Assesing the Golden State Warriors' Roster: An Ugly, Complicated Task

Robb ChangContributor IFebruary 17, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 20:  Monta Ellis #8 of the Golden State Warriors in action during their game against the Denver Nuggets at Oracle Arena on January 20, 2010 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are very much a team in flux right now. 

Management issues seem to be the main problem for the Warriors. Who is really making the basketball decisions? GM Larry Riley, coach Don Nelson, or team president Robert Rowell?  Does the team want to get better or slash payroll?  And, looming over everything, how much longer is Chris Cohan going to be the majority owner? 

With all these off the court issues, the actual roster and performance of the team often get overlooked. 

But, if the Warriors really want to become a competitive team (admittedly a big "if"), what steps would they take?

Coming to any conclusions about the dubs roster is difficult since injuries have prevented the full roster from ever coalescing into a legitimate team, and Nelson is an unconventional coach whose style of play is so whacky that it skews the perceptions one has of his players. These are factors that you have to keep in mind when evaluating the players on the team. 

After more than half a season, the only things we seem to really know are that Curry is a legitimate guard who can run an offense, Monta Ellis is a premier scorer, and if over half your team is d-leaguers, you can't win games. 

Knowing this, lets try to break the team down by position.

Point Guard

At possibly the most important position in the modern game the Warriors have three guys who play the point, though none is a pure PG.

I don't think Ellis is the future at point, and CJ is good for some offense off the bench occasionally, but definitely can't run a team.

Thankfully, Curry fell into the Warriors laps, and he seems to be more than capable of running a team while also being a scorer. He is pretty much the only unquestionable keeper on the team.

Shooting Guard

Right now, Monta is in his natural position as the starting No. 2 guard.

Of course, after witnessing Curry's triple-double, Monat has become the hottest topic for debate with this team: is he expendable? 

I believe so. 

He is a player whose value is maximized when the offense is being run by an oversized point guard, allowing Monta to play off the ball and focus on scoring efficiently on offense while guarding the opposition's smallest guard on defense. 

If Curry is this team's future, Monta will be on a team that does not fit his strengths.  Monta could be traded, and with Anthony Morrow and Kellena Azubuike (who will be healthy again next year), the team has serviceable options to replace him for the time being.

Small Forward

Small forward is a black hole (i.e. Corey Maggete) for the Warriors. 

Maggete starts, but he is a one-dimensional scorer whose style of play stagnates the offense. Other than 20-25 ugly points a game he brings nothing to the table. 

Morrow and Azubuike have also seen time at the No. 3 spot.

Morrow I feel is too much of a perimeter player to be a No. 3, while Azubuike is great as a backup who can come in and play the 2-3. Still, the Warriors should look to replace Maggete as a starter. 

The team is lined up to get the second pick in the draft, which is where Evan Turner of Ohio State is projected to go. Though I do not know much about him, he's 6'7" and would probably be an ideal NBA small forward.

Power Forward

Here is where things get really iffy. 

The options at the No. 4 right now consist of Anthony Tolliver, a pleasant surprise who can shoot, defend, and rebound, but obviously has D-league level talent, and Vladimir Radmonovich, who is injured for now and useless when he makes it on the court anyways. Nelson could also slide Maggete up to play power forward and shift Rony Turiaf down. 

None of these players could be starters at power forward for a decent team. Thus, the No. 4 spot is one where many people feel the team needs to improve. 

Maybe the Warriors should go get a big man, but I feel doing so would be foolish.

Why? 

Because Anthony Randolph and Brandan Wright could be the answer. Both have shown glimpses of the talent they possess, and if that talent is fulfilled, either one of them can be a legitimate starting No. 4 in the NBA. 

Unfortunately, no one knows if they will pan out because they have been hurt most of this season. Even when they've been healthy, Nelson has refused to give them regular minutes. 

I favor taking the wait-and-see approach with this pair of young big men rather than risk giving up on them too soon.

Center

Along with point guard, this is the other crucial position on the floor. 

The Warriors certainly don't have All-stars at center in Andris Biedrins and Turiaf, but I think they are good enough to be keepers. Especially for the money. In a league where useless $12 million per year centers are a dime a dozen, Andris is a steal for slightly less than $10 million per year. 

Rony's contract is also a gem.

For those who see their numbers and disagree, remember that they play in a Nelson system, meaning they have to frequently leave their rebounding position in the post to cut off penetration as the opposition's guards blow by perimeter defenders. 

More importantly, it means the Warriors avoid the low-post on offense to the point you would think the paint was infested with the plague. 

On a normal team in which low-post scoring was valued, the two centers' post games would get some work, their confidence would grow, and their numbers would improve.

Right now, they are undervalued.

Conclusions

After all this, the only definite keepers are Curry and Andris as starters and Azubuike, Morrow, and Turiaf off the bench. 

Hopefully either Randolph or Wright pan out at the No. 4. 

That leaves small forward and shooting guard as the areas that should be addressed moving forward. Of course, that is where the two highest played players, Maggete and Ellis, start. 

By drafting Evan Turner, Maggete could be replaced, either by relegating him to the bench or trading him (rumour has it the Cavs are interested). 

I don't feel there is any rush to trade Ellis, as he is a terrific player. Eventually though, the team needs to find the ideal match for Curry in the backcourt. A large, athletic defender who can hit the open shots that Curry will be able to get him would be ideal.

Sadly, it is only on a team like the Warriors where you will find that two highest paid players are the ones that need to go, but that is the situation this organization's management has created.

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