Where is Jax?

In the two biggest games of the year, at San Antonio and Dallas, Jackson was no where to be found.
Not only did he not produce his usual production, but he was awful – on both ends of the court. He was a hindrance with his jump shooting habit, and he failed to make up for his offensive woes in other areas.
True, several Warriors played poorly. Ellis was terrible in San Antonio. He was a little bit better in Dallas, but his trigger-happy ways hurt the Warriors. Al Harrington has been off, but he has his sprained thumb as a cover.
The one guy who did show up, who – say what you will about him – always shows up, was Baron Davis. While everyone else was chucking jumpers, he was forcing himself to the basket 1-on-2 and 1-on-3. (Let that be a lesson for those who say let BD walk and give the team to Monta. He’s doing so well because he’s playing next to Baron.)
The Warriors can afford bad games from Ellis, because they have Kelenna Azubuike (who is ballin’ lately). They can afford bad games from Harrington because they can go with Biedrins or Barnes or Pietrus when he’s healthy.
The Warriors CANNOT afford awful performances from Jackson when the stakes are so high. Maybe he can play a less-than-steller game, or a below-the-averages game. But he can’t be a downright liability on both ends of the court. Not with the playoffs hanging in the balance.
Jackson has to find a way to produce even on bad nights. If his jumper isn’t falling, if he’s not getting the calls, if he’s not feeling well, he still has to find a way to produce. He has to.
The fact that he disappeared is a huge concern, and exposes perhaps the flaw that will keep the Warriors out of the postseason: this team is not as good when Stephen Jackson is the second-best player. Forget his temper, which he’s controlled. Forget his lack of rebounding, or his propensityf or turnovers. Can the Warriors rely on a player who literally lives and dies by the jumper?
Maybe I’m overreacting. I like Jackson, as a person and a player. I think he’s really good. But I think these last two games exposed him.


Next Year’s Back-up Point?

A story today in the Chicago Sun Times has Chicago Bulls PG Chris Duhon – the one who set his career high at Oracle Arena not too long ago – said he likely won’t be back with the Bulls next season.
I have long been enamored with Duhon as the perfect back-up to Baron. He is a true point guard who defends, and his outside shot is improving. There was a concern about how a solid back-up might stunt the growth of Monta, who was penciled in as the back-up PG. However, that isn’t an issue anymore because Monta is a bonafide starter.
If I’m the Warriors, I’m picking him up this offseason. Duhon hasn’t even played since the Bulls got Larry Hughes. He skipped practice for the Duke-UNC game. You know he’s a goner. It makes you wonder if the Warriors could have gotten him for relatively nothing before the deadline.
Nonetheless, taking the moment to look ahead a bit, Duhon is the answer at back-up PG. He’s good enough for Nellie to be confident resting Baron, but not good enough to create issues about him being the starter. The Warriors can even keep C.J. Watson around as the third point guard, giving him more time to develop.


Baron’s All-Star Hopes Still Alive?

It looks like Kobe Bryant’s hand is bothering him to the point he may be a scratch from the All-Star Game. He reaggravated his dislocated pinkie and has all but ruled out his presence in the 3-point shootout. He still hasn’t decided if he’ll play in the game, but the Los Angeles Times reported that Kobe has been telling teammates he’s not going to.
“We’d like him not to play,” Jackson said. “But that has to be a determination that’ll probably be medical more than anything else.”
If Kobe is too injured to play, the league could replace him. It’s commissioner David Stern’s call on who will replace him, but the big snub this year is B. Diddy. Kobe said he still planned on going to New Orleans regardless, something the league would love because of his appeal.


Somebody Guard Chris Duhon?

Here’s my one knock on Baron. He turns it on and off.
Part of it is because he’s so good. The game really does come “Too Easy” to him. Part of it is because he carries such a big load for this team, and it’s practically impossible to have it “on” all the time. But part of it is because he’s not mature enough of a point guard to not overlook lesser opponents.
Duhon has 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting. He scored his season high in 10 minutes. Monta was matched up with him. But I give Baron some of the blame for that. Monta loses focus on defense. He gets lost in the shuffle when he’s competing against a less heralded guy. He spent the first quarter losing sight of Duhon, waiving at him instead of running out to contest his shot. Remember Monta was a pesky defender? He is when he wants to be. Assuredly, he can turn it on in a blink just as Baron. But it’s a bad habit for such a young talent.
Baron is the king of that. B.D. lifts his play against the best PGs, and coasts against the lesser ones. From eyes, Monta is picking up that habit.
Baron should go for 40 regularly against some of the other point guards in this league. He should be averaging double-digits in assists. He is undefendable one-on-one, and against many double teams. But he coasts when he’s not motivated, and he bails out the defense too much with jumpers. He relaxes on defense against the no-name PGs in the league.
When Baron gets to the point where he can play at an All-Star level no matter who he’s going against, he’ll be in the Hall of Fame. Let’s hope that starts while he’s playing alongside Monta.


No All-Star Love for Baron

According to a source close to Baron Davis, the Warriors starting point guard was not voted on by coaches as a reserve.
The official announcement comes tonight on TNT.
Davis was no doubt passed up in favor of Steve Nash, Chris Paul and possibly Portland’s Brandon Roy. Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant were voted in by the fans as the starting guards. Davis still could make the team if injury prevents a selected player from participating. Commissioner David Stern selects injury replaces.


Did Baron Slight the Warriors?

After playing four games in five nights, BD – instead of going home to rest up against Minnesota – flew to Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. The first movie by his production company, “Made in America”, debuted in Park City and Boom Dizzle, ever the entreprenuer, couldn’t miss it.
Does anyone have a problem with that?
I’ve been going back and forth on it. On one hand, he’s young and rich and basketball isn’t his entire life. That’s fine, right? I don’t have a problem with him doing his business thing.
But, should he leave that stuff for the offseason? Should he have maybe passed this one time, considering how desperately the Warriors need him to be at his peak? Would Steve Nash or Kevin Garnett, players hungry for a championship, ever have done such a thing?
Plus, BD is the catalyst on the court. Not just because he’s the best player, but also because he’s the point guard. The Warriors lack of energy and urgency is some of his responsibility, too, because he sets the tone.
Then again, it’s his own time. He didn’t skip practice. He wasn’t late to a game. He used his off day how he wanted to. The CC Times doesn’t tell me how to spend my off days. Who is anyone to say what he should be doing on his day off, especially you can’t be certain it hurts his performance.
You’ll never be able to calculate if the excursion he took to Utah negatively impacted his play. There’s no well to know if he would’ve made that lay-up had he not taken the trip. You can’t reasonably say that if he stayed in the Bay Area and rested, he would have blown right by Marko Jaric on the previous possession instead of taking that fall-away 22 footer on the previous possession.
But here’s an interesting question: would the Utah trip be an issue if he made the layup?
Is it even an issue now? I’m undecided. What do you think?


Vote Nash, vote often?

Probably the last thing Warriors fans want to do is show support to a point guard other than their own Baron Davis, but if you’re a GS faithful and want to see BD in the All-Star Game next month, start clicking for Steve Nash instead of your own star.

The reasoning is this: Nash is one of only two guards who are mortal locks to make the Western Conference squad. (The other is Kobe Bryant.) Chris Paul is a near-certainty, but not quite at that same level. Everyone else (Baron, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Allen Iverson, Brandon Roy, Deron Williams, etc.) is a step below, fighting for one and maybe two more spots.

As of the update released Jan. 10, Houston’s Tracy McGrady was second in balloting among Western Conference guards with 907,639 votes and stood to be named a starter. Now, McGrady would never get chosen by the WC coaches as a reserve, not after missing as much time as he has this season. So if McGrady gets knocked out of that spot, Davis’ chances become that much better.

That’s especially true if McGrady were to be bumped by Nash, who was fourth at 808,995 votes, instead of Iverson (third at 827,273). If Nash wins a starting spot, that would mean that probably two at-large berths will be available for that group of guys chasing Paul.

If Nash fails, it’s hard to see how Baron gets on the team. At that point, it’s four guys in (Kobe, McGrady, Paul and Nash) with one spot available, and I can’t believe the coaches will leave off Roy in favor of BD. (One caveat: If McGrady is hurt badly enough that he can’t play, then it becomes a David Stern-judged horse race between AI and BD to replace him, and I think BD could win that.)

— Geoff