Golden State Warriors Heat Up Vegas Summer

Ray YockeContributor IJuly 21, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 18:  Anthony Morrow #22 of the Golden State Warriors celebrates after hitting a shot against the Portland Trail Blazers during an NBA game on November 18, 2008 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

In a matter of mere months, Larry Riley has accomplished what Garry St. Jean failed to do for years.

After only eight weeks on the job, the Warriors’ new general manager put together a team capable of dominating the Summer League, the NBA’s premier showcase for first- and second-year players.

And while the team will no doubt spew the usual lines about this being a complete team effort, and everyone coming together as a single unit, this obliteration of basketball’s best can be attributed to three players: Anthony Randolph, Anthony Morrow, and Stephen Curry.

Like another superstar trio, these three Warriors appeared blissfully unaware of the importance of their task, ignoring those who would argue that in terms of importance, the NBA Summer League falls somewhere between the annual A’s-Giants wives’ softball game and the pickup game in which Sidney Deane hustled Billy Hoyle.

Randolph was the team’s cornerstone, having finally reached the preseason potential Golden State saw in him two years ago. Randolph set a new Summer League record by scoring 42 points in a single game last week, proving wrong any doubters who claimed that his game didn’t translate well to exhibition play.

Of course, his record was immediately broken by Morrow, who dropped 47 on an unsuspecting Hornets team, who apparently decided not to guard the best shooter on the floor. If you need an example of why the Hornets are the Hornets, and why the Warriors are the Warriors, look no further than this game.

Rounding out the triumvirate was Curry, whose addition to the team was akin to Rodman joining Jordan and Pippen’s Bulls. Put simply, Curry was the final piece of the puzzle.

After only five Summer League games, it’s now obvious why the Warriors have no desire to trade for Amare Stoudemire. Curry has shown an understanding of exhibition basketball not seen in someone his age, and it is Curry, not Jason Williams, who may indeed be the black Steve Nash.

It may be awkward for the three summer sensations when they arrive at training camp, where they will be surrounded by teammates who aren’t so highly decorated. Players like Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins had their chances at Summer League stardom, and came away empty. Their only achievements have come in the NBA’s regular season and playoffs, which carry far less weight in the locker room.

Unfortunately for Golden State, the sweet satisfaction of success won’t last long. In this era of free agency, the best teams can only stay together for so long, and the Warriors are no exception. As of this week, Randolph and Morrow are no longer eligible to play in the Summer League, mirroring Jordan and Pippen once again in their lack of a title defense.

The Warriors can only hope that Curry will be able to carry this team on his own next summer, a heavy burden to place on his young shoulders. The bar has been set high, and Warriors fans will be checking in all year to make sure that Curry uses the regular season to prepare his game for next summer’s curriculum.

There’s an old adage that everyone’s a winner in Vegas. With their swift, merciless tear through the NBA’s annual Summer League, the Warriors have proven that the only real winners in Sin City are the ten young men wearing Golden State reversible mesh practice jerseys.


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