Golden State Warriors head coach Don Nelson declared that the last month of the regular season would be designated to the development and evaluation of younger players. However, injuries have hampered the 68-year-old coach's plans.
Despite the incomplete roster, the coaching staff has observed and evaluated the play of every player on the roster. Quite frankly, it may have been the only way.
With a complete roster, the Warriors have four front-court players that are part of the rotation: Brandan Wright, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, Andris Biedrins.
With a complete roster, the Warriors have about seven guards/small forwards that are a consistent part of the rotation: Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, Marco Belinelli, CJ Watson, Kelenna Azubuike.
From that part on, Warriors management (If there exists one) has a decision to make on the "guard" section of the roster.
Two identical players that come to mind are Belinelli and Morrow.
Belinelli has grown leaps and bounds since his rookie season--averaging 8.9 PPG, 2.1 APG, and 1.7 RBG. The Italian Stallion brings to the Warriors a shooting guard that can efficiently score in a variety of ways (pulling up for a jumper, cutting and slashing, or shooting threes). Accompanying that is his ability to dish out assists.
But one facet of his game that has been notable lies in his defense.
Nelson said, "It's amazing. That guy, when we got him, couldn't guard me. And he's really worked hard on his defense. You've got to give him a lot of credit."
Morrow, on the other hand, brings the typical shooting guard/small forward player that Nelson admires. The 6'5'' rookie can shoots lights out at any given day of the week.
Earlier this season, Morrow scored a career high 37 points against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center to hold the record for most points scored by an undrafted player.
Morrow, who studies Ray Allen's shot techniques consistently, does not possess any defensive ability. His lateral movement is slower than expected. He often gets caught reaching in on numerous plays due to his inability to keep up with his man.
Another facet of Morrow's game that he struggles with is his ball-handling—which is somewhat of a concern for a player of his size and shooting ability. You would think that in the future he will have to use that skill to get by defenders because the opposing team has to respect his outside shooting threat.
So, who will it be? Belinelli or Morrow out of Oakland?
In essence, the Warriors can keep both these players on their roster. However, that might hamper their developmental phases even more due to the immense similarities both players possess.
For myself, Belinelli is a keeper. Although not a pure shooter, he can create a shot for himself, is a consistent scorer and has a deadly jump shot. He can play defense (even on Kobe Bryant), has the necessary court vision to make plays, can dribble and penetrate and most importantly brings professional experience to Nelson's system.
The Warriors' ultimate goal this upcoming off-season will have to focus on acquiring a point guard that fits Nellie's basketball system, has the necessary size to defend opposing shooting guards or point guards and can make plays down the stretch.
Possible candidates include:
Jarret Jack (Restricted 2009 Free Agent)
Andre Miller (Unrestricted 2009 Free Agent)
Mike James (Unrestricted 2009 Free Agent)
Or the Warriors can go for the "traditional" sign and trade. In that case, Belinelli, Wright, Morrow, Azubuike (who becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2010), CJ Watson, and Jamal Crawford (assuming he does not opt-out) will have to be involved in a trade.
Possible candidates in the sign and trade category include:
Ramon Sessions (Will be hard to pull him out of Milwaukee)
Javaris Crittenton (a 6'5'' point guard that has an explosive first step and decent defensive game. A very nice point guard to fit into Nelon's system).
Kirk Hinrich (Maggette or Crawford might be a part of this trade due to contract issues)
Jose Calderon (Not the typical Nellie point guard, but has great vision at his position. Again Maggette or Crawford might be used to execute such a trade).