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Midseason Report Card: You Know Who Has the Lowest Grade, But Guess Who Has the Highest?

I’ll kill the surprise for you. I gave out four As. Three of them were to bench players. The other one: David Lee.

I’ll wait while you finish your rant/laughter.

You done? Good.

Yes, I gave David Lee an A. The explanation is below, but before you indulge, I must point out that context is critical. History is factored in. Salary. Injury. All that. But a key ingredient is expectation. I don’t believe in penalizing a guy for not doing something he shouldn’t be expected to do. With that said, have at me. And, please, post your grades.

STARTERS

SG Monta Ellis – C+

Comment: His play is down, which is evident in his numbers. He just isn’t quite as dominant as he was last year. He’s still great at what he does, but not as great this year. Remember last season when you felt like he did everything he could. Not so much this year. But the bottom line is, he’s the best player on a team that’s been below mediocre. The whole system is geared around him, and the result is four games under .500. Plus, he has not come through on a handful of game-winning situations. That doesn’t mean he won’t play lights out the rest of the way. But he has another level to his game. We’ve seen it.
PG Stephen Curry – C

Comment: Injuries aside, he’s vacillated between great and average. Part of that can be attributed to his vacillating role. Sometimes he seems to have the freedom, to be in control, others he’s stuck in a corner as a decoy. For the second consecutive year, Curry is the victim of his development being impeded by his coach’s infatuation with Ellis. Certainly, Curry needs to avoid those bad games he’s prone to have here and there. He’s got to figure out how to stop the spiral. But mostly, he probably needs to be a little bit more selfish. Not in terms of looking for his shot, but by not allowing himself to be diminished when things aren’t going well. You get the sense Mark Jackson is waiting for that.

 

Dorell Wright – D

Comment: Save for a few blips on the radar, Wright has been relatively non-existent. His numbers are down across the board. He’s had nine games where’s played at least 17 minutes and failed to get at least 10 points or five rebounds. Considering he was expected to at least match last year’s breakout performance, his down year has really hurt Golden State. It’s left a huge whole in the offense, it’s hobbled their transition game (which he was a big part of) and forced them to NEED guards to rebound.

 

David Lee – A

Comment: At times, he’s been the most reliable Warrior. And unlike in the past, he’s making some winning plays. Even when his stats aren’t great, he is still contributing, even on the defensive end. He’s not a closer, but you’d like to see more take-over from him down the stretch. But he rarely has the opportunity because Ellis dominates the ball. And I know, his contract is $80 million. But even those who thinks that’s too much (my hand is raised) can see Lee’s impact on games, especially the last month or so. Lee’s PER is 40th in the league (19.75). Last season, he finished (17.86). That’s noteworthy improvement.

 

Andris Biedrins – F
Comment: His numbers are down across the board and the expected come back season isn’t happening. To his credit, Mark Jackson doesn’t give Biedrins much of a chance. But Biedrins hasn’t done much to force Jackson’s hand. You would think Biedrins, with his career nearly in the tank, would show more fight. So far, he seems content with being a ceremonial starter and not causing any problems.

 

THE BENCH

Ekpe Udoh – B
Comment: After a slow start, he has become the one reserve to get Jackson to consider changing his starting rotation. You could even argue Jackson was holding him back during the “slow start,” sitting Ekpe instead of allowing him to play through his struggles. Nonetheless, Ekpe is establishing himself as a reliable player for the Warriors, especially on the defensive end. You can question the plus/minus stat, but the fact that he has the best on the team means something. If somehow they can get him to rebound …

 

Klay Thompson – B
Comment: Once a questionable No. 11 pick, Thompson has emerged as one of the few definite keepers on the roster. His assuredly a lights out shooter. And he isn’t scared to shoot it. The most impressive part is that even when he was struggling, he kept playing his game. Instead of spiraling, he worked his way out of it. That’s maturity unbecoming. He needs to add to his game, though. And you can already see him attacking the basket more. It’s early, but he just may wind up good enough to convince the Warriors to trade Monta for less than an All-Star.

 

Brandon Rush – A
Comment: Rush has been nothing short of a great acquisition. He defends well. He’s shooting the ball spectacularly. Perhaps most impressive is he stays in his lane. You don’t see crazy heat check shots from him. Don’t see him doing too much. He probably should be starting, but that might put too much on him. It’s unlikely he’ll keep shooting threes at this pace. But he has been terrific considering the struggles of Wright.

 

Dominic McGuire – A
Comment:  You can’t ask for more from a guy signed at the last-minute on a non-guaranteed contract. You could argue the defensive specialist should play more. McGuire certainly has established himself as the Warriors’ best perimeter defender. I personally think he’s underrated in transition. He can handle the rock a bit and knows how to get to the cup. Unlike Rush, McGuire has a tendency to do too much. But for a guy picked up off the street, that’s OK. His biggest attribute may be unseen. He is tough minded. Never scared. And next to him, he can make those who are scared stand out. He sets a tone for that second unit that the Warriors hope carries over to the starters.

 

Nate Robinson – B-
Comment: He’s been exactly what the Warriors needed – a spark plug off the bench. Brought some heart and moxie to the team. The problem is he’s hot or cold, not the consistent presence they really need. I think Jackson sometimes does Robinson a disservice by putting him in position to be a playmaker. Robinson is much more a finisher than a creator. With that said, he often creates the tempo the Warriors need and he’s another one of those tough guys willing to battle. The more he’s under control, the better. That hasn’t been often enough, but you can live with it because of what he brings.

 

Kwame Brown – A
Comment: Was really a huge plus before tearing a chest muscle. So good, Golden State is hoping to sign him for next season, too. At first, I was sold on Kwame just because Jackson seemed so sold on him. He definitely was good. But I do wonder if he was really as good as they say, or were they just ready to call him the an All-Star caliber center because he was a big man with a pulse. I think if they lose perspective, they may end up heaping too much on him. His play definitely made such tempting.

 

Jeremy Tyler – C-
Comment: You would think he would play more, considering the Warriors’ one true center averages below 20 minutes. With his size and athleticism, it stands to reason he could give something now. But he is super raw and apparently has maturity issues. Jackson would sometimes rather go with McGuire out of position than go with Tyler. Hard to tell yet whether Jackson is being too strict, protecting Tyler from himself, or if Tyler really isn’t ready. I’m going to go with the last because Jackson has no problem playing other rookies. That means Tyler is pretty behind. And I’ve been told he’s “got a lot to learn” about what it means to be a pro.

 

Charles Jenkins – B
Comment: It’s not his fault he’ll be linked to Jeremy Lin, since Jackson preferred to keep Jenkins. He was solid when he started for the injured Curry. Haven’t seen much from him, but he does what he’s asked. When he does get a chance, would like to see him do more than just make the third of six passes. I think he can do more.

 

Chris Wright – I
Comment: Doesn’t play much. But he’s a special athlete with the right mindset and work ethic. I can’t wait to see him get some real time. He might be a sleeper.

 

Mark Jackson – D
Comment: I admit, this grade is a bit harsh. He hasn’t done a bad job. He hasn’t been great, but he has hardly been terrible. However, he’s the one who set the bar so high, so his team’s shortcomings seem even worse. It’s his expectations, so he has to live by them. He called this a playoff team. Well, right now, they are the 12th best team in the Western Conference. Very little has changed tangibly – still poor defensively, still not a good rebounding team, still come up short at the end. However, they do play hard for him and some evidence of progress is starting to show. His juggling of the rotation has smoothed out and he has proved to be right about how he was handling Ekpe (I thought he should have been playing more despite his struggles). Still, it will take the improbable for his playoff prediction to come true. Certainly will take better late-game execution, which hasn’t been a strength of Jackson’s team yet.

Front office – C
Comment: Part of me wants to go F. The way they got dissed by Tyson Chandler, who chose the Knicks (I’ve heard from several he just used the Warriors to draw out an offer). They way they made a play for DeAndre Jordan, for the sake of saying they tried, even though everyone suspected the Clippers would match. Not to mention that decision caused them to give away this year’s biggest star in Jeremy Lin, though that was a mistake that perhaps looks worst than it was. What’s more, they had a chance to get Chris Paul and couldn’t close the deal, a minor thing but a thing nonetheless on top of everything else. But reality says the front office has done some good things. Rush was a great trade. The signing of McGuire is looking brilliant. Throw in Robinson as a good move. Golden State was able to add three good players for dirt cheap. Because of that, they could likely keep those players for a good price, too. Also, Klay Thompson is looking like a really good pick. And, in the end, the Warriors didn’t compound their futility by locking up some scrub. So they are still in position to do somethings at the deadline and next offseason. Not big things (no, I am not buying Dwight Howard talk), but things.

Marcus Thompson

  • jacobslide

    The Front Office deserves an F simply for the fact that they amnestied an asset in Charlie Bell’s expiring deal, instead of the waste of space Andris Biedrins.

  • Alan Jobb

    I agree 100% on Lee – he is playing very well this season

    I would downgrade the front office to a D. I agree the McGuire, Robinson and Thompson moves were all good. But their bumbling of the amnesty clause was a FFF minus. They could have bought out bell and waited to see on Biedrins. Now they are stuck with his contact. There aren’t 5 players in the league that made more sense to amnesty then him.

  • Hammertime

    Thanks Marcus. Grades for the started say it all. Doesn’t matter how good the bench is, a starting five like this will not get you far.

  • Harp’s Dubs

    Front office – D for pickups like McGuire and Rush (both A’s in my book also). Can we please give McGuire one of those 4 year, 11 million dollar deals to keep him around? Rush should probably be a 3 year, 12 million type guy. Both those kind of deals are good for team and players, as they give deserving non-stars long-term guaranteed contracts and definitely do not break the Warriors bank.

    I’d give Wright a D as well. What a major disappointment – not contributing offensively or defensively, he seems like a 9th or 10th man at this point and definitely not a starter.

    No starter can be receive an A, though I agree Lee has been the most consistent performer. How I’d love to see him next to a big man who can defend the rim and command the occasional double team for a quick pass to a cutting Lee. He gets a B+ from me.

    Every other player’s grade, I agree with. Nice job!

  • Skipper

    Wow. How much did Lacob and the Warriors pay you to give these ridiculously high grades?

  • Young

    Good stuff overall Marcus, but Monta a C+?

    We saw what this team looks like a without Monta and we all changed the channel. They suck with him, but at least they are worth watching the loss….

    And the FO….Shoulda gave them the F you know they deserve. All the bench players they acquired are small deals. Incremental improvements. The big deals this year were Amnesty Bean (F), sign a top center (F) and trading Jeremy Lin (F)

  • Gregc

    Good points about Curry. I think they need to give him the keys to the franchise and contol of the offense.He seems to be the kind of player that plays better relaxed and knowing that he is not going to be yanked for every mistake. For all his warts, Don Nelson’s greatest strength was giving the right guys freedom on the court. Under Nelson, curry bordered on special.

  • Derek

    If Riley was smart enough to steal Caveman Kaman or one of the wizards centers Blatche or McGee the W’s could have a great second half and make the playoffs. The problem is, Riley is too stupid and has no respect around the league therefore he can and would only make a bad deal.

  • Stan

    You bent over backwards to give the front office a C. Its been a F all the time in two years. Because they Warriors arent in last isnt worth a C.

  • JM95054

    F for mgmt. No doubt about it. Oh and pls stop with this Curry is between avg and “great”. Curry = biggest hype ever without any evidence to back it up. JJ Reddick is who he is. Too slow and too weak for anything other than a spot up 3 pointer.

  • commish

    What are we grading the front office on? If it is marketing and making a profit for the multiple new owners, they get the same A as Cohan. In fact, I see very little difference in the team from Cohan to now other than Lacob has the moxy to come to the games and keep b.s.ing the passangers and crew of the Titanic (or Concordia as the case may be). If they don’t trade Monta or Stephen before the deadline, I am done with this culture of losing and all the excuses from “the no excuse” coach and team. I am shocked how gutless the franchise to take some risks to improve the team. They overvalue Ellis and Curry to the point of no return. I love those guys, but one of them has to go to get us a more balanced and tougher defensive minded team. But I am preaching to the choir.

  • James Johnson

    @JM95054

    No one wants to hear your ignorant comments.
    Redick = Curry? oh please, that’s why Orlando and New Orleans (in the past) were willing to do the trade ONLY if Curry was part of the package for Dwight or CP3. Yes he gets injured often but not many people would have JJ carry your team.

  • oaktownlar

    MT’s grades are pretty fair, but he does ignore Hoops IQ–and the dubs suffer from over-all poor court sense. The biggest offender is of course Biedrins (when they do run a play to him, have you EVER seen the ball come back out for a re-post if he doesn’t have good position)? And let’s not talk about his assist-to-turnover ratio. Udoh is only a little better. (Meanwhile, Monroe had 14 ASSISTS in one game last week). AB won’t have 14 in a season!

    DWright is another in a long line of Dubs wings who has never effectively learned to put the ball on the floor (Webber, Jamison, Marshall, Richardson). When they run point Wright, I shudder. His head fake typically goes nowhere—so no one is buying it any more. Watch him—if he does move after the fake (which is rare), it is often laterally gaining him nothing. On the few occasions when he head fakes and takes it to the rack, good things can happen. It just doesn’t happen often enough.

    Curry and Ellis: Moments of brilliance surrounding moments of sheer carelessness and/or stupidity. And Curry’s demeanor is NOT what you want in a PG: He should have fire in his eyes, concentration in the huddles, talking to guys, etc.

    Gee, that’s four of the five starters and the main 6th man with low Hoops IQ–no wonder we lose so many close games.

  • Nigel Tufnel

    Agree with Jacobslide, the Bell amnesty was a travesty that will haunt the team for years. Absolutely unforgivable blunder.

  • Moreaufan2

    Coach Jackson’s grade should be F if you ask me, the big wins we’ve had had nothing to do with him in my opinion, it was us playing the way we do, runing up and down the court making plays. His play sets are very weak to me, as to say the team doesnt look as if they have totaslly bought it yet! they loo confused many times on the court!

  • Moreaufan2

    #7 I disagree, Curry is a shooter, we need someone who can run the team and drive to the basket and get to the line as well. he doesnt do that, Monta does! HE fits the Warriors running style, Curry is a half court player, run the offense through David Lee! We need to stop all the jumpers and look to get easy baskets

  • haastheman

    Monta Ellis has dead legs. He has to do too much. He has to be the ball, and be the go to goy. Not only that, but Jackson always goes with the iso at the end of the game instead of running a play. By the last 30 sec Monta’s legs are dead, and he’s usally trying to beat someone 6’5 to 6’8. And as good as lee has been, he seems a little reluctant to take the last shot or have the ball in his hands at the end of the game. I would move wright if I coud now, Rush does everything he does, just better.

  • That Man

    Too bad they didn’t trade Curry for Chris Paul, huh?

  • Fumble

    In my mind, Monta would make the perfect 6th man off the bench; instant offense (and lousy defense). Give those starter minutes to Rush or Klay.

  • Dave

    Marcus, That’s the most fair and balanced review of David Lee I have seen from the media. That’s nice to see. I agree completely with your grades. Good job.

  • Ron

    Concur 150% with comment #1.

  • Derek

    Curry and Wright for Kamen, move Thompson or Rush into the starting line-up. Also need to let the young guys get afew minute, specifically the other Wright, this guy lite up the D-league and may be another Lin, Morrow, C.J Watson type aka undiscovered jewel

  • Rick P

    Ellis’ +/- is upside as usual. The scores moves in the wrong direction when he plays and the right direction when he doesn’t. C is okay with me.

    Curry is better. B.

    Lee, A is okay with me.

    Udoh, A+. His game can’t be judged on the usual individual stats. This guy often takes over a game with D. That plus/minus is no fluke.

    Wright, D.

    Tyler. F. The moment his foot touches the floor, the scores heads due South.

    Robinson. A. Sure, he looks out of control at times, but the score heads in the right direction.

    Rush. A.

    Biedrins C. It sure looks like he’s awful, but the score actually doesn’t move badly. Well, not that badly.

    McGuire. I’m not sure.

  • Ultra-Humanite

    If Dorell Wright is so bad, why is he third on the Warriors in Wins Produced?

  • Stan

    I would give David Lee a A also..just for the man playing last year risking his life-at least his arm- for the team. Kawakami never mentions that and shame on Tim. And this year-did he react to near Beidrens like criticism? yes..when the real Beidrens just strolls through the clubhouse tots in tow. Immune.He’s immune.
    And I would give a D to Mark Jackson..he’s flip flopping too much. What has he changed?..
    And a huge F to Lacob and Gruber and Vegas entertainment group. Cant make a decisive move if their life depended on it. Brought back the same gang of idiots..including Ridder and Fitzgerald. Even after all this time..Lacob wants company spies more then thinkers.

  • coltraning

    These seem like very fair and considered grades, Marcus. The only one I would mildly quarrel with, and I know you are grading the bench on a curve, is Jenkins. Not sure he deserves a B. Otherwise, agree all the way around. I think your point on Curry deferring too much to Monta, as yet another coach seems infatuated with our ostensible superstar, is on point (pun intended). Ultimately, it is an unworkable backcourt. Both players are 6’3, light-framed guards need the ball in their hands, and with one player, the rest of the team will see the ball and we will see good ball movement. Until they move Ellis, Curry will not be the player he can be, since he will always defer to him and Ellis will never defer to Curry…David Lee is absolutely the best Warrior this year, and the fact that he is top 7 in 6 different Power Forward categories bears that out, one of only 4 players in the league averaging a double double and doing it on 52% shooting, with improved assertiveness down low and better D.

  • deano

    MT: Thanks for the report card. I agree with all of your grades, except those for Jackson and the FO.

    For a rookie coach, MJ has done well – especially in relation to his predecessors at GSW. His best, and boldest, move was to create the Dubstitutes. Second units rarely play as units in the NBA, and that group usually out-performs the other team’s bench.

    As for the FO, you rightly praise all of the players that the FO has brought in. Those were moves that the FO could control. You slam the FO for failing to acquire Chandler and/or Jordan and/or Paul; but those players are not here because the decisons were not solely GSW’s to make.

  • coltraning

    @GregC #7

    absolutely right on! When Nelson gave Curry the keys the last month of his rookie year, when Ellis was injured, all he did was average 25.5 points a game and 8.5 assists.

  • Don

    I agree with Oaktownlar #12 post. No one has said that about Curry that I have seen. i was just thinking that the other day. I think Curry has a ton of potential but he needs fire…he still acts like a little kid. of course he needs to have fun but he needs to play with passion and control and run the team like a true point guard. He needs to be the MAN and not defer to Monta so much. Take control Steph and good things will happen

  • Stan

    Monta for Lopez?..not losing much on PPG,and of course getting more rebounds and a decent center. Its time to brake up that gang..I just wish Riley’s hand wasnt in on this,but somebody we could trust.

  • Stan

    I have to wonder whats wrong with Joe Lacob that he doesnt see what we all see in Riley?..and trusting his lame duck GM for the future of the franchise…crazy business strategy.