32

Philly Wants Beans

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 76ers have Andris Biedrins on their radar. That got me to thinking about who I would want from Philly.
Provided they aren’t parting with Andre Iguodala, there is one players who I might be willing to let Beans go for: Andre Miller.
It may match straight up, depending on how Biedrins’ contract is restructured. But Miller is perfect. He can play both guard positions, and is big enough to defend two guards – which means Monta can play shooting guard on offense and defend the point guard on defense. Miller is a proven baller, so he brings experience and an ability to dominate.
The Warriors would have to sign Miller to an extension, as this is his last year, but I’d look seriously into that. Miller is a great option to replace Baron. And with Biedrins’ cap hold gone, the Warriors will still have money to spend on a big man (someone like Marcus Camby) and Corey Maggette.

14

Draft Prospects: C Brook Lopez

Comparison: The common one is Clippers center Chris Kaman. But he’s significantly more skilled and imposing down low. He’s more of a true center than Lopez will ever be. I see Brook as more of a Andrew Bogut type.

Strengths: Brook’s combination of size and skill makes him a potential NBA stud. He is a legitimate 7-footer, even bigger because of his super wingspan. As a you’d expect from a Stanford product, he has a good basketball IQ and solid fundamentals. He has enough athleticism to survive, perhaps even more than he gets credit for. He probably won’t be finishing alley-oops on fastbreaks, but he can run the floor, manuever inside and react sufficiently. His sheer size and understanding of the game offsets his athletic shortcomings. Brook has a nice touch and soft hands, which really shine when he has the ball in the paint. He can finish and pass. He also can score in the post. He has smooth low-post moves, a certain fluidity that comes with having a feel for the paint. He knows the intangibles of playing inside: how to establish position, how to use his strength to get where he wants, how to gain leverage against the post defender, understanding of how to take up space, the coordination to improvise on the fly. He also has a motor in him. plays hard on both ends, which is why he’s so productive. He’s an OK shot blocker, pretty good at protecting the basket from the weakside.

Weaknesses: He’s not as athletic as many NBA big men, not as athletic as his twin brother Robin. That will hurt him on the defensive end more than anything. He should be a better shotblocker based on his size and wingspan, but he’s just not quick enough nor can jump high enough to dominate at the rim. His so-so athleticism is a disadvantage on the boards, but athleticism is not a prerequisite for being a good rebounder. He should be averaging more than 8.6 per game. Not that good from the free throw line, considering his touch, but that can be worked on. Gets a little to psyched out sometimes and takes bad shots. Non way she should be shooting under 47 percent from the floor. The same motor and gung-ho approach that makes him productive sometimes has him doing too much. He’s got a nice postgame, but he’s going to have to expand it. He’s rather predictable on offense, so scouts won’t have a hard time figuring out how to contain him.

Fit With the Warriors: The Warriors certainly can use some of what Brook has. They need someone who can score with their back to the basket. He can. They need someone with some size who can be a presence in the middle. He can. They need a big man who can stick a mid-range jumper. He can. The only question is do you want him over Andris Biedrins? Do you need him enough to move up in the draft? Not to me.
Sure, Brook could be a nice back-up at first. But eventually, he’d either have to be a starter. He’s not athletic enough to play power forward for the Warriors, especially not as athletic as Brandan Wright, which means he has to play center. If he doesn’t eventually become a starter, he’d be considered a bust (you see what happened to PO’B). Plus the Warriors have a cheaper back-up center who has a similar game, perhaps even better, in Kosta Perovic.
If Brook does become the starter, where does that leave Biedrins? I’d prefer Biedrins’ hustle, rebounding knack and stellar field goal percentage. I would rather bank on Biedrins adding to his game what Brook has rather than waiting for Brook to add what Biedrins brings.

Chances of ending up a Warrior: Not as low as once expected. As perhaps the best big man in the draft, Brook was once considered a lock at No. 3. He still may go there, but now some are thinking that’s too high for him. His potential isn’t as high as some other players. NBADraft.net has him going to Charlotte at No. 9. Only three teams between No. 3 and 13 has a center as their biggest need: Minnesota, Memphis and New Jersey. If they go “best player available” there is reason to believe they could pass on Brook. If the Warriors really wanted him, and Minnesota or Memphis doesn’t take him, its feasible they could work a deal to move up to 9 or 10 and nab him.

Take a look at what they’d be getting in Brook:

11

Report Card: Coaching Staff

Last season, I considered Nellie a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate. This season – though the team added 6 wins to it’s record from last year – I don’t think he did as good a job. As a matter of fact, I think he had as much of a hand in the Warriors missing the playoffs as anyone. That said, he did a solid job. I don’t know how many coaches could squeeze 48 wins out of this roster. I thought they’d get 42 or 43 wins and miss the playoffs. I wasn’t sold on the hype, so Nellie gets credit for making the Warriors practically a 15-win team.

The assistant coaches, from what I could tell, had a big hand in keeping that locker room from falling apart. They did the ego massaging and explaining that Nellie wouldn’t.

Highlights:
• 48-34 record
• Nurtured Ellis into a productive force despite his obvious flaws. Though Nellie believes Monta’s brightest future is at PG, he didn’t stubbornly stick to that and went with a small backcourt. Turning Monta loose was at SG was key to the team’s success
• Same thing applies for Biedrins. Nellie would much rather a center who can shoot from outside. But he, instead, milked Biedrins for what he could bring. He probably shouldn’t get kudos for that, as that is what coaches do. But with Nellie’s judgemental coaching style, its worth mentioning
• Gave responsibility to Keith Smart, presumably the next head coach. Smart ran practices, led the huddle during timeouts, addressed the team in the locker room after games, etc. It is important that the players see Smart as head coach when he does take over, and Nellie helped make sure that happened by letting Smart spend some time in the big chair.

Lowlights:
• Ran Baron and Jackson into the ground (and tried to run Monta in the ground) because of his lack of faith in reserves. Justified or not, you can’t play 82 games with seven players.
•He ruined a lot of players confidence, which is counterproductive to the task at hand. His irregular rotation and sharpe tongue didn’t bring out the most in everyone – namely Harrington, Barnes, Pietrus and Azubuike.
•Failed to get rookies of the future much-needed playing time, which means they’ll still be green next year (not so much B-Wright), just like Kelenna and Patrick were still raw this year. It’s hard to believe Belinelli and Watson couldn’t give anything if given some decent playing time.

One argument is that the Warriors won 48 games and that is a major plus. But another argument is that they misses the playoffs by a game because they couldn’t beat a suspect Denver team at home. Nellie is a major reason for both.
GRADE FOR COACHING STAFF: B- (the assistant coaches boosted it up from a C+

4

Inside: Postgame (vs. Nuggets)

You can imagine how melancholy the Warriors locker room was.
I went to the Nuggets locker room first. By the time I arrived in the Warriors locker room, the only player who hadn’t left the locker room or hopped in the shower was Mickael Pietrus. He just sat there, resting on his knees, staring nowhere.
The only smiles flashed came from Baron and Al Harrington when they signed autographs for Allen Iverson’s son. Monta kinda smiled for little A.I. As soon as that meet and greet was over, they all shifted back to somber.
They didn’t sound like they believed.

KEY STATS
Melo and Iverson: 58 points on 24-for-40 shooting (60 percent)
B.D. and Jackson: 38 points on 14-for-41 shooting (34.1 percent)

*The Warriors scored 12 points off Denvers 16 turnovers. Denver scored 21 points off the Warriors 18 turnovers.

Denver: 9-for-19 from 3-point range
Warriors: 6-for-27 from 3-point range

GOT LOST IN THE LOSS
*Baron had a tripple double (20 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds)
*Biedrins had 19 rebounds, six offensivem as the Warriors outrebounded Denver 52-44
*Kelenna Azubuike led the Warriors reserves with 10 minutes, 39 seconds. Pietrus played just 10:09, Barnes 6:22 and Croshere 2:56. Conversely, the Nuggets got 26 minutes from J.R. Smith, 23 from Najera nad 15 from Kleiza.

WHAT THEY SAID
Baron Davis
“It’s tough, but you’ve got to finish strong. You’ve got to finish strong. This was a tough one to swallow, but you’ve got to finish strong. We’ve got to come prepared Saturday night and win the basketball game.”

“We’ve had our moments where we’ve felt fatigued, and fatigue has caught up with us. Despite everything, we have to keep our heads because we are a tough team, one of the top teams in the league. We just have to finish strong, get to 50 wins and see what happens. It’s tough to know that thais game could ultimately end your playoff hopes.”

“I thought we did an excellent job in the first half of getting the ball in the middle of the floor and working the middle of the floor. Every time they made a run or came back, we were able to get a layup or get someone in the paint for an easy shot. The second half, they really covered us and spaced us and we weren’t able to make plays, which we were able to do in the first half.”

Stephen Jackson:
“If me and Baron have bad shooting nights, we’re not going to win.”

“Once we started missing shots, turning the ball over, they became the aggressive team. Their two stars made some shots along with J.R. Smith. Melo hit some big shots and A.I. hit his free throws down the stretch. Their two big players made plays. It was just that they made the plays that we didn’t to win the game.”

“We still have games to play. We are not going to quit because we lost to Denver tonight. We are going to play this season out and see what happens.”

“I don’t think anyone was tired. A game like this, it’s impossible to be tired. It’s impossible to be tired because we have to go out there and play. But we didn’t make the plays. They just made the plays. Their stars stepped up.”

Don Nelson:
“Just a half a step off, playing the way we really needed to win this big game. This was a huge game. I loved the game. I loved every part of it. I just wish we would have played a little bit better.”

“They know this was a game that was probably going to determine who makes the playoffs. It’s not etched in stone yet. I think they still have two tough games, and we have the Phoenix Suns and two games taht we should win. … We won’t know until the last game of the season. So I definitely w ant to win our next two games and see where we are. We know their schedule — the have Houston at home and Utah on the road. Tonight, they’re on top and it looks good for them.”

Allen Iverson:
“It was hard tonight. That is a tough team. They have so many talented players on their team, and it’s even rougher tyring to play that team in front of this home crowd. They ahve one of the best home crowds in the NBA.”

“J.R. Smith played one of the biggest roles tonight. To come in here and beat a team like this, you need everybody. Every guy on the court who is playing, you need the guys not on the court cheering everybody on because we are in here by ourselves. There are 20,000 people in here. Everybody brought it tonight. The thing with the noise in that arena is that you want to shut them up. I know how it is to play at home, an dthat makes the basket that much bigger. It makes it that much easier to get a stop when you have everybody cheering for you, everybody wanting your shots to go in. It is that much harder with everything at stake tonight – and to be able to get a win tonight is great.”

George Karl:
“In the first quarter, we got a hungry team, a fired team that ran by us. We missed a lot of easy shots, some layups during that stretch. They were just getting to the rim on every transition and penetration. Then we went to the zone and I thought A.I. was incredible. His defensive presence in the zone just gave us a confidence to defend them that we didn’t have early.”

“We kind of had a strong hold Baron. It wasn’t a box-and-one (zone), but where ever Barfon was, we wanted to play him tight. He likes to roam in the middle of the zone. I thought Eddie (Najera) was there most of the time always being in his way. They missed some open threes that they make sometimes, too. That was big.”

“I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet. … But if they win all their games the rest of the way, we’ve got to win two.”

0

Inside: Shootaround (vs. Kings)

The morning practice was fairly eventful. Here were the highlights:

*Nelson walked from the court to the hallway to talk to the media. But before he said a word, he walked back toward the court to shout something to his rookie.
“Belinelli,” he screamed to Marco, “$100 fine for your friend sleeping in shootaround!”
There were several laughs as all the attention pointed to Marco’s peeps, posted in the stands sporting sweats, a red long-sleeve shirt and some aviator sunglasses. He was shocked.
“Bull#@&%!” he retorted in jest through a thick accent. “Bull#@&%!”
Marco’s friend said he wasn’t sleep, he was just relaxing behind his shades.

*Nelson said Mickael Pietrus was playing tonight, his first time since the first Lakers game. Of course, Pietrus wasn’t so sure.
“I feel all right,” MP2 said. “I’mma see tonight.”
When I told Pietrus that Nellie said he was playing, he looked a bit surprised.
“He said that?”
“Yes, he did. Is it not official yet?”
“It’s official when you see my name on the list (lineup).”

*A jewel of honesty from from Nellie on Stephen Jackson’s play of late:
“He’s been awful. He has not been playing well. … We’re looking for him to come out of it. … He’s our emotional leader. No question. … He’s got to rise above that and he understands that as a leader and a captain.”

*The Warriors seemed light and carefree despite what is on the line. As a group of them filed toward the locker room, Al Harrington was playfully interviewing Andris Biedrins.
“Andris,” Harrington said through a grin, mimicking the media types, “How does it feel to get 15 rebounds?” then passed the invisible mic to Biedrins’ lips.
“Andris, how does it feel to be 7 feet and be a good free throw shooter now.”

3

Biedrins is back

Two weeks and a day after undergoing a laparoscopic appendectomy, center Andris Biedrins is set to return for the Warriors tonight in Miami.

“We played 2-on-2, 3-on-3 (Thursday), and I was feeling pretty good, so we’ll try it today and see how it goes,” Biedrins said at today’s shootaround. “I feel pretty good and we’ll see.”

Since it only takes a missed day or two to fall out of the shape you need to be in for Nellieball, Biedrins had been worried about his conditioning. While those fears aren’t gone, he doesn’t expect to be gasping for air like Faith No More’s fish.

“Of course it’s not 100 percent, but it’s pretty close,” Biedrins said. “We’ll see in the first minutes how I’ll do. But it’s much better. I was working out the last couple of days on conditioning and making sure that I won’t get tired so fast.”

As usual, Nelson wouldn’t discuss his starting lineup, but it would make sense on several fronts to have Biedrins take the opening tap. From a simple basketball perspective, Biedrins — even at 85 percent, say — remains a key cog in a Warriors defense that did not provide much help in Charlotte (or even Atlanta, for that matter). And health-wise, it’s probably better to have Biedrins warmed up and ready to go rather than coming in cold off the bench.

– Geoff

10

Quick hits from practice Sunday:

** Stephen Jackson expects to play Tuesday. Jackson didn’t practice, but did undergo a fairly rigorous shooting workout with assistant coach Rico Hines, and proclaimed his sprained left ankle to be at 90 percent, which is more than good enough. He will most likely open with the defensive assignment of Seattle rookie Kevin Durant.

** Al Harrington said the team is definitely engaging in scoreboard watching, even with a third of the season remaining. “Yeah, every day,” Harrington said. “You’ve got to when you’re on the outside looking in. We realize that we’re in a position where we’ve got to win now.”

** Andris Biedrins did not practice and wasn’t around when the media was allowed in, but he did make it in for the team photo session. The team has still not released an official timetable on Biedrins’ return, so it’s not clear if he’ll follow the typical rehabilitation profile for pro athletes, which is roughly two weeks out of action, or if things are more complicated.

– Geoff