Kent Bazemore

LGW: Steve Blake Trade: Intangible Benefits for the Warriors

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

In Part One of this article, we discussed how the Golden State Warriors’ trade for Steve Blake will help the Warriors on the court.

Blake will strengthen the bench with his three-point shooting, his ability to run an offense, and his ability to play off the ball. His presence will also help Jordan Crawford’s production and will allow Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson to rest more.

Today, we will look at Blake’s personality and some intangible benefits he will bring to the Warriors.

In addition to his contributions on the court, Blake brings toughness and a solid work ethic.

The Warriors and their fans will miss Kent Bazemore‘s energy and passion, but #DubNation has already shown some love for the newest Warrior. In his Warriors debut on Thursday, Blake entered the game to lots of cheers and applause:

His first basket as a Warrior beat the first quarter buzzer. Blake finished the game with three points and one assist in 17 minutes.

Bazemore was a large part of the Warriors’ strong team chemistry, but Blake should mesh well with this Warriors team and their team chemistry in a different way.

Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote about how Blake has always been known as a great teammate:

But for a team that’s ailing so much with an injury-depleted backcourt, Blake’s departure provided one huge dent.
.
“He’s definitely a great guy and definitely a mentor and a great player and fun to talk to,” Lakers forward Jordan Hill said. “You can talk to him about anything and he’ll listen. He seems pretty quiet, but he’s a guy who will definitely make you laugh and put a smile on your face.”
.
When he stepped on the court, however, his personality changed.

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

LGW: Steve Blake Trade: Why It Was the Right Move For The Warriors

(Photo: Danny Moloshok/AP)

(Photo: Danny Moloshok/AP)

When the Golden State Warriors announced on Wednesday that they had acquired Steve Blake from the Los Angeles Lakers yesterday in exchange for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, it was a bittersweet moment for the players in the Warriors’ locker room.

Bazemore was the heart and soul of this Warriors team. However, Bazemore struggled to recapture the magic that he displayed in the NBA Summer League prior to this season.

Even though it’s hard to see such a spirited, passionate player like Bazemore go, this was the right move for the Warriors.

There are many benefits to this trade. First of all, this was a smart trade from a financial standpoint. With this trade, the Warriors were able to stay under the luxury tax, and they were able to preserve their $9.8 million trade exception.

Blake is set to become a free agent at the end of this season. His $4 million contract this season was absorbed by the Warriors’ trade exception that was created in the Andre Iguodala trade.

Also, by trading two players for one, the Warriors now have one open roster spot. The flexibility of an open roster spot has underrated value. If the Warriors want to add one more player later on in the season, they won’t have to cut anyone. They can simply add a player to their active roster.

Second, Blake’s style of play will fit in well with the Warriors. He’s a tough, gritty player who can handle the ball, play off the ball, initiate the offense, find open teammates, and shoot threes.

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

Golden State Warriors: Can They Survive In The Wild, Wild West?

October 24, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12), shooting guard Andre Iguodala (9), and point guard Stephen Curry (30) look on during the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena. The Trail Blazers defeated the Warriors 90-74. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

October 24, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12), shooting guard Andre Iguodala (9), and point guard Stephen Curry (30) look on during the fourth quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena. The Trail Blazers defeated the Warriors 90-74. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

In recent history, the NBA’s Western Conference has been superior to the Eastern Conference. The West is usually much more competitive and talented up and down the conference. This year is no different, and, if anything, the West is even more competitive. For example, there are four teams in the Western Conference that are outside of the top eight that are right around .500. In the Eastern Conference, the fourth-best team is the Boston Celtics, who have an 8-12 record.

The Golden State Warriors finally seem like a legitimate contender in the Western Conference, but with this intense competition in the West, can they survive? After so many years of mediocrity and pure dysfunction, the Warriors have a versatile roster this season, they play stellar defense, and they have established an identity and a winning culture. All of this suggests that the Warriors will be a successful team in the Western Conference. They currently have an 11-8 record, which doesn’t seem that impressive or good enough to survive in the West. However, their record doesn’t tell the whole story.

First of all, the Warriors have had one of the toughest schedules in the NBA so far this season. They have played the most road games in the Western Conference, and they’ve played the fewest games against Eastern Conference teams. After completing a four-game road trip, the Warriors played one game at home Tuesday night before heading out for a three-game road trip. The Warriors are getting tested early with their tough schedule. Therefore, their record doesn’t exactly show how good this Warriors team is.

Second, the Warriors are loaded with talent, and their record doesn’t show that either. This is arguably one of the best rosters the Warriors have ever had. They are loaded, and they can boast the fact that they have six proven starters. In the starting lineup, they have a future superstar in Stephen Curry, they have a shooter and an excellent defender in Klay Thompson, they have a versatile, complete player in Andre Iguodala, they have a consistent double-double machine in David Lee, and they have a fiery, passionate defensive anchor in Andrew Bogut.

Nov 2, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) high fives power forward David Lee (10) after scoring a three point basket against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The addition of Iguodala has made them a legitimate title contender. His versatility is extremely valuable to this team, and his presence elevates them to an elite level. He can rebound, he can pass, he can run the offense, he can push the ball in transition, and he has a high basketball IQ. His defense is the most valuable aspect of his game though. Before his injury, the Warriors were fourth in the NBA with a 96.5 defensive rating. Since then, they have a defensive rating of 106.8. The Warriors need Iguodala healthy to stay competitive in the West.

Speaking of health, the Warriors need Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry to stay healthy in order to survive in the Western Conference. Those two have been labeled as “injury-prone,” but, for the most part, they have been relatively healthy this year. Bogut has only missed one game this season, for a suspension, and Curry missed three games with a bone bruise on his left ankle and a concussion. Bogut and Curry need to each play at least 65-70 games for the Warriors to stay competitive.

The Warriors also have a fairly deep roster. With Iguodala starting, Harrison Barnes is coming off the bench now. This automatically makes the bench stronger. He’s started to adapt to the role of sixth man, and he’s really starting to excel. He is that perfect spark off the bench for the Warriors.

Before he got injured, Toney Douglas had some solid performances also. He brings his tenacious defense to the bench. Also, Draymond Green has improved significantly from last season. He lost about 15-20 pounds in the offseason, which has improved his endurance, agility, and his three-point shooting. He has been extremely valuable off the bench this season. Nemanja Nedovic started off the season slowly, but his confidence has grown a lot and he’s shown how fearless he can be. He’s out-played Kent Bazemore, so he’s been the primary backup point guard in Douglas’ absence.

Jermaine O’Neal has also been invaluable to the Warriors. On the court, he’s a stellar defender, and he can post up and pull up from mid-range. Off the court, he’s even more valuable. He provides veteran leadership, and he’s become quite the motivator. O’Neal’s toughness and passion are contagious in the Warriors’ locker room, and his presence makes the Warriors have better team chemistry.

The Warriors have a strong roster, and they’ve proven they can compete against the best teams in the West. They have matched up well with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and they hung tough in their playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs last season. It might still be tough for the Warriors to get into the top four of the Western Conference, but they are more than capable of surviving and staying competitive in the West.

LGW: The Kent Bazemore Conundrum

Chris Humphreys – USA Today Sports Images

Chris Humphreys – USA Today Sports Images

When Toney Douglas went down with a stress reaction in his left tibia, Kent Bazemore was presented with a big opportunity. Mark Jackson said that Andre Iguodala would see the majority of the minutes at the backup point guard position but that Bazemore would be the next option. Before this, Bazemore rarely saw any playing time. With Douglas out, he was expected to get more minutes at both guard positions.

The Golden State Warriors have played five games since Douglas was ruled out for two weeks. In those five games, Bazemore has averaged four minutes per game. In the first game without Douglas, he played nine minutes and turned the ball over three times.

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.

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.

Analyzing the Warriors’ Options at Backup Point Guard

Pic1

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

Since Jarrett Jack signed a four-year, $25 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Golden State Warriors and Mark Jackson will have to address who will play the majority of the minutes at the backup point guard position.

The Warriors have several possible candidates. The first is Toney Douglas, who the Warriors signed as a free agent. Douglas is a quality defender who is quick, gets deflections, gets steals, and strongly pressures the ball. He’s also a decent three-point shooter. Last season, he shot 38.9 percent from three, matching a career-high.

The second option is Kent Bazemore, who was excellent in the 2013 Las Vegas Summer League and was named to the All-Summer League Team after averaging 18.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in seven games. Bazemore’s strongest asset is his defense. He needs to prove that he can become more of a scorer and a better decision-maker as a point guard.

The third option is Nemanja Nedovic, who was selected with the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft. He officially signed with the Warriors after reaching a buyout agreement with his current team, Lietuvos Rytas of the Lithuanian A League. Nedovic is athletic, quick, and aggressive. He’s not afraid to attack the rim, and he’s excellent in the open court. He’s also a decent three-point shooter. He can still improve his decision-making, his defense, and his shooting.

The last option is Andre Iguodala, who will most likely start at small forward, but he could see some time as the backup point forward. Iguodala is a versatile player who can play several positions. He has averaged 4.9 assists over his career. Iguodala also likes to drive to the basket, so, as a point forward, he could help the Warriors in drive-and-kick situations.

Both Joe Lacob and Jackson have discussed how Iguodala can fill many roles for the Warriors. He probably won’t be the primary backup point guard though.

Jackson also saw Nedovic play in a couple of the Warriors’ practices during Summer League and liked what he saw.

“He’s a guy that can run a team, has a great feel for the game, and has a bright future, so we’re excited about having the opportunity of having here moving forward,” Jackson said about Nedovic.

When asked if Bazemore will earn more minutes this upcoming season because of his play in Summer League, Jackson mentioned that he admires how Bazemore continues to improve, works extremely hard, and stays ready. However, it didn’t sound like Jackson was quite ready to give him significant minutes at the backup point guard position.

“At the end of the day, we’re loaded,” Jackson said. “We’ve got five perimeter players that are better basketball players today than he is, and our three wing guys and Steph Curry and also Toney Douglas, who we picked up. These guys are legitimate players, so… We’ll see how it pans out, but he’s a guy I have a lot of confidence in, and he’s certainly separated himself during this summer.”

Based on what Jackson said, it seems like Douglas will play the majority of the minutes at the backup point guard position. Jackson and Lacob have to admire Douglas’ effectiveness on defense and his experience in this league, which will be significant assets off the bench. The Warriors’ rotation and minutes will most likely be determined in training camp and in the preseason, but, as of now, Douglas is the Warriors’ backup point guard.