Monday, August 4, 2008

GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 3

Continued from: GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 2


Signing Ronny Turiaf

As a Warrior fan, I'm not at all fond of the Lakers, but one guy I did loved on their team was Ronny Turiaf. This is a guy that plays with insane passion and energy. He hustles after every loose ball, swats shots, dives on the floor, fights for every rebound, and cheers on his teammates when he's on the bench. Turiaf is a quality young big man that not only contributes on the court, but is also a huge asset in the locker room and in practice. With the departure of Baron Davis, the Warriors will need a personality as enjoyable as Turiaf in on the team - someone that can keep everybody's spirits high and encourage teammates when the going gets tough. He's slated to be Biedrins' primary backup, but can also play the PF as well.

From Draft Express:

Overview: Role-playing power forward who overcame a debilitating illness to return to the explosive form that made him a great collegiate player. Native of Martinique. Possesses very good strength, adequate size (6-9 in shoes) and excellent length (7-1) for the power forward position. Can get up and down the floor pretty well for his size. Extremely explosive when attacking the rim. Can get off the floor quickly when grabbing rebounds. Has played his way into good physical condition after his major heart surgery. Brings great energy to the floor each time he gets in the game. Goes after every rebound, and is fairly effective on the glass. Isn’t a polished offensive player, but knows how to make an impact by being active, even if he isn’t quite as efficient as you might hope. Plays very hard on the defensive end, but is a bit too foul prone. Was a force at during his career at Gonzaga. Won the WCC Player of the Year Award in 2005. Fits the triangle offense well. A very outspoken, humble person off the floor. One of the best teammates a player can ask for in terms of support. Brings a lot to the table as a person and player.

Offense: A prototypical hustle power forward who doesn’t function as one in the triangle offense. Gets his touches from spot up opportunities, shots off of cuts, post ups, and transition baskets. Displays an average shooting stroke, but is capable of knocking down jumpers from the midrange. Won’t put the ball on the floor unless he can fake his man off the floor away from the basket. Good finisher at the rim. Goes up strong, seeks out contact, and puts the ball down with authority. Solid foul shooter—improving year by year. Could stand to improve his offensive efficiency. Doesn’t like to turn over his left shoulder in the post. Needs to work on his left hand to become more effective. Runs the floor hard. Sets good screens. Surprisingly good passer. Posts an excellent assist to turnover ratio for a power forward. Works very hard to gain position and go after offensive rebounds. Still has quite a bit of room to improve within a team concept.

Defense: A very good defender who plays with enough energy for two players. Fights tooth and nail for position on the block. Does a great job contesting post shots. Very aggressive. Will commit some fouls just by the nature of his game. Moves his feet well and does a good job denying penetration when his man gets the ball in the high post. Always boxes out and pursues rebounds. Excellent shot blocker. Will get on the floor when the ball gets loose in the lane. Great motor. Defensive intensity matches the way he approaches the game in general.

From ESPN:

Scouting report: Calling Turiaf a high-energy guy is like calling a Maserati a peppy car; it doesn't really do justice to the description. Turiaf is totally hyper, which has positives and negatives. On the plus side, his energy is a big help at the defensive end and he's almost always in the mix even when his man is on the weak side; it also helps him compete on the boards despite being short for a center and just an average leaper.

On the minus side, Turiaf hacks like a madman. He had a very high rate of fouls last season, and that was one factor preventing him from playing longer stretches. Turiaf averaged six fouls every 32 minutes last season, so it would be pretty much impossible for him to get his average minutes above the low 20s because of the constant foul trouble.

Most similar at age: Theo Ratliff

Career Statistics

2007-2008 Game Log

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Turiaf will be an instant fan favorite as soon as he hits the floor at Oracle Arena. I can't wait to watch him play next to and as back-up to Biedrins. His mid-range game is solid allowing him to play with either Wright or Biedrins as a complimentary frontcourt mate. He gives the Warriors the prototypical PF/C presence that was sorely missing the past several years.

In order for the Warriors to acquire Turiaf, they had to slightly overpay for his services to deter the Lakers (over the Luxury Tax) from matching the offer sheet. His salary starts at $4.5M in his first year but on the plus side, it is a front-loaded deal that ends at $4.1M (P.O.) in his 4th year of the contract.

Grade: B+


Ronny Turiaf-Reasons To Be Missed
From: PrimorInato




Trading for Marcus Williams

Believe it or not, the biggest X-factor in the Warriors season won't come from any of the bigger free agent or rookie acquisitions, but the from trade that brought in Marcus Williams. We pretty much know what the other new additions will bring to the table. Williams is more of an unknown. If the 22 year old can successfully run the PG position, this team will fly. Tabbed as the best pure point guard in the 2006 draft, he has all the natural instincts that you want in your floor general. He should start off initially as a backup to Ellis, but there will be times during the season when he starts a the 1 and Monta at the 2. Williams is getting into Nelliball shape, so I'm optimistic that he will have much greater success as a Warrior than as a Net where set plays and the strict half-court mentality inhibited his play. He will thrive in the free flow offense which plays to his strengths.

Pre-Draft Scouting Report from Draft Express:

March 21, 2006

Strengths
Williams has excellent size for an NBA point guard at 6-3, with a very well built body that allows him to take contact and maintain his poise and balance in tough situations. He has huge hands that help him both control the ball masterfully as well as make impossible passing angles look simple. Williams’ steering paws combined with his peripheral vision allow him to whip the ball using impossible angles to the sides or behind him with a quick swoop and great accuracy when other point guards would struggle getting the ball off their finger tips.

Many consider Williams to be the best pure point guard in the country because of the poise he shows running UConn’s offense as well as his unselfishness, outstanding court vision and passing ability. He easily tops the point guard prospect rankings in assist to turnover ratio with a 2.42 average, coming in at 8.5 assists per game compared with 3.5 turnovers despite the fact that he was not available for the usually cupcake non-conference schedule that most point guards use to pad their stats.

Williams sees things on the floor in half-court sets that most point guards don’t and reacts to them instantaneously rather than waiting for plays to develop. He’s perfected the art of the ideal pass down to a science, showing a wonderful assortment of styles and outstanding creativity in the process. The lost art of the post-entry pass is absolute cake for him, using quarterback to wide-receiver style lobs, fundamental bounce passes, full-court heaves or the more modern and ballsy two-handed alley-oop chest pass right to the rim.

Williams loves to push the tempo of the game, so naturally in transition is where his stripes as a point guard really come out, as he organizes the break wonderfully, makes spectacular passes to his incredibly athletic frontcourt look easy, and knows how to put the ball in the cup himself if the pass isn’t there. He rarely gets rattled and usually makes the best possible decision available to him here.

No point guard in the country knows his teammates’ strengths better than Williams does. He distributes the ball exactly the way Coach Jim Calhoun would want him to, rewarding his teammates after a strong rebound or nice defensive play with an easy bucket the next time down the floor to ensure they remain happy, keeping the morale of the team high in the process by making sure that everyone puts in maximum effort for every second they are on the court. That’s not easy when you have as much talent as UConn does this year, but Williams does a great job making sure everyone gets involved, particularly when it comes to his big men, who might otherwise starve for touches on most NCAA teams.

No legit point guard prospect would be complete without outstanding ball-handling skills, and this is a part of his game that he’s improved remarkably in over the past few years. The left-handed Williams dribbles the ball confidently with either hand, always under control, averaging a surprisingly low number of turnovers considering the number of high risk passes he makes, largely due to the fact that he does not make many unforced errors handling the ball.

Williams possesses a strong crossover that he uses to break down defenses, get his man off-balance and give himself space to get into the lane, a move that he executes wonderfully when his team’s half-court offense breaks down. In these instances he rarely gets fazed, being very patient making his way into the lane, taking his time, always with his head up surveying everything around him and doing a fantastic job of getting the ball to his athletic teammates approaching the rim for the easy two points. He has some shiftiness to his game here, changing gears, utilizing hesitation moves, throwing head-fakes or using screens to get by his man, which is a bit tougher for him considering his average first step.

As the season has progressed he’s done a better job at going all the way to the rim (particularly going left) and finishing himself using his excellent strength, something that was absolutely necessary since some teams will prefer to play him this way rather than rotate and let Williams find the open man on the drive and dish, which as noted he is brilliant at.

In other facets of his offensive game, Williams has shot the ball pretty well from 3-point range over the last two seasons, although this is something GMs will want to look more closely at in private workouts considering his limited amount of attempts. As a sophomore he shot a little over 40% from behind the arc on only two attempts per game, and as a junior he sits at 38% on about 2.5 attempts at the time of this report heading into the Sweet 16.

At the free throw line Williams is excellent, being exactly the type of player you want to have with the ball in his hands in late-game situation. He’s improved his free throw shooting from 72% as a sophomore to 84.5% as a junior, being especially impressive in clutch/pressure-packed circumstances.

In terms of his intangibles, we find mostly a mixed bag. On one hand Williams appears to be an extremely crafty player who understands the game, realizes his role, follows instructions and is an outstanding teammate both on and off the court. Experience-wise, he has competed and played well at the highest level of college basketball for the past three years despite the fact that he’s been ineligible for large chunks of that time. He has noticeably improved throughout his three years at UConn, actually being closer to playing only two full seasons because of academic and off the court issues.

Weaknesses
Williams is not a spectacular athlete by any means, possibly even being a notch below a player he will be compared to repeatedly, last year’s #3 overall pick Deron Williams. He resembles Deron in his style of play and both have been criticized for their average athleticism.

His explosiveness, footspeed and overall quickness are not what you would expect from a typical point guard, particularly regarding his first step. He clearly makes the most of what he has at the college level thanks to his overall craftiness, but questions will linger until he actually steps foot on an NBA court.

In terms of creating his own shot and getting inside the lane this does not seem to effect him that negatively in the NCAA, as his strength, ball-handling skills and the quickness in which his mind works moves make him extremely dangerous on the drive and dish. How much this will translate over to the NBA will be the subject of much debate in draft war rooms and something that will be scrutinized closely in individual workouts with other top point guard prospects.

One aspect of his game where his lack of quickness clearly affects him already as a collegiate player is in his defensive ability. Williams does not move his feet well enough and is often heavily reliant on the three outstanding shot-blockers (Gay, Boone, Armstrong) he has behind him in UConn’s frontline. He has problems staying in front of his man on the perimeter, particularly when going up against smaller and quicker guards. This might not be that much of an issue if Williams showed better effort in this area, but this is not a part of his game that he puts as much pride in as he does with his playmaking ability, sometimes being a bit slow to get back defensively.

Williams’ offensive arsenal in terms of scoring is fairly average, causing some to label him as a bit of a one-dimensional passer, particularly earlier in his career. In all fairness, much of this has to do with the fact that he’s constantly surrounded by future NBA players and simply does not need to have huge offensive outbursts for his team to win. Regardless, this is another part of his game that NBA teams will study closely.

Already noted are the low number of attempts from long-range that make his accuracy from 3-point range tough to get a good read on. His release is both on the slow-side as well as flat-footed, two things he will have to work very hard to improve if he wants to have any shot at getting clean looks against long and hyper-athletic NBA guards.

Williams’ in-between game is also in need of some serious polish. Rarely will you see him pull-up from mid-range for a jump-shot, something that he will have to add to his arsenal considering his lack of explosiveness both getting to and finishing at the rim. Inside the paint he would be well served to work on his floaters and runners to help him get his shot off better against athletic big men when a clear path to the lane isn’t there. When he does get to the rim, Williams doesn’t have an explosive vertical leap he can rely on to help him finish here, meaning he will have to work that much harder on his offense to help diversify his game.

As great of a point guard as Williams is, his leadership skills still lag far behind his actual playmaking ability. Just as much as Williams doesn’t get fazed by opponents being thrown in his face or by a highlight reel assist that he makes, he also doesn’t show much emotion or passion when things aren’t going his team’s way. He has the credibility and then some to get on his teammates in the huddle and snap them out of their funk, but is still too quiet, passive or maybe apathetic to do so. We started to see some better signs here later on in the season, so it will be interesting to see how he develops this part of his game considering that he only really had one full season at UConn (his sophomore year) without disruption.

Off the court, there are some reasons for NBA teams to be concerned or, at the very least, some issues that will be studied closely. Over the summer, prior to his junior year, Williams (and fellow point guard teammate AJ Price) was arrested and later charged with four counts of third-degree felony larceny for the theft of four laptops valued at $11,000 from student dorm rooms, allegedly belonging to members of UConn’s women’s athletic teams. According to police reports, Williams and his accomplices attempted to sell the laptops to pawnshops in Connecticut. Williams entered Connecticut’s accelerated rehabilitation program, a form of probation for first time offenders that ultimately helped him get off easier than teammate A.J. Price. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and ordered to do 400 hours of community service, as well as being punished individually by UConn, being suspended for the entire first semester and non-conference slate until January 4th.

NBA teams will likely do their own meticulous research behind the scenes to evaluate how seriously they will take these issues, which makes it difficult to project how much, if at all, this will hurt his draft stock when it’s all said and done.


From ESPN:

Scouting report: A left-hander with a nice touch, Williams looks like he'll be a decent shooter when he gets the open jumper and should eventually add 3-point range. But on the drive, he forces up more slop than a sump pump. His lefty forays to the rim invariably led to him challenging bigger players near the basket, something that's not so effective for Williams since he's a marginal athlete.

As a point guard, Williams seems to have a good feel for the game and handles the ball well, but seemed to quit on plays if there wasn't anything in it for him. The same mentality led him to eschew the mundane pass for the spectacular, often with disastrous consequences. He also had a nasty habit of dribbling into traps.

Defensively, Williams was beaten easily off the dribble by opposing guards and needs to improve his lateral movement and fitness. His size is helpful, and one can imagine him becoming a decent defender if he puts in the effort.

Career Statistics

Game Log

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Marcus Williams could be an important part of the young nucleus. The Warriors have two seasons to see how he will fit into the system and I'm sure his ability to run the fast break, find the open guys, and knock down threes will help him become a part of the Warriors' future. Williams will have to get his body into optimal shape in order to run with the team, but the Warriors have some of the best trainers and nutritionist to help him. He will also need to work on finishing at the rim and playing better defense. Both should naturally get better with superior conditioning and the added explosiveness that comes with it. If Deron Williams can do it, hopefully Marcus Williams can do the same.

The Warriors gave up a heavily protected 1st round pick to get him, so it should work out to be a good deal in the long run. Although I would have liked the Warriors to target a more defensive minded true PG like Kyle Lowry or Javaris Crittenton (still developing PG skills), this was a very good mid-risk, high-reward move.

Grade: B+

Marcus Williams Mix
From: ballin1skballa



Marcus Williams warriors.com Interview
From: GoldenStateWarriors




Next: Matching Kelenna Azubuike, Re-signing Monta Ellis, and Signing Anthony Morrow

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