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.