Saturday, August 9, 2008

GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 5

Continued from: GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 4

Re-signing Andris Biedrins

The 'final' transaction the the busiest offseason in Warriors' history was capped off by locking up Andris Biedrins to a 6 year / $54M contract with incentives that could push it up to as much as $63M. Like Monta, Mullin didn't want to wait for another team to set Biedrins' value. Rather than risking any ill feelings from a prolonged contract stare-down, both sides came to agreement relatively early in the offseason.

Biedrins is not a bruiser and has some difficulty guarding the bigger centers and power forwards of the league, but his agility, speed, and athleticism allow him to be a near perfect center for the Warriors' up-tempo attack. He is reportedly working hard to expand his range by adding a jump shot and more and more offensive moves. He is a very disciplined player that knows his limitations and plays with great awareness and intelligence. I have no doubt he will continue to improve as he had done in each of his first 4 seasons.

Career Statistics

Game Log


Scouting Report from Draft Express:

Overview: A developing left-handed Latvian big man who is really starting to come into his own as one of the better centers in the game. Came into the league at age 18, and still has a great deal of upside. Has excellent size and very good athleticism for a big man. Shows great mobility in transition and when defending the pick and roll. Doesn’t have astounding bulk, but plays stronger than most NBA centers. Didn’t have a lot of success early in his career, but found a niche perfectly tailored to his skills in Don Nelson’s system. Skill-level is fairly poor, but isn’t asked to be anything he’s not. Understands his strengths and sticks to them. Rebounds the ball extremely well and produces incredibly efficiently on the offensive end. Shows great competitiveness. Plays with so much adrenaline that he has a very difficult time from the free throw line. Despite his experience level, Biedrins is so young that it wouldn’t be surprising to see him improve significantly.

Offense: A raw offensive player, but is efficient enough at the simple things he does well (and plays with such shot-happy teammates) to not make that much of an issue. Always amongst the league-leaders in field goal percentage. Gets more than half of his shots off of cuts and offensive rebounds. Gets another third from post ups and pick and rolls. Does most of his damage by working off the ball and using his terrific hands to simply catch and finish, which he’s amongst the league’s best at. Uses his strength to muscle his man underneath. Makes an effort to read ball handlers as well. Sets good screens and knows how to roll to the basket to set himself up to make a play. Gets the ball in the post with his back to the basket, but not very frequently. Very raw down there. Almost exclusively turns over his right shoulder. Needs to work on his off hand, and improve his footwork. Known for his struggles at the line. Has improved his mechanics to an extent, but still has an unorthodox release. Has improved remarkably from 30% in his second season to over 62% in his fourth season. Decent passer for a player his size. Not very assertive. Rarely puts the ball on the floor to score, and if he does, it’s only with his left hand. One of the most active offensive rebounders in the League.

Defense: Very hard worker and the only one on Golden State’s roster who’s role revolves around the defensive end. Good weakside shot blocker. Very tough on the block. Uses leverage to push his man off his spot. Tries to go straight up on shots, but makes some mistakes. Commits quite a few fouls when rotating to meet weak-side penetration. Very effective one-on-one in close in comparison to the average player. Great rebounder. Scrappy in the paint. Good timing. Anticipation will come around in time. Experience will only make him better.

The Warriors filled one of the most difficult and important positions in basketball, Center, for the next 6 years. Biedrins, 6'-11", 230 lbs, at age 22, led the NBA in field goal percentage and has much more room to grow and many more years before he reaches his prime. His astounding proficiency at such a young age is what makes this re-signing such a huge win for the Golden State Warriors.

Grade: A


Andris Biedrins '07-'08 Highlight Reel
From: BBJ





Andris Biedrins Feature
From: GoldenStateWarriors




Offseason Grade Summary:



Drafting Anthony Randolph: A
Drafting Richard Hendrix: A-
Declining to use the Trade Exception: D-
Baron Davis Opts Out: C
Signing Corey Maggette: D-
Signing Ronny Turiaf: B+
Trading for Marcus Williams: B+
Matching Kelenna Azubuike: B+
Re-signing Monta Ellis: B+
Signing Anthony Morrow: A-
Re-signing Andris Biedrins: A

There were several very good to excellent transactions this offseason but their biggest transaction in response to the departure of Baron Davis weighs heavily on the overall grade of the offseason. Mullin was given a clean slate on which to build the foundation of the Warriors but too quickly settled for a player that may be able to keep the casual fans interested, but will not elevate them to more than a fringe playoff team. Maggette will not get any better and will not likely get less injury prone as he enters his 30's. He will make the Warriors marginally respectable, but he will also cause them to draft in the middle of the round as a result. The Warriors will be denied the opportunity to draft a clear cut superstar and will have to get lucky if they want to land one. Mullin restricted the teams options by offering Maggette such an overpriced and lengthy contract that will likely take the Warriors out of the any major post-season action for the next 2 years. If he can be traded by February 2010 for expiring contracts or future draft picks, it won't be so bad. But chances of that happening aren't very good considering the hefty salary he will receive due to the yearly raises.

Overall Offseason Grade: D+


GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 1
GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 2
GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 3
GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 4

Friday, August 8, 2008

GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 4

Continued from: GRADING THE OFFSEASON - PART 3


Matching Kelenna Azubuike

This wasn't a 'no-brainer' decision to match Azubuike's offer sheet from the Clippers. There were many pros and cons to examine. The Warriors needed to consider their financial situation in the future as well as the possibilities of finding a suitable replacement at a low price. But after weighing the options (one of which included bringing in Maurice Evans), it was the right move to match.

Azubuike is a versatile wing man that does many things well and has the potential to become a lockdown perimeter defensive player. When he's healthy, he could nearly match Jason Richardson's production on many fronts: scoring, rebounding, perimeter shooting, and clutch play. He provides better defense and great timing to block shots. Azubuike also as a knack for crashing the boards for timely offensive put-backs. He is very strong going to the rim and there have even been reports that he has focused on improving his shooting this offseason and the results are promising. Azubuike is a very good player with a high basketball I.Q. - a player that plays with poise and rarely makes mistakes.


Pre-Draft Scouting Report from Draft Express:
April 9, 2005

Strengths
Azubuike averaged over 40 points a game in high school, so his scoring prowess is well-established. He's an athletic marvel, chiseled and lean, and owns a 38-40+ inch vertical leap.

Possessing a smooth jump shot and a superior slashing game, Azubuike is probably better-suited to the pro court than the college court. Many of his travelling calls in college would not be called in the NBA, possibly opening up more room for him to maneuver on strong moves to the basket.

The gifted scorer is also a strong free-throw shooter, hitting a cool 75% for his collegiate career, and rarely missing key free throws in tight games. He also managed a 49% mark from the field overall, despite shooting 37% from three-point range, a testament to his excellent mid-range and slashing game.

On his best days, Azubuike finishes like Jason Richardson and shoots like Tracy McGrady. But those days certainly aren't every day.

The junior's defensive skills improved mightily over the course of his UK career, and like many former Tubby Smith players, he projects as an above-average on the ball defender at the next level, something that should help him tremendously as he moves forward.

Most of all, Azubuike's a first-team All-Potential squad member, somewhat of a raw commodity, much as he was upon arriving in Lexington for college.

Weaknesses
Despite often being the most athletically gifted player on the court for either team, Azubuike rarely dominated a game while at Kentucky. He could score in bunches, but too often deferred to his teammates and let the game move without him.

Perhaps Tubby Smith put it best when, while trying to goad Azubuike to play with more presence, the coach noted, "He looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane."

If he is to someday make the NBA, he'll have to become a much better shooter from outside. Kentucky was sorely lacking a player who could hit the open 3 to compliment Rajon Rondo's ability to drive and dish, and Kelenna was not able to do that in many games for Kentucky this year, failing to hit more than one three pointer in 20 of Kentucky's 34 games. This is hardly the type of shooting ability you would expect from an NCAA junior who is confident enough in his offensive skills to forfeit his final year of NCAA eligibility.

Still, Azubuike's junior campaign saw much improvement, especially with the Wildcat's ball-handling skills. But those skills are far from polished and he'll need to work on his dribble to stay in the League. His first step is fairly average, which makes you wonder if he'll be able to slash to the hoop as effectively in the league.

Azubuike is not an overpowering rebounder, though it's hard to tell if that is due to lack of interest rather than lack of ability. As is often the case when Azubuike is discussed, focus and mental toughness are his foibles, not ability or potential.

Put simply, Azubuike is a work in progress, but it remains to be seen if he'll ever reach his immense potential. At some point, you have to stop being a prospect.

ESPN Scouting Report:

Scouting report: An athletic 6-5 guard, Azubuike is a good leaper who can make some spectacular dunks and blocks. In spite of his leaping, he doesn't seem to be a good finisher -- he cashed a little more than half his close-in shot attempts and missed several easy bunnies. Azubuike can shoot from long-range, too, and has the size and athleticism to get to the line.

What's missing right now is all the subtle stuff. He's not a good ball handler or an elusive dribbler, so it's tough for him to get shots at times; he also needs to learn the defensive side of the game better and take advantage of his athleticism on that end. He's only 23 so there's time to learn, but the absence of those skills cost him a rotation spot when Golden State made its playoff run.

Career Statistics

2007-2008 Game Log

(click to enlarge image)


Kelenna Azubuike's contract is a very reasonable 3 year / $9.3M deal with a 3rd year player option. His upside and growth curve should make him an easily tradeable asset if the Warriors want to package him to help move a less friendly contract like Maggette's. The Warriors didn't let a valuable player walk away for nothing and at the same time, Azubuike can serve as a capable backup to Jackson and Maggette.

Grade: B+


Kelenna Azubuike '07-'08 Highlight Reel
From: BBJ




Re-signing Monta Ellis

The re-signing of Monta Ellis was a must, particularly after the Warriors lost their best player in Baron Davis, but is he worth 6 year / $66M?

He becomes the best player on the Warriors, but there is significant 'flaw' that is currently preventing him from being considered a legitimate franchise player that a team can confidently build around - he is essentially an undersized SG until proven otherwise. Don Nelson recognizes that if Ellis wants to be considered among the elites of the NBA, he needs to do it as a PG. We have seen flashes of PG skills the three years he's been around, but one does not get a sense that Ellis is blessed with PG instincts. He hasn't been thrust into that role full-time but this upcoming season, Ellis will be thrown into the fire to see if he has what it takes. Allen Iverson, a supremely gifted scorer, led his team to the Finals but lost. Ellis has to match Iverson's offensive output, but must also strive to be a multi-faceted player if he is to achieve personal and team greatness. Hopefully, he follows the successful path of a late-bloomer like Chauncy Billups or at least develops enough PG skills to run an offense like Tony Parker.

How will Ellis respond to being the #1 option with no Baron Davis to draw the attention of the defense? Opposing teams will be game-planning for him now that he's 'the man.' If last year's home game vs. the Celtics (#1 defense) was any indication of how he will react, he should fair well on many nights. In a game where Doc Rivers ordered defensive efforts to be focused on stopping Ellis, he was able to take what the defense gave him for the first three quarters, racked up 9 assists, and exploded for 12 points in the 4th quarter to help get the Warriors a come-from-behind victory.

Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins BOS @ GSW 2008.02.20
From: ymydy4



Ellis' pay is approaching that of a franchise player, so the former Most Improved Player has to continue to step up his game in order to live up the lofty expectations placed on his young shoulders. He is no longer just a scoring machine. He is now a playmaker, a leader, and will be asked to evolve into a good defensive player. Ellis certainly possesses the speed, quickness, and anticipation skills to do it, but he will have to take on that mindset of a great defender. It's a mindset that is achieved through hard work, dedication, pride, and desire. He can no longer allow his man to get past him consistently and hope for weakside help. Ellis has to fight through screens, move his feet, and use his world-class quickness to stay in front of him. He needs to show responsibility and accountability - without those two, as a leader, he has no right to demand the same from his teammates on the defensive end.

If Monta Ellis can build off of his terrific season and the Warriors are a .500 team, there is a great possibility that he could make the All-Star team as a reserve. He should be able to increase his scoring and assist averages, giving him enough stats worthy of consideration. Ellis is the fastest player in the NBA, is unstoppable 1-on-1 in transition, and is among the best finishers in the league. The Warriors are a better rebounding team with the additions of Turiaf, Hendrix, and Randolph, along with more playing time from Wright. Their defensive rebounds will lead to more fastbreak opportunities and more transition buckets for Ellis.

Career Statistics

2007-2008 Game Log


(click to enlarge image)

Scouting Report from Draft Express:

Overview: An undersized shooting guard (6-3 in shoes) who has become a very talented combo only two years after leaving Lanier High School for the NBA Draft. Has incredible quickness and leaping ability. Runs the floor as fast as anyone in the game. Isn’t very strong, but has put on some weight since entering the League. Has fully transitioned his offensive game to the NBA, and is one of the most efficient guards you’ll find. Won the NBA Most Improved Player Award after coming into his own in his second year pro. Still needs to develop his point guard skills, but the former second-round pick has already vastly outplayed his draft slot. Has the potential to be a great player due to his age and rapid development.

Offense: Gets almost a third of his offense in transition, a testament to his speed. Another third comes from pick and rolls, with the final third coming from spot ups and isolations. Has become a very dynamic scorer early in his career. Can spark fast breaks by himself. Still trying to find his range. Has improved his shooting stroke, but isn’t always consistent. Could try and hammer out his footwork to avoid rehashing his mechanics. Gets to the rim more often than he pulls the trigger from the outside. Only 4% of his field goal attempts came from beyond the arc in 07/08. Quick first step and impressive crossover allow him to get into the lane without a lot of trouble. Goes to the line at a good rate and shoots a respectable percentage. Capable of driving and finishing with either hand, although he’s better with his right. Gets creative when finishing at the rim and displays great leaping ability. Good pull up jump shooter from mid-range. Needs to learn to keep the same rhythm on his set shots that he does on those off the dribble. Will turn the corner on pick and rolls with little trouble. Good offensive rebounder for his height. Could stand to work on his point guard skills, although he’s not turnover prone at all. Will need to show he can handle more minutes running the offense, something that he did infrequently up until 2009.

Defense: A mediocre defender, as he lacks both size and length at the shooting guard position and isn’t aided in the least bit his poor fundamentals. Plays too many minutes, which likely hampers his effectiveness. He tends to bite on every pump fake and only occasionally will get into an aggressive stance. He does have excellent lateral quickness and is highly adept at getting into the passing lanes, making him fairly effective when asked to play pressure defense. He is also a fairly solid rebounder considering his size.


Mullin made it known early on in the process that he would match any offer sheet for Ellis and Biedrins, two cornerstones of the Warriors franchise. But rather than letting the market dictate their price, Mullin decided to lock them up early, perhaps to send a message to the rest of the league that they aren't cheap and that the Warriors take care of their best players. His contract pays him $11M each year with a possible player option in the 6th year - quite a long and high contract for an undersized SG that yet to prove he can handle full-time PG duties. Mullin may have overpaid somewhat, but if Monta Ellis can develop into a franchise player that makes his teammates better, he will be well worth his contract of 6 years / $66 million. That's a huge load for a 22 year old to bear, but I believe he's up to the task.

Grade: B+

Monta Ellis
From: dontsleepond




Monta Ellis '07-'08 Highlight Reel
From: BBJ




Monta Ellis Warriors.com Interview
From: GoldenStateWarriors




Signing Anthony Morrow

Anthony Morrow was one of the biggest revelations of the summer league circuit having done extremely well in Orlando, then slowly making a name for himself in Las Vegas, and finishing it up by winning the MVP in Salt Lake City. Morrow was among the best 3 point shooters in the NCAA and the Warriors could always use another sharp-shooter coming off the bench. He has very good size for the SG position, and can play SF in Nelson's system as a result. In summer league, he showed that he could be more than just a 3-point shooter by rebounding, blocking shots, and doing a decent job on the defensive end. Morrow hit an incredible percentage from down town and help the Warriors to a 8-2 record resulting in 2 first place finishes.

Mullin was right in offering Morrow a minimum contract, and he needs to continue to impress the Warriors if he is to stick with the team past training camp. If he does well, Belinelli will have to pick up his game to avoid being passed up in the depth chart by this specialist that hits outside shots at a higher rate, is bigger, and has better rebounding and defensive abilities. Who knows, Morrow could end up being another one of Mullin's diamonds in the rough.

Birthday: 9/27/1985
NBA Position: Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Ht: 6-5
Wt: 205
College Team: Georgia Tech
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
High School: Charlotte Latin


Official Georgia Tech Profile

Georgia Tech Statistics

From Draft Express:

July 9, 2008

Anthony Morrow gets the nod for our “undrafted sleeper of the day” award, as he was able to drop 19 points in just 23 minutes of action, on a scintillating 5 of 7 from beyond the arc. Morrow was one of the best shooters in college basketball this season, hitting 45% of his shots beyond the arc playing in the ACC, so its not like this is exactly startling news. It is interesting to see how quickly he has been able to expand his range to the NBA line, and just how intelligently he moved off the ball finding open spaces for which to get his shot off. He kept things nice and simple all day long, sticking to what he does best, while also mixing in a little one dribble pull-up jumper from mid-range for good measure. He creates separation nicely and has a gorgeous text-book release. Some of the scouts around us mentioned that they think he’s too one-dimensional to play in the NBA (as he’s not a great ball-handler, athlete or defender), but to his credit, he was competing hard and not looking bad out there. Morrow surprisingly already signed a contract to play all the way out in the Ukraine, leading many disappointed high-level European teams here wondering what exactly his rush was to sign in a league like that.


From nbadraft.net:

NBA Comparison: N/A

Strengths: One of the better shooters in the nation with range out to college three ... Best utilized as a catch and shoot guy ... Shows a willingness to take big shots and makes them ... A tremendous free throw shooter, rarely misses from the line. A fluid athlete with long arms and a good feel for the game ... Has developed into a dangerous scorer who can score equally well from midrange as outside ... Rarely forces shots and finds success with a disciplined shot selection ... Unselfish, usually scores his points in the flow of the offense ... A mature, cerebral player who is seldom rattled ... Solid skill level. A decent passer and decision maker, nothing above the ordinary but rarely turns the ball over or makes crucual mental errors ... His quality outside shot gives him a real chance to make an NBA team ...

Weaknesses: A below average athlete by NBA standards. Doesn't jump especially well and lacks great explosiveness and a quick first step. Suffered through much of his junior season with a back injury, limiting his athleticism to an extent ... One on one skills are poor, lacking a great ability to beat his man off the dribble or create shots for himself ... Has worked hard at adding body strength but remains on the thin side. Can be overpowered by stronger and more athletic opponents. An average defender. Despite his superb length, he lacks great foot speed, and the overall quickness to be a great defender and create steals ... Will need to prove that he can step his range back to the NBA three point line ... His lack of strength/athleticism makes it difficult for him to finish at the rim as well as create FT shooting opportunities.This is an area of his game that could really use some improvement, however it's questionable hom much more strength and explosiveness he can add.

Aran Smith - 12/3/2007


Click here to see Morrow in Summer League action and find links to interviews.

Grade: A-


Next: Andris Biedrins and Summary

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

WARRIORS SCHEDULE RELEASED


Golden State Warriors Schedule 2008-2009

October - 1 home, 1 away, 2 total
November - 6 home, 9 away , 16 total, 2 back-to-backs
December - 6 home, 11 away, 17 total, 5 back-to-backs
January - 8 home, 6 away, 14 total, 1 back-to-back
February - 8 home, 2 away, 10 total
March - 7 home, 9 away, 16 total, 4 back-to-backs
April - 5 home, 2 away, 1 neutral, 8 total, 1 back-to-back

more.....

Warriors To Tip-Off 2008-09 NBA Season At ORACLE Arena On Wednesday, October 29

NBA Releases 2008-09 Schedule

Ten to Watch in 2008-09

Warriors will be frequent fliers early in the season

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

POLL RESULTS: MULLIN'S OFFSEASON GRADE

How would you grade Mullin's offseason?

A - 45 (27%)
B - 79 (48%)
C - 26 (16%)
D - 10 (6%)
F - 2 (1%)

Please feel free to comment on why you gave Mullin a particular grade.

Monday, August 4, 2008

JOSH SMITH IS WORTH GOING AFTER

In Tim Kawakami's 'Talking Points' Blog, he lays out some compelling reasons as to why the Warriors will not / should not go after Josh Smith. As an ardent believer in the superstar potential of Josh Smith, I attempt to rebut each of his main points of contention.

1. The Warriors are (at least) one excellent player short of sure-fire playoff contention… but I’m not at all sure that Smith is That Player.

In fact, I think the Warriors do not believe he is that player. Smith is only 22 and he does many good things (big-time shot-blocker, decent rebounder, OK passer, can run the floor and finish) but he’s a career 44.5% shooter and that is not exactly your definition of a low-post scorer.


For a young prospect straight out of high school, a career 44% shooting statistic isn't a fair indication of Smith's potential as a shooter. He was a rail thin, inexperienced kid playing against the best basketball players in the world. I'd expect him to shoot mediocre numbers initially. As he continues to develop his post and mid-range game, along with an improved shot selection, his shooting percentage will go up.

Josh Smith's true shooting percentage (takes into account free throws and 3-pointers) is a very respectable 52%. He also shoots an impressive 59% in the post.

Playoff contenders usually have one feared defensive post player, the Warriors currently have none. Smith will continue to bulk up and add muscle as his body matures, allowing him to do a better job against the bigger PF's of the NBA. Although he is only 22, he is already considered one of the best in the game, having finished 6th in Defensive Player of the Year voting. It's only a matter of time before he wins the award. Smith is going to lead the league in blocks some day and right now will continue to make life difficult for the opposition in the post.

Josh Smith's Top 10 Blocks of 2007
From: NBA




2. Smith is probably not worth giving up Wright–whom the Warriors love, remember–and giving away Harrington–whom Mullin loves.

The Warriors believe Wright, who is two years younger, will end up doing many of the same things Smith does now, but more efficiently and definitely more inexpensively (for now).

And as I’ve typed often, Mullin isn’t giving Harrington away, even if Don Nelson would like him to. If Mullin is going to give up Wright and Harrington, he’s going to want someone he’s sure can get him into the playoffs and maybe win him a round.


If the Warriors believe that Harrington and Wright have the qualities that make the Warriors a competitive team, then they should be drooling over the prospects of landing Josh Smith who is essentially a hybrid of the two players.

Wright will never gain enough weight to be able to take and dish out the punishment that Smith can. Wright's frame is what it is and he will essentially mature in the same manner as Joe Smith - a very good role player / solid starter, but not a superstar. Wright gets banged around far too easily, and isn't able to dominate even in a Summer League game. He has never been an outstanding rebounder for his size, even in college and doesn't seem to have the mentality to take it strong to his opponent, but instead would rather finesse it with jump hooks and close range jump shots. He has trouble finishing after slightest of contact and goes to the line at a rate of 5.1 FTA per 48 min. as compared to Josh Smith's 7.8 FTA per 48.

Trading Harrington for Smith wouldn't be like giving him away for nothing. Insert Smith into a core lineup consisting of Ellis, Biedrins, Jackson, Maggette, Azubuike, Turiaf, Randolph, and Williams and you have a playoff team that might not be able to make it out of the 1st round initially, but has the makings of a contender as the young players enter their prime years together. The immediate impact that Smith brings on the team is on the defensive end and on the glass. He will be able to contribute on the offensive end as well, but will only get better as he continues to work on his shooting range.

It seems like whatever Don wants, Don gets (see O'Bryant, Dunleavy, Murphy, Diogu, etc.). If he doesn't like Harrington, Mullin shouldn't have any problems moving him based on his recent history. By the way, does Mullin know Smith's another lefty?

3. Smith’s contract would be huge–possibly larger than the 6-year, $66M deal the Warriors just gave Monta Ellis, and I believe it’s very important to Monta that he’s the highest-paid Warriors player.

VERY IMPORTANT to Monta. I cannot emphasize that one any more than I already have.

The Warriors carefully kept Corey Maggette’s F/A deal and Andris Biedrins’ RFA deal under Ellis’ deal. That was market rate (or in Maggette’s case, slightly above), but it also gave Mullin room to come on top of them both with Ellis’ deal.


Why is it 'VERY IMPORTANT' to Monta that he be the highest paid player on the team? From what I've noticed about the guy from the 3 years playing with the Warriors, he doesn't seem like the egotistical jerk that would demand such a condition. Monta seems like a humble guy that would welcome any player that would increase the Warriors' chances at eventually becoming a contender. He comes from a very poor upbringing and now is blessed with a very generous contract that will pay him $11 million a year for the next 6 years. Just because an up-n-coming superstar like Josh Smith would rightfully command a slightly higher salary doesn't mean that Ellis would instantly transform into a Diva crying foul. I have not heard or read one instance that would suggest otherwise. As for Maggette and Biedrins' deals, they are kept below Monta's contract because they don't deserve to be paid more than Ellis, not because the Warriors feared they would offend Ellis. Maggette is overpaid, but Biedrins is receiving a good deal from the Warriors perspective. Based on Monta's production, upside, and star potential, he should be paid the highest among the three. But if Josh Smith comes in, Smith should at least be paid as much as Monta if not, more. He's younger, has better size for his position as a SF/PF, is bigger box-office draw, has a big impact on defense, rebounds, is an under-rated passer, and has shown improvement on his offensive game.

Monta should welcome the addition of Josh Smith, no matter what it takes to get him into a Warriors uniform. Together, they would make the Warriors the most exciting team in the NBA.

Top 100 Josh Smith dunks
From: mixstealer300



4. Smith’s deal, probably at more than $11M a year, would screw up the Warriors’ finances into the future–and again, they have carefully planned to give themselves room in the future.

We go back to that issue–is Smith That Player? Is he Brand, KG or a Young Baron? No, he’s not that good.

The Warriors are trying to set themselves up to have lots of young talent and have room next season to add one more big salary, if that’s the guy who coalesces everything, the way KG did for Boston and Steve Nash did for Phoenix a few years ago.

I’ll say it again: Josh Smith isn’t that guy, not when they’ve already spent $50M on Maggette, $54M on Biedrins, $17M on Ronny Turiaf and $66M on Ellis.


Josh Smith might not be 'That Player' right now, but he will be in a couple of years. He has all the makings of a star, and put into an up-tempo system he will turn into a superstar. Smith has shown he can dominate a game - even a playoff game vs. the best defensive team in the NBA. HE'S ONLY 22 YEARS OLD!

Josh Smith's 27pts, 9reb vs KG & Celtics Game 3 Playoffs 2008
From: 1EDmanLV



Mullin messed up the Warriors' future finances when he signed Maggette to that 5-Year/$48M deal. Because of the signing, the Warriors won't be able to be big-time players in the Free Agent market unless major sacrifices are made. This is all the more reason why the Warriors should go hard after Smith right now while they have a chance. He's the kind of young talent that they could only hope to get in free agency. They won't be able to land LeBron, Kobe, or Wade in 2010. The Warriors need to lock up a talent like Josh Smith while he is undervalued, just like they locked up Ellis and Biedrins. He'll be worth it.

5. Smith doesn’t quite fit the Warriors’ system, either.

He could fit it, I guess. That’s not out of the question. But ideally, a Nellie big man either can shoot threes or can score at a high % on the low post or can stuff the other team’s monster big man.

I’m not sure Smith does any of those things. He’s not an on-ball smother guy–he likes to guard weaker offensive players and then come swooping in to swat the shots from the better players. He’s not a great jumpshooter, but he likes to shoot. Too much.

He put up 99 three-pointers last year and made 25. He also is a high-turnover guy–3 per game last year. That’s no good. (Harrington and Biedrins were both at 1.1 TOs/game last year. Ellis was 2.1) In a fast system, that, to me, equals a potential tall 39% shooter with 4.5 TOs a game.


Josh Smith is a good fit for the Warriors and will be an amazing fit in time. Here's what I wrote about Smith at the beginning of the free agency period:

Josh Smith is a great fit for our fast paced style of play because of his elite athleticism. He'll be able to play all three positions in the front court under Don Nelson. His length and shot blocking ability will make him a key piece in the chaotic defensive style meant to harass the opponents into mistakes that trigger transition buckets. Smith is a terrific finisher at the rim and delivers punishing dunks that could send teammates and crowds into a frenzy while demoralizing opponents. He's shown that he has range out to the 3 point line, but will have to work on developing more consistency. At age 22, sky's the limit for this rising star, who is already considered one of the best defenders and the #1 rebounding SF in the NBA.

True, Don Nelson loves big men that can shoot, but judging by what I see from Smith, there is no reason he won't develop into a better perimeter shooter. His shooting form is good and has consistently increased his range each of the years he's played in the NBA. Our best shooting big man is Harrington, but during his first 7 years in the league, he shot a dismal 24.4% from 3 point land. In Smith's first 4 years, he is shooting 26.3% from three. With more work, Smith could be the inside outside threat Nelson covets. For now, he could keep the defense honest while Ellis and the other guards do the bulk of the scoring.

As mentioned previously, Josh Smith hit 59% in the low post. He has a lot more room to improve in terms of developing more moves and adding bulk, but he'd be a huge upgrade at PF right off the bat. Not only will he add inside scoring punch, he'll excel at what the Warriors do best, score in transition. Smith is unstoppable on the break and can initiate the break with his strong rebounding, incredible shot blocking, and good passing skills.

6. I don’t think Atlanta would accept the Wright/Harrington package, even if it’s sweetened.

The Hawks are dumb, but they’ve already lost RFA Josh Childress to a Greek team. They built a high level (for them) of excitement last season around Smith, Horford, Joe Johnson, Childress and a little bit of Mike Bibby.

It’d be awful if they lost both Childress and Smith, playing a RFA system in which almost nobody loses high-quality RFAs. You’re not supposed to lose RFAs that are stars. They lost one. They’re not going to lose Smith and it’ll take more than Brandan Wright–I think–to pry Smith loose.


Here is an offer they can't refuse and which will allow the Warriors to take on Smith under Base Year Compensation (BYC) provisions:

Harrington / Wright / Belinelli / Perovic
for
Smith / Claxton

The prospect of ditching Claxton's deal should be enough of a sweetener for the notoriously cheap Hawks ownership group, but throwing in Belinelli and perhaps Perovic for depth at Center would send them scrabbling for a pen. If they want, they can also have Watson to help at PG. Currently, they only have 10 players signed. With Smith going public about his desires to leave Atlanta, this should be more than enough to get them to agree to a Sign & Trade.

7. I think the Warriors are happy with what they’ve accomplished after losing Baron. Chris Mullin will never say he’s done… but he’s basically done for the summer.

-They’re not offering Wright to anybody: He’s their power forward of the future next to Randolph and Biedrins on the frontline.

-They’re not giving Harrington away. He’s the only proven spot-up three-point shooter on the roster, unless you count Marcus Williams and I don’t.

-They want to see what their current roster settles out to be. Right now:

C: Biedrins, Turiaf, possibly Perovic.
PF: Harrington, Wright, Hendrix.
SF: Jackson, Randolph.
SF/SG: Maggette, Belinelli, Azubuike.
PG: Ellis, Williams, possibly Watson.

Mix and match here: Smith is good, but Nelson won’t play him with Biedrins–way too similar. So you have to play Smith with Harrington or with Turiaf.


Mullin as been always willing to make moves to improve the team so I would say the Mullin is never done shaping the Warriors, especially in the middle of offseason where top talent can still be had. He should not be satisfied with the team he has assembled going into the 2008/2009 season. Mullin should be looking to upgrade the PF position.

I like Wright playing alongside Biedrins and Randolph, but Smith would be a big upgrade over Wright giving them a PF with range out to the 3 point line, a more aggressive player that gets to the line, a better rebounder, and a proven defensive stopper with more bulk and versatility.

Harrington isn't in the the Warriors' longterm plans, so I doubt getting rid of him will cause too much concern. Anthony Morrow would probably get more playing time and the Warriors might want to pickup Austin Croshere or another 3 point shooting big man to add to the roster. Smith has some range, but in a few years, he can do a lot more for the team than Harrington. Smith could play Center when they go 'small' - allowing for Williams, Ellis, Maggette, and Jackson to bomb from the outside.

I'd much rather see this line-up:

PG: Ellis / Williams / Watson
SG: Jackson / Azubuike / Morrow
SF: Maggette / Randolph / FA?
PF: Smith / Hendrix / Croshere?
C: Biedrins / Turiaf/ Amundson?

As Randolph develops and the backcourt is improved through the next 2 drafts, the Warriors would end up with a formidable starting five that could grow and win together, eventually contending for a title. Future starting 5: Williams / Ellis / Randolph / Smith / Biedrins. If Ellis is a good enough PG, then a stud shooting guard could easily be located in the draft (Harden, DeRozan, Evans). A future with Josh Smith on the team is a terrific one.

Tim Kawakami makes the mistake of thinking that Josh Smith is a finished product. This is far from the truth and to assert that a 22 year old, athletically gifted player with no college experience has essentially reached his full potential is short-sighted, irresponsible, and flat-out wrong. This is more of an acquisition for the future than it is for the present, but the Warriors are an even better team immediately with the addition of Smith. Hopefully, Mullin comes around to the same thinking.

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

(click to enlarge image)

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

(click to enlarge image)

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