Golden State Warriors: 10 Agenda Items for the 2nd Half
The Golden State Warriors have played mediocre basketball this season and find themselves again sitting outside of the Western Conference’s coveted eight playoff seeds. If the Warriors want to win, they're going to need to make some tweaks in the direction of the franchise.
Here are the top 10 items that should be on Golden State’s agenda.
Determine If the Team Can Contend This Season
Despite poor overall performance, the Dubs have shown signs of improvement over the past few weeks, posting a 6-4 record over their past 10 games. Management must figure out whether or not this team can push for a low playoff seed going forward, or if the team’s recent success was just a fluke.
How the team preforms over the next week will determine which pieces, if any, are shipped away.
Try out Jeremy Tyler
Aside from first-round pick Klay Thompson, Jeremy Tyler was the Warriors' most intriguing offseason acquisition entering 2012. A prep standout, Tyler dropped out of high school his junior year and opted to play internationally for two years before entering the 2011 NBA draft, where he was selected in the second round.
Tyler has seen sparse playing time through his rookie campaign, appearing in just 14 contests in 2011-12. His playing time has been so meager that the team chose to send him to the D-League rather than watch his skill deteriorate on the bench.
When/if Tyler gets called back up, the Warriors will need to decide if he can grow into the forward/center that scouts expected. If not, the Dubs should consider parting ways with the 20-year-old while he still has value.
Cultivate the Team's Sixth Man
Nate Robinson’s a great story and has emerged as a fan favorite in the Bay Area, but he’ll certainly demand more than the $740,000 he’s making right now if the Dubs want Kryptonate to return next season.
Robinson's numbers are strong for a reserve, averaging 8.7 assists and 22.2 points per 48 minutes, but the Warriors might go with 2011 second-round pick Charles Jenkins as the team's backup floor general going forward. Jenkins will earn a little under $500,000 next season should the club pick up his option for 2012-2013, and if the team wants to pursue top-tier free agents in the summer, returning Robinson might not be on the agenda.
Expect to see Jenkins featured off the bench more often should the Warriors falter down the stretch.
Figure out What to Do with Andris Biedrins
Andris Biedrins is a mediocre center at best, despite head coach Mark Jackson showering him with praise. Averaging just 2.2 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, Biedrins simply isn’t worth the $9 million hit he’ll make on the salary cap this season with the sub-par numbers he’s putting up.
The Warriors burnt their amnesty clause on Charlie Bell in December, and moving Biedrins will prove to be difficult, but teams are always looking to dump salaries around the deadline so it’s not an impossible task for Larry Riley. Biedrins could end up being a salary cap match in a larger-scale deal involving multiple players.
Access Ekpe Udoh's Ability
Ekpe Udoh has shown glimpses of his potential recently, highlighted by his 19-point, eight-rebound performance in a rare start against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 20. The Dubs will need to decide whether the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft will be a viable role player for the team in the future.
Udoh has mad upside, but also a great deal of trade value. If the Warriors aren’t comfortable with him in the starting center spot alongside David Lee, they should probably consider moving him.
Improve Team Defensive Rebounding
Excluding David Lee’s 9.9 per game, the Warriors are one of the most anemic rebounding teams in the league at 40.2 a contest (tied for 26th). Udoh and Andris Biedrins were soft on the defensive glass through the first half of the season, but both have the ability to be more prolific on the boards. If the team can rebound to par, the Dubs could possibly contend without making any major roster moves.
Until someone helps Lee carry some of the load on the glass, however, the team will have to mull trade options for another big man.
Dominique McGuire had a stellar 15-rebound performance in a spot-start against the Atlanta Hawks February 29, but the reserve swingman isn't enough to consistently boost the Dubs to wins.
Keep Stephen Curry Healthy
Stephen Curry is the team’s franchise player, but his struggle to stay healthy this season has undermined the third-year point guard’s progression this season. On the court his decision-making and passing ability looks vastly improved from a year ago, but he just hasn’t been on the court long enough for his numbers to show it.
Curry’s injury woes have taken his name out of many trade conversations and it’s unlikely the Warriors will trade him now, even with superstar Dwight Howard on the block. Curry needs to continue to develop in Mark Jackson's system if the Warriors want to be successful in the future.
Choose Whether Free Agency or a Trade Is the Best Means for Improvement
As it stands, the Warriors' 2012 draft pick is in jeopardy of going to Utah. Should the Warriors finish better than the eighth-worst record in the league, Utah will be awarded the Warriors' first-rounder. As of March 1, the Warriors have the 11th-worst record and it appears likely the pick will be forfeited. That leaves the trade deadline and free agency as the only roads to improve this season.
Dwight Howard is intriguing and Golden State certainly has enough trade chips to coax a deal with Orlando, but the team could choose to explore the free-agent waters rather than exchange talent at the March 15 trade deadline.
There are quite a few free-agent big men available this summer that the Warriors could target such as JaVale McGee (restricted) or Chris Kaman (unrestricted). The Dubs have substantial cap room to attract just about any free agent on the market. Free agency might be the more favored road here.
Consider Monta Ellis' Future with the Team
Sure, Monta Ellis can score. His 22.4 points per contest is good for sixth best in the NBA. Occasionally he’ll hit an emphatic game-winner like he did in Phoenix on February 22. But does Monta bring much else to the table?
A player efficiency rating of 18.8 is completely unacceptable for a player that is amongst the league’s leaders in minutes played (37.2, ninth). The Orlando Magic are said to be aggressively pursuing Ellis’ services, and if Orlando is able to pair up with another team or two to offer the Warriors a substantial package, parting with Ellis might be the best route to the playoffs for Golden State.
Decide the Fate of Mark Jackson
Mark Jackson promised a lot to Warriors fans this season, and he’s failed to live up to his word. In the NBA, where coaching jobs are tentative, Jackson’s shortcomings will almost certainly earn him a spot on the hot seat.
Granted, the Warriors haven’t acquired the personnel Jackson needs to play his defensive brand of basketball, so he’ll get another year at the reins in hopes of bringing postseason basketball back to Oakland for the first time since 2007. The Warriors are just a few pieces away from contending, and can thrive under Jackson with the right corps.