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+

22

Inside: Practice (4/9)

** First, the hard news: Rookie forward Brandan Wright may not be available Thursday. He’s being termed “day-to-day” by the team because of a strained left groin he suffered in the Warriors’ 140-132 win over Sacramento on Tuesday.

Wright couldn’t say when exactly the injury occurred, but he didn’t notice it until he started cooling down after his 6-minute stint in the second quarter.

“It’s probably like a day-to-day thing. Nothing serious, though,” said Wright, who suffered a similar injury during his high school career. “It can linger if you don’t get on top of it, but I’m definitely going to be on it three or four times a day, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Warriors coach Don Nelson said Wright’s absence makes it “triply good” that Mickael Pietrus has returned from his own bout with a strained groin.

** Nelson said that he would be making changes from the game plan that led to a 119-112 defeat in Denver two weeks ago, but his team didn’t meet very long for its shootaround (they won’t be holding one tomorrow because of the early 5 p.m. start time dictated by TNT). So it’s doesn’t seem like there was that much new material to go over.

** The Warriors’ locker room is filled with good guys who are even better quotes, but Pietrus can be on a level all his own sometimes. Take this exchange from today’s Q&A:

How does this run compare with last year’s? Is it more intense? Are there more expectations?
It’s more intense because in the West, there’s no games for free right now, because I think everybody’s going to play until the end. We’ll see. I really want to go to the playoffs. Trust me, I really want to go. It’s fun. Did you come last year in the playoffs?

Oh, yeah.
Did you wear that “We Believe” shirt?

I grabbed one, yeah.
You have to wear it, not grab it. You have to wear it, right? [Here, MP turns to Warriors PR official Raymond Ridder.] Hey, tomorrow we need like 23,000 “We Believe” shirts! [Replies Ridder: "And, we need everybody there at 5 o’clock."] A 5 o’clock game tomorrow. I want to talk to all the fans to get their drink on, get their T-shirt on and let’s ready to war. That’s it. Be there at 5, because it’s going to be a fun party tomorrow. Trust me.

– Geoff

1

Wright set to start

Rookie forward Brandan Wright is set to start tonight, along with Stephen Jackson, who’s back from his sprained ankle. This won’t be Wright’s first career NBA start — that came against New Orleans on Jan. 4 — but after that game, Wright sat out 15 of the next 21 contests at Don Nelson’s behest.

This, on the other hand, has the vibe of being the debut of something big. We’ll see in about 3 hours.

– Geoff

18

Time for Wright is Now

It’s kind of hard to go against Nellie, though I think he makes a lot of questionable decisions, dare I say some bad decisions. Still, the dude knows what he’s doing, and there have been a lot of times where he’s dead on, so there is reason for reserve when questioning his moves. Though I may not always agree with his reasoning, he usually has a pretty logical reason.
This, though, I can’t get past. I’ve tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but it just doesn’t make any sense. Nellie: PLAY BRANDAN WRIGHT.
With Andris out, with the Webber experiment yawning along, there is no excuse for Wright not to play. I’m not even on the “play the youngsters” kick, as I’d be perfectly fine with not seeing Belinelli and Kosta on the court this year (though I don’t understand why C.J. isn’t play. He does well almost every time he’s in). But Wright, he’s different. He can be a factor now. And he’s not as much of a liability as the other youngsters.
Wright has the athleticism, the motor and the skills to contribute something the Warriors need right now. Why is his mistakes less tolerable than Stephen Jackson’s telegraphed crossover or Matt Barnes’ failed Magic Johnson imitations or Mickael Pietrus tap dancing on the out-of-bounds line? If you can bring Webber along, you can certainly bring Wright along, because he has way more life in his legs.
I’m not saying run Wright out there for 30 minutes. But he’s good enough to play 15 to 20. I’d settle for 10. And not with four other hardly used reserves, either.
Whne you think about it, the Warriors have talent on the bench. Half of them have had their confidence sapped by Nellie’s whimsical rotation. But for the most part, some of these dudes can play. Azubuike was a starter. He can play. Pietrus and Barnes can play (when they’re under control). Wright can play.
Even Patrick O’Bryant can play. Kinda. He’s slow. He’s soft. But he has offensive skills. In the right situation, such as last night against the bigger Hawks, he can give you something inside. At the very least, he could put Josh Childress in his place with a bony elbow to the chest. You might as well milk POB for what you can. He’s going to leave town in two months having made nearly $5 million off the Warriors.
All they need is the removal of the fear that one mistake will end their stint. Look how comfortable Wright was last night knowing that he was going to play. With his length and athleticism and skill set, he can’t help but make an impact. All he needs his mental under control, and he’s going to give you something — without causing you to lose.
Since the Warriors didn’t pull off a trade, they can still make a move that adds to the team. They can potentially get that spark they need, that boost past Denver and/or Houston.
Nellie: PLAY BRANDAN WRIGHT.