Month: November 2013

LGW: Preview: Oklahoma City Thunder (5-2) at Golden State Warriors (5-3)

Russell-Westbrook-Stephen-Curry

The Golden State Warriors are coming off of a blowout win against the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night. The Warriors did just about everything right against the Pistons, and they will need to have the same kind of perfect performance if they want to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight.

This game features two of the best teams in the Western Conference, and it also features some pretty exciting matchups. Two of the best point guards in the NBA go head-to-head in this matchup. Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook play two completely different styles. Curry is the best shooter in the NBA, and Westbrook is more of a slasher because of his speed, athleticism, and explosiveness. These two point guards have completely different skillsets, but it’ll be an extremely entertaining matchup.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

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Golden State Warriors: How Has Harrison Barnes Been Since Returning?

Mar 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) drives in against the New York Knicks during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the New York Knicks 92-63. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The Golden State Warriors’ bench has been criticized so far this season for their lack of production offensively. The bench certainly got a significant boost when Harrison Barnes returned to the team Nov. 6 against the Minnesota Timberwolves after being held out with left foot inflammation since Oct. 7.

Barnes is expected to be the Warriors’ sixth man and primary offensive option off the bench. With the addition of Andre Iguodala in the offseason, there was much speculation regarding whether Klay Thompson or Barnes would start. Coach Mark Jackson decided before the season started that Thompson would start and Barnes would come off the bench. This decision might have been made by default though, since Barnes was out for most of the preseason with his foot injury.

In his return on Nov. 6, Barnes didn’t look like he had been out for a month with an injury. He was limited to just 14 minutes, but he finished with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting. In his first five minutes, he had eight points and a steal.

In this game, Barnes looked as dominant as he did in the Warriors’ playoff series against the Spurs last season, and he appeared to be the missing piece to the struggling Warriors’ bench. Most importantly, the bench has lacked someone who can create their own shot. Barnes showed his ability to do just that in his first game back. He would take a few dribbles then pull up for a 17-foot jump shot, or he would score on post-ups or drives to the basket.

“I knew he was going to come in and really kill,” Klay Thompson said. “He’s one of the hardest-working players on the team, and he has a really bright future. … He’s one of the better young players in the league, and the sky is the limit for him.”

After Barnes’ impressive season debut though, he struggled in the next two games. Against the San Antonio Spurs on Nov. 8, Barnes played 21 minutes and finished with five points on 2-for-6 shooting, starting in place of injured Stephen Curry. Against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 9, Barnes played 19 minutes and finished with four points on 2-for-7 shooting. In addition to his poor shooting, Barnes also only had two rebounds and one assist in both games.

November 12, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) dunks the ball against the Detroit Pistons during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Pistons 113-95. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Last night against the Detroit Pistons, Barnes played 25 minutes and finished with eight points and three rebounds on 4-for-8 shooting. Barnes had a nice dunk in the game last night, but, overall, it was just an average performance.

So, since returning, Barnes has been somewhat inconsistent. Not to make excuses for him, but he is a young player who is continuing to adjust to the NBA and develop as a player. In addition to his development as an effective NBA player, he’s also playing a new role for this Warriors team than he did last season. After starting every single game he played in last season, he’s coming off the bench and will be the sixth man for the Warriors. This will be a significant adjustment for him, especially given the fact that it’s just his second year in the NBA.

After not practicing or playing in games for a month, Barnes is also still working his way back into game shape. Jackson limited Barnes’ minutes on the road trip, but, as of now, he’s not under any minute restrictions. Barnes will eventually get into basketball shape, which will allow him to play more freely and regain his form. Barnes just needs more experience and more playing time to play as effectively as he did in last season’s playoffs and to adjust to his role as a sixth man.

Warriors fans need to be patient. Some Warriors fans feared that Barnes’ new role at sixth man will hinder his development. However, Barnes will bring to the bench exactly what they have been lacking so far this season. He will be the first option off the bench, so he needs to be aggressive on offense and become that sparkplug that the Warriors need. Barnes has been inconsistent so far this season, but he will slowly develop into an effective, reliable sixth man for the Warriors.

LGW: Preview: Detroit Pistons (2-4) at Golden State Warriors (4-3)

(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty)

(Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty)

The Golden State Warriors return home tonight after a four-game road trip where they went 2-2. Their two wins came against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Minnesota Timberwolves. They almost pulled off a great comeback win against the San Antonio Spurs, but they fell a little short. They finished off the road trip with a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

After the game against the Grizzlies, it’s clear that the Warriors need to improve on a few areas. The first area that they need to improve on is taking care of the paint. The Grizzlies had 54 points in the paint compared to the Warriors’ 18 points. This wide of a margin is simply unacceptable. Yes, the Grizzlies have two of the best frontcourt players in the NBA (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph), but this can’t happen against the Detroit Pistons tonight.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

LGW: Is David Lee an Elite Power Forward?

(David Sherman/NBAE/Getty)

(David Sherman/NBAE/Getty)

The Golden State Warriors played the Minnesota Timberwolves yesterday and will play the San Antonio Spurs tomorrow and the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. All three of these teams are talented, and they all have elite power forwards. David Lee had the difficult task of defending Kevin Love yesterday, but he held him to 10-for-25 shooting. He will have his hands full guarding Tim Duncan tomorrow and Zach Randolph on Saturday.

Love, Duncan, and Randolph are often brought up when discussing the best power forwards in the game. However, Lee is rarely named in that discussion. Lee is a two-time All-Star, he led the NBA in double-doubles last season, he has shot better than 50 percent from the floor in all eight of his NBA seasons, and he is one of only three players to average at least 16 points and nine rebounds each of the past five seasons.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

Golden State Warriors: Evaluating the Bench Play So Far

Oct 30, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Draymond Green (23) celebrates with center Jermaine O

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are expected to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference this season. They have six proven starters and have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. Despite all these impressive qualities, the Warriors’ bench has been disappointing so far this season.

Even though the Warriors have a deep roster and have such a powerful starting lineup, the bench hasn’t come together as a cohesive unit yet. To be fair, there are many new faces coming off of that bench this year, such as Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights, Ognjen Kuzmic, Jermaine O’Neal and Nemanja Nedovic.

In addition to these newcomers, the Warriors’ reserves also include Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green. They will also have Harrison Barnes coming off the bench soon and once Festus Ezeli returns from injury, he will come off the bench as well. The Warriors certainly have talent coming off the bench, but the reserves haven’t shown yet that they can play cohesively together.

“I’ve been very disappointed in the way that those guys have closed out ballgames,” Mark Jackson said about his bench. “They’ve had opportunities to play extended minutes and they haven’t made statements with their play.”

The bench has really struggled in a few specific areas. Generally, the reserves have struggled on the offensive side. Defensively, they are actually quite impressive.

The first thing the bench is lacking is someone who can create their own shot. This is the area where the Warriors miss Jarrett Jack the most. With the shot clock winding down and a broken play, Jack was able to make something out of nothing and create his own shot. No one on the Warriors’ bench has shown they can do that this season. Once Barnes comes back though, he will most likely help in that category.

Second, the bench needs a proven floor general. They need another ball handler and someone who can initiate the offense. Douglas, Nedovic and Bazemore haven’t proven that they can run the offense smoothly and create opportunities for their teammates if a play breaks down. Unless one of those players proves that they can consistently do that, Jackson might have to keep one of the starters in with the reserves at all times. To ensure the offense continues to run smoothly, Jackson would have to leave in a playmaker like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Andre Iguodala.

Lastly, the Warriors’ bench is lacking a serious low-post threat. This is the area that the Warriors miss Carl Landry the most. Landry was a threat from mid-range and on the low block. He could back down his opponent and attack the rim. The Warriors have tried to run plays with O’Neal and Speights on the low block, but they haven’t been successful. O’Neal is not quick enough anymore to be a consistent low-post threat, and Speights is more successful as a mid-range jump shooter off of a pick-and-pop, for example.

It’s hard not to speculate how successful this Warriors bench would be if they had been able to keep both Jack and Landry and have Barnes as a reserve too. However bad the Warriors’ bench can look at times, there are several reasons why it’s too early to panic about the bench play so far.

Mar 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) drives in against the New York Knicks during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Golden State Warriors defeated the New York Knicks 92-63. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

First of all, this Warriors team and the bench, specifically, need some time to adjust. There are so many new players and they’ve only been playing together for a couple months now. They’re just now getting a sense of what the rotation will be like throughout the season. Soon the reserves will have a better idea about when they will usually come into a game and who they will be playing with. This comfort will certainly help them play more cohesively.

Second, Barnes hasn’t played yet in the regular season. His presence and his play will significantly improve the Warriors’ bench. He can create his own shot, as mentioned before, and he can provide that much-needed spark off the bench. He will be the offensive focal point for the Warriors’ second unit, which will allow the bench to thrive and will help Barnes’ development as a player.

Even if the bench still struggles once Barnes is back, Jackson can continue to play one of his starters with the reserves. So far, he’s played Thompson and Iguodala with the reserves, which has usually produced better results since it gives the bench that much-needed playmaker. With Barnes and another starter playing with the reserves, the offense would flow much more smoothly.

Also, Ezeli’s return will greatly help the bench too. His presence won’t necessarily have the same impact that Barnes’ presence will have, but Ezeli allows Jackson to rest Kuzmic and O’Neal more. It also will give the Warriors another big man off the bench who can rebound and defend.

The Warriors’ bench has clearly struggled so far this season. Having Barnes play with the reserves will vastly improve the Warriors’ bench, especially on offense where the bench has struggled the most. Although the bench has been disappointing so far compared to last season’s dynamic duo off the bench, Jack and Landry, there is no need for concern just yet. The Warriors will find a way to adjust, and the bench will continue to evolve into a useful weapon for this young, contending team.

LGW: Andre Iguodala Puts on a Show in his Return to Philadelphia

Photo: Michael Perez, AP

Photo: Michael Perez, AP

Andre Iguodala is having fun on his new team. After playing for eight seasons in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform, Iguodala played in a Golden State Warriors’ uniform for the first time in Philadelphia yesterday. He played freely and fluidly in his return to Philadelphia, and he had 32 points in 33 minutes and made a career-high seven three-pointers in 11 attempts.

“It was almost kind of like a high school game, where you get it going and you just can’t miss,” Iguodala said about his hot shooting last night.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

Who Will Be the Starting Left Fielder for the San Francisco Giants in 2014?

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

After failing to make the playoffs just a year after winning the World Series, the San Francisco Giants have several areas that need to be addressed in the offseason. Most importantly, the Giants need to find a serviceable starting left fielder for next season.

Jun 14, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco (7) is greeted at the dugout by team mate left fielder Andres Torres (56) after a lead off home run against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants entered this season with a left-field platoon of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres. When Angel Pagan got injured, these two players, who aren’t everyday players, were expected to start in both center field and left field. The Giants’ offense struggled in Pagan’s absence and they saw why they need to acquire a player who can play in left field every day.

Now that the Giants’ 2013 season is over and they’re officially in the offseason, which left fielders should they pursue in free agency? Who are some candidates for the starting left fielder for the Giants in the 2014 season?

Some players in the Giants organization that could start in left field are Blanco (who is eligible for arbitration), Juan Perez, Francisco Peguero and Roger Kieschnick. As mentioned before, the Giants saw that Blanco can’t hit consistently enough to be an everyday left fielder, but he will certainly earn some spot starts next season and could come into games as a defensive replacement.

Peguero and Kieschnick didn’t show enough this season to prove to the Giants that they can hit consistently at the major league level and Blanco is superior to both of them in terms of defense. Therefore, these two players don’t make much sense to start in left field. That leaves Perez. He has the greatest chance out of anyone in the Giants organization of becoming the starting left fielder.

Perez is extremely talented defensively. He can play all three outfield spots, and he has great range because of his speed. He also has a strong arm and can throw out anyone on the basepaths.

Jun. 9, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: San Francisco Giants outfielder Juan Perez hits an RBI single in the third inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Offensively, he struggled when he was called up the first time by the Giants, but he started to improve near the end of the season. In September, he hit .277 with one home run and five RBIs. Overall, he hit .333 with runners in scoring position, and he hit .333 against right-handed pitchers. If Perez continues to improve his hitting and has a strong spring training, he could possibly be the starting left fielder for the Giants.

One other possibility within the Giants organization is Brandon Belt. The Giants are one of many teams that are considering signing seven-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann. The Giants have discussed moving Buster Posey to first base for a long time, in order to preserve his health. By signing McCann, the Giants would officially move Posey to first base and move Belt to left field. Belt, defensively, is an elite first baseman and, if he gets moved to left field, hopefully his stellar defense would translate.

Outside of the Giants organization, here are some left fielders, or outfielders in general, the Giants could pursue in free agency, but who would probably come at a higher price than some others.

One possibility is Shin-Soo Choo, who is coming off of a fantastic 2013 season with the Cincinnati Reds when he hit .285 and had 21 home runs, 54 RBIs, 20 stolen bases, a .423 OBP and a .462 slugging percentage. He would be a great addition to this Giants team because he’s fast and he’d provide the Giants with a much-needed left-handed power bat. The 31-year-old might come at too high of a price though. His agent, Scott Boras, thinks Choo could command a multi-year deal worth $90 million to $100 million. The asking price might not be quite that high, but, regardless, Choo might be out of the Giants’ price range.

Sep 3, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo (17) prepares to bat during the third inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Another outfielder the Giants could pursue, who might be a pricey signing, is Curtis Granderson. The 32-year-old has played center field for the majority of his career, but he will most likely move to a corner outfield spot in the coming seasons because of his age and recent troubles with injuries. He was injured for much of this past season and only played in 61 games. Like Choo, Granderson would also provide the Giants with a left-handed power bat. He had consecutive 40-plus home run seasons for the New York Yankees in 2011-12. Even if he did miss most of this past season, he will still probably command a large contract because of his serious power.

Here are a couple players the Giants could sign in a lower price range. The first option is David Murphy. Last season with the Texas Rangers, he hit .220, had 13 home runs, 45 RBI, had a .282 OBP and a .374 slugging percentage. However, he hit .291 in 2010, he hit .275 in 2011, and he hit .304 in 2012. He didn’t exactly have a compelling stat line in 2013, but he could be a great fit for the Giants. The 32-year-old could provide some speed and left-handed power and he’s an excellent left fielder defensively. In addition, he would come at a lower price than the two other previously mentioned free agents because he’s coming off a poor season.

Oct 8, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder David DeJesus (7) hits a RBI single during the sixth inning against the Boston Red Sox of game four of the American League divisional series at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Another option is David DeJesus. The 33-year-old is a versatile outfielder who can play all three outfield positions well. Last season, he played for the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and the Tampa Bay Rays and he hit .251, had eight home runs, 38 RBI, five stolen bases had a .327 OBP, and a .402 slugging percentage. His stat line isn’t super flashy, but he does a lot of things well. He’s versatile, he’s solid defensively, he can provide some speed and some power, he can hit for average, and he finds ways to get on base. He would be a great addition to the Giants.

The Giants have many options to find their starting left fielder for the 2014 season. They can look within the organization, whether that means starting Juan Perez or moving Belt to left field after signing someone like Brian McCann. They can also look at the free agent market and go for a big-name, high-price signing, such as Choo or Granderson. They could also sign a free agent at a lower cost, which would be more of a low risk move with the potential for a high reward. It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants decide to address this.