For the Golden State Warriors, the halfway point of the season has quickly approached.
Standing at 18-23, the team by the bay has had an up-and-down campaign scattered with injuries, some inconsistent play, hot shooting, spectacular acrobatic shots and better defense than previous years.
This year's mid-season Warriors grade report will give out grades with reasoning to the head coach, point guards, shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards and centers.
Keith Smart: B-
He is an upgrade from Don Nelson's stubborn nature and lack of energy. Smart is a total upgrade on the defensive end, but a considerable downgrade on the offensive end.
Smart is known as a defensive coach, but as a limited offensive coach. He has done a great job being the father figure of the team and a "player's coach."
Considering it is his first season as an NBA coach, Smart has done a good job learning on the spot and putting the team in a spot to compete for a playoff spot in the packed Western Conference.
Stephen Curry: B
The second-year point guard has had his minutes decreased by Smart this season to almost 32.5 minutes per game, a four-minute decrease from his rookie season.
Curry has had a mediocre season on the defensive end of the court, never fully controlling himself from reaching in on a drive by the opposing point guard. In effect, he has a lot of "touch fouls" committed, which usually involve three-point plays.
He is also averaging almost three turnovers per game, mainly due to over-dribbling and one-hand passes. Nevertheless, he's still the Warriors' point guard of the future.
Acie Law: C
After the Warriors waived small forward Rodney Carney, Law became the main back up point guard to the starting Curry. His greatest asset is defense, as he can keep his man in front of him without reaching, something that Curry can certainly learn from.
His offense, however, is another story. He can drive excellently, but his finishing ability is less than average. On a team that only wins if their guards have terrific scoring games, Law should look to score more often.
Jeremy Lin: INC
It was a witty move by Joe Lacob to make: give an undrafted player a guaranteed contract. He was demoted to the D-League in December 2010, but does not look ready to be an NBA player as of yet.
He is a fan favorite at Oracle, and that means jersey and attendance numbers are going on the rise in Warriors land.
Monta Ellis: A-
He's been the Warriors' MVP, without a doubt. Leading the team in scoring, and third in the NBA in overall scoring, is an indication of the improvement he has made over his six-year career. He has certainly matured into the leader the front office and coaching staff envisioned him to be.
His defense is much improved, but similar to Curry, he has a temptation to gamble, which leaves the defense exposed. However, his offense has clearly been a great improving factor. Ellis shares the ball more with his teammates, particularly finding open three-point shooters like Dorell Wright, Reggie Williams and Curry.
Reggie Williams: C+
Inconsistency is Williams' weakness. Williams can have a 25-point effort coming off the bench in one game, and in a subsequent game fail to log 10 minutes.
After Ellis, Williams is perhaps the best drive-to-the-basket player. He utilizes his 6'5'' frame particularly well to draw fouls and make tough shots going to the basket. If he was a consistent player, Williams would be a legitimate Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Charlie Bell: INC
Bell, acquired in the Corey Maggette trade in July 2010, has rarely made an appearance on the court this year for Smart. He's a great defender for his size, but his offensive game is limited.
Dorrell Wright: B+
Wright has turned into one of the best offseason signing for the Warriors in quite a number of years. Essentially, the Warriors traded Maggette and his hefty contract for Wright and his three-year, $11 million deal.
Wright has become a premier three point shooterevident by leading the league in three-pointers made. He improved his scoring average from 7.1 PPG in 2009-2010 with the Miami Heat to 16.7 PPG this season.
He is also the best perimeter defender the Warriors ownwhich means guarding the best offensive player the opposing teams have on a nightly basis.
Vladimir Radmanovic: B-
The Serbian 6'9'' forward started the year in such a slump, the Warrior fans occasionally booed him every time he took a shot. However, that all changed when Radmanovic hit the game-tying basket against the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 21, 2010 in Sacramento.
Since that point on, Radmanovic has been the Warriors' best bench player, averaging 6 PPG, and 3.5 APG.
David Lee: B
Signed to a six-year, $80 million deal in the offseason, the former New York Knicks center has been what the organization expected. It is certainly debatable whether or not the 6'9'' power forward is worth an $80 million deal, but what the Warriors have filled the power forward position they needed.
His defense has been, quite frankly, average. Lee is a horrible defensive forward, especially against top-notch forwards, but his rebounding has been the mainstay.
Offensively, his awkward, back-to-the-basket moves remain the biggest question mark, but his ability to catch balls around the basket with his good hands and his tremendous passing has been surprising.
Lou Amundson: C-
Warriors fans have yet to see the Amundson they saw back in Phoenix. His energy is relentless, but his basketball IQ and finishing around the basket seem extremely limited.
Unlike Lee, Amundson can contain his man well on the defensive end, but often gets pushed around due to Smart's stubbornness in playing him at the center position.
Brandan Wright: C-
Wright has only played 12 games this year due to an ankle sprain that saw him miss the majority of the first half of the season.
Since returning from injury, Wright has had some encouraging games, namely against the Orlando Magic in Florida and the Indiana Pacers on January 19, where he scored six fourth quarter points and forced Andris Biedrins to sit on the bench for most of that deciding quarter.
Andris Biedrins: C-
The 6'11'' Latvian center has been the Warriors' question mark of the season. Despite missing a few games with a sprained ankle, the team had largely been unaffected.
Although he is a good rebounder (among the league leaders in rebounding), Biedrins' defensive mishaps and his limited offensive moves are obvious.
In particular, Biedrins can be found cheering teammates on the bench because of the silly foul trouble he gets in, basically, on a regular basis.
His free throw struggles have been well documented as well, so much that Biedrins has been avoiding contact in hope of not facing the burden of going to the free-throw line.
Dan Gadzuric: C
Considering Gadzuric is a third-string center, he is doing well playing that role. He rebounds extremely well, but has no offensive moves and has a lot of missed layups on the season.
His defense, much like Biedrins, consists of reaching in. However, he will be a valuable trade commodity come the February trade deadline or as cap space in the offseason.
Ekpe Udoh: C
The rookie has made two back-to-the-basket moves this season that Biedrins has failed to make in a game his entire career, and that's saying something. Udoh is not your typical rookie because he does not buy pump fakes, does not commit silly fouls or commit careless turnovers.
He knows how to use his body well in getting in position for a rebound and knows how to change shots, in addition to his shot blocking prowess.
He has not gotten a lot of minutes this season, but should see more and more playing time next season. He still has to learn defensive and offensive sets because he is often caught in the quickness of the NBA game.
His best game came against the Houston Rockets on December 20.
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