The Golden State Warriors have one of the most passionate and dedicated fan bases in all of basketball. They have been starving for a winner since the 2007 season when they upset the #1 seed Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs. Since that time, the Warriors have been in a tailspin. They hired Mark Jackson last season and that’s just the first step in turning this franchise around.
The Bay Area is desperate to have a winning franchise, again. I feel the biggest reason this franchise has struggled over the past four seasons is that they have drafted “soft” players. Remember back to that 2007 playoff run, what types of players were on that team? Tough guys like Stephen Jackson, Baron Davis, Matt Barnes, Al Harrington, and Mickael Pietrus were on that team and all were experienced and played hard. I like that they traded Monta Ellis, but now their roster is filled with players who can’t stay healthy (Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut), don’t play defense (101.2 pa) and are not experienced (only team to start five rookies in a game this season). Mark Jackson certainly has his work cut-out for him, with five players on the roster becoming free agents and I am betting the majority of them won’t be back with the team next season. This team has a lot of bad contracts: David Lee ($12,744,000), Richard Jefferson ($10,164,000) and Andris Biedrins ($9,000,000). Bogut is making $13,000,000 a year but, like I said, he can’t stay healthy. If you want to check out the rest of their contract situation, click here.
Looking ahead to next season, the health of their point guard Stephen Curry is the biggest key for the Warriors to improve. Rookie shooting guard Klay Thompson came on strong at the end of the year, averaging nearly 15 ppg over the last month. Their starting forward is . . .? Dorrell Wright had a nice season in 2010-2011, but wasn’t as effective last season. Lee is the starting power forward and Bogut is projected to be the starting center if he is healthy when the season rolls around. Their bench is Jefferson, Biedrins, Brandon Rush (if they offer him a qualifying offer and he is a restricted free agent), and Jeremy Tyler. That is not going to get the job done, sorry. And it doesn’t help when they are already over the $60,000,000 salary cap ($60,808,350). They might use that “new” amnesty clause on either Jefferson or Biedrins to clear some cap space.
When it comes to drafting the right player for Golden State, they could go one of two ways. Both of these players disappointed at the college level this season, but both have some pretty promising upside. I could see Golden State drafting Baylor’s small forward/power forward Perry Jones III. Jones III has as much upside as any player in the draft, despite disappointing all of us this season. At 6’11, Jones III can do a lot with the ball on offense, but people aren’t questioning his skill. They are questioning his motor. At times this season, Jones III seemed to sleep-walk through games, acting like he didn’t really care. He won’t last long at the next level if he chooses to do that. What worries me the most about Jones III is the inconsistent effort and lack of production that he didn’t give the Baylor Bears. I do not doubt his ability, will, or dedication, but rather, I doubt his motivation. The “other” player, and player I have the Warriors drafting, is Kentucky’s Terrence Jones. Jones is another guy who, at times, disappointed us this past season. But I love that Jones has an attitude about him. He plays hard and is a hard-nosed kid who will give the Warriors an attitude on the defensive end. His size (6’9, 252 lbs) gives him the ability to play either forward spot. Despite a raw offensive game, Jones has shown the ability to shoot the ball from the outside and I like his one-on-one game. He will bring defense, winning, and most importantly, an attitude that the Bay Area hasn’t had for a while. With their second first round pick, the Warriors should look to add more depth to their front-court. I think Vanderbilt center Festus Ezeli would be a nice pick for them if he is still available. He is more of a defensive center, but would be an upgrade from Biedrins. With their second round pick, they should look at add depth to their back-court. Memphis shooting guard Will Barton would be a nice fit. He can play either the two-guard or small forward. He is athletic and a good defensive player.
What can the Warriors do in free agency if they have no money to spend? Well, like I said earlier, they could amnesty either Biedrins or Jefferson to clear $10,000,000 in cap space. Then, they will have to pay their draft picks around $6 million total, so that leaves them $4 million to spend on a free agent. Some possible targets for the Warriors could be: Randy Foye (PG/SG), Gilbert Arenas (PG), Raymond Felton (PG), and Jerryd Bayless (PG). The Warriors will need a reliable backup point guard, especially if Curry can’t stay healthy.
For Golden State to be successful here is what needs to happen next season:
1. Curry and Bogut need to play in 85% of games.
2. Klay Thompson needs to take the “next” step.
3. Team defense needs to improve.
If those three things, along with things going their way, I think the Warriors can be a much improved team.
I just hope Jackson doesn’t wish he was still calling game with Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy.
- NBA Mock Draft 2012: Warriors Should Look At Perry Jones, Jared Sullinger, Terrence Jones, John Henson (bayarea.sbnation.com)
- NBA Rumors: Why Jason Kidd Is an Insane Target for the Golden State Warriors (bleacherreport.com)
- NBA Mock Draft 2012: Perry Jones III At No. 7, Quincy Miller At No. 20 (dallas.sbnation.com)
- 20 NBA Scrubs Making Absurd Money (bleacherreport.com)
- Golden State Warriors: Why the Warriors Need to Fire Mark Jackson (bleacherreport.com)
- Mark Jackson Denies that the Warriors Tanked Down Stretch (sportsradiointerviews.com)