The Warriors dominated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-83.
Ok, they didn’t dominate against the Lakers starters. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace were all on the bench for the Warriors’ second half surge — courtesy of a 35-0 run. But still, the Warriors, who trailed by seven at the half, found a lot positive to hang their hats on Sunday.
The Warriors have a lot of youngsters. Three rookies, led by lottery pick Harrison Barnes. Three second-year players, including starting guard Klay Thompson.
And David Lee.
Yes, the 29-year-old power forward is in his eighth year in the league. But he is rejuvenated.
“He’s excited, talking a lot in practice,” point guard Stephen Curry said. He’s always going to be the jokester in the locker room, but he has a more animated personality right now and I think that shows his excitement for what’s going on. He’s hungry, ready to go.”
Warriors coach Mark Jackson said he’s considering sitting out point guard Stephen Curry for one of the first two preseason games.
Golden State opens the exhibition schedule with a back-to-back set, Sunday vs. the Lakers in Fresno and Monday vs. Utah in Oakland. Jackson is concerned about working Curry’s oft-injured right ankle too hard too soon.
“I’m going to think about it, talk to Steph about it,” Jackson said, “and make the right decision as far as that’s concerned. I really don’t want to work him on back-to-back nights.”
At media day, when asked about the SF competition, Barnes expressed appreciation that he had a coach willing to consider a rookie to start. But when discussing his chances, he simply left it at “we’ll see.”
Uh oh. Sounds like whatever he had brewing is working.
Late last night, after the evening practice, I was talking with a source about the small forward competition. This source, who I trust and has seen every second of practice, said rookie Harrison Barnes has been special the first two practices. He went as far as saying “it’s Harrison Barnes’ job to lose.” Coming from him, it says something. Trust me.
Now, I’ve been considering Barnes a long shot of sorts in favor of easing him along, not putting too much pressure on him. We don’t get much practice, but allowing Barnes to develop methodically is a good plan. But it sounds like Barnes is having the kind of camp so far that makes him a serious contender to start. Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by the strong endorsement. Barnes has been flying under-the-radar lately and coach Mark Jackson has seemed pretty hesitant to tout him too hard. (Maybe that is a hint.) He praises him, but he usually quickly follows by pointing out it’s early or he hasn’t done it in games yet or he has a lot of room to grow.
No doubt, Barnes has the size and athleticism to feel the void at small forward. Golden State doesn’t need offense, which is his strength, but Jackson said Barnes has been working on his defense since the team began working out in earnest after Labor Day. Barnes has been chasing around Klay Thompson to help improve his defensive skills. Apparently it’s helping. If Barnes can hold his own defensively, Brandon Rush and Richard Jefferson had better watch out.
I still like the idea of bringing him along slowly. But nothing wrong with the best player getting the nod, rookie or no.
I’m told he’s looked really good, so far. And not just looked good in the sense that everybody who isn’t out of shape or injured looked good. But apparently, Rush is standing out. I thought Richard Jefferson’s experience might win over coach Mark Jackson. Though Rush as the starter makes a lot of sense, perhaps the most sense. He ran with the first team at training camp on Wednesday, so something is there.
Let’s examine what the Warriors need. Considering the other four starters are set, it’s very easy to identify the weaknesses in the starting lineup and see if the small forward can fill them. Since the weaknesses are obvious, then the needs are obvious. Here is how I see it.
1. The Warriors need a defensive player at small forward. Of the four starters, only center Andrew Bogut can be called a reliable defender. The other three, though David Lee made noted strides last season, are best in a team-defense setting. They need the gameplan to be on point and the help to be on time. But in the NBA, team defense doesn’t solve all ills. And the league is full of guys who are good enough offensively to overcome. So the Warriors need someone on the perimeter who can defend on an island, someone who can match-up with a offensive beasts like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Danny Granger, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce — yes, there are a lot of special scorers at small forward — and at least make life tough.
It’s too much to put that on Harrison Barnes. If you have to, OK. But if you don’t, why not ease him in?
For the first time in years, there wasn’t a cloud of drama hovering in the room as Warriors training camp opened.
In 2007, Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson were smarting over the breakup of the “We Believe” Warriors on media day. In 2008, it was guard Monta Ellis and the moped incident. In 2009, Jackson used the media day platform to demand a trade while Ellis openly doubted if he and then-rookie point guard Stephen Curry could win together.
In 2010, new ownership fired coach Don Nelson and announced Keith Smart as his replacement. The only thing that thwarted questions about the Ellis-Curry backcourt and the hiring of rookie coach Mark Jackson last year was the lockout.
So Monday, Jackson’s first Warriors media day turned out to be calm and drama-free. But what the Warriors lack in drama they make up for in uncertainty.
On paper, the Warriors appear to be one of the most-improved teams in the league. But up and down the roster, and on the sideline, are plenty of question marks.
The Santa Cruz Warriors will hold open tryouts on Oct. 7 and Oct. 14 and I’m going to try out. I’ve got a couple reasons. No. 1, to show all these haters out there that I know my hoop. If I make the D-League squad, or at least play well, it should enhance my credibility as a writer. No. 2, because it would make a great first-person article, me serving all these D-league hopefuls while literally taking names.
Wait … what? … Ahhh, man.
Looks like my schedule will prevent it. Oct. 7 I will be in Fresno for the Warriors-Lakers preseason game. On Oct. 14, I’ve got this church event I’m supposed to attend. Oh well. It’s a good thing though. Honestly, I think I might’ve actually died trying to run with those cats.