Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Previews: Golden State Warriors (AKA The Dubs)

Where once there was a glorious land of madness, the very basketball expression of Zeitgeist, now there is a wasteland. Abandoned mopeds clog the roadways, and Beard clippings scatter in the wind. A French overlord has come to claim his kingdom, but still, the magic appears to be gone. However, if you believe in a dream, or rather, if you're too hammered to work on defense, a good thing never really dies. That does not make any sense. This is the life of Warriors basketball, AD. After Dizzle.

Your preview author is Trey Kerby.


Circa May 11, 2007 Will Leitch was a Warriors fan. Sure, he normally doesn't give a rip about the NBA, but that night, he was a Golden State fan. It was after a White Sox-Royals baseball game that I figured this out. After the game, Will, myself, and about 20 other of Will's followers stopped at a place on the South Side of Chicago called Schaller's Pump to regroup and decide our plans for the evening. It took some cajoling to get the waitress to turn Addams Family Values off, but once she did, the Warriors were on. And before I held the future of Deadspin in my hands (really, I drove Will and some others to the legendary karaoke performance.

He fiddles with knobs.), I saw the transformative power that that Warriors team possessed. Sadly, however, that team is no more. What we're left with is a sad facsimile of the Warriors that made magic. Unfortunately, the common thinking is that this is the same kind of team. The same kind of team that, though unlikely, can stumble upon something so special that not only do they delight us, they make us see how things can be different. The Warriors we're left with now are a hodgepodge of similar players who ostensibly fit in to the overarching concept of Nellieball. However, the roster is a mess. While Nellieball certainly allows for duplication across the team, there still has to be some semblance of roles. Who will serve as the rudder for this team? In theory that falls upon Monta Ellis, the dynamic guard who may have made Baron Davis expendable. Unfortunately, Ellis begins the year on the injured reserve following the most embarrassing injury since Sammy Sosa hurt his shoulder sneezing. Another candidate is new addition Corey Maggette, a consistently great scorer who does some other things fine. Is Maggette ready to lead this team already? Though the tenets of Nellieball seem in-born for every basketball player, is it possible that Maggette can know enough about this team to truly be its leader? Dubious.

The only other viable choice is Stephen Jackson, a player long considered the heart of this team. And while it's true that his skills and temperament are perfectly suited for this brand of basketball, how will Jackson hold up as the main guy? Is it possible to rely on a player who hasn't ever had to lead? Can that ever work? It's sad to think the dream is dying. Phoenix has changed and Golden State won't be the same. These two teams have meant the world to legions of fans; the realization that it might not be possible to win a championship in that style is tough. And while the Suns have totally changed, at least the Warriors haven't compromised. They won't be good this year, but they'll still be themselves.
VISIONS By Trey Kerby


Any team that has Stephen Jackson on it is one that I find easy to love. SJax is that guy who will spend half of his career being hated on by the media, then the other half having them try to undo all of the negative reporting they've previously done. In the meantime, Jax will do what he does, being a leader on his team, working with the community, hoisting three balls with unadulterated freedom and laying his heart out onto the court every single game. Jax makes the Warriors ones to watch. Factor in Monta Ellis on the floor and you have a speed demon that begs to be seen. Factor in a Monta Ellis sitting on the bench nursing that ankle injury and a bruised ego that isn't getting paid for 30 games as punishment and you get a soap opera in a basketball court. Coach Nelson is the perfect coach for this team and it's mishmash of players. It was always fun last year to watch and see if he would fall asleep on Sunday afternoon games.

Kelenna Azubuike is my NBA crush, so he is must watch. From the NBA D-League to here, he looks stronger by the day and he will be a guy you need to see this year, getting more time on the floor. Corey Maggette making the move from the Clippers to the Warriors certainly will not fill the void that Baron left, but it will be fun to watch how he, Jax and Monta share the ball and of course, this is the golden opportunity for Marcus Williams to prove he can ball and hopefully have people forget that nasty little laptop incident.

It will be fun to see if Belinelli can get into the action, because who doesn't like yelling "BELINELLLLLLI" at the screen when he scores (which he did quite often last preseason), Anthony Randolph may be just the surprise everyone in the Bay needs, if he can continue to shine like he did all preseason and CJ Watson is my other Warriors guy that I've got to root for game in, game out. We never know what will happen with this crew and that's what makes them one of the easiest (but frustrating), ones to love.

The 14+ feet of basketball player I would like to dub "Brandanthony Wrightdolph." Yes, this player has become a staple of the past 2 Warrior drafts. (Because I like to at least appear to have a soul, I'm just gonna leave Belinelli out of this one. He will be a Nightmare Ant before the All Star Break anyway). It is so easy to hate so much about this particular GS team, that I had to actually morph 2 players into 1 so that I could fully encompass the reasonable hatred that has befallen perhaps my second favorite team, as little as 2 years ago, who are now just a shadow organization, even more bereft of vision and cohesion than ever before.

With all due respect, when Stephen Jackson is the elder statesman of your team, you are f*cked more John McCain.

Anyway, back to the hate. These guys are practically useless on most of the other teams in the league. Rail thin, partially ball skilled confused young men who do not play a position and who you think would be good on the break but aren't will not get you anywhere in the Western Conference. With a coach who is a year from bouncing, a veteran core consisting of three of the most selfish scorers in the league, a dude who can't drive a moped and the only player in the NBA to sleep with hair gel in, you might as well get tough. No, the Warriors get Charmin soft. Sure, Wright could make some kind of leap this year and hit the glass better. Randolph may be better on the break than I give him credit. But for the time being, when your team is essentially a house of cards, sailing on a raft, in the middle of a typhoon headed towards Alcatraz - steady is NOT the hand that steers the ship. And when you are banking on these young guys to contribute and assuage some of your interior insufficiencies, then, well, let's just say I can't overemphasize that McCain reference.


You won't let those robots defeat me, DonNellie.


(At Summer League)
Me: Oh, Warriors game is next. Awesome.
Frank: Why do you want to see the Warriors?
Me: I think Anthony Randolph is amazing.
Frank: Oh, you're one of those.

I have no reason to like Brandan Wright. Let's get that out of the way. I feel bad for the kid having been shipped all over the country on draft day. But that's about it. Having said that, I'm not sure if Wright's issue is his play or if he's simply in Nellie's doghouse. It's becoming more and more apparent that Nellie develops grudges against players. Matt Barnes goes from not playing hardly at all last season to a potential starter in Phoenix? You have to wonder if Wright's in the same position. It's not that Wright has tremendous ability or terrific work ethic. But to get buried behind Anthony Randolph at this stage? Seems a little curious.

I'm still trying to figure out why Maggette is here.

Kelenna Azubuike. D-LEAGUE!

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