Fantasy versus Reality: Part One

The Warriors have reached the quarter pole of the season, and I feel it’s time to take their temperature. Let’s see…           

Red Hot!

The Warriors are leading the league with a 22-3 record, behind Steve Kerr’s revamped Nellieball offense. Or is it Alvin Gentry’s? No, Kerr is the big boss and enabler-in-chief, so he deserves the credit. But I’ve always loved Gentry’s Nellieball coaching chops, and given the way the Warriors are pushing the pace, playing a stretch-four, and springing smallball traps, it seems likely he’s having quite a bit of influence, so I have to credit him as well. And isn’t he the “Associate Head Coach”? No one in the media seems to remember that.

Ron Adams’ name also crops up a lot. And not just regarding the defensive scheming, at which he’s an acknowledged master. But also with regard to little details on both sides of the ball, like how Bogut should make himself big in the lane (with his arms up), and how wing defenders should close out on three point shooters (with their arms up), and how Harrison Barnes should shoot his threes (stepping in, not fading).

Yes, Warriors fans and Mark Jackson apologists, coaching matters.

Just not in this post. At least not in Part One of this post. Nor in Part Two. As much as I admire what the Steve Kerr Band have done with this Warriors team — and my admiration is literally off the charts, along with Don Nelson’s — I’m going to start my review with a look at the Golden State Warriors players.

From a fantasy basketball perspective.

Methodology: Regular readers know I have a rather dyspeptic relationship with stats, and those who rely on them for their analysis. Particularly with regard to what I have termed “Sausage Stats”, those stats which are concocted by esoteric formula, and purport to give us a general conclusion about players and teams beyond what can be communicated by simple boxscore stats.

I think sausage stats — like RAPM, and PER, and WinShares, and Pace, and even the current favorite of Warriors announcers, Field Goal Percentage Against (a sausage stat disguised as a simple stat) — are garbage. They are garbage because the assumptions they are built on (the “meat” that goes into the grinder) are bogus. And thus the conclusions they churn out, with regard to a player’s skill level, or effect on the game, or efficiency, or a team’s style of play or defensive efficiency, are perforce bogus as well. Garbage in, garbage out. These stats bite off more than they can chew.

I’ve dissected RAPM and PER and Pace at length in the past, so I’m not going to go into them here (except perhaps when I get to Andre Iguodala, last year’s league leader in RAPM). I will give you a quick take on Field Goal Percentage Against (FG%A) , however, which has been cited repeatedly as evidence that the Warriors have the best defense in the league (to my great annoyance):

Does FG%A take into account how many free throws a team is giving up? No, it does not. So a bad defensive team can artificially improve their FG%A by hacking a lot? Indubitably. And can a bad defensive team also artificially lower their FG%A by playing zone, packing the lane, and giving up three point shots? Why yes, they can, all while getting killed in the score. And does FG%A in any way account for a team’s ability to create turnovers? No, it does not.

So why in the world are we quoting this bogus stat in broadcast after broadcast?

There is a very simple and readily available stat that is a much more accurate indicator of defensive efficiency than FG%A: defensive Points Per Possession (PPP). In other words, how many points a team gives up per opponent’s offensive possession. It cuts through all the bullshit, like hacking strategy, and three point strategy, to get right to the chase.

(And even this stat isn’t perfect. It can be manipulated by coaches who are willing to sacrifice offense to improve their defensive credentials, by taking the air out of the ball, like Mike Fratello, Mike Brown, Keith Smart, Mark Jackson and Mike Malone.)

Guess what, the Warriors are also currently leading the league in defensive PPP, at .960, while playing at one of the fastest paces in the league. Their defensive efficiency is off the charts. All I’m saying is, stop feeding the fans a bullshit sausage stat. Care enough about your profession to get it right. Thanks, Fitz!

OK, sorry for this extensive digression. It’s time we got to the meat of this post, which is where I take back everything I just said, and pull out a sausage stat of my own invention. Here it is:

The Feltbot Fantasy Indicator (FFI): This indicator is simply the 8-category ranking employed by fantasy basketball leagues. The 8 categories are points, FG% (weighted for attempts), 3 pointers, rebounds, steals, assists, blocks and FT% (weighted for attempts).

My plan for this series of posts is to use my patented stat as a way into my player analysis. So, you may well ask, am I preparing to violate my own precepts regarding the use of sausage stats? My answer is yes and no. Yes, because what I’m doing is partially tongue in cheek (I kid the statphreaks!). And no, because unlike the other stats I mentioned, my patented stat actually works. At the very least, it works better.

Every season when I look at the top of the RAPM and PER charts, I do a spit-take. I see multiple players that simply don’t belong anywhere close to the top of the league in rankings. That literally never happens to me when I look at fantasy basketball rankings: for some reason, simply giving equal weighting to these 8 stats does a remarkably good job of ranking NBA players. The counting stats separate the high minute players from the scrubs. Efficiency counts for a lot. And there are enough defensive stats to perfectly balance the rankings of defensive players with offensive players.

Witness this: Stephen Curry and James Harden are currently in a dead heat with Anthony Davis atop the rankings. And Kawhi Leonard and Carmelo Anthony are also in a dead heat, at 26th and 29th, respectively. And so on.

OK, armed with this new and incredibly powerful statistical weapon, let’s get started trying to separate fantasy from reality in this Warriors season:

The MVP: Towards the end of Stephen Curry’s rookie season, I began to feel like I was looking at a future Hall of Famer. I don’t think there can be much doubt about that now, as Curry has this season joined the select company of front-runners for MVP of the league.

And rightly so, based upon both his leadership role on the team with the best record in the NBA, and his individual performance.

Curry’s performance level is so elite at the moment, that he happens to be among the statistical leaders of the entire NBA. As mentioned above, he, Anthony Davis and James Harden are essentially neck and neck at the top of the 8-cat fantasy basketball rankings. And neck.

I used to write a lot about Curry, back when I had to make the case for his greatness. In general, I like to point out things that I believe others aren’t seeing, or correct things that I believe others are getting wrong. That’s what gets me going. But at this point in his career, when everyone in the world is seeing the greatness in Curry, I find myself unable to write about him. I don’t feel like I can add anything anymore. I’m reduced along with everyone else to saying, “Did you see that?”

I will add this: I have never gotten more pleasure from watching a basketball player in my life. And I lived in Boston when Bird was Bird and Magic was Magic, and every spring the entire city stopped what it was doing to have a heart attack.

Klay Thompson: Before the season began, I predicted a major statistical leap for Klay based on his increasing skill level, and a higher usage rate because of David Lee’s absence, Kerr’s motion offense, and the acceptance and encouragement of his veteran teammates. And so far this season, this is exactly what has happened. His scoring has jumped from 18.4/g last season to 21.6/g this season. His free throws attempted per game have jumped from 2.3 to 4, a reflection of his increased determination to take the ball to the rim.

And very interestingly, to me at least, his FT% has increased from .795 to .874. You may remember me last season bemoaning his quick release at the free throw line. He used to shoot them all in one motion, like his jumpers. This season he’s pausing and cocking before shooting. A subtle adjustment, but it might be the difference.

Last season, Klay was the 57th best fantasy player in the NBA. This season he’s ranked 11th.

Remember Kevin Love? His name came up in the offseason in conjunction with Klay’s. Last year, Love was ranked 7th. This season, 33rd. As you can see, it is sometimes useful to think about coach, team, system and role when evaluating a player by his stats. (This point might be made again when I get to young Mr. Barnes, and old man Iguodala.)

Draymond Green: Jeff van Gundy is right. The Heartbeat of the Warriors (thank you, Steve Kerr) is going to get PAID next season. The only question is whether it will be by the Warriors, or by another team.

I happen to believe that the Warriors have to choose between keeping Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes (not to mention Iggy) at small forward. The rest of the world — led by rising ESPN entertainer Ethan Strauss and the hacks at the Merc — seems to believe that the Warriors have to choose between Green and David Lee, at power forward.

One thing I’m completely certain of: Joe Lacob and Jerry West will side with me on this issue. Neither of them wants to know what a stretch-four is, and I’ll bet a case of Pliny the Elder that neither of them view the 6-5″ Green as a long-term solution at power forward. (Thank you, Chris Webber, for confirming Green’s height for me on the TNT broadcast. And that is the first and last thing I will ever thank Chris Webber for.)

Not that I’m citing them for authority. Or even care what Lacob and West think. I’m just telling you how it is in Warriorsland.

I form my own opinions, with my own eyes. And I believe Draymond Green should not only start at the small forward for the Warriors, but is a top ten small forward in the league. The extraordinary defensive talent that he possesses should not be wasted at the power forward. It should be deployed as a STOPPER. Against the likes of Lebron, Melo, Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

And just like those great players, he should slide to the stretch-four in crunch time. Where he can be a STOPPER against the other great stretch-fours in the league.

  • Lebron James, 6-8″ 250 lbs. (closer to 270 last season)
  • Carmelo Anthony, 6-8″ 240 lbs. (closer to 25o last season)
  • Draymond Green, 6-7″ (listed) 230 lbs.

Why do I list these players? Because both Lebron and Melo played almost exclusively at the stretch-four the last two seasons. Because both Lebron and Melo gave up playing the stretch-four this season to return to the small forward position. Because both Lebron and Melo were taking extreme punishment playing the four, and no doubt felt that it was shortening their careers.

And because both Lebron and Melo are FAR BIGGER than Draymond Green.

  • Charles Barkley, 6-6″ 250 lbs
  • Kawhi Leonard, 6-7″ 230 lbs.
  • Draymond Green, 6-7″ (listed) 230 lbs.

Why do I list these players? Let me ask you something, do you think Draymond Green is the next Charles Barkley, a rebounding prodigy who couldn’t guard your grandmother, and never got a title? Or the next Kawhi Leonard, a defensive prodigy on the wing who can STOP your best player, and a developing offensive talent who can slide to the stretch-four in crunchtime and absolutely bury you?

Who do you think Draymond Green believes he is? How about his agent?

I’ll make you a little prediction: If the Warriors don’t promise Draymond Green the starting small forward position next season, he will be gone. Forever.

Oh yes, weren’t we discussing the Feltbot Fantasy Indicator (FFI)?

Last season, The Heartbeat shot .407 from the field, .333 from three, and .667 from the line. This season, he’s at .452, .345 and .753 (and religiously following Feltbot’s Law).

Last season, the Heartbeat had an FFI of 145. This season, he has an FFI of 27. Yes, he is the 27th ranked fantasy player in the NBA.

One spot behind World Champion Kawhi Leonard.

76 Responses to Fantasy versus Reality: Part One

  1. Steph has surpassed Rick Barry as the most exciting player I’ve every seen play for GS.
    And Rick Barry was a STUD. 6’9′ with the same range as Steph. A incrdible feathery fingertip touch. Great passer, prickly, feisty, tough, and crafty. He was can’t-miss viewing who focused his mercurial skills in late 1974 to lead the Warriors to new heights.

  2. This is Felty at his best.

    Completely by your preference for fantasy rankings in analyzing a player’s worth, and that of Curry and Thompson outstanding play in particular. Just hope that Thompson continues to improve each year his getting to the line more.

    Agree on your assessment of Green primarily being used as a SF and his retention should not be evaluated against Lee who is a true PF.

    Hope our keeping Green is not pitted against our retaining either Iggy or Barnes, I hope that the keeping of either Iggy or Barnes is related to improving the roster and the Warriors financial situation at that time. Just know that both are valuable pieces.

    Just wish you could refrain from comparing the present offensive and defensive systems to what you call Nellieball as the similarities are for me few and far between.

  3. Keeping Green will be tricky given the CBA & the Warriors payroll.

    It’s more than conceivable that a team could offer Green the max next season given the Jazz’s Hayward got it with similar numbers and weaker defense.

    I keep hearing ‘trade David Lee’ to resign Green which makes no sense. And replace him with who? I suspect Lee’s value will be more apparent as he ‘capably’ takes some of ‘sidelined’ Bogut’s minutes while cutting down Green’s time at the 4.

    The Warriors best option to keep Green?

    1) Pray and pray hard that Harrison Barnes continues to improve & put up ‘stats’ so they can get some combination of a trade exemption/expiring contract for him.

    2) I believe that trading Iggy for cap room is off the table. Whatever you may think of the Warriors brass, I can’t see them screwing Iggy when he took less money to come to GS. It also sends the wrong message to future free agents who may want to do the same which Myers would be acutely aware of given his background.

    3) Finally, there is a chance Lacob could keep all of the above mentioned by paying the luxury tax next year. Personally, I believe Lacob – though he would prefer not to – would ‘pony up’ if he thought the Warriors could contend for a Title. From my understanding, the way the new CBA works – the luxury tax penalties increase the more times the team exceeds the cap but also reset back to ‘0’ when the the new CBA is negotiated which means the Warriors may only pay 2 years of penalties at most. Whether they win a title or not, Lacob is smart enough to realize the ancillary benefit of gaining appreciation & credibility with fans by paying the tax.

    Personally, my money is on Option #1.

    • Good points, Goose. With Iggy on the payroll, playing Dray at the 3 would create a big-money logjam at the position, at a time when the team needs to add another good backup PG and a good big.

      I have a question, though: would trading Iggy be screwing him? No matter what laundry he wears, he still gets paid. Would it be perceived by Iggy or others that he got a raw deal? I don’t honestly know how these things work. If it’s only about the money, then it looks like the Ws are screwing Curry. He’s a max-salary player earning roughly half the max.

      Re Iggy, a counter-argument could be made that his performance this season is screwing the Warriors. So far this season he hasn’t been the complete player they contracted for.

      Whatever happens this summer, I do think you’re right about Lacob’s willingness to pay a cap penalty for a year or two, to get results. It would be crazy not to. Lacob is obviously sensitive to wasting money, but there’s no indication that he’s crazy-cheap.

      • Hat,

        Iggy took less money (not substantially) to come to GS because he thought the team could win – a lot. To me at least, it would set a bad precedent for the Warriors to trade a player who sacrificed $$$ to come to the Warriors. What would future free-agents who are thinking along those lines think of that?

        Myers as a former player-agent I’m sure is especially sensitive to the player’s perspective in addition to the fact he was Iggy’s agent – to trade him would be a real screw job. Yes, Iggy is still getting paid obscenely but in a age of the ‘mercenary athlete’ it says and means a lot when a guy takes less to play for a certain team.

        Obviously, I’m playing pop-psychologist here but I can’t see the Warriors willingly choosing Barnes over Green as Barnes is fairly redundant now and to some GM’s has a decent and possibly rising trade value as the team that traded for him could match any offers and the end of his 4th year.

  4. Thanx, Feltbot. Drafting or trading for a two-way power forward should have been a top priority years ago. Lee needed a backup, and he could have been brought up with the system so he’d be ready when Lee went down or moved on. The team may well pay the price in greenbacks or Green.

    • There’s another way to look at this. How much more effective would Green be if the team had an affordable two-way PF? He could fill in all kinds of ways, 3, 4, or even 5, and not have to play so hard for so many minutes, night after night.

      • “How much more effective would Green be if the team had an affordable two-way PF?”

        Well, unfortunately, as I noted ad nauseum last summer, by signing Klay to an extension early, the Warriors virtually eliminated all flexibility to make any sort of move like this.

        While other teams are hunting down Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler this summer, the Warriors will be hoping for “internal” improvement to take them to the promised land.

        It’s even worse now with Iggy relegated to the bench and Bogut already showing his true colors.

  5. Great article Felt. Have to say though that whatever the intrinsic truth of what you suppose Green’s agent may say to the Warriors, 3 years of watching that kid play tells me that he doesn’t care where they tell him to stand on the court or who they tell him to cover. He’s a full time full energy basketball genius who just wants to play 48 or more every night. Don’t see him pulling a Harden and walking away from this group he loves to play with so much over dollars and/or formal positioning. We are now the place ANYBODY wants to play and I hope you’re wrong about there being any chance of him leaving next year, for any reason.

    • Completely agree. The “fantasy” part of this post is the delusion that Draymond Green — whose deepest core characteristic appears to be a burning determination to defy anyone who claims he can’t do something — will market himself to teams by insisting that he’s too dainty to play PF full-time.

      The demand would likely scare off a lot of teams as well, if only because it would suggest all the attention has gone to Draymond’s head, and the do-anything-to-win, ultimate “glue guy” is now a prima donna.

      • I don’t think GMs confuse players and their agents. Agents can say/ask for anything, it’s just negotiations between professionals.

  6. Nice Post Feltbot.

    This season has been nothing short of sensational. Its nice to give the “in yo face” to all my friends that have laughed at my Warrior fandom for the last 20 years.

    So everyone, what is your over/under on Dlee shooting a 3 in the next couple games. I think he’s got to take at least 1 per game minimum. Just watched a video the Diamond Lueng posted and He looked pretty good from top of the arc. If he can hit a few of those a game that could be bad news for the league.

    Warrrrrriorrss……Warrrrrriorrss…..best chant eva

  7. A big concern for the Warriors going forward would have to be loosing Alvin Gentry to the Kings – his name is apparently on their short list though they prefer Karl.

    Either way, there’s a good likelihood Gentry will get a head coaching job next season.

    • Real GM:

      “Howard Beck of Bleacher Reports that Alvin Gentry and Mark Jackson are also prime targets.”

      ?

      • Ranadive’s thinking is a little schizophrenic here. You have to wonder if Gentry isn’t happy where he is. He’s paid well and has stability, and I assume he gets along with Kerr, based on past experience, and that Kerr is giving him a say and responsibility.

        It will be interesting to watch what happens to SVG and Blatt if their records aren’t good, or good enough, soon. I’m not sure the situation will be much different in Sacramento. This volatility may not be the way Gentry wants to end his career. Just guessing.

    • I don’t think there’s much chance of Gentry going to the Kings. Apparently their front office interviewed him over the summer for the job of Malone’s lead assistant, and told him the head coaching job might be available soon for him to take over, wink wink nudge nudge.

      Gentry declined and told Malone what was being said behind his back.

  8. Forgot to mention that a big part of Gentry’s appeal to the Kings is his ‘up-tempo’ pedigree.

    ‘Half- court Malone’ might still have had a job had he played more run’gun.

    • Or Malone might have gotten fired for a lack of success playing uptempo.

      The Kings’ best offensive weapon is an extraordinary center. Malone’s offense was designed with that in mind. If Ranadive and Co. wanted to only play speedball, they should have given Malone a roster that could win with that strategy. They don’t have one at the moment.

  9. Feltbot, it’s an interesting post. Can you explain why you think Green would be effective on the offensive end of the court as a 3?

    His offensive limitation is that he can’t shoot contested threes. If he is guarded by the opponents 3, he will not get the uncontested looks he gets right now against 4s who sag into the lane. When they do come out, he blows right by them on his way to the hoop, using quickness. These scenarios won’t be there when he’s guarded by 3s. He will be forced to post up smaller players, why he can do, but is not the 3 and D guy that we are coming to love.

    The point is, Draymond is a true stretch 4, and should be played that way. When the other team “goes big” he must run to get the brutish 4s of the league off the floor. When matched up against another spread 4, Dray must abuse them defensively and continue to make 3s.

    Lastly, playing with Curry gets Draymond open shots that only 1 or 2 other PGs can get him. If he goes to another team with a weaker PG, his offensive #s drop.

    I think Draymond is a wonderful player, but I am not 100% sold on his offensive chops if played at a wing position.

    • Your X’s-and-O’s analysis is dead on, as far as I can tell.

      IMHO, Feltbot’s sudden epiphany that Green’s “true” position is small forward has very little to do with Green, and everything to do with preserving David Lee’s role at PF.

    • Are you trying to tell me that Harrison Barnes isn’t getting uncontested looks? If you ask me, he’s barely taken a contested shot all season.

      Any player who is the fifth option on a team with Curry and Klay will get uncontested looks. All game, every game.

      But of course Green will be more effective offensively at the four. All SFs are more effective offensively at the four. Including Chris Mullin, who played stretch-four in crunchtime for Nellie, back in the day. That didn’t make him a four.

      The most important role for a PF on defense is rebounding. The center protects the rim on the strong side. The PF clears the boards on the weak side.

      The most important role for a SF on defense is being a stopper, on the other team’s best scorer.

      Which of those two roles can Green perform better? What’s his best fit?

      • Right now Green touches the ball almost every possession. Barnes is often not included/part of the good stuff that Dray, Klay and Curry are doing, except for the occasional pass out to the three point line (resulting in an open shot).

        The question becomes this: Is Draymond more valuable on the offensive end as a facilitator (like he’s been doing as a 4) or as a 3 and D guy? I ask because to play Lee and Draymond together, Lee will become the pivot at the top of the key — the exact place where Draymond has absolutely been killing it.

        My point is not that Draymond will regress as an offensive player with a position change, but I do fear that his usage will decrease because he won’t be the screener in the high pick and roll, and he won’t touch the ball on every possession. He is an impossible cover when guarded by 4s, but he becomes more manageable when guarded by 3s because he loses the quickness advantage.

        Feltbot — I realize you want Green to play 3 because it gets Barnes off the floor. I don’t like Barnes much either, but to play devil’s advocate, he has been a big part of a 16 game win streak and the 22-3 start. It’s undeniable.

        • Green has been running the high post primarily when he’s at 5. Pretty sure Bogut and Curry run the starting unit. No doubt when Lee’s healthy, he will take over at backup 5. But there’s also no doubt that he’s a better high post player than Green, in all facets.

          I truly have no agenda in this, as difficult as that may be for some people to accept. In fact, given the Warriors current roster and DLee’s health, Green at the four might actually be best, for this year. My post simply pointed out what I see as the truth about him long term, and the logjams and conundrums the Warriors face in the future.

          My only agenda is that Lacob’s Cube be solved in the optimal way. And I think Kerr has done a fabulous job to date doing just that.

        • CB, like you and Swopa and everyone else, I hope like heck the Warriors sign Green long-term whatever position(s) he plays starting or off the pine. I don’t think Lacob sees Green as a full time, starting 4, stretch or otherwise, yet might not be sufficiently perceptive to see him as a starting 3, regardless of the stats, as Hat outlined. The fear is this (just an example): don’t you think the Clips would like to have Green as their starting 3? And wouldn’t that hand them the title? I’m pretty sure Green wants to continue starting. It may come down to Lacob choosing between Green and Barnes, my biggest fear.

          • Would Doc Rivers like to have D. Green? Oh my, yes.

            Would Ranadive?

            How about SVG? The story line reads: “Michigan native returns to kick ass.” Pontiac could be Green’s most excellent place in the universe.

            Barring a complete performance collapse through the rest of this Ws season, Green is going to get paid. Oh my yes.

    • When in doubt, check the facts.

      Per NBA Wowy, results of different Ws big lineups last year, ranked in order of PPP differential between Ws and opponents:

      Bogut/Lee/Green: (only 84 min. total last season): PPP=1.240 (opponent 0.965)
      Holy friggin’ @#$%^&!!!!

      Lee/Green, no Bogut: (615 minutes): PPP=1.148 (opp. 1.017)
      Most effective lineup the Ws used regularly, among the best in the league at creating point differential.

      Bogut/Lee, no Green: (1376 min.) PPP=1.082 (opp. 1.003)
      Standard starting Ws lineup last year. Good results, but the weakest listed here.

      I didn’t run the Bogut/Green lineup, because the sample size was even smaller than the 3-big one above, and this season’s results wouldn’t be equivalent (different coaches, etc).

      Hm. Not a huge sample for the 3-big combo, but the numbers look friggin stupendous.

      Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if Green saw some time at the 3.

      • +1 interesting analysis

      • Thanx for the stats Hat. The Bogut-Lee-Green line-up is stunning. Is it valid to look at it this way:

        Holding Bogut and Green constant, who would you rather have in your line-up, Barnes or DLee?

        • Bogut/Lee/Green, no Barnes: (45 min.) PPP= 1.290 (opponent .946)
          Holy motherbuckinsheisse and @#$%^&*!!!!!!!!!! YESYESYES!!! Small sample size, though.

          And, apologies here, my memory of last season failed me. I didn’t remember seeing much of Bogut+Green last year:

          Bogut/Green, no Lee: (190 min.) PPP=1.108 (opp. 1.003)
          After Lee/Green (no Bogut), I make this the Ws 2nd most productive lineup of bigs last year.

    • Isn’t the point of a starting line-up to start your 5 best players. Is there any doubt at this point Bogut, Green, DLee, Curry, and Klay aren’t the Warriors best players? And on top of that, they all fit their positions.

  10. Draymond says all the right things:

    “We’re adding an All-Star power forward back to our lineup,” Green said.

    “…D-Lee and I played an entire playoff series together… D-Lee… is so smart that it’s easy to play with him. I don’t really worry about the rotation… we’re adding a 20-and-10 guy to the lineup. That doesn’t quite hurt anyone… David and I give a completely different look, so good luck to teams trying to prepare for that.”

    http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/David-Lee-closes-in-on-Monday-return-5971255.php

    Of course Draymond is saying all PC things about Lee’s return, but it’s all true, too. Imagine if the Ws had run Kerr’s motion offense against the Clips in last season’s playoff series.

    It may take a little time to integrate Lee into the system – and for Lee to knock off the rust – but this is going to be fun. I’ve never seen it mentioned anywhere else, but FB readers know that the Lee/Green front line anchored the Ws most productive 5-man lineup last year.

    When (if) Bogut gets back too, the Ws will have two complete starting lineups, very different from each other, with multiple cross-combinations available. Now they also have the coaching acumen to mix and match and make it all work, too.

    FWIW, Draymond is on both of the Ws most productive recent lineups, this season’s and last. He’s right, he doesn’t have to worry about getting playing time.

  11. Got a seat one row back from the baseline for tonight’s game. Can’t wait to see the return of Lee. I just hope Ezeli/Speights can contain Cousins. But it probably doesn’t matter.

  12. Everything you wanted to know about B’s injuries, and then some:

    http://www.goldenstateofmind.com/2014/12/22/7428269/golden-state-warriors-andrew-bogut-injury-history

    Comparisons made.

  13. felt says “I happen to believe that the Warriors have to choose between keeping Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes (not to mention Iggy) at small forward.”

    Barnes is in for one more year for cheap and one of the biggest bargain of the NBA while Draymond’s contract is up the year before Barnes. Green and Barnes both can be part of the team, it is not either or proposition. Barnes salary of 3+ mils would not be that big of a difference if team try to get under cap while signing Green. Though I suspect he will pay luxury tax for one year but if he decides not to play luxury tax, then it will be either Lee or Iguodala that will be shipped for cap purposes. Best case scenario for fans, everyone stays with the team with owners paying tax for one year.

    Draymond can be effective playing SF or PF but he is not complete player in either position. He would be more effective at PF because that gives him to rebound, switch on multiple players etc. In a sense he is the point PF, that Nellie always dreamt of. He is more suited to play PF though he is undersized. I think he knows his value as PF more than as SF for the team but he should absolutely get minutes at SF also. Green should finish the game at PF. Teams are leaving open at 3 when he is playing PF, with quicker 3s guarding him, he will not find himself open as much there.

  14. Ball movement is much faster with Bogut off the court, for the obvious reason that passes are made by faster, mobile players who offer options. And if the centers are going to score—27 by the centers plus 6 from Lee—the defenses will be taxed at yet another level.

    Jim said Ron Adams was working with Ezeli, and it showed. He was workmanlike in his shots, post ups, short shots, and taking the ball on the run. Speights is scoring inside and out as well. And Lee hasn’t been brought back into the fold yet.

    Any point guard potential in Holiday? He looks like he could move an offense and set it on edge, and I assume his shot will come along.

    I’m excited now. Big production from the bench.

    • Say what you want about this game, who was hot, who was rusty, they again made the game look so easy tonight. Didn’t matter who brought the ball up, cut through the lane… The last ten years especially it was like scoring the basketball was a laborious proposition. Hero balls clanking off the rim, backing down the defender for an ill-advised fadeaway, tonight just crisp whipping of the ball, layups, dunks, 3’s. Nonstop. Loved seeing Lee back and fun to watch Festus make moves and look shocked when his shot didn’t fall (those 2 or so times he missed). Humming right along to 2015. Can’t wait for Christmas and the Clippers

      • They should be able to send a variety of lineups against most teams the rest of the season, thus can bring the subs up and spell the starters.

        Or they could if they had a backup p—

        Rush has a player option next year, right? This is looking to be a wasted roster spot. Maybe Myers should have spent 2o minutes looking at him instead of 10.

  15. Changing coaches had to be disruptive for the Kings. Had they kept Malone, with Cousins back, they had a shot at the playoffs, which might have helped build confidence and an identity.

    Maybe some of Ranadive’s ideas are intriguing, but I don’t see a coherent plan. He’s trying to bring a lot of odd pieces together without seeing how they’ll fit. Deron Williams?

  16. Couple of tweets by @haralabob concerning the Mavs last night:

    Good thing about Nelson (and a reason why they had historic offense) was you couldn’t leave Nelson open off the ball.

    They’ll have to depend on Rondo drives when he’s left open, can’t depend on him being spot up shooter. And that just clogs lane with Ty.

    In other words, it appears that the Mavs just Shaun Livingstoned themselves. Ooops!

    I think the Mavs made a classic mistake this offseason, that they’re paying for now. Instead of trading for a non-shooting pg in the hopes of fixing their defense, they should have signed Trevor Ariza in the offseason instead of Chandler Parsons.

    Guess who is #2 in the league in defensive efficiency this season, behind the Warriors? Yep, the Houston Rockets.

    • Adding to Ariza is now Brewer, who had a nice game in his first with the Rockets the other night. And a tall PG who can shoot.

  17. I had a great time at the game last night. I was literally one step up from the floor. It’s fun to watch Cousins get riled up. Every time a player puts his elbow or hand on Cousins, you can just see this look of disdain on his face. Cousins is too much for most bigs, but Ezeli actually handled him pretty well. I don’t know how much effort Cousins put on the other end against Festus, but even assuming it wasn’t much, I was really impressed with EZ’s touch around the rim last night. On the season he’s now shooting 57% on 18% USG, which is actually really respectable for a “true center”. He can’t give what Bogut gives in terms of passing and his defense isn’t at the same level, but perhaps, Ezeli *is* capable of going long stretches during the regular season while Bogut is (invariably) out with his “freak” injury du jour (is my French correct on that one?).

    Totally off-topic. There was a gorgeous woman who had to be 6′ tall (wearing 5″+ heels) that was an on-air personality roaming the baseline and visitor’s bench all night long. I’ve never seen her on CSN here, so maybe she works for the Kings affiliate? Just curious. If this is sexist of me to ask, I apologize in advance. I meant to say “yiddish”.

  18. As T correctly points out, the
    game was easy last night. It
    Was easy because the plays were
    creative, and quick-striking, that
    many other teams are not running.
    Whether a PG for the Warriors
    can shoot a three is simply
    irrelevant to the Warriors scoring.
    And that’s because the opponent
    can rarely give help else elsewhere
    because the Warriors run plays that
    negate that from happening.

    With Lee joining the second unit
    look for the Warriors second unit to
    consistently outshooting their
    opponent.

    • Curry didn’t have to come back on floor for last 16 minutes or so of the game with warriors leading by around 15 pts. I can’t think of better backup PG than Livingston, he is worth every penny.

  19. Draymond isn’t an iso-back you down type player like LBJ or Melo can be so he’ll see reduced physicality on the offensive end when playing the PF position. When defending, we seem to be doubling when necessary so that should help avoid excessive contact. But the season is still early so lets check back during the post-season to see where he stands. Ultimately, Kerr seems to listen to his players and if Green feels that he’s getting punished at PF, he’ll let coach know and then adjustments will be made.

    Everyone is recognising his ability (most improved player according to Grantland) and the flexibility he adds to the team so I say that if the Bulls won’t let Jimmy walk, I strongly doubt the Warriors will let Draymond leave either.

    From his perspective, if you love your job, your colleagues and believe in the company that you work for, sometimes that extra bit of money just isn’t enough to send you to the other team.

    • OTOH, Draymond’s manager will emphasize that the average NBA career is 4.5 years. Not much time earning the big money.

      • Hopefully Lacob has some business partners that can help the likes of Draymond recover any potential lost earnings throughout his career.

        Btw, I completely agree with Feltbot that Draymond is out of position at the 4 in the starting lineup especially against bruising front lines. My point above was more that the Warriors will keep him, somehow.

  20. There is a school of thought that Lebron left the Heat for the Cavs because he was pissed at Arison and Riley’s cheapness. Particularly in letting Mike Miller go.

    But it’s also clear that when Lebron left, he was through with playing PF. He dropped 20+ lbs in the offseason in preparation for moving back to the three. And insisted that the Cavs trade Wiggins for Love.

    Could that have been a reason why Lebron wanted off the Heat? We already know that he was worn down to the point of exhaustion by the time he entered last year’s playoffs, with a frequently balky back, and muscle cramping. And we already know that Webber, Owens and Harrington wanted off Nellie’s teams because they felt they were being played out of position. And Shawn Marion didn’t like being played at PF by Mike D’Antoni.

    These kinds of concerns about health and career are very real in the NBA.

    Just asking…

    • Fully agree. For LeBron it was the beating he was taking and its a good decision by him and management for him to play the 3. He’s an awesome 3 anyway. For Webber, and imo Aldridge, Bosh, Garnett, it was different than for LeBron. Those guys have the size to play center, but they wanted to play more on the perimeter out of pure ego and perceived glory and largely got away with it. I can never forgive Webber for it. He was the perfect center for that Nellie team.

  21. On any other site this would be stating the obvious but here, it is not. So I will post it.

    The Warriors are sorely missing Bogut.

    • For what? His scoring (7ppg)? His inability to challenge shots outside the lane, where the Lakers were hitting? Nothing from Green, Barnes, and Iguodala. The Warriors’ inability to score helped the Lakers get into a rhythm and build the lead. They had to find their offense elsewhere.

      Points from the scoring bigs would have made a difference. They’ve had two games like this where Speights completely bailed them out. Not tried. And it’s a game where Lee, if ready and turned loosed, could have stabilized the offense.

  22. Bogut could have stooped some inside
    shots. Curry seven turnovers. Not good.

  23. This comment is not about Green’s performance tonight.

    Green is not a permanent 4. If he continues to play big minutes at PF his probability for a major injury is ‘off the charts.’

    To Felbots earlier comment – as Lebron dwarfs Green in size and moved back to SF that should say everything about Green’s future…..

    • +1

      Draymond got destroyed in the interior against a more active and athletic Ed Davis. Theres only so much a 6’5 guy can do.

  24. Most of the team seemed a bit off today – sloppy passes, poor shot selection and not enough activity. Maybe too much partying the night before?

    The motion offense didn’t seem to work well tonight. Its times like these that you just need a bit of hero ball selfishness from Curry (10-14 tonight) and not a million passes. PnR worked well but for some reason Kerr chose not to stick to this. I’m guessing its part of his process of drilling the motion offense in under pressure situations. A loss tonight means nothing in the scheme of things so time will tell.

    On the positive side, good to see the bench get extended minutes. Holiday seems like quite the gem – like a developed version of Bazemore. His 1-on-1 defense was great and his help defense is miles ahead of Barnes’. He has a slashers mentality and can shoot the ball. Give the kid a bit more time, and a sandwich and he’ll fit right into this roster.

    Why was Kuz so far down the rotation list, especially with Bogut out and Ezeli injured this game? Is he that bad that he couldn’t be a body in the middle and rebound the ball?

    • +1 agree with everything in first 3 paragraphs. As for Cosmic Onion, if he’s not playing, it’s probably for defensive reasons.

  25. The Lakers won because with Kobe out they were able to move the offense to the rest of the team. Maybe they had good nights, or maybe they are better than we think. At any rate the Lakers were able to score anywhere, with a variety of players. 7 players in double digits and 14 points from the rest. And maybe our guys were off on defense, but such depth will present a challenge to any defense, and once opponents get in rhythm and build a lead they will be hard to stop. It seems to me the Warriors struggle with similar teams—small but deep—on offense and defense. Phoenix comes to mind.

    But why couldn’t the Warriors score against the worst defense in the league? Certainly they didn’t execute well and didn’t have “energy,” as Kerr said postgame. But I think that’s a cop out. One thing they have to consider is that if they aren’t executing to perfection, they have to move to plan B.

    The other way to put this is that if they have to be highly tuned to work the offense they might be setting themselves up.

    They had to find their offense, regardless. Possibilities:

    They had to bring in a good facilitator in—Iguodala in place of Barnes—and run more plays through him to open up Curry and Thompson.

    The pick and roll is easy to execute and efficient (as Feltbot keeps saying). Run it, with Lee and Speights. Or the pick and pop. Both have outside shots.

    Or run the offense through a big up top to spread the floor, who still presents an offensive threat himself. Lee is the obvious candidate.

    Mo has hit the outside shot, astonishingly well. He could have found an open look all night. Try to get him going.

    Hell, just post up Lee down low. He can score there with greater efficiency than what we saw last night.

    Get the scorers going. Get Barbosa going and turn him loose. A player like Holiday, once he develops, could disrupt any defense, certainly the Lakers last night. He can show a shot or slash and drive. And here is the problem. Green, Barnes, and Iguodala—all limited scorers—have to be set up to score, but cannot create their own shot well. When Curry is running the offense but doesn’t have good options, he is going to turn the ball over. We’ve seen this before.

    Get your damn good outside shooter off the bench going—but they don’t have one.

    All the players above need to be qualified—Lee isn’t ready, maybe Mo is streaky, Holiday isn’t ready yet, Barbosa is erratic, maybe Iguodala has lost it. But they present the best alternatives and may well be needed later in these options.

    They will see this situation again.

    I put the loss on Kerr.

    • the butcher’s bill was due, no reason to blame kerr. it’s not just the minutes being played by the top six guys, which have generally been kept under control. the intensity level they have to sustain on both ends, including mental, has a price. bogut’s absence has put a huge load on green, ezeli and speights not withstanding — the activity level of those two isn’t really close to his.

  26. It will be interesting to see how the W’s respond tomorrow. The Clips decided to not pull a Pop and played their starters heavy minutes–and lost. So neither team has momentum (although the Dubs have Big Mo!).

    I agree with rpg that Green, Barnes, and Iguodala (who was especially bad last night) have real trouble creating on their own. Green has the most potential to develop that (doesn’t he always keep developing?). I don’t like LB’s game for the Dubs as he’s a bad fit (poor D, bad outside shot, and poor vision), even though he can fashion his own offense. Klay’s better at it–and keeps improving–but he’s still not great at getting his own shot.

    The bottom line is that the team has real trouble scoring when Curry’s off the court–and the difference is dramatic (Note to all those who even consider the possibility that Klay is in the same league as Steph: you’re wrong!).

    One possibility is to push the second unit to create an offensive identity that best plays to their strengths. If you look at the composition of the two units they are dramatically different, and therefore can be expected to benefit from a different system.

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