A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

NBA Franchise Power Rankings – #19: Golden State Warriors

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Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors

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Previous rankings:

#30 - Charlotte Bobcats (+ introduction)
#29 - Phoenix Suns
#28 - Denver Nuggets
#27 - Detroit Pistons
#26 - Milwaukee Bucks
#25 - Philadelphia 76ers
#24 - Houston Rockets
#23 - Portland Trailblazers
#22 - Toronto Raptors
#21 - Indiana Pacers
#20 - Atlanta Hawks

#19 – Golden State Warriors

Best assets: PG Stephen Curry (legitimate starter), SG Monta Ellis (legitimate starter), PF/C Ekpe Udoh (young, projects from borderline starter to legitimate starter), SG Klay Thompson (young, projects from borderline starter to legitimate starter), PF/C David Lee (expensive legitimate all-star), SF Dorrell Wright (borderline starter), RFA Reggie Williams (borderline starter), 2013 GS 1st

Negative assets: C Andris Biedrins (3 years, 27 million)

Draft picks owed: 2012 1st to Utah (top 7 protected)

Total Trade Value Ranking: #20

Overall synopsis: The Warriors are a bit like the inverse version of the Atlanta Hawks, which is why they’re ranked next to them. The Hawks are built on two big men in Josh Smith and Al Horford, the Warriors are built on two guards in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. Smith and Ellis are in similar positions as headache inducing personalities who are likely on their way out for a more complimentary piece sooner than later. The Warriors, as has been the case for about 3 decades, are in desperate need of size and defensive contributers to compliment their offensive talent. As with many of the teams listed before them, the fundamental question confronting the Warriors is “How do we climb from here?”. Are they headed towards a playoff knockout team with an unbreakable ceiling, or can they build a team with 55 win instead of 45 win potential. Here’s what they have:

The running back asset/The golden boy: On the surface Stephen Curry seems like their best piece. He’s an elite shooter, underrated smart playmaker and a strong character guy. He’s the young piece every team wants. My question is this: Are PGs becoming like running backs in the NFL? In that while a superstar is as valuable as ever, the middle class of “pretty good” PGs is becoming increasingly large and it’s taking increasingly little to get one. What I mean is that if you went on the market, you could acquire a good point like Devin Harris, Jameer Nelson, Jose Calderon, DJ Augustin, Ramon Sessions for a cost ranging between very little and nothing. Stephen Curry is a good player, but is he that much better than Calderon and Augustin in skillset, or is he simply a more likeable player to get behind due to his college history? It’s a question that depends on Curry’s upside. Can he have perenniel upside if the backcourt is completley his? Is he a player between Mark Price and Steve Nash or is he Mike Bibby? Next season will reveal the answers to these questions.

The moped ride that could either lead to fun-times or a crash with brain damage: At the same time, come up with the top 5 25 and under SGs in the NBA. The clear top 2 are Eric Gordon and… Monta Ellis. The group after that includes Demar Derozan, James Harden, Tyreke Evans, talented young players who haven’t proven as much. So while on the surface it appears Stephen Curry is the no brainer player to build around here – from a value perspective, one could make the case that because of the oversupply of good young PGs and undersupply of good young SGs, it’s not quite that simple. Ellis’ production from the SG position may be what’s irreplaceable in the Warriors offense.

But one could also argue that in the guard orientated post handcheck league, it’s too early to give up on the Curry Ellis combination. It’s not a bad thing to have a guard combination that nobody in the league can properly match up with and the ball moved much better last season for the Warriors than in their first season together.

We only have one squirt of glue!: Because the Warriors won’t have their draft pick this year if their record is outside of the bottom 7 (It goes to Utah via the ill fated Marcus Williams trade) – they’ll have to do with the young pieces they presently have. To me the key guy is Ekpe Udoh because he has the potential to give Golden State defense and rebounding inside – which could glue together this entire team if succesful.

The butterface with a nice body: David Lee is certainly a nice offensive piece with his finishing, midrange shooting and the ability to move the ball. Too bad he’s an embarrasment defensively. He had some injury issues last season – I could see him having a solid offensive season and producing closer to Carlos Boozer and Chris Bosh numbers like he did his last season in New York.

Key supporting actors: I usually love deadeye 3pt shooters in an offense and the Warriors have two good ones in Klay Thompson and Dorrell Wright. It’s a good start for a franchise that’s failed to put the right complimentary pieces around stars for decades.

Finances/Management: A few years ago, the Warriors would’ve had one of the worst grades here. Things have changed with new ownership and new management, including Jerry West as advisor. This boosted them a couple spots on this list. I’m confident the Warriors will be building the right way and creating a better team culture than they’ve had the last few decades. I’m not sure how much it can change their fate with their middling position, but it’s nothing to complain about.

Next season: The Warriors could have one of the best offenses in the league next year with a great backcourt, 3pt shooters and finishers inside. They finished top 10 last year with health issues – and should get better this season. Defensively they will likely struggle but could band together to be average instead of dreadful. Remember one of the biggest things that creates defensive production is simply having the talent to be in the playoff race and having more of an effort incentive than half the teams in the league. Which is why the Cleveland Cavaliers dropped off as much defensively as offensively last year. Projected ORTG: 5th-7th projected DRTG: 18th-21st, projected record: 44-38

Projection: Relatively flat without their draft pick next year. If Curry breaks out a legitimate star they can rise a bit. They will remain a talented team but not talented enough to contend long term.

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Written by jr.

November 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm

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