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Spurtability or Underachieving?

The Warriors’ best attribute as a team is their ability to, in a moment’s notice, go crazy and run off a bunch of points. They have the kind of offensive firepower that other teams are just flat-out scared of.

Luke Ridnour: “Even when you’re up 10, that’s like being up 2 with these guys because they make so many runs.”

At any moment, Baron can take over the game. At any moment, Jackson or Harrington can get hot. At any moment, Monta can do something jaw-dropping (I get the feeling Brandan Wright will fall into this category pretty soon) It is pretty captivating. It’s even better than having a team with one huge star, like a Kobe or a LeBron. Having so many guys who can make it happen, instead of it riding on one guy, not only makes a big spurt more likely but more dramatic.
The way they started last night’s game, you just knew it was coming. At one point, they were 3-for-15 from behind the arc and were shooting close to 40 percent. It was practically inevitable that some threes would start falling, the offense would start to click. P.J. Carlesimo considered it inevitable. He wasn’t even wowed, but a little disappointed his players were,

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PJ: “We got deflated. It took us too long to dig our heels in and we really broke our backs. … It’s what they do. You can’t say it was an accident when you turn the ball over because they’re one of the best in the league at that. You can’t say it was an accident when they score points off those turnovers because they are the best in the league at at that.”

But it seems to also be their worst attribute. The knowledge that they can, all of a sudden, flip that switch and run off 10 straight or so, seems to be working against them. They just don’t seem to be up for some games, specifically the games against lesser opponents.

It’s most evidence on defense, when some lesser-known player is posting a career night, or some team that has struggled scoring all season is shooting better than 50 percent at the half. Tuesday night, largely because of Seattle’s ineptitude, they didn’t get burned. But they have been (see: Minnesota, Chicago), and they almost assuredly will get burned again.

But that leads me to the main question. Is it reasonable to ask the Warriors to play at that level all the time? Are they really underachieving, taking it easy, as it looks?
Because they have a bunch of streaky shooters, niche players and really good players with exploitable weaknesses, maybe they can only operate in spurts – depending on who they’re playing, the match-ups, etc. Maybe the don’t have anyone good enough (Other than Baron. I’m not letting him off the hook. He’s good enough to play at the same level every night, he just doesn’t) to play at a high level consistently and need opportune situations to thrive.

Can Monta do what he’s doing once teams start bring a help defender, and forcing him to his left, as Utah did in the playoffs? Jackson is at his best when his 3-pointer is falling because it opens up his drive. But he’s a streaky 3-point shooter, so can he really be expected to be anything other than streaky? Can Al Harrington be a consistent scorer when the opponent takes away his open 3-point looks, forcing him to drive and create shots on his own?

The reality is, maybe the Warriors have to live on their spurtability. Maybe their success is determined by who’s hot, what the match-up is and the momentum. I was convinced that they are a great team who plays down to the competition and sometimes lacks intensity. Now I’m thinking they might not be great, but really good and great when all things are clicking.
If the latter is true, then this roster needs major changes. You can’t win in the West on banking on spurtability.

Marcus Thompson

  • goingforthemoney.com

    Marcus,
    You’re right about that! By the way I was sitting with Phil, Anthony, and Rodney. The Warrior are who they are. Their biggest problem is they don’t bring it defensively the entire game. They are that best in the league with running off points in bunches. We saw what they can do when they made their run for the playoffs at the end of last year. They turned up the heat on the D plain and simple. Nelson needs to expand his rotation a bit and go balls out, old style UNLV. Lets face it, until we get a legitimate player in the 4 spot. It will be pretty much the same. We will just have to accept things as they are but Nelson and Mullins had better be working out some strategies to overhaul the roster at seasons end. Must keep players are Baron, Monte, and Jackson. Everything else depends what kind of deals they can make or who they can get in free agency.
    You really know your stuff. Keep up the good work!

  • JustPuked

    You forgot Goose. I’m pretty sure Azubuike is also a keeper if he can bounce back from the tendonitis. Jackson isn’t even a free agent, in which case I’m sure Mullin has Belinelli and Wright on his keeper list. With the price on Goose and Monta rising, how do we keep our best young players and somehow add to this team? Mullin seems content to go with internal development. Gasol would have made a world of difference…

  • jrhester

    This may all have to do with the Warriors STYLE of defense – it just can’t be sustained for 48 minutes over the course of the regular season. So they employ it in spurts, and more often when their backs are against the wall (down 20) or they’re really up for the game (national TV, or against someone like the Lakers or Suns)… and conversely they have trouble getting it done against lesser opponents.

    The good news is, as the games get more and more important towards the end of the season – and in the playoffs – I’d expect them to bring that high-energy defensive mentality on a more regular basis.

  • manhattanproj

    i think it’s a combination of all things you’ve mentioned. i think they are a good team, and if they put their heads to it, they can be very good. it’s really a lack of inconsistency and intensity.

    on offense, when they aren’t hot, they can still be good with passing, cutting, and 2nd chance pts. but they just don’t do these things and offense becomes stale and primarily 1-on-1 or jack up a 3. they just don’t put in the effort. but when they really get up for a game, they just become unstoppable, esp when they are hot (suns and celtics games are prime examples).

    on defense, that’s where you really see the lack of intensity and effort. they can really create havoc on defense with their quickness. get steals, create turnovers, and turn them into fastbreak points. but they don’t always put in the effort like the hawks and bulls games.

    they just dont always get up for their games. if they play teams like the way they play the lakers or the suns, i think they can be a very dangerous teams. not a contender certainly, but not a 8th seed either.

    that’s the way this team is. they play when they want to and coast when they don’t. it’s kind of what you expect when your team is led by baron davis. he doesnt put in 48 min of effort and the rest just kind of follow. that’s why he’s not an all star. this team needs someone with a brandon roy or a kobe type of mentality. they play hard night in and night out, regardless of the competiton. they need a warrior spirit, to borrow that from bruce bochy.

  • GSWFan24

    Suppose you could only sign one guy next year between Andris and Monta? Who would it be?

    I think Andris would get the nod over Monta

  • zgreat

    In addition to what jrhester posted, I think a big part of the problem is related to the high minutes some of the starters play. It’s just not possible to
    sustain all out play getting 40+ minutes of burn each game. Since the high minute guys know who they are, they pace themselves early which results in poor first quarters. Against weaker opponents, they probably pace themselvers longer.

    I think the only solution to the inconsistency is that Nellie has to find a way to get the younger guys some PT which should result in the added benefit of them developing faster too.

    Also, at this point, Webber doesn’t even look like a short term solution for the team. He moves so slowly, you could put him in a uniform with the name “Thompson” or “Lepper” and I doubt anyone would notice. Even if his play does improve when he gets into better shape, we could be out of contention for a playoff spot.

  • Wilson

    Andris is a very good player but far from perfect, and replaceable.

    Monta is not replaceable. He could average 25 points a game next year. His potential is staggering. He can do some things that nobody else can do, that nobody else has ever been able to do. I suspect that he will take another big step next year – gaining some muscle and becoming a good defensive player, developing a good three point shot, improving his handles even further, maybe becoming a drive and dish point guard. You don’t let a future superstar walk unless someone offers an absolutely ridiculous contract.

  • Soem

    How about Over-Achieving (as a choice). A little bias there?

    Ws are a team with no All Stars. In fact no All Star participation at ANY All Star events (rookies, soph, slam dunk, point guard skills, 3 point contest). No participants — which is one objective measure of current and immediate future talent.

    Every other team with no All Star event participation, those teams are not seriously in the playoff hunt. Just the Warriors. And this after the League (Stern & Co) removed the Ws 2nd best player for the first 7 games.

    So yeah, over-achieving is my choice.

  • JustPuked

    GSWFan24- If the Dubs have mangled their salary cap situation so badly that they’re unable to hang on to both of the young, improving stars of the team (Old School & Goose) then they’re screwed. Thankfully that’s not the case, so the hypothetical question is moot.

  • haverecords

    Soem,

    It is widely recognized that Baron was snubbed a deserved bid, so that would considerably undercut your point about all stars. Quite a few (not necessarily warrior fans) also considered S. Jackson worthy as well.

    The other events simply don’t hold the weight you think they do (3 pt, and dunk contest participation does not mean a player is good, or is expected to become so, and this is clear from the history of the event. As for rookie/soph: the warrior rookies don’t play (though both are considered very talented–and that’s not a mystery). Kelenna was considered by some for the game, but one suspect his drop in play time in the last month was the major factor in not being on the soph team. An objective measure this may be, but it is a measure with many qualifications.

    In short, your reasoning is shoddy.

  • Derek

    Some guy earlier said if you had to keep either Biedrens or Monte, you keep Beidrens. Wow !! what a stupid comment.

    Monte is a super rare talent that you keep no matter what. Beidrens is solid but nowhere near the value of Monte Ellis. Monte is a budding superstar !

    Monte is the one Warrior untouchable Warrior !!