The ennui that accompanies a team that is 21-33 on the season, with the 13th-"best" record in the Western Conference and eight-and-a-half games out of the postseason picture, is like watching the first 25 miles of a marathon on TV. What's the point?
The excitement of following a team that is 12 games under .500 and is bound for missing the NBA playoffs for the 17th time in the past 18th season lies in exactly how futile the team will be for the final month of the 2011-2012 campaign.
Should Golden State accumulate the seventh-most number of losses this season, they will guarantee themselves a lottery pick in the NBA draft this summer. If, however, the Warriors are able to win enough games to fall out of the bottom seven, their draft pick, consequently, is sent to the Utah Jazz—a compensatory result of a Dubs' transaction with the New Jersey Nets back in 2009.
Quite a quandary to be in.
Much has been argued about whether Golden State should intentionally tank in order to retain their draft pick. If the Warriors were to keep losing, they'll almost surely find themselves in the bottom seven and secure a spot in the coveted and competitive NBA lottery.
But for a team, a franchise and a fanbase that has seen more losing on the basketball court than Bay Area employees who have lost jobs during the recent recession, it's a tough sell to see the Dubs fold up shop and lose the remaining games on their schedule—especially since there were such high expectations set before the start of the season.
The new management team led by co-owner Joe Lacob, began the promise of reaching the promised land by bringing in Hall of Famer Jerry West as a special consultant. A winning former player and general manager, West's position with the club seemed to infuse some confidence into the fans, allowing them to believe that the organization was soon to be headed in the right direction.
The pipe dream of reaching the playoffs became an expectation, especially after new head coach Mark Jackson guaranteed that the young Dubs squad would attain one of the eight best records in the loaded Western Conference this season.
Despite the team's penchant for losing, Warriors fans surprisingly hung onto Jackson's promise, opting to believe that the Dubs would somehow sneak into the postseason. Fans were hypnotized by the dream of the playoffs, as most are wont to do. After all, who wants to hear the word rebuilding?
Thus, the idea that Golden State has given up its interest in winning for the rest of the season has some people up in arms. Some critics have said that the dedication to losing the rest of the way is detrimental to the team and in fact the wrong mindset for a group of professional athletes. Moreover, even if the Dubs do secure a top-seven lottery pick, it is not a certainty that whomever the Warriors pick will be a solid player (as evidenced by Golden State's draft lottery history).
Therefore, wanting to lose should not be an option for the young Warriors. Ideally, nobody who plays competitive anything is thoroughly interested in losing on purpose. True competitors should not settle for losses, and not be resigned to a losing way of life.
And why would they?
As a fan of any sport, I would hope that my team or an athlete would not desire to intentionally lose. That would be a terrible waste of time, effort and money for me, the organization, the coaches and everybody involved. So, from a professional standpoint, it would be incredibly difficult to believe that Jackson and the coaching staff would implore the team to not play hard, not try hard and not win.
Jackson has emphasized that Golden State still has a lot to play for, and winning as many games as possible only supports his ambition to instill a winning culture in the Warriors locker room.
But the debates about whether the Dubs should or should not continue to lose should come to a grinding halt. It's all moot. It doesn't matter what you think will or what you want to happen, because the Warriors, with the current state of their roster, are just terrible enough to lose the rest of the games on their schedule unintentionally.
Friday night's game against the Jazz was the latest example of a team that doesn't need to lose on purpose. Why try to unnaturally lose when they can lose all by their organically terrible selves?
Though Lee has certainly deserved to be a Warrior both in team name and his individual effort, the rest of the starters are an unexpected collection.
Although the Warriors bench spotlights veterans Nate Robinson, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson, undoubtedly this grouping is not a winning combination. They should not be expected to win any games.
Realistically, each player has their own individual promise, and the effort they put forth is appreciated by the team and fans alike. But with so much turmoil and negative attention in the past few weeks, the weary Warriors are simply too transparent as a unit to truly string together enough victories to escape the NBA's bottom seven. If they weren't without their starting point guard, Curry, or relying on three rookies to carry the load, this might not be an issue.
But that's not the case.
Golden State, as is tradition, no matter who's playing, no matter how short the season, no matter what the circumstance, can innately lose like nobody's business.
That's not a problem. That's how they do.
Including last night's defeat, the Warriors have lost seven out of the past eight games, and 12 of their past 16—since the trade that sent Ellis to the Milwaukee Bucks. In that span, Golden State is allowing 102.1 points per game, and allowing opponents to shoot 49.5 percent from the field. A team with no identity and no superstar to take control of games has lost five of those games by three points or fewer, two more games by four points and another game in overtime.
To wonder whether the Dubs should or should not intentionally throw in the towel to secure their future is six-of-one, half-a-dozen of the other: It doesn't matter.
Not to worry, Warriors fans. Golden State will secure their lottery pick—no matter what they do. The Warriors will lose the rest of their games. Not by choice, not by desire, not by design—but because they are that bad.
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