In each case, we want the ball on the wing and establish the sideline triangle.”

            I just don’t see that happening a lot. Bogut high post is not this. It’s UCLA. And Spurs.

  18. Amazing how two players can make such dramatic transformations in just a week or two—against weak defenses.

  19. I think Barnes will have as much success with first team as he will as a substitute. As he has revamped his shot and drives and is no longer used in ISO posts ups and is now an almost complete offensive player in his own right. His game is simply not dependent on him playing with the starters.

    Felty, Green should not be the starting small forward. As his deficiencies are many. He can’t pass and can’t finish at rim. Commits a lot of stupid fouls. And he’s a marginal defender inside. SF’s are shooting 55 percent against him. While Iggy’s opponents are shooting 46 percent 82 games. Moreover, even though Iggy plays with the second unit, the second unit outscored their opponents by more points then when Green is on the court with the second unit. Even Barnes opponents at PF surprisingly shoot 47 percent, much less then Green opponents are.

    There are no perimeter players in the NBA that are lock-down defenders. There are some bigs with mobility who come close, but only close.

    Iggy is a good defender but not as you claim a lock-down defender. as he nor is any other player in NBA can stop his opponent from blowing by him and taking the ball to the hoop. and as as a wing players he cheat in to help thus leaving his opponent on the perimeter wide open to take a perimeter shot. Most decent players can separate from him off the dribble most of the time and get off an uncontested shot. And decent coaches 9 times out of 10 will have a big set a pick so that Iggy can’t get to his man on the perimeter. What Iggy is good at is stealing the ball, especially in the lanes, but that has nothing to do with his being a lock down defender. Iggy’s great asset is protecting the Warriors inside where is much better than Green or Barnes.

    It’s an open question whether Barnes or Iggy should be the starting SF. I would not put Green in that equation. Green for me is a stretch PF. Whether Lee or he should start when Lee returns Is an open question.

    I think Livingston and Iggy can be on the court together especially of the are playing with Speights, Lee, and Green/Barbosa.

  20. Reality check:

    The point of the Kerr offense is to move the ball to get good looks. But all but one of the wins have been against the worst defensive teams in the league so far, including two against the Lakers, at the very bottom (Houston doesn’t count because of the injuries). They lost to Phoenix however, who is ranked 26th.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/team/_/stat/team-comparison-per-game/sort/avgPointsOpponent

    Barnes:

    Is playing 29 minutes a game and averaging 12 points per game. A career 36% 3 point shooter has made 13-27 for 48%, a nice percentage, and about a third of his total points. I suspect almost all, if not all of those makes were uncontested spot-up shots, most from the corner. I don’t think there are many uncontested or lightly contested makes inside the arc.

    He is only averaging 1.5 assists per game, so we have to question how well he sets up other players, something a key starter should be able to do in this motion offense, certainly over 29 minutes. Most likely, he is passing up shots to move the ball back out. I’d be curious to see how much (or how little) he extends court spacing. Nice graphs could be drawn. He is also only averaging 3 free throws a game, which could be because the system favors good looks or because he’s passing up shots.

    Again, all this against weak defensive teams (the Spurs are an exception, where, again, he was conceded). A similar case could be made about Speights, but with this difference: as a big, he is more likely to get open shots against any team, the main advantage he offers.

    Bogut:

    Has made impressive drives—most against smallish, inexperienced centers, most notably Jordan for the Lakers. For the life of me, I can’t remember how many times he has banked in a drive, the higher percentage shot, as he did Sunday. He hasn’t faced the dominant defensive front courts, except maybe the Clippers, where he didn’t score much, and Lopez for Brooklyn, 11 points, but their weak defense made it easier to open up the lane.

    So:

    Is it the system, is it the players, or is it the weakness of the opponents? It’s too damn early to conclude much of anything.

    We don’t know how other starting lineups might work because none have been tried.

  21. We have a new unit of measurement in pro sports: the Stanton (13 yrs, $325 million). Thus Lacob bought the Warriors for about 1.4 Stantons, Ballmer bought the Clippers for over 3 Stantons, etc.

  22. Thoughts on the NBA draft from Paul Pierce

    …if a 20-year-old Paul Pierce, coming off of an All-American year, decided to declare for the 2015 NBA draft? Where would he go? Top overall?

    According to Pierce, “I probably wouldn’t have got drafted. A lot of stuff is based on potential, so I probably would have gone later in the first round or something. This draft class was definitely supposed to be one of the great draft classes of this era and as you see, I really don’t see nobody in this class really standing out so far, even though it’s only been 10 games.”

    This is what happens when you draft players just a year removed from high school. It’s not Andrew Wiggins’ fault that he… had just 35 college games under his belt when he was made the top overall pick… NBA general managers have to adapt accordingly and focus on things like length and leaping ability.

    Which goes some way toward explaining why the Ws drafted Barnes.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/paul-pierce-says-he–probably-wouldn-t-have-got-drafted–into-the-modern-nba-210259559.html

  23. rgg: There’s enough evidence that the Warriors are a damn good team. So many players are shooting the lights out. And turnovers their biggest problem is being addressed and hopefully fading away.

    All offenses are based on getting open shots. And as I explained a prior post it’s rather easy to create an offensive play that gets the shooter an open shot. Also, with Barnes not taking many shots at not being the focus of any opponent playing better defensive teams should minimally effect his shooting. Nor, as a SF, do the Warriors need him
    to make assists. His doing just fine shooting the ball and getting out on the break.

    You’re raising issues with regard to Barnes and Bogut offensively that do not exist. What you should be concerned with is whether a front line of Barnes, Bogut, and Green can withstand an all-out assault by a good team attacking the rim. That’s my only concern with present starters.,

  24. Can’t believe how much space devoted to whether Bogut continues to score. As long as his FG percentage decent I’m not concerned as the Warriors have a plethora of high field percentage scorers. Nor am I concerned whether he guarded or not. As other Warriors will continue to get wide open shots, even down low, as long as Bogut is kept out of low post and the paint kept clear. Anything Bogut gives us offensively is gravy.

  25. Utterly off topic, but this is pretty good and someone spent a lot of time on it. How super heroes would dress in the 17th. Century:

    http://www.designboom.com/art/super-flemish-heroes-villains-17th-century-11-19-2014/

    Which raises the question what basketball uniforms would look like then. Perhaps something like this:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Jeu_de_paume002.jpg

    Comparison, of course, is invited with the new techno uniforms, mannerist in their own way.

    • didn’t know you were fond of the period. here’s a film recommendation for you, a bit earlier in the 16th cent., possibly more interesting with greater turmoil and conflict as the Spanish imperium flexes its wealth from the new world. ‘the Mill and the Cross’, director/writer Majewski’s recreation of Pieter Bruegel’s painting (the crucifixion set in Flanders, populated by Bruegel’s contemporaries), the artist portrayed by R.Hauer.

    • wojanarowski’s more nuanced and sympathetic handling was a welcome contrast to how espn’s writers (two recent pieces, one by McMenamin, another by Windhorst) would like turning up the heat a bit on the cooker, with $$ in the biggest marquee star, another hype-bearer in love, and proprietary interest in broadcasts.

      • As a longtime pro coach Blatt is accustomed to pressure, but jumping from a small-market Israeli team to coaching LeBron in the NBA, he’s suddenly confronted with an insane level of media nitpicking.

        His track record sez he’ll do fine after a short adjustment period. He’s highly adaptable, and a brilliant human being.

        Cleveland is going to be a problem for everyone else.

    • Shooting .48o this season after shooting over .450 last. Remember when the pundits thought that impossible? @haralabob among them.

  26. Warriors are ranked within the NBA’s top two teams in field
    goal percentage and holding opponents to the lowest field goal percentage. Can’t get better than that. They only need to hold their turnovers to a reasonable number in order to insure winning
    many, many games.

  27. Preview of tonight’s coaching matchup:

    “In is a new philosophy, explained by Snyder as ‘playing with a pass, playing with pace, and playing with purpose.’ In short, it’s a much more modern approach: The Jazz will look to bend the opposition’s setup using quick ball movement, push the ball as quickly as possible in order to take advantage of holes in the defense and space the floor with intention. As Jazz GM (and former Spurs exec) Dennis Lindsey explained, ‘Any time you get defenses to change body position, usually there’s somewhere inside the defense that there will be a breakdown. Then, the integrity of the lines of the defense can be compromised through penetration, whether it be with a dribble or with a pass.’

    “Then, before training camp began last month, he held a practice with the media on the court, running the assembled TV, radio, newspaper and Internet hordes through the offense — slowly, with no defense, in five-man groups. We were rotated through stations explaining different bits of the offense: how the Jazz plan to play in flow, how players’ floor locations bend while running a side pick-and-roll, and even a triangle-esque ‘gaggle’ double-screen play.”

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/70561/a-new-era-of-jazz-basketball

    Pundits here can compare and contrast the different/similar systems. Snyder, of course, has less to work with and his defense will be suspect.

    As much, coaches like Kerr and Snyder are promoting their systems, as moto noted, and they’ll incorporate buzz words like “triangle” to get attention. Really what we’re seeing is a shift of emphasis resulting in all kinds of hybrids and mixes, and there won’t be neat ways to describe what they’re doing.

    I like Snyder, for his madness and passion. I saw him a bit when he coached college. Watch him on the sidelines. I think, or hope, he is intelligent and not gimmicky.

    • The Jazz are going to be a respectable team. They’re currently 5-7, with two big losses to Dallas but some nice wins over decent teams.

      Let’s see if the Ws come out to play. This matchup carries all the elements of a surprise loss (last year, anyway). Long layoff, a hungry, speedy, well-coached young opponent with a mid-pack record, playing at home.

  28. The Jazz are a nice young team with a good young coach.
    Team has drafted well and would have won more games but for
    losing some close games. Quinn has gotten Favors to take his game new level. Be interesting to see if he will have his way or Warriors will be able to impede his scoring. Favors, Haywood, Booker. Burke, Exum, Gobert, and Kantor decent players.

    Don’t think long layoff will hamper the Warriors effectiveness. Can’t see Jazz holding Warriors to less than 105 points. Jazz will have difficulty reaching 100 points unless Haywood and Favors go off.

  29. KMart just went out for a month or two, as per usual. How’d you like to be sucking on that contract right now?

    • And that’s exactly what the W’s would be doing if they’d traded for Kevin Love. Multiple sources (in CA, MN and elsewhere) all reported that the deal Flip Saunders wanted was Love and KMart for Lee, Klay, and Barnes. Which would have been a disaster for GS, IMO.

  30. Who said Iggy doesn’t have an offense? Big
    difference between not shooting much and not
    having an offense.

  31. Love how Kerr is managing minutes for team. And Bogut looking pretty damn healthy. I’d be a little disappointed with a less than 5-0 roadtrip..

    I’ve suffered through 40 years of Warriors Bball, so stints like these are to be savored.

  32. Curry has slaughtered another Western conference team. His passing has been off the charts this month. He has learned how to leveredge his shooting ability to create great passing lanes for his teammates.

    Barnett made an interesting observation about the dribble handoff last night. He said that Curry can utilize it better than anyone in the league because he gets his shot off so quickly.

  33. For those wondering what I’m on about with Shaun Livingston, check out 10:40 2Q last night. Be sure to listen to Barnett’s comment.

  34. I guess Snyder decided working the team’s size advantage was his best shot? Pounding inside sure didn’t work, and credit goes to Bogut and team defense. It was kind of like watching the Denver playoff series.

    Credit Kerr with not responding in kind, but instead pushing the pace and outrunning and outgunning them. The game was in hand first quarter.

    • There is no future in a Favors/Kanter front line. They’re both centers.

      Warriors put on a clinic about how to destroy a big team with a SF at PF. As they have done, with some regularity, ever since RunTMC.

      • I’m guessing there may be another showcase of sorts going there. The Jazz have three playable starting centers, and need to trade for a PF. They also clearly need to dump Trey Burke to make room for Exum.

        And they need to dump Alec Burks because he sucks.

        Other than that, they’re fine.

        • Gobert is especially intriguing.

          • the first round pick lacob purchased with NN in his sights was originally at the slot where gobert went — they had tunnel vision, ignored gobert (7’5″ wingspan), traded down twice because they knew the other teams at the bottom of the round weren’t taking NN. and signing him immediately rather than wait for him to develop overseas was another signal they were highly confident in his n.b.a. future.

  35. Meanwhile, Kobe fired up a 34-footer last night instead of passing to an open teammate. Fan reaction was immediate:

    http://twitter.com/basquiatball/status/535995707619287040/photo/1

  36. It was to see in the box score that the starters scored
    23 field while the second unit made 17 field goals.

    Felty, you continually mislead readers my citing
    plus/ minus for individual players without providing
    any context. While you pointed out that Livingston was
    a minus 10, you failed to point out the reason the
    Warriors were outscored with him on the court without
    pointing that he played with Ezeli, Barbosa, Rush, Holiday and
    Kuzmic who were a combined 2-9 for from the field while
    Livingston was 3-6 from the field with 4 assists. I guess you simply
    Chose to ignore he played a good game and chose instead to
    present him as playing poorly. It seems you do that intentionally
    since you early on decided he’s not a good fit for the Warriors and you chose to cite an irrelevant stat to bolster your viewpoint. We expect better from that from you.

    • It’s too easy to say he’s playing with bad players. Why can’t he get something out of them?

      Did you do the homework assignment I gave above? No one play this season could make my point better.

      • I watched the entire game and don’t recall. Is that when SI got stopped on a drive down low and passed it to AI for a 3, which AI made? I did not record the game. SI handles and passes the ball well and is hesitant to shoot, except if he gets the position he wants on the low post from where he is effective scoring. I saw him score a few assisted lay-ups and dunks.

        • bloodsweatndonuts

          If memory serves me, it’s one 24 second possession in which the offensive flow/defensive scheme created two (I think) opportunities for him to shoot a wide open jump shot and he passed immediately to a heavily-guarded teammate. The second resulted in a contested heave by (IA I think) with little/no time on the shot clock.

          Barnett’s comment was something like “you have to shoot the ball”.

          This may not be a completely accurate transcription but the gist is, as the point guard, he could not make the best basketball play (twice in one possession) because he is incapable/unwilling to make/take an uncontested 16-20 foot jump shot.

          He’s kind of like the Warriors Tim Tebow in that if you commit to using him, you may have to design his offensive sets to compensate for his one extreme limitation for his position in order to benefit from his above-average strengths.

          I guess this means that he should always start out or end each possession 8 feet or less from the rim. If you have other non-shooters on the floor, the whole offense grinds to a halt regardless of how they use him.

  37. He had 4 assists in 19 minutes. That seems very good to me.
    And he made some good passes that players didn’t finish.
    I don’t have access to replay. Pointing out one bad play
    by a player means nothing. It’s trivial. You’re still diverting
    attention from the fact that Livingston played well.

  38. Surprised you haven’t said how bad B. Wright
    Is even though he is shooting a whopping 76
    percent from the floor last time I looked and giving
    the Mavs an average of 2 extra possessions per game.

    Also think Favors best position PF, not Center.

  39. FB@36,

    I think the point you are trying to make is that Livingston isn’t threatening anyone with his shot so his man plays two steps off and can help on any penetration to the middle. It is a weakness but the same play also supports Frank’s point about his teammates. To wit, earlier in the possession Barnes screens for Livingston and Utah switches but clumsily. The classic counter is for Barnes to slip as soon as Livingston’s man goes to the high side of the screen. Barbosa has smartly cleared out to allow this to happen but Barnes makes a mess of the screen and doesn’t commit to the cut so nothing is there. Then, same possession, they set up a triangle with Speights in the post and Gobert fronts. Speights should push Gobert out a step and seal the inside creating a pass over the top. No backside help in sight. instead Speights walks Gobert into a double team of Iguodala on the wing. A complete mess. A couple of passes later you have a forced shot by Speights.

    That possession made several points. None of them good.

    • You missed Barnett’s point. It’s a very simple point.

    • Conceding an offensive option—a point guard who can shoot—is going to weaken any scheme and put pressure elsewhere. And with the sketchy offense provided by the subs, it’s a formula for mediocrity at best. More likely, a unit that cannot stay on the floor.

      The irony is that Livingston’s great asset, his height, is not exploited. At 6′ 7″ he should be able to get a shot up against most point guards.

      I’m curious if Kerr had input on the Livingston acquisition. (Was he coach them? I’ve forgotten the timetable.) Livingston has Myers (and Joe and Jerry?) written all over him. He has yet to bring in a promising scoring point guard in five years.

      • West absolutely raved about Livingston in a recent interview. I think he had a very prominent role in the signing.

        • Incidentally, regarding scoring point guards, Jarrett Jack was quite effective in that role just 2 years ago. But that raises a larger issue about those kinds of guards and the entire “Lacob’s Cubes” argument, which I’ll post in a longer comment below.

    • Actually, poor execution is a less damning explanation than you think. Only 10 games into the season, under a new coach/offensive scheme with a unit that hasn’t played together much (and a PG who missed training camp), it’s understandable that they may not play the pick-and-roll as intuitively and precisely as Stockton/Malone et al. But coaches can review tape with players and point out the same things you did, and execution can improve.

      It would be more alarming if the play was run to perfection, and the players were simply unable (or unwilling) to take advantage of the scoring opportunity. That’s what Feltbot is getting at with his point about Livingston standing alone at the 3-point line with the ball, glancing wistfully at the rim (as if thinking, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could hit a shot from here?”)

      But despite that play and Livingston’s limited range in general, he gave Curry an 8-minute rest in the first half without losing any of the W’s large lead (in fact, he was +2), so in that sense he can say “Mission accomplished.” Holding him responsible for giving up half of a 30-point lead in the 4th quarter, when GS was clearly experimenting — essentially getting some more practice time in for the backups before a weeklong road trip — is where flatly stating Livingston’s +/- for the game becomes misleading.

  40. OK, time for some forward thinking.

    Kawakami has calculated to profess a snarky pose (http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/) re David Lee, but Lee is a great ball player, and a coach’s fave. 20 and 10? Check, Lee’s on the job. We can work around the fact that he doesn’t block shots, because 90% of his opponents can’t match Lee’s offensive output, and we’re talking point differential here. Lee typically outscores almost every other big he faces. Besides, if Lee doesn’t block shots, he’s damn well going to get the rebounds. Lee is great at being in the right place on D.

    Besides Lee, the only other really effective PF on the Ws roster is Draymond. As a PF Dray is fighting well above his weight/size class, but IT’S WORKING. Forget the “Dray handles Griffin” nonsense, that didn’t happen, and it won’t. The Ws double-team Griffin when he’s facing Green. Forget the “Dray 3-pt. scoring threat” thing, that’s relative. On a team with Curry/Thompson, Dray is always going to be available for completely open shots, especially long shots, because the alternative is unthinkable to an opponent. Draymond reliably makes completely open 3-pt. shots this year. He doesn’t create his own shots. Lee creates his own shots. Running plays for Lee is a good idea. Running plays for Green? Doesn’t happen, for perfectly sound reasons.

    But starting Draymond next to a beasting Bogut has definitely worked out so far, so what to do?

    Last year, the Ws best lineup (by far) featured a Lee/Green front line. Hm. Is there any other team in the league with two complete starting teams?

    With Lee at C, could Green/Barnes/Speights be almost as effective as just Green at PF? Playing with Iggy, Livingston and Barbosa, that’s a very quick, (mostly) high-IQ first-team-quality lineup, isn’t it? Not a bad 2nd team. Mix in Curry or Thompson as needed. Stir and bake. Eat well.

    I’m looking forward to a ton of Livingston/Lee PnRs, coming soon to a team near you.

  41. Think you’re right Hat.
    With Lee’s return the whole rotation is stronger. Livingston decent
    2 point shooter. Most defenders lag off perimeter
    shooters. Rarely see Livingston’s defender lagging off him.
    nor do i see virtually no adverse effect when
    they do. And when they do he has aside open 2.
    What’s wrong with that. Let them double team a player who
    Never receives the ball inside.

    Warriors should fine today. Score over 110 points, holding OKC below
    100 points.

    Blatt turning out to be an average coach. Let’s James and others play to much 1-1 ball, with few options on plays. Waiter’s sucks.

    • Thanks, Frank. The upcoming Ws 2nd team won’t play like the 1st unit, but they’ll be good.

      Re Blatt, it’s too soon to tell. LBJ can break a coach, and Irving (All-Star MVP!) probably can too, so Blatt has to be careful how he asserts himself. Love is excellent next to a Peckovic, less so beside a lesser C, so the Cavs haven’t gotten his best yet. The Cavs are going to take some time to gel. In the end bball ain’t rocket science. With the Cavs’ lineup, any coach with his eyes open will find a way sooner or later.

      Re that last item, you can count out Lionel Hollins in Brooklyn. Did you see that he lost AK47? Andrei, solid pro, apparently can’t work with Hollins.

  42. On scoring PGs and roster construction in general… I understand that the “Lacob’s Cube” argument was really just a rhetorical jumping-off point for some very useful analyses of GSW players and their roles. But FWIW, I don’t think the roster-fit issues Feltbot discusses justify classifying Myers (or anyone else in the front office) as an “amateur.” For example, Sam Presti is one of the most highly regarded GMs, but OKC has dealt with variants of the same issues for years – especially since the Harden trade – in trying to fit players around the core of Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka.

    For one thing, between guaranteed contracts, cap/luxury tax rules, and trade restrictions, NBA teams rarely have the flexibility to make wholesale roster changes in a single offseason — a good team that’s not looking to blow up its core usually hopes to add 1 significant piece via free agency (if they’re not too capped out); after that, you’re scraping for spare parts and hoping for the best. The Clippers, for instance, couldn’t do much about their well-known problems at SF because they blew their free-agency wad on a backup C (Hawes).

    Beyond that, players who are ideal fits for most rosters are rare, and when they become available a dozen or two other teams are competing for them. Remember, Bogut wasn’t the Warriors’ plan A at center — they tried to sign Tyson Chandler, then D’Andre Jordan, and even sniffed around at Dwight Howard after trading for Bogut.

    Similarly, if a backup PG can both score *and* run a team, well, he’s probably not a backup. So most teams have to choose between one or the other. And if you look, you might notice that some of the best-known scoring backup PGs tend to bounce around the league — which may be because their propensity to dominate the ball & look for their own points makes them less than ideal teammates. (See, e.g., OKC players recently avoiding passing to Reggie Jackson, or Isaiah Thomas being exiled from Sacto… and putting up big numbers in PHX but at the expense of Goran Dragic becoming disgruntled.)

    The Warriors’ search for the right secondary ballhandler and/or backup PG (so they don’t have to rely on Curry to run every play for 48 minutes every game) has been their primary focus the past two offseasons — one that led to both acquiring Iguodala and his recent stint on the 2nd unit (contrary to those who think the world revolves around Harrison Barnes). Livingston may or not be the solution, but since his signing was the front office’s 1 key move this summer, it’s fair to say their reputation is more at stake on him than on the spare parts they tried to make do with last year.

    • They haven’t drafted/scouted well at the position, or even made finding a good backup PG a priority in the last five years. Look at Reggie Jackson, a 24th pick four years ago.

  43. This was the second test of the season, how well they perform against a physical defense. And they almost blew it. Barnes was completely ineffective as a scorer/facilitator. If Livingston did anything as a scorer or facilitator, I didn’t see it. Iguoudala should have stepped in to replace Barnes to start the half, but didn’t do much, though did made a key bucket down the stretch.

    Think a scoring big makes a difference? For all +/- fans note that Speights was -9.

    • The other priority ignored by the Warriors was a two-way big.

      Mo Speights fan club:

      11/18, 6/8 FT for 28 points

      7 boards

      2 assists

      -9

  44. Tonight’s game was a testament to the Warriors
    Superior offensive system. The primary reason the
    game was close was because individual players literally
    blew lay-ups and dunks, and individual player’s shooting
    was abysmal.

    Only Speights hit more than 50 percent of his shots taken. In
    addition, the Warriors committed only 9 turnovers. Very pleased with tonight’s win and they did so without Bogut and
    Barbosa.

    • As Sam Beckett supposedly once said to a friend while walking in a park on a sunny day (when the friend said it was the kind of day that makes one happy to be alive), “I wouldn’t go that far.”

      Even before Bogut got hurt, OKC mucked up the W’s offense very effectively, with their long arms and athleticism complementing some likely complacency from how easily the GS offense had flowed in the previous few games. And once Bogut went out, everybody was out of sync and forcing shots except for Speights (who, as backup C, wouldn’t be expected to miss having Bogut on the floor).

    • I didn’t see this game as a vindication of the offensive system. I was disappointed in how the Dubs seemed to abandon the usual read and react offense after Bogut left the game. There were a lot of forced early shots and a lot of standing around. The refs contributed to the mess by allowing more grabbing and holding and physical play than normal. All motion offenses are susceptible to the disruption of overly physical play but the answer is to stick with the program and continue to run the offense, not abandon it for the easy out.

      Still, you have to admire the defense against a depleted opponent and the win it resulted in. You also have to admire how the coaches get such good production from Speights. He doesn’t really run the offense that well but he can hit shots and make basketball plays from the way the defense reacts to his ability to make shots. And his defense and rebounding are improved. Good for him and for the team.

      • Btw FB, I think Barnett’s comment about Livingston in the previous game was that he won’t shoot (when he should).

      • I wasn’t criticizing the system but the players. Barnes did nothing to facilitate movement or score to test the defense. Only against weaker defensive teams can they find openings for him. And Livingston wasn’t effective either. Iguodala has to move up into the starters. Maybe Myers should have spent more than 10 minutes evaluating Rush?

      • What we didn’t get to see is how well the offense would have worked with Bogut. The Warriors got some early shots, then the defense tightened—and Bogut went down. Bogut doesn’t drive against Adams and he wouldn’t have drawn defenders when playing out, thus putting pressure elsewhere.

  45. Have seen no mention of this but it seemed a serious mistake to allow Roberson or anyone else to get a wide open 3 when down by that amoutn with 8 seconds left. They smothered the driver (Jackson?) but were fortunate that Roberson missed, even if odds favored that result.