There’s no debating that Baron Davis’ departure leaves the Warriors as a very different ball club; one with less experience and probably less ego.
High-level ranting aside (I’ve heard enough of this over the past three weeks via local news), let’s jump into some specifics on what the Dubs will miss about Davis, and what they might not.
To me, Baron Davis brought three very important qualities to the table:
1. His ability to operate a Nelly-ball offense efficiently, keep turnovers down, and ensure that possessions resulted in shots, despite the fast-paced, frenetic play.
The Warriors led the league in scoring average last year (111.0 per game), and shot 46% from the field (good for 12th in the league).
Despite their approach to “organized chaos”, Golden State turned the ball over just 13.0 times per game (8th least in the NBA), and had the highest disparity between OWN turnovers, and OPPONENTS turnovers in the league (3.2). Toronto was second was at 2.1.
To put this in perspective, at 16.2 per game, Warriors opponents averaged significantly more turnovers than the sloppiest team in the basketball (the Kings), who turned the ball over 15.2 times per game.
How are the Dubs going to keep this up without Davis at the helm?
Let’s just say that none of the following individuals are known for distributing the ball with a tremendous amount of success, especially late in games:
Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette, Kelenna Azubuike.
So is Marcus Williams going to see significant minutes? We’ll just call this a concern.
2. He's one of the top closers in the league.
Baron Davis makes big shots at the end of games...over, and over, and over again.
The Warriors won a lot of tight battles during the past two years, and now someone besides Baron will have to step up and fill the void.
Given Monta Ellis’ not-so-stellar record of coming up in the clutch, it’s seems likely that Golden State will need Maggette to emerge as the go-to force late in games.
Nothing against Monta, but thus far, he seems to have more Chris Webber and Kevin Garnett in him than Sam Cassell or Mike Bibby: Great for the first 42 minutes, absent the last six.
3. He's absurdly tight.
Golden State fans rallied behind Baron, in a way they haven’t rallied around anyone since Tim Hardaway.
Davis made it cool to wear a Warriors jersey. He brought a swagger to not just the team, but to the entire Bay Area fan-base.
Can this team capture the affection of the fans, and keep the momentum up? Can Ellis or Maggette be the force that the crowd rallies around, the guy that sets the tone night in and night out?
And what about the off-court presence? Who’s going to do TNT specials at McDonald's, and invest in local start-up companies?
Tough guy to replace…
Read on to hear Dave’s thoughts on the upside of Baron taking his ball, and going home (To Los Angeles—that terrible, terrible place in Southern California where vanity and bad air quality rule every day).