Warriors Looking Within for Back-up PG

Unlike last season, or the season before that, the Warriors enter training camp settled at starting point guard last season. (Actually, that’s not correct. The Warriors were settled at starting point guard last season. It’s just who they settled on, Monta Ellis, didn’t leave fans too comfortable about the position.)

Camp starts this year with Stephen Curry’s name inked in the starting lineup, in blood. But now that coach Don Nelson is gone, and the expectation is that player minutes will go down, the question becomes who backs up Curry? The Warriors have an extra roster spot and could sign a point guard. But first, they’re going to check out the options they have in hand.

The back-up point guard they’d relied on for the last few years is now in Chicago. They had a chance at Jannero Pargo, but passed him up. He’s now in New Orleans. The other attractive options – Earl Watson, Javaris Crittenton, Mario West – latched on with other teams (and probably were out of the Warriors price range anyway).

That leaves the Warriors searching from their current inventory to fill the 10 to 13 minutes behind Stephen Curry. There isn’t a no-brainer answer, at least not in there minds, as each option has its draw backs. The closest option to a no-brainer — Monta Ellis — isn’t really an option at all.

New head coach Keith Smart is planning to get Ellis’ minutes down to the high-30s range. That means keeping him on the court and moving him to point guard to spell Curry is ourt of the question as a regular option.

SMART: “He may come in and play that role for a small period of time. But it won’t be a thing during the course of the season where it’s going to be heavy. … You know you have that ace in the hole if need be. But you also want to make sure that you have someone who you’re kind of getting ready — just in case there is an injury. You have to get someone mentally ready knowing they’re going to step in and play minutes.”

So what options do the Warriors have?

* Charlie Bell: They don’t see him as a point guard, but a shooting guard. Still, he’s probably the front-runner to back-up Curry. He has the experience and, most important, he can defend opposing point guards. I think they need to see if he has the playmaking ability they want – to get in the lane and to find guys and to run the break. From what I gather, they view him as more of a slow-tempo, spot-up shooter type.

* Jeremy Lin: There is serious question as to whether he is ready to play 10 minutes regularly in the NBA. He is more of a slasher than a point guard. He has some attributes they want – ability to penetrate, size, uptempo style. But his shot is not consistent enough to run the pick-and-roll effectively, and they have to see how he defends the position. Lin is more athletic than he gets credit, but it remains to be seen whether he can consistently penetrate and create offense at the NBA level. If he can answer a couple of their questions, not all, he might be the best option for the job. That way, Bell can back up Monta and Reggie Williams can back-up Wright and the rotation is simple and clean.

* Dorell Wright: Smart said he will look into the Nellie route – using a small forward at point guard. He does want to give Ellis and Curry to play off the ball for stretches. Wright, who the Warriors signed this offseason, showed the playmaking ability they want, albeit during pre-camp scrimmages (I heard he looked like the best player on the floor). Wright is hell-bent on proving he can do other things like create offense and set up teammates.

* Reggie Williams: He played some point for Nellie and Smart will give him a look. But he doesn’t seem to really want Reggie there. As it is now, Reggie is the offensive power off the bench. They want him to be aggressive and attacking when he’s in the game. The fear is that playing some PG will put him in set-other-guys-up mode, which robs the Warriors of some offensive power. They want Williams to come in a wreak havoc on defenses, not run the offense. But if he’s the best option, and if he can turn it on and off effectively, they might go with him.

* Aaron Miles/Cheyne Gadson: The Warriors invited two point guards to training camp. Maybe one of them can win over Smart and earn the open roster spot. Miles did it before, as a rookie under Mike Montgomery in 2005. If he’s anything like he used to be, he gives them a floor general. Haven’t seen Gadson much.

Marcus Thompson

  • W’s in 2010

    Time for a name change.

    Monta won’t play PG, Reggie will be a scorer. This surprises me. I thought it would be a natural for Reggie to come off the bench as a playmaking 2, Monta guards PGs when Curry rests. Not surprised they don’t see Bell as a PG, I’ve seen him plenty playing for Milwaukee, he can’t guard quicker PGs, not a good playmaker, just not a PG.

    I hope Lin surprises.

  • Hmmm

    From what you write, it sounds like Lin has a the inside track. Good — he’s the only candidate without a glaring weakness at PG. He didn’t rack up many assists in Summer League/Portsmouth (often playing off-the-ball and dealing with clumsy teammates), but the entry feeds he did make were beauties. You can see a few on YouTube.

  • Ken

    Actually, the high minutes for Warrior players had nothing to do with Nelson. It was due to the huge number of injuries (highest by far in the NBA) that left only six healthy players at times.

  • jsl

    Nice report, MT; really rounding into shape here this week.

    My thought is that it’s likely to be Bell and Lin — no surprises there — with Bell focusing on defense more and Lin slashing with Monta. What’ll be key is whether either can be a playmaker.

    DWright is a solid option as point forward — but that would likely mean Bell, if D is needed, and Lin, if we need to come from farther behind — and score quickly. Still, it’s clear Smart’s picked up on DW’s value as a passer. So, if Bell can do everything but be a playmaker, DW becomes the main set up guy, with Monta in reserve.

    The key here for any point may be whether Monte picked up on what Silas was teaching him this Summer about finding “his” spots off the ball. Curry’ll get that right away; Bell, Lin, and maybe DW need to pick it up, too, because Monta has a few sweet spots where he’s always money.

    Another key? If Smart actually works rotations as he has in the past, both Monta and Curry will be fresh at the end — when it counts most. Wouldn’t it be fun to see US run someone else into the ground at the end?

  • jsl

    Ken @1: And the reason guys burned out — Baron, Jack, and Monta — the two years before was . . . . ?

    Couldn’t have been that Nelson insisted on playing his faves over 40 minutes every game, could it? That MIGHT have had something to do with Nelson, don’t you think?

    We’ve got some fresh air here, finally. Don’t go back to the dark old days.

  • petaluman

    It would be great if DW could flash some point forward prowess, but the reality is that his career averages are 1.2 assists and .8 TO in 20 minutes per game. Last year, RW averaged 2.8, 1.2 in 32 mpg. However, he’s already backing up SG, and could easily push RC down a slot at SF, as well.

    I like Aaron Miles chances of making the team at this point. He’s marginal NBA talent, but all the remaining FA PGs are probably that or less. It would be great if we found someone better, though, He’s really more of a 3rd stringer at this level.

  • some guy

    ugh. not to defend Nelson, but #3 – way off. Can’t believe you bought the Fitz spin control.

    None of them averaged 40, Monta was playing his best ball and Jackson was 31st in the NBA in total minutes played.

    Even Baron was 5th in total minutes (4 minutes ahead of Kobe and 6 ahead of Jamal, he was also not that far ahead of JRich who played the 8th most) and 8th in Min/G. By your and Fitz’s definition, guys like Kobe, Caron, AI, Iggy, Bron, Richard Jeff, Dwight should have been even more gassed seeing as they had to play in the playoffs too.

    The truth is they just lost to better teams in 07-08. The sooner you and Fitz realize that, the sooner you’ll get over it.

  • Steve

    Patty Mills?


    When Portland Trail Blazers second year point guard Patty Mills decided to show up to camp, it came as something of a surprise because he is the 16th Blazer on a 15-man roster, the fourth point guard on a team that barely has room for three. Why did he show up? “I’m coming here because I got drafted here,” Mills told me today. “I love Portland, but it is a full roster. For me [camp is about] coming in to keep learning. Now that I’m healthy, it’s my first training camp just to get out there and keep playing. You can’t ask for more than that. Right now we’ll just see how it unfolds.” Blazers Edge

  • Jet Set Dave

    Where’s Dean Oliver when you need him?

  • Sonny Parker’s Freckle Romoval Cream


    Nice job looking up stats. Too bad you didn’t pay attention to the games that season though. Jsl is right. Those guys were burned out by season’s end. It was pitiful. Why do you think Smart is looking to contain Ellis’s minutes? Unlike his predecessor, Smart is learning from past mistakes.

  • There’s also the unknown D-leaguers or castoffs of other teams. Azibuke, CJ Watson, A. Tolliver, Reggie Williams, Anthony Morrow, Hunter – all were unloved D-Leaguers. There’s a back-up point guard out there somewhere waiting for the opportunity.

  • sco_lo_pro

    I love the Patty Mills idea. Hey its a another good PR move too – local kid, had success, etc. Only drawback is he’s only slightly more experienced than Jeremy Lin.

  • sco_lo_pro

    Also, where is Demarcus Nelson when you need him?

  • Good Idea

    Patty Mills!!! Shop locally.

  • WArriorDUDE

    D-league is a great resource, But Morrow was not a D-leaguer, he was found in Summer League

  • deano

    I’ll bet with Petaluman, that Aaron Miles is the best back-up PG currently on the GSW roster. He’s short, but feisty. His advantages over the unknown D-leaguers are that he is known, came out of a top quality college program and has been playing well, and a lot, for a good Greek team.

  • jsl

    SomeGuy @5: You’re kidding, right?

    All you had to do was WATCH the damn games. BD, by Q4 was ALWAYS just pounding the ball — and looking dead at the end of games, which — under Nelson — meant snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and regularly, too. Jack, at the end of his last full season had to BEG to get a blow, and more than once. Monta wore down even faster; and his injury last year was the direct result of Nelson’s overplaying him.

    Stats? BD averaged 39 his last year with us; 34 in his two years with SD — after Nelson beat his body down. Cancer Jack was nearly 39 his last full year with us, and over 39 the year before. Monta was over 41 last year; 36 the “Moped” year, in his 25 games; and 38 the year before. This is just insane — especially for someone playing the point. For example, Steve Nash has NEVER averaged 36 — let alone 38, 40, or 41+ — and he’s averaging about 33 the last three years (none of which hit 35). No one on this team — even Curry — should be over 36.

    So, it doesn’t matter if they were playing 38 or 40 minutes (and BD’s “40” at point are a LOT more than Kobe’s “40” at the two) — they were WAY overplayed. Just as the young bigs were WAY underplayed.

    You really think Nelson didn’t just play guys into the ground? Or that we lost far more than our share in Q4 over the past three years?

    And BTW, Fitz — the idiot — has absolutely nothing to do with this. What “spin control” are YOU talking about? I NEVER heard him critique Nelson; he’s always been quite the Nellie suck-up. Evidence?

    If you can’t watch the games, and note the obvious, maybe try reading Adam Lauridsen’s blog in the Merc. Cuz it’s almost impossible to believe someone out there didn’t see how badly Nelson ran his faves into the ground — and did it year after year.

    Sheeesh! Or as you might say: UGH!

  • Hook Mitchell

    I’d make a play for crabby patty mills …

  • TownLove


    Any insight on why they let CJ Watson go. He was the perfect back-up pg, provided scoring off the bench and was relatively cheap.

  • The Smart Move is up, for those interested in my take.

  • Leftshot

    Right now I see a significant drop off in talent and readiness after the top 8 players. (Curry, Ellis, D. Wright, Lee, Biedrins, Williams, B. Wright, and Amundson). So I expect those 8 to get the most minutes. That means you will have times when you don’t have a prototypical point guard on the court.

    I’m not too worried about that. Curry, Ellis, D. Wright, Williams and Lee are all good passers. Curry, Ellis and R. Williams are all capable of bringing the ball up. And as we saw last year, the guy that brings up the ball, the guy that initiates the offense and the guy setting up his teammates can be different guys on any given trip up the court.

    Certainly, they’ll be the opportunity for Bell and Lin to get some minutes at the point, but as constituted I think this amounts to less than looking at either one of them as “the” backup point guard with 10-15 minutes a game at the point.

    The big problem with this is if Curry gets injured. But even if we do have a prototypical backup point guard, is there anyone here that thinks we won’t be in trouble if Curry gets hurt?

  • Earl Monroe

    Hey Marcus, what can you tell us about CJ Watson and Floyd Mayweather’s baby mama?

  • petaluman

    From Hoopsworld:

    The New Orleans Hornets released guard Jannero Pargo on Tuesday, bringing their roster to 16 players.

    The 30-year-old played in 63 games for the Bulls last season, averaging 5.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. A free agent, Pargo signed with
    the Hornets before training camp but the club apparently passed because he was not fully recovered from off-season knee surgery.

    “We want to thank Jannero for his effort and time here in New Orleans during camp,” said Hornets general manager Dell Demps. “Unfortunately, he is not operating at full speed due to a pre-existing injury. To his credit, Jannero tried to come back ahead of schedule, but after taking with him and our medical staff, we feel that it is in Jannero’s best interest that he completes his rehab.

  • robert rowell

    hmmm, why not gadzurik? what’s that guy doing? bringing the “veteren presence” to the lower half of the bench?

    but seriously, this was a big hole last year, why hasn’t this position been filled? besides PF the backup PG spot/third guard was and has been a weakness. why has it been such low priority?

    but i like the patty mills suggestion above.

  • WetLunGz

    Hey marcus ne way u can put ur articles onthis page with ur. Pblog posts (like kawakami does)? I always check this page first then jump to warriors page afterwards, n I use my phone most the time so it can take a while. Also will ne preseaon games be televised? I know starters don’t play a lot if preseason but id still like ta watch. Specially since there r so many new players….speaking of new players, do u have ne guesses as to who the warriors mite sign for last roster spot? I read on ww.net that vernon goodridge seemd to b the guy, but he sounds more like a nellie ball player Lbig fast athletic shot blocker..kind of like if turiaf and randolph combined best attributes). Thanks MT