October 25, 2012
NBA Enemy Lines
Golden State Warriors
2011-12 Record: 23-43
Point guard Stephen Curry's health is critical to the Warriors' fortunes. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

This is a bad team with an unproven coach and a bad mix of players. All of their players are overrated with the exception maybe of Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry -- and who knows what Curry can give them [because of his ankle problems that have lingered in the preseason].

The Warriors are making Andrew Bogut out to be the face of the franchise along with Curry, but I don't see it. Bogut is nothing special. He'd be an excellent complementary player. Bogut is a decent passer who blocks some shots, but he's never done it all. In Milwaukee, on nights when he had a decent defender on him, he'd be in big trouble and he didn't give them a lot.

There would be nights with Bogut when you'd say this guy is an All-Star, but there would also be way too many nights when he didn't show up. He has long arms and he's a legitimate 7-footer. I know he's had some great years numbers-wise as a rebounder, and sometimes he's been a pretty good range rebounder. But he has not done it consistently.

I'm not trying to kill Bogut. I didn't like him at all his rookie year, but then he kept growing on me. To be fair, he hasn't had much luck at all injury-wise [he's now been out all preseason while recovering from April ankle surgery]. Every year I did like him a little bit better, and maybe if he didn't get hurt he would have kept improving.

[Chris Mannix: What to expect from the Warriors this season]

I thought Curry would be a superstar, but injuries have set him back, too. I loved him as a pick-and-roll player. He made big shots and he had a great feel. People questioned whether he was a true point guard, but I think he can play the point in the NBA for a bunch of minutes, and every now and then he can move over to the 2. Obviously, he has some deficiencies defensively, but, man, can he play at the other end, to the point that he reminded me of Steve Nash on the pick-and-roll.

But now he's dealing with these ankle injuries, and you remember the Grant Hill deal in Orlando, where they were always telling you he was coming back from his ankle injury and he seldom did for them. If Curry were healthy, it would be huge. He's decent at handling the ball and he finds people in the pick-and-roll coming off screens. So they'll run those guys off screens and play a ton of pick-and-roll with Curry and give the ball to Bogut. Their best hope for this year is to establish Curry, Thompson and rookie Harrison Barnes with good years -- and even then I don't think they'll have a sniff at the playoffs.

Some people have compared Barnes to Glen Rice. Let's say that's what Barnes is -- then you'll have two great shooters in Barnes and Thompson around Curry at the point, and they'll still have to find a 4. If they do find a 4, Bogut would be perfect in that system and they'd have a future.

[Ben Golliver: Handicapping the Rookie of the Year race]

Thompson can shoot the hell out of it. He can get a shot off screens with a really quick release, particularly for a young guy. He can change a game with his jump shot. Klay has good size at 6-7, and he's a Reggie Miller type in the way they use him. He knows how to play off screens and he knows what to do with the ball in a little space. He's not great with the dribble, so you have to make him put it to the floor. But over the year he got better at that. He plays with a lot of energy. It's not quite the constant running that you see from Ray Allen, but that's the type of player he is. I think everybody in the league likes him.

I think Richard Jefferson is going to cause headaches. He's getting older [Jefferson is 32], he's paid way too much money [two years and $21.2 million left on his contract] and he thinks he's better than he is. He has an answer for everything and he's very tough to coach. I think a veteran guy on a bad team like this is going to want out, and the only way to do that is to turn yourself into a bigger headache.

Everyone says David Lee is a great guy, but talk about overrated. He's looking for his own numbers big-time. I'm guessing he leads the league in rebounds off missed free throws. He has turned himself into a 20-and-10 guy -- an accomplishment, for sure. But he's never been a guy who is constantly helping on defense. The story you hear from the Knicks is that his teammates used to call him FEMA, because he's never there when you need him. Lee is always there when he can take a charge, but when you're getting beat around the basket after contesting a shot because you're trying to make a play, he's not coming over to cover for you. He takes charges and pumps his fist, but when you really watch him you see the things he doesn't do.

Lee has a lot going for him, though. He has a reputation for being a gym rat and he does a lot of things well. But what you need from him first and foremost is to be a defender, and he's just not that guy. You can't put up those kinds of numbers without being a hell of an NBA player, but I don't think you can win with him. Maybe if he were playing for somebody who had juice, like one of the Van Gundy brothers or Gregg Popovich or Tom Thibodeau, then you could get the best out of him. If he played for a coach who cared about the defensive end and would put him on the bench, then maybe Lee could have an unbelievable career. But Mike D'Antoni didn't emphasize the defensive assignments, and Mark Jackson doesn't care about them, either.

I don't have faith in Jackson's becoming a good coach. I don't know what he does for that team. Everybody says he was a coach on the floor when he played, but I don't think he has a good feel for the game. I don't know why a team would hire someone who played but has never coached. It works sometimes, but more often than not it doesn't. He doesn't have a system that I can see. When I watch them play, I can't tell what his philosophy is or what he's trying to accomplish.

[Lee Jenkins: Pacific Division preview]

I had no idea how they were playing the pick-and-roll, which is the goal for some teams -- they don't want you to know and they play it differently every time. He had a really short playbook last year, and a lot of times that's a good idea. He has a decent feel when it comes to getting a shot for Thompson or whoever is the hot guy. But I don't see him establishing consistency, and eventually that affects everything. It wasn't a big deal last year, but this year they have higher expectations -- which I disagree with, obviously -- and he'll have guys like Jefferson and Bogut who are going to sniff out the inconsistencies. Lee will be too smart to complain because he'll be getting his 20-and-10, but apart from him, I'll be shocked if they don't start to have problems with Jackson.

Jarrett Jack is another guy who might make things tough for Jackson if they aren't establishing a solid system. I love Jack's toughness. He plays with heart, and though he isn't a true point guard, he will try to guard people and run stuff for you. But the older he gets, the more he knows, and I've heard he can be a handful to coach. On a team with leadership and discipline, Jack can be a great third guard. Let's put it this way: I think he's one of those guys who can make a good team better and he can also make a bad team worse.

Carl Landry isn't what he used to be. He was at his best with the second unit and you could throw him the ball in the post. Maybe this is an opportunity for him to re-establish himself.

I used to love Andris Biedrins. But no one has seen him perform for years now, and it's not like it's Jackson's fault. Biedrins has now had three coaches [Jackson, Don Nelson and Keith Smart] he hasn't been able to play for. Nelson loved him and then killed his confidence, and Biedrins has never recovered. He was one of those guys who played his butt off and would dunk hard on a pick-and-roll. He's the worst free-throw shooter in the NBA, so he doesn't want to get fouled.


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