Monday, March 9, 2009

WANTED: TRUE POINT GUARD


Here's an excerpt from Marcus Thompson's excellent blog, Inside the Warriors, which highlights why the search for a true point guard should be the number 1 priority for this organization.

* In the fourth quarter, the Warriors were down 114-111 after a Richard Jefferson lay-up. The inbounder, I think Turiaf, passed the ball in to Jackson. Jax started dribbling the ball up court. Crawford started screaming for the ball from Jackson, who at the time had 42 minutes and seven turnovers under his belt. At about half court, Jackson heard Crawford and gave up the ball.
Finally.
One glaring intangible lost with Baron Davis was the confidence the team had in the fourth quarter. You can live with bad shots, though you don't prefer them. But nothing is as debilitating down the stretch as turnovers. You knew Davis wasn't going to turn the ball over. Most times, he would get the shot he wanted (though it wasn't always high percentage). The Warriors need that bad.
If Crawford is going to be the point guard (since I don't think he's opting out and walking away from $20 million), he needs to control the game down the stretch. He needs to facilitate who gets the ball and when. Put all those handles to use. Jax DOES NOT need to be bringing the ball up down the stretch of a tight game. Neither does Maggette. The Warriors need a point guard to run the show, make the decisions down the stretch.
They won't all be good decisions. But that's what you work on in March of a lost season. So next year, that role is defined and not on a game-by-game basis.
Crawford, of course, gets the ball from Jax and seconds later throws up a heat-check of a 3-pointer. A terrible shot and a costly miss, as the Bucks followed with five straight points to take a 119-111 lead. He also had two untimely turnovers in the fourth quarter.
But he's got to learn. If he's going to be here, if he's going to be the point guard, he's got to learn. To his defense, he's never played point guard before. He's always been a two guard who can run the point, but never a point guard. This is the time he needs to work on that. None of that meek, submissive stuff. Demand the ball. Make sure everybody is in the right position. Make sure the right guy has the ball in the best position for him to succeed. Make sure mismatches are exploited. Manage the clock properly. That's what the Warriors need.
The reality is, Crawford is the closest thing the Warriors have got to that. He has the dribbling ability, he has the shot-making ability, he has the experience and unselfishness that his teammates can respect. The last part of the season should be to see if he can be that guy.
Crawford: "I'mma be more vocal. A lot of people who say they miss certain guys (read: Baron), they were emotional leaders. At first, I didn't want to step on any toes. But I've been here for four months.”

Expecting Crawford to evolve into a PG this late in his career is wishful thinking. He'll be here for a few more years anyway, so now is the time to bring in a young player to take control and elevate everyone's game. Monta's health is still in question making it increasingly unrealistic to hope he can ever be the answer at PG. Belinelli is better suited at the swing positions, but I do love his playmaking potential and the prospects of him playing alongside a true PG or an unselfish star SG.

The most economical way to deal with this issue is through the draft so that the Warriors wouldn't have to give up any assets to fill the glaring need at PG. It seems as though the Warriors are making an effort to at least hover around the 7th pick. If they continue with the trend of resting veterans here and there, they might have an outside shot at bumping themselves up to the 6th pick (Timberwolves remaining schedule). The 6th worst team has a history of striking it rich in the lottery. Hopefully, the Warriors can get lucky and move into the Top 3.

If they do get a top 3 pick, the order of choice should be 1) Ricky Rubio 2) Blake Griffin 3) James Harden. With the style we play, we are set at PF. Randolph and Wright are the future there. Yes, Griffin (weaker defensive player) would be an upgrade over Wright, but Rubio will be a STAR point guard with the ability to make his teammates better. You don't pass an opportunity to get a player of his caliber at such an important position and critical area of need for the Warriors.

More likely, the Warriors will end up with a pick in the #7 to #9 range. If that's the case, I would trade the pick plus any of Azubuike, Crawford, Maggette, Morrow, or Belinelli to move up into the Top 3. If push comes to shove, I would include Wright or perhaps Monta (if his health is still in question) in a deal if it would bring Rubio to Oakland.

If no deals can be made, hope that Brandon Jennings falls to our spot. Unfortunately, it's likely that he may be gone by then. If that's the case, settle for Jrue Holiday if he checks out ok in private workouts and psychological evaluations. If Holiday doesn't seem to be worth the pick, select best available player - Al-Farouq Aminu, Greg Monroe, or DeMar DeRozan (whoever scores highest in draft evaluations). Address the PG situation in free agency.

Point Guards to trade down for:
Ty Lawson (true PG; small; undersized, questionable character)
Nick Calathes (true PG, perimeter range, moxie, size, basketball IQ, steals; lacks explosiveness and athleticism, struggles on man defense vs. quicker PG's)
Patrick Mills (one of the better PG's in the Olympics, quick, can score, steals; hasn't produced great PG numbers this season)
Eric Maynor (quick, scorer, court vision, range; light frame)

Tyreke Evans isn't a true PG, but he could be an awesome pick simply for what he brings in other areas. He's a tough defender, rebounds well for his position, possess great size and wingspan, and is a good scorer. I see him fitting well next to Monta if Monta is able to improve on his point guard skills. Evans is growing in this area as well, and ever since Memphis put him in charge of the team, they've been on a tear, winning 22 straight games and counting.

Point Guards to target in Free Agency:
Raymond Felton (R)
Jason Kidd
Chris Quinn (PO, R)
Ramon Sessions (R)


Jason Kidd Mix
mabrok




Related Links
When evaluating point guards, the key is whether they make their teammates better - Eric Musselman's Basketball Notebook
Warriors' backcourt in need of a major overhaul - Matt Steinmetz

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