Thursday, June 24, 2010

Draft Day: How Will the Warriors Screw This up?

Today is the final day of the NBA season. Sure, the Finals finished up last week. And, yes, the Lakers beat my Celtics. I would still donate my left nut to science if it meant we could go back in time and have the Celtics corral even a few more defensive rebounds. Kendrick Perkins may be stiff as a corpse on offense but he would've taken many second chances away from L.A. just by grabbing rebounds. And with that, we will speak no more of the Finals.

There may be no more games to play but the NBA keeps our attention through today, the Draft, and tomorrow, the Analysis. After this, except for the lunatics, it's lights out until next November for fans of the NBA. And a strong case can be made that, really, it's lights out until next April when the playoffs start again.

But for now let's take a look at tonight's draft and the likely and best candidates for the local heroes, your Golden State Warriors. First, my top five.
  1. John Wall (It's guard-dominated league and Wall's speed, passing and willingness to cut the throat of opponents primes him to be a top point guard in the association for years to come. Tea Leaves: All-Star as soon as his second season.)
  2. DeMarcus Cousins (Talent trumps attitude. The kid averaged 15.1 points, 9.8 boards and 1.8 blocks in a scant 23.5 minutes per game. Arguing with his coach looks bad, yes, but a couple of things to note here: First, he argued because he cares. A skilled big man who cares? That has to count for a lot. Second, he was arguing with John Calipari, neither the world's sternest disciplinarian nor a master of Xs and Os. Calipari is the world's greatest recruiter and a firmly middle of the road coach when it comes to game strategy. Maybe Cousins was right to argue with him. Tea Leaves: Serial All-Star.)
  3. Evan Turner (Do-it-all swingman who can play the point, shooting and some small forward. Very NBA-ready and a good passer. The test will be how he handles the bigger twos and threes at the next level. Love his passing skills. Tea Leaves: Potential All-Star.)
  4. Derrick Favors (Stud athlete who played just one year of college ball. Despite the fact that he is guaranteed big dollars as a top-five pick, he should've stayed another year to hone his offensive game. In the right situation, read: low pressure with increasing minutes playing with a quality point guard, he could become a regular at NBA All-Star games. In a bad situation, he relies solely on his size and hops and never really develops his game. This would mean a few very strong years in his early 20s then a quick fade as the grind of the NBA steals some of the spring in his step.)
  5. Wes Johnson (Great defender who can pass and finish on the break. Only his age, 23, gives me pause. Johnson should enjoy a solid if unspectacular NBA career. I see a lesser version of Shawn Marion. Tea Leaves: Mini-Matrix.)
The Warriors, of course, have the number six pick. So, who will they take?  Given the lame duck status of the franchise, they will probably work to keep costs down and just keep the pick instead of using it to trade for a higher priced veteran. There are really two guys who make sense in this scenario.

Greg Monroe: The kid is a skilled athlete who can shoot, jump, and most importantly for the Warriors, pass. He has the size, 6-11, to play center and the youth--he's just 20--to improve. By all accounts, he is by far the best passing big man in the draft. He seems nice and a bit passive from the dozens of articles I have read and this isn't a good thing in the NBA. The NBA favors the angry, cocky and mean. This doesn't mean he is a pussy, rather that he needs to drink a little tough juice and learn to love contact. On the Warriors, he would add a lot of skill in the middle. He can pass and shoot from distance. I can see him working a sweet pick and roll with Stephon Curry. Best case scenario he gives the Warriors a blacker, bouncier version of Brad Miller in his prime. Worst case scenario he gives the Warriors Mark Blount with better passing. Either way, I see him as an upgrade on Andris Biedrins.

Always looking for the cutter or open shooter at the arc.

Al-Farouq Aminu: With Corey Maggette now shipped to Milwaukee in a salary dump, there is a need at small forward for the Warriors. Sure they have the electric scoring of Reggie Williams, but I wonder if with his size, he can be a  solid defender at the three. Aminu, on the other hand,  is 6-8 with 7-3 wingspan. Dude is a fucking condor.  He has great hops and with his age (just 19) he has what Digger Phelps droolingly calls, "tremendous upside." He averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in his sophomore season.  He will defend, hit the glass and get out on the break. All good things for the Warriors. The downside? He is not a good outside shooter. I wonder, though, if the Warriors actually need another shooter on this team. With Steph Curry, Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams, Anthony Tolliver and Kelenna Azubuike to name a few, they have plenty of chuckers already. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to draft a hard-working, athletic stud who loves to get after it on defense. Yeah, so there is no chance the Warriors make this move. Look for them to "outsmart" everyone and take Luke Babbitt from Nevada. Hey, at least he's a good shooter.

All together now: Smell my nuts!

The Warriors are all kinds of messed up right now. Owner Chris Cohan is in tax trouble, is selling the team and his management team may have jobs only for as long as it takes the new owner to sign a term sheet. The Maggette trade was made to save money for Cohan and help whomever the new owner is rebuild the team without too many burdensome contracts. In short, the only future this group is considering is the short term. The fanbase is just waiting for the new owner to get the keys to the house.

It's so bad that the area's only major daily, the San Francisco Chronicle, doesn't even know the numbers of the positions in basketball...and there are only five:

Note to Chronicle editorial staff: The article your headline links to speaks of the Warriors' need for a small forward (three) or a center (five). One is the point guard position, and we already have a future all-star there in Steph Curry. Hey, at least you got one of two right. Good to see you care.

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