Month: August 2013

San Francisco Giants: Their 3 Biggest Struggles This Season

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

Jul 30, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito (75) wipes the sweat off his head during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Giants 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

After winning two World Series titles in three years, the San Francisco Giants have been extremely disappointing this season. They currently have a 50-63 record and are 13 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. Although it’s almost impossible that they will make the playoffs, the Giants are always going to believe that they can come back. They have a “never say die” attitude that rode them to a World Series title last season.

However, if they want to even attempt to make a comeback, or at least just finish out the season strong, they will have to be more consistent in several areas of their game. Here are three of those areas:

Stephen Curry: A Superstar On and Off the Court

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

Stephen Curry is a superstar. Over his four-year career with the Golden State Warriors, he has accomplished a lot. He was the runner-up for the 2009-2010 NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He was a First Team All-Rookie selection. He won the Taco Bell Skills Challenge at the NBA All-Star Weekend in 2011. He was a Gold Medalist at the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey. He had a 54-point game. He made the most three-point field goals (272) in a single season in NBA history, and he should’ve been an All-Star last season.

Despite all of these incredible accomplishments, Curry means much more to this Warriors team than just being their best player. Curry is exactly the type of player an organization would want representing their team. He’s respectful, grateful, humble, friendly, and classy. He’s just a genuinely good person, and he hasn’t changed who he is as a person or how he conducts himself on the court, despite his newfound fame.

Off the court, Curry is extremely giving and generous. He has done a lot of charity work since entering the NBA. First of all, he is a National Spokesperson for ThanksUSA and holds an charity golf tournament to support the organization.

Also, Curry and his father, Dell, hold a summer basketball camp for children and their parents. Steph and Dell also run the Curry Celebrity Classic, a charity golf tournament that supports the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, NC.

In addition, Curry recently became the North American brand ambassador for the children’s basketball e-book series, The Dream Ten.

“I really think it’s a great series,” Curry said about The Dream Ten. “…I think the messages are equally important: work hard, stay positive, and believe in yourself. These are the kind of values I’ve always believed in. Kids are going to love it.”

Curry also held a Three for Three Challenge this past season with the organization Nothing But Nets, which meant he donated three life-saving bed nets for every three-pointer he made. This was a great season for Curry to run this challenge, given that he set an NBA record with 272 three-pointers. Curry recently went to Tanzania to visit refugee camps and distribute the bed nets.

“You just try to use the platform the best way you can,” Curry said about his involvement with Nothing But Nets. “A lot of people who watch our games may not be as aware of the problem of malaria and how preventable it is.”

(photo: Stuart Ramson/U.N. Foundation)

(photo: Stuart Ramson/U.N. Foundation)

Not only does Curry represent the Warriors perfectly off the court, but he is the face of the franchise and a symbol of new beginnings. He gives this loyal Warriors’ fanbase hope. The future is bright for the Warriors, and, make no mistake, the culture has changed.

The Warriors have become a legitimate force in the Western Conference because of their “never give up” attitude, their exciting style of play, and because of the emergence of Curry as a superstar. He played at an All-Star caliber level all last season and is, arguably, one of the best point guards in the NBA. Also, with Monta Ellis not on the team anymore, Curry became more of a leader and more of a vocal presence on the team this past season.

After his spectacular 31 point and seven assist performance in Game 4 against the Denver Nuggets, Mark Jackson claimed that Curry’s performance alone didn’t make him a superstar. In fact, Jackson claimed he already was one because of his leadership and character.

“He’s a guy you point to as an example when you raise kids,” Jackson said. “It could not have happened to a better guy.”

Curry has sacrificed a lot as well. He plays hard and gives everything he can for the Warriors every night. Curry averaged 38.2 minutes per game in 78 games this past season, which ranked as the seventh most minutes per game in the NBA during the regular season. Especially after having two ankle surgeries on his right ankle in the past two offseasons, it’s truly incredible that Curry was able to play in 90 total games last season. Curry is a lot tougher than people give him credit for, and that’s a quality that fans appreciate.

Most importantly, Curry loves being a Warrior. For Warriors fans, the feeling is mutual. The fans worship him for his play and his character. Luckily for the fans, Curry wants to be a Warrior for a long time too.

“No offense to New York, but I’m so, so happy I didn’t fall to them in the draft,” Curry said. “No matter what they do with the new arena, they better not change the dynamics of the fanbase. If we have the same fans, in this new place…man, I’d want to play here forever. Wouldn’t you?”

The Warriors would be extremely lucky to have a player and a person like Curry representing them for many years to come. The Warriors are building around Curry, and if he does in fact play with them for this whole career, they will most certainly find lots of success.

Curry is a special player and a special person. He plays for the love of the game, not the fame. He’s committed to the Warriors and their fans, and he represents the future of the franchise. Steph Curry is a superstar on and off the court.

San Francisco Giants: Are There Any Distinct Hopes of a Second Half Comeback?

Oct 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (center) huddles with his team prior to the game five of the 2012 NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

At the beginning of the season, it seemed as if the San Francisco Giants had the perfect recipe to repeat this season as World Series champions. First of all, they basically have the same roster that they did last season, minus a few players who are injured.

Second, despite the struggles they’ve endured this season, they won six elimination games to stay alive in the playoffs last season, so they’re a resilient team. Because of these facts, you would think the Giants have what it takes to make a miraculous comeback and somehow sneak into the playoffs at the end of the season, just like they did in 2010.

However, that would be an incredible feat, bordering on impossible and closer to extremely unlikely. The Giants have an incredible ability to never give up, but the numbers alone might prevent them from going to the playoffs this season.

First of all, they currently have a 50-61 record and are 12 games back from the Dodgers in the NL West. They’d have to go 31-20 the rest of the season, just to reach .500. However, reaching .500 is rarely good enough to make the playoffs.

The Giants are currently in last place in the NL West. Even though the NL West has been a little disgraceful this season, there is still very little chance the Giants could win the division. The Los Angeles Dodgers are 62-49, the Arizona Diamondbacks are in second at 56-55, the San Diego Padres are 52-60, and the Colorado Rockies are 52-61. The Dodgers, unfortunately, will most likely be representing the NL West in the playoffs.

The Giants would have a rough time making the playoffs though even in a wild card spot. The Atlanta Braves will most likely win the NL East, and there isn’t much competition for a wild card spot there since the second-place team is the Washington Nationals, who have a 54-58 record right now. There are three incredibly talented teams in the NL Central though, so two of them will most likely take the two wild card spots. The Pittsburgh Pirates are currently first with a 67-44 record, the St. Louis Cardinals are second with a 65-46 record, and the Cincinnati Reds are third with a 61-51 record.

Since the starting pitchers are doing well right now, Ryan Vogelsong is coming back soon, the rest of the division isn’t making a strong push to the playoffs (besides the Dodgers), Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig are dealing with injuries, and with this current series against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers, the Giants would’ve had an opportunity to turn this August into a meaningful month.

However, the Giants are still 12 games back, which is a significant amount of games to overcome, even if the NL West is pretty awful. If the Giants had had a good homestand against the Miami Marlins, the New York mets, and the Chicago Cubs, they could’ve had a shot at coming back.

Instead, the Giants went 3-7 and basically eliminated all hope at making a second half comeback. The Giants have failed to meet expectations all season, and they’ve had several chances to at least stay competitive too.

For example, on this last road trip against the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays, the Giants went 3-3. Although this doesn’t sound like a poor record, the Giants could’ve easily finished the road trip with a better record. Their starting pitching was excellent and they started getting more offensive contributions from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. However, they lost two one-run games to end the trip, so what could have been a quality road trip turned into a disappointment.

The Giants tried to be sellers and trade Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence, or Javier Lopez at the trade deadline. They shopped them in order to try to get back a major league-ready starting pitcher in return, which they will need next next season. Even though the Giants didn’t end up trading any of those players, the Giants made a statement to the rest of MLB that they wanted to focus on next year and move on from this season.

Until it becomes mathematically impossible, the Giants are always going to believe that they can come back. This is valid, given their success in last season’s playoffs. Even though it’s unlikely the Giants will make a second half comeback, fans around the Bay Area and the nation have to admire their “never say die” attitude.

Have the Warriors Addressed All Their Needs So Far This Offseason?

Marreese-Speights-Toney-Douglas-and-Jermaine-ONeal-will-round-out-the-Golden-State-bench.-Getty-Images

This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors went into the offseason with two main priorities: re-signing Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry. Since that didn’t happen, it appeared as if the Warriors would have a weaker roster going into next season. However, based on the moves the Warriors have made so far in the offseason, they have more than made up for their losses.

With the departure of Jack, the Warriors had to fill the role of backup point guard, so they drafted Nemanja Nedovic with the 30th pick in this year’s NBA Draft. In addition, Kent Bazemore has started to develop his ball handling and decision-making skills in order to get more minutes as a backup point guard.

They also signed free agent Toney Douglas, who will most likely play the majority of the minutes as the backup point guard. Although Nedovic and Bazemore are a little unproven, Douglas is a solid backup point guard who can defend extremely well and will more than adequately relieve Stephen Curry of some minutes. Even though Jack was a valuable asset to the team last season, the Warriors made up for his loss with other players who collectively bring similar, or better, skills.

The Warriors signed Marreese Speights to fill Landry’s former role of backup power forward. Speights is 6’10” and 245 pounds, and he can play both power forward and center. Speights is also only 25 years old, and by signing a three-year contract, he will play with the Warriors while he is in his prime. Speights can shoot the mid-range shot, but he lacks some efficiency closer to the basket. He isn’t quite the scorer that Landry was, but he’s a better rebounder and shot blocker. Speights is a quality addition to this Warriors team.

The Warriors also needed to fill the backup center role, since Festus Ezeli is out with his right knee injury and Andris Biedrins was traded. In order to address this need, the Warriors signed Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal is listed at 6’11” and 255 pounds, and he’s a fantastic shot blocker. O’Neal is a 17-year NBA veteran and six-time All-Star, and he has played in 90 postseason games in his career. O’Neal has experienced a lot of trouble with injuries in the past few years, but he will bring size, defense, and veteran leadership to this team.

One criticism for the Warriors the past few years has been there lack of athleticism. Harrison Barnes certainly improved that aspect, but this team, and any team really, could always use more athleticism. The Warriors addressed this need and more when they signed Andre Iguodala. He brings athleticism, a great work ethic, speed, an ability to excel in the open court, elite defense, playoff experience, and veteran leadership. Iguodala is the complete package. He’s extremely versatile, and his presence alone makes this Warriors team a serious contender to be a top-four team in the Western Conference.

With all these additions, the Warriors also strengthened their bench, which they needed to do with Jack and Landry leaving. The addition of Iguodala also probably means that Barnes will now have to come off the bench, which will only strengthen their reserve unit as well. The Warriors have done a great job this offseason in addressing all their needs.