Golden State Warriors: 5 Ways to Turn the Franchise Around in a Hurry
The last time the Warriors raised the NBA Championship Larry O'Brien trophy, their leading-scorer was shooting free-throws underhand. (Granted the man shooting those free throws, Rick Barry, also led the NBA with a .901 free-throw percentage.)
With their high-scoring, fast-paced brand of basketball, the Warriors make losing about as fun as any team in The Association. A small consolation for Warriors fans who have been waiting for 36 years to regain their former glory.
Lets take a look at what it is going to take new owner Joe Lacob, and new head coach Mark Jackson, to turn it around in a hurry in the East Bay.
Look Across the Parking Lot
The Oakland A's play in the Oakland Coliseum, (newly christened the O.co), across the parking lot from the Warriors home, the Oracle Arena. A's GM Billy Beane might just be the most well-known pro sports executive on the planet. (Quick: name another GM being played by Brad Pitt in a feature film.)
In the offseason, the Warriors hired Jerry West as an advisor. Sounds good, having, "The Logo" give his input to the team, but in the modern NBA, is it really going to make them champions again?
When payroll and geographic location prevent organizations like Golden State from being a draw to top-level talent, they must find other ways to stay competitive.
If the Warriors want to get things turned around ASAP, they should follow the model set by Beane and the A's—find and maximize their return on "value" players.
Look Across the Conference
The Oklahoma City Thunder only won 23 games in 2007-2008 and in three short years have bolted to a legitimate threat to win the title.
Smart drafting and trades by GM Sam Presti, and good coaching by Scotty Brooks have put the small-market Thunder in the upper-echelon of the NBA faster than lightning.
Don't Trade Monta Ellis
Monta Ellis has been one of the classic Warriors second-round draft pick-ups, much like Gilbert Arenas was in 2001.
He and Steph Curry are the highest scoring backcourt in the NBA. They are part of what is working on the Warriors, not what needs to be fixed.
Ellis has indicated he wants out of Oakland, but he won't be an UFA until 2014. Maybe what he really wants isn't a new city to play in, but new teammates to play with.
No More Solid David Lee Types
Not to knock David Lee, he is a solid NBA big who pulls down close to 10 boards a game every year.
But the Warriors aren't a minor tweak away from a ring, they need a major overhaul. Top-tier teams need "solid" players to round out their rosters, and Lee could be that guy for any number of teams. But you don't build a team around David Lee.
It is going to take some serious front office guts to stop trying to be decent and start trying to be champions again. Taking chances on young talent with big upsides (like Jeremy Tyler, the Warriors 39th pick in this year's draft) is the only hope the Warriors have to compete with the Goliaths of the NBA. And David Lee, or any other "solid" player, (like safe pick Klay Thompson, the Warriors 11th overall selection in the 2011 draft), isn't the answer to the Warriors woes.
The absolute worst D in the NBA last year, allowing 105.7 points against them a game, the Warriors have nowhere to go but up on D. The quickest, most fundamental way to turn it around in Oakland, is to turn it up on the defensive side of the ball.
The Warriors long-standing lack of D may be blamed on the legacy of former head coach Don Nelson's run-and-gun tutelage, but he is long gone now. New head coach Mark Jackson needs to make playing hard-nosed, stifling D a priority again.