Don Nelson's return to the devastated Golden State Warriors resulted in one of the biggest playoff upset in NBA history. The Warriors defeated the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs and advanced to the second round only to get knocked out by a rigid Utah Jazz ball club.
In addition, Don Nelson guided the Warriors into discovering their true identity as a team. Taking this step as a coach and instilling it in the players has Don Nelson enter every Warrior fan's heart.
It's hard to criticize him, considering he raised the Warriors from the ashes and made them good, fun to watch and a playoff contender! But this bizarre 2007-2008 regular season has seen Nelson kill off all playing time to his rookies and ultimately make the team unprepared.
This season was actually the season where the Warrior fans were supposed to see rookies like Brandan Wright, back up point guard CJ Watson, and Marco Belinelli. The season's intensity would have been the ultimate test to the rookies on the team and see them more prepared for next season.
When Don Nelson is asked about the reason behind not playing his rookies, his response always tends to be, "We have decided, as a team, that this year is fully dedicated to the playoffs."
Just to inform you, coach—you are on the verge of missing the playoffs and currently hold the ninth spot. Quite frankly, the Warriors are the team that seem the most vulnerable to miss out on the post season, as opposed to Denver and Dallas.
Is this healthy for a Warriors team who has literally got no bench and survives on a 7 player rotation? Absolutely NOT!
Andres Biedrins, the 21 year old nifty center who leads the league in field goal percentage, is the only dominant presence for the Warriors in the paint. When Biedrins was abruptly sidelined for 2 weeks because of an emergency appendectomy, Brandan Wright came into the picture for the Warriors fans. However, for Nelson, only 5-10 minutes a game were enough for a 6-10 forward who has a wingspan of a 7'2 player.
When an influential player like Biedrins is plagued with an injury, who will fill in for him, except Wright or maybe Austin Croshere who has produced nothing this season except injuries?
They have no Plan B, not that I can see.
If Biedrins went down for any reason, a bad ankle, a sniffle, homesickness, appendicitis, they would be sunk.
Now I want to talk about Nelson's prejudice. He is prejudiced against rookies. In the scheme of things, in the ranking of wicked prejudices to humankind, prejudice against rookies is extremely low, actually pretty benign and, in its way, silly. But there you have it, Nelson is rookie-opposed.
Because Nelson suffers from extreme rookie paranoia, guard Marco Belinelli, who was supposed to be a big deal in the jump-shooting area, almost never gets into games.
Sometimes he doesn't even get into a uniform. There are times he sits behind the Warriors bench, behind it, dressed in a sports coat, looking like a player's little brother or nerdy young cousin who scored a special pass to the game and autographs from all the real players.
What happened to Belinelli isn't the real sin. What Nelson did to Brandan Wright is. Wright is the forward/center who was supposed to be the answer to Nelson's dreams. He's a fast, mobile, dynamic big guy who can score and rebound, and he's been a bench warmer all season long.
Why? Because Nelson doesn't like rookies. God forbid Nelson would have put Wright into games to get him ready. God forbid Nelson would have prepared Wright for times like these when Biedrins is down and the Warriors are in grim form.
Well, sure, Nelson prepared for times like these. He got Webber. Webber arrived and we heard all the hearts and flowers sing, dance, and men achieving maturity and becoming fully evolved with deep sensitivity and learning too. But one question. Can the guy play? Can Webber be the man when Biedrins isn't around? The answer is No, No, and No. Webber retiring is the answer too!
After Wright played 10 minutes against the Sixers and impressed everyone, then and only then did Nelson admit to reporters, "I didn't know if (Wright) would be ready this year, but maybe he proved me wrong. Some of the things he does are things that we need."
Hit me in the head please!
Nelson missed the boat with Wright as he always does with rookies. He should have prepared Wright for this make-or-break moment of the Warriors' season. Unfortunately, he was looking in another direction.