Friday, August 1, 2008

GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 2

Continued from: GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 1


Drafting Richard Hendrix

With the #49 Pick in the draft, the Warriors selected the player I was hoping they would. Richard Hendrix was a huge steal based on my Warriors Big Board that ranked him as the 26th best player for the Warriors based on talent and team need. That's 23 spots later than I projected him to go, making him the steal of the draft, in my opinion.

What impressed me the most about Hendrix was his success and consistency in a tough conference like the SEC. When I did a study on Finding the Elusive Big, he consistently scored in the upper half of each category except age and just missed the median in blocks. Out of 11 of the top big man prospects in the study, he was ranked #4 in points, #4 in rebounds, #7 in blocks, #5 in TS%, #4 in assists, #6 in 3 pts made, #1 in steals, #1 in turnovers, and #5 overall (outscoring McGee, Hibbert, Hickson, Lopez, Jordan, and Arthur.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of Hendrix in Summer League, but what little I saw confirmed that he will be able to play in the NBA. Apparently, Hendrix has never missed a game due to injury, but bad luck struck in the form of a strained hamstring and later with a twisted ankle. Although he played at less than 100% he managed to pull down 21.2 reb/48 min, 2.23 blk/48 min, and 1.67 stl/48 min. He has the bulk, instincts, and tenacity to collect rebounds at a high rate as well as block some shots and bang with the bigs. A player like Hendrix will be a valuable compliment to the rest of the roster - a guy that you could throw out there to slow down the Boozers and Stoudemires of the league.

Grade: A- (only because I was hoping they could trade up in the 2nd to nab Mario Chalmers)


Richard Hendrix Highlights

From: DejanBodyroga




Warriors Pre-Draft Interview: Richard Hendrix

From: GoldenStateWarriors





Declining to use the Trade Exception

A couple of days after the draft, the Warriors opted not to use their $10 million Trade Exception picked up in the Jason Richardson deal. They could have used it in so many ways to bring in additional help in the form of a backup PG, an upgrade at PF, or future draft picks, but the Warriors and Chris Cohan were not going to risk the possibility of paying the Luxury Tax even if it was for 1 year (Baron was scheduled to come off the books the following year). The Trade Exception was a valuable asset that they just let go to waste. The justification for not using it was so they could re-sign Ellis and Biedrins without going over the Luxury Tax threshold. If the Warriors had an owner more concerned about building a winner rather than maximizing short term profits, the Trade Exception would have been used.

Grade: D-


Baron Davis Opts Out

The Warriors believed that there was no way Baron Davis would opt out of his contract this past offseason. Negotiations stalled because the Warriors didn't want to commit to a long term deal with Baron, and rightly so. Baron wasn't feeling the love and because the organization wasn't making an all-out effort field the best team possible for a title run, Baron Davis decided to forgo his final season of his contract, leave $17 million on the table, and agree to join the Clippers and Elton Brand (or so he thought).

The Warriors responded by reportedly offering a Max deal to Gilbert Arenas that got rejected. They then tried to sign Elton Brand for a 5 year / $92+ deal, but he decided to go to Philadelphia for less money. The Warriors reportedly increased their offer in a last ditch effort to keep Davis, but it wasn't enough to convince him to stay. In the long run this was a good thing for the Warriors.

Baron walks and the Warriors are unable to capitalize on yet another valuable asset. It wasn't entirely their fault, but had it been anticipated and pro-actively dealt with, the Warriors could have at least gotten something in return for Baron, perhaps a draft pick or young prospect from a team that was eager to land Baron like the Knicks or Cavaliers.

Grade: C


Signing Corey Maggette

Once the Warriors learned that Areans and Brand were not going to joining them, they quickly turned their attention to Corey Maggette. He's not a bad target, but with all the cap space to sign any of the top free agents for this and the next few offseasons, why blow a huge chunk of it on an injury prone, one-dimensional player who's not too far from turning 30? Maggette isn't a franchise player that will be able to lift your team into playoff contention. He's best as a 3rd option coming off the bench due to his limited game, lack of defense, and the fact that he doesn't make his teammates better.

Maggette was getting offers from several playoff teams for the MLE. That's a starting salary of around $5.8 million. Rather than risk getting reject for a 3rd time, Mullin threw down an offer with a starting salary of around $8.2 million. Over the life of the 5 year contract, the Warriors end up paying $48 million which is about $14 million more than anyone offering the MLE. They bid against themselves and paid too high a premium for an efficient, yet one-dimensional role player.

Mullin should not have rushed to sign Maggette at that price. He should have pursued a more worthy target like Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala or use part of it on cheaper emerging talent like Louis Williams. If he gets rejected again, so be it. Move on to the next target. Just don't settle for the easy kill if the player isn't a player worth building around. J.R. Smith is a comparable talent, but much younger, more upside, and probably cheaper. He has a poor attitude and needs to improve defensively, but with proper coaching and more maturity a high-risk play for J.R. Smith could lead to high reward. If Nelson could turn around the careers of Davis and Jackson, there might be hope for Smith as well.

This part of the offseason seemed to be an act of desperation to land SOMEBODY... ANYBODY, in the wake of Baron's departure. It was a band-aid to stop fan outcry and exodus of newly minted season ticket holders. This was a move with no vision for the future and one that won't get you deep into the playoffs, but rather stuck in the worst place possible - in the middle as a late lottery team. The pricey Maggette signing, although bringing in a good player, may have cost the Warriors a chance to land a true franchise player. If they can't find a way to trade him by February 2010, they will have squandered a golden opportunity to propel themselves into contender status.

From 2007-2008 ESPN Scouting Report:

Scouting report: Maggette has an amazingly quick first step going to his right, and is so powerful once he gets moving that it's difficult to thwart him without fouling. But it's tough to overplay him for the drive because he's also a decent outside shooter. Maggette has tended to shoot too many contested jumpers in recent years, but last season he refocused on attacking the rim and ended up with an even greater free-throw bounty.

Maggette's drives rarely result in passes, however. He gets tunnel vision once he puts it on the floor and has earned a rep as a selfish player. That said, he did post a career-high assist ratio last season. As you might expect for a player who drives so much, Maggette also makes a lot of turnovers.

Maggette's defense was what landed him in Mike Dunleavy's doghouse last season. He's an explosive athlete, but not the kind of nimble, quick-footed one who makes for a good defender. As a result, he was out of the starting lineup for much of last season. He also resorts to fouling quite a bit, ranking 11th among small forwards in personals per minute. Some of those are offensive fouls on his drives, but many are reaches and grabs after he's beaten on D.

Maggette's other issue has been injuries. He played 75 games last season, and that was the most he'd played since his rookie campaign. With all the contact he takes around the rim, it's perhaps inevitable that he's going to be out of the lineup for 10 to 15 games.

2007-08 outlook: With the injury to Elton Brand the spotlight is now on Maggette. The timing couldn't be better. Maggette is 27, he's entering his free-agent year, and he'll be the Clippers' go-to guy until Brand returns (and perhaps even for a time afterward). This is a great chance to showcase his scoring skills, but Maggette has to be careful to balance it with some team play as well. Otherwise, the selfish whispers might put a damper on his contract push. But if he's ever going to average 25 points a game, this would be the season it happens.

2007-2008 Game Log

Career Statistics

(click to enlarge image)

I tried so hard to convince myself that this was a good signing, but in the end I keep coming back to the realization that it may have cost us some big opportunities to build a contender. So much cap space, so many possibilities and the best the Warriors could do is Corey Maggette? There are ways to work around the signing, but this is a big step backwards and a detour in the journey to building a truly great team.

Grade: D-


Corey Magette Mix by Dwanewade75015
From: dwanewade75015




Next: Signing Ronny Turiaf, Trading for Marcus Williams

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