Watching the Golden State Warriors is Becoming Painful
It is not that they just wrapped up their East Coast road trip with an abysmal 138-125 blowout against the New York Knicks, but it's how the future for the Golden State Warriors seems, to say the least, lackluster.
In an article I wrote a month before the 2008-2009 season was underway, I asked if head coach Don Nelson can "adapt to the Golden State Warriors' transformation?"
The answer to this rhetorical question is slowly becoming apparent to the fans. In fact, it may have been obvious way before.
The way Nelson has handled the inexperienced core has been frustrating, inexplicable, and mind-boggling.
Inserting Marco Belinelli into the starting lineup, then benching him five minutes later against the Knicks, seems puzzling and unjustified. Wait, let me take that back. It's justified in Nelson's mind.
If he were asked why he would take the Italian sharpshooter off the floor right away he would probably say: "He missed a defensive assignment and forgot to close out on a shooter!"
Well, if it comes down to that, let's take a look at Jamaal Crawford, Corey Maggette, and captain Stephen Jackson for a moment. Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury wrote a great piece on his blog titled: Stephen Jackson is the Warriors’ best player, but his peripheral stats stink.
In it, he exposed some intriguing stats that will catch Warriors fans' attention fast.
Regarding Jackson, Kawakami wrote that the Warriors' captain is s "a -58 in the plus/minus stat." Last season, SJax was a +216. He also revelaed that when Jackson is on the floor "the Warriors’ offense shoots 46.5% effective FG (counting three-pointers)."
When he's off the floor however "the Warriors’ EFG is 52.7%." In his limited time off the floor, the Warriors’ defense gives up only 45.7% EFG.
With Maggette, Kawakami points out that when he's on the floor, the Warriors allow 51.3% opposing EFG. It drops down to 47.6% EFG when he’s not playing.
With Crawford, the San Jose columnist said, "When Crawford has been ON THE COURT, Warriors opponents have averaged 135.7 points per 100 possessions. THAT IS A CRAZY NUMBER.
"Maybe there has been an NBA player that has approximated that kind of horridness, but I’ve never seen it. Nobody on the Warriors come close to that, by the way."
When Crawford is off the floor for the Warriors, this number goes back to 104.1 points per 100 possessions, which is a normal number according to Kawakami.
These are the team's best three players, and center Andris Biedrins has not even been mentioned yet with these "peripheral stats."
Well, coach Nelson, if these stats are exerted by your star players, don't your young players deserve a little time to develop amidst this chaotic start to the season with a 5-12 record.
I mean, Nelson has been avoiding playing Ronny Turiaf alongside Biedrins, despite knowing that he makes a difference on the defensive end.
Opponents shoot 50.6% EFG when Turiaf is OFF the floor, but only 46.7% when he’s PLAYING. Why would Nelson do that? Is it because he steals too much "limelight" from his beloved Latvian center?
In addition, Nelson's small-ball style of play seems to be failing miserably. In the past two seasons, "small ball" thrived because Baron Davis' presence allowed that style of play to transpire. Now, it's between Crawford and CJ Watson (who has been playing excellent of late).
Look at all the Warriors' great runs during this road trip without small ball. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, Nelson went big and inserted Turiaf, Brandan Wright, and Anthony Randolph in the second half. The result? A block parade along with a comeback from a 22-point deficit!
Against the Boston Celtics, Turiaf and Biedrins played alongside each other. The result? A 13-point halftime lead for the Dubs. However, it seems that the 68-year-old second winningest coach in the history of the game cannot control his emotions and immediately goes back to his beloved small ball, despite its absolute failure.
Don't Wright and Randolph deserve some more time on the floor? When are they going to develop, coach Nelson? When I saw both Wright and Randolph's disgusted looks when he takes them out of games for no apparent reason, I am inclined to envision a very dull future for this team.
Part of being a great coach is developing players, not destroying them. Nelson has constantly made it clear that he'll play "whoever is ready." BUT that's the problem coach, your team IS NOT ready. Therefore, it's your JOB to teach.
Kawakami wrote a recent blog post titled "If the Warriors lose nine in a row, could Don Nelson be in jeopardy?
With an initial glimpse over the article, I didn't think Kawakami's words would be that practical. However game after game, I am coming to believe that if they indeed lose nine in a row, he might be in jeopardy.
The team face the Miami Heat, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs, and Oklahoma City in the next four encounters. The Warriors have lost six straight. Nine doesn't seem too far away.
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