Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis: Do the Warriors Have a Top 5 Backcourt?
The Golden State Warriors' duo of Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis was the NBA's highest scoring backcourt during the 2010-11 season, but does its combined 42.7 points per game help elevate it among the game's elite?
Curry and Ellis also combined to average more than 11 assists per game, and 7.4 rebounds, which is pretty good, but it seems like unless the Warriors can improve on their 12th-place finish in the Western Conference last season, their dynamic backcourt duo will never get the recognition it deserves.
The acquisitions of David Lee and Dorrell Wright certainly pointed the franchise in the right direction because the moves symbolized the team's intent to strengthen its interior and improve on the defensive end of the court.
And to some degree, the plan worked since Golden State did look like a better team than the 2009-10 version, but a 36-46 record and another season without the playoffs never wins you any favors.
Even worse, some fans and analysts have decided that in order for the Warriors to become a legitimate postseason contender, their backcourt tandem will have to be broken up.
Curry is considered the future of the Warriors franchise and rightly so, but there is a theory floating around that says his game would progress more rapidly playing beside a bigger shooting guard with a defensive mindset.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Andre Iguadola has been mentioned plenty of times as a possible replacement for Ellis, and while he may be an attractive prospect, Iguadola still doesn't address the team's primary concerns.Ellis may be a little one-dimensional, and he does hold onto the ball a little too much for my taste, but his 24.1 points per game are not part of the problem.
The root of the Warriors' issues lies in their inability to defend the interior and, unless that problem is solved, it doesn't matter who Golden State pairs with Curry in the backcourt because the results will remain the same.
Lee did improve the Warriors' inside game, but only from an offensive and rebounding perspective, since his interior defense was suspect at best.
Outside of Lee, Andris Biedrins is really the Warriors' only other interior player worth mentioning and he has yet to prove he can stay healthy enough to truly impact the team's post game.
If the current lockout ever ends, the addition of new head coach Mark Jackson potentially adds a new dynamic to the Warriors' backcourt since Ellis and Curry will get a chance to learn from one of NBA history's great floor generals.
Jackson can help nurture a relationship between Curry and Ellis that got off to a pretty rocky start during Curry's rookie season, but has since grown once the duo began to create chemistry, and magic.
The Warriors' dismal record doesn't diminish what Curry and Ellis managed to accomplish on the court last season, and despite its relative shortcomings, the duo was still one of the NBA's best.
Hopefully, Warriors management will recognize that the combination of Curry and Ellis is the team's primary strength and a unique advantage, and it needs to focus its attention elsewhere when it comes to improving the team.
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