The 5 Most Overrated Golden State Warriors of All Time
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The Golden State Warriors may be one of the most poorly managed franchises over the past thirty-five years. They have had some talent that flourished, but they also have had a lot of talent that didn’t live up to expectations.
Besides the heyday of Run TMC and the championship season of 1974-75, there have been more years to forget than to remember.
As time progresses and nostalgia sets in, certain Warrior legacies have grown, especially those of players who were expected to turn the franchise around.
Being truly overrated takes a special skill set: The player needs to have high expectations but also the ability to significantly disappoint the fan base on a nightly basis.
The first name that came to my mind was Tom Gugliotta, but he was a small consolation prize for the disaster of the Chris Webber-Don Nelson blowup and was quickly flipped for Donyell Marshall.
Other candidates that missed the list were centers Chris Washburn and Erick Dampier and forwards Brandan Wright and Tellis Frank.
Since they didn’t make the list, let’s take a closer look at those who did.
5) Mike Dunleavy, Jr.
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Mike Dunleavy Jr. was the third pick in the 2002 NBA draft and came with some high expectations. He reminded people of former Warriors great Rick Barry, but he never lived up to that standard.
Dunleavy was a very average player during his time with the Dubs as he never averaged more than 13.4 points a game. He was a good player, but he never really influenced any games. He didn’t have the toughness or the charisma.
Dunleavy was selected third because it was literally a two player draft. Yao Ming was the first overall pick and guard Jay Williams, who played beside Dunleavy at Duke, was the second pick.
The Dubs could have taken a chance on Amar'e Stoudamire, but he was a high school player with a lot of question marks. Stoudamire went ninth to the Phoenix Suns.
Dunleavy’s biggest contribution to the Dubs was actually being traded to Indiana for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington, who formed part of the “We Believe” team that surprised the No.1 seed Dallas Mavericks in the 2006-07 playoffs.
Dunleavy will be remembered as a player who just didn't contribute enough. With the responsibilities that come with being the third pick in the draft, that simply doesn’t cut it.
4) Billy Owens
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Billy Owens made this list because he was the reason Run TMC was split up.
Mitch Richmond was traded for Owens because Don Nelson couldn’t pass on the potential of a bigger player who could run the floor and rebound.
Owens held out because he did not want to play for the Sacramento Kings, who drafted him third in the 1991 NBA draft. The Warriors saw potential with his much-needed size and rebounding ability.
It appeared that Nelson was correct in his assessment as the trade paid immediate dividends in Owens' first year with the Warriors. Golden State made the playoffs as the third seed in the Western Conference but were upset in a first-round series against a young Seattle team that included Gary Payton, Eddie Johnson and Shawn Kemp.
The following year is when everything fell apart with injuries to Owens and other key personnel such as Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway and Sarunas Marciulionis. Golden State finished with 34 wins and missed the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Owens dealt with injuries and above-average play the rest of his three years as a Warrior. He wasn’t what the Warriors had hoped for when they dealt a key member of Run TMC in order to get bigger and make a push for an NBA title. Both in terms of style and results, the Warriors with Owens was a disappointment when compared to the team during the Run TMC era.
Owens was traded before the 1994-95 season to Miami for Rony Seikaly. The Mitch Richmond for Billy Owens for Rony Seikaly was another example of Warriors poor decision-making.
3) Joe Smith
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The Warriors got very lucky by winning the 1995 NBA draft lottery and had the chance to select the consensus No. 1 pick.
Joe Smith dominated when he played in the ACC for Maryland, but did not as a Warrior.
The Warriors chose Smith over the likes of Kevin Garnett, Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse and Rasheed Wallace, but it looked like a solid choice after year one. Smith finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting with a line of 15.3 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 1.6 BPG.
Joe Smith didn’t bring the intensity that fans and Warriors management believed would come from the first pick. Smith peaked his second year, averaging 18.7 PPG, but he never developed into a bona fide star.
The biggest problem with Smith was that he was yet another example of a Warriors misstep starting with the break up of Run TMC.
2) Joe Barry Carroll
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This selection is very dated, but he has had more time to vault to second position on the list. To refresh the newcomers, Carroll was the player the Warriors acquired in exchange for two Hall of Famers.
Golden State dealt center Robert Parish and what would be the third pick in the 1980 NBA Draft (Kevin McHale) for the opportunity to draft Purdue center, Joe Barry Carroll.
The number-one overall choice actually played well statistically during his Warriors career, but the problem was that the Celtics were winning championships. The Dubs weren’t even close with Carroll.
Carroll put himself in the position of earning nicknames like “Joe Barely Cares” or “Just Barely Carroll” by declining interviews and not making himself readily available to fans.
Nostalgia plays a huge part in ranking him so high because Carroll earned NBA All-Rookie First Team after the 1980-81 season and Carroll even made the All-Star team as a Warrior.
Thank you, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale.
1) Monta Ellis
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Monta Ellis had to work hard to earn the top spot on the list.
The young-faced, second-round steal went from the Warriors’ prized possession to a fully tattooed, moped-wrecking mystery.
Ellis was always known for his scoring ability, but that poorly disguised his faint attempts at becoming the first Warriors All-Star since Latrell Sprewell in 1997.
Ellis is an extremely talented athlete who can dribble, shoot and make some crazy offensive plays. He just couldn’t play with teammate Stephen Curry—or any other teammate, for that matter.
Ellis’ biggest weakness was his defense. His plus/minus ratio for his last full season with the Warriors was -232, meaning that teams outscored the Warriors by 232 when Ellis was on the floor.
No amount of offensive flair by Ellis could correct a hole that large. As a result, the Ellis-led teams never made the playoffs after the departure of Baron Davis.
At least the Warriors made good use of Ellis by trading him to Milwaukee for the long-awaited missing big man, Andrew Bogut.