Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Preview: Warriors @ Bulls

Tonight at 8:30pm EST, the Golden State Warriors take on the Chicago Bulls. After their win last night, the Warriors upped their record to 3-1.


ESPN Preview

Last night was a good barometer of where the Warriors are as a team. They shot well, played solid D, and hit their free throws to seal the win. The Bucks came from behind to win their previous 3 games, but the Warriors held them off with clutch shots, some key free throws, and good defense. If the Warriors can finish off the Bulls tonight in their first back to back of the season, they'll finish the road trip 3-0 and head back home.

The Bulls are scoring in bunches averaging 101 per game but they give up 103. So the Warriors will have to contain their balanced scoring attack and not let Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich get hot. Also they'll have to contain Chris Duhon and his 9.3 helpers per game. If they can disrupt the Chicago offense, the Warriors have an excellent shot at winning. Although the Bulls are 1-2, the two losses have been to San Antonio in OT and the Nets, losing by 1. So they're playing very well, but it just hasn't shown up in the win column. Once again for the Warriors, the key tonight will be defense, rebounding, and free throws.


At 2:30 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

The league and basketball world will all take notice if the Warriors beat the Bulls on the road tonight and come back home 4-1. To this point, there's always been a better team to talk about: the Heat, the Bucks, the Lakers, the Spurs. The Warriors have only been mentioned with the whole potential thing, but always with the caveat that Davis be healthy, which is so obvious it hardly needs be mentioned.

But, all that stops with a win tonight, I think. And it can only get better by the time they get Diogu back. Nice feeling to have, after all these years.

At 4:04 PM, Blogger spreeforfree said...

Check this out:
Who Would You Rather Have?
November 9, 2005

Is Isiah Thomas secretly running the Warriors? If that seems preposterous, consider these numbers: five years, $44 million. Now look at these: three games, two points, four rebounds.

The first set of numbers is the generous contract extension the Warriors bestowed on small forward Mike Dunleavy a week ago. The second is his production against the Knicks on Sunday. After three games, the newly enriched Dunleavy is shooting 25.8% from the field while averaging a measly 8.7 points per game. Apparently, he's using the money on postage stamps, judging by how he mailed it in at the Garden on Sunday. Considering those three contests came against the Hawks, Jazz, and Knicks - none of whom are defensive juggernauts - things could get even worse.

Of course, this isn't the first contract blunder by Warriors general manager Chris Mullin. You'll recall this is the same man who dumped $58 million on moderately adequate power forward Troy Murphy while forking over $80 million a year ago to procure the talents of Adonal Foyle and Derek Fisher, who combined to score nine points on Sunday. Between those moves and the trade for high-priced point guard Baron Davis, Mullin has seemed intent on turning Golden State into a West Coast version of the Knicks.

I bring up Mullin's mystifying deal making because the contract extensions racket tends to be a forgotten aspect of the season's opening week. With fans awash in optimism over their teams and busily making predictions for the unfolding season, these crucial moves don't get the attention they deserve.

The public apathy is understandable if only because so few players of significance change jerseys at this time. But as Mullin has shown us, the extensions serve as a fairly easy way to determine which general managers are in over their heads. After all, if they can't even correctly evaluate their own players after seeing them every day for multiple seasons, what hope do they have of making smart moves in acquiring others?

Here's how the extension game works: Under the rules of the league's collective bargaining agreement, players who signed rookie contracts in 2002 are eligible to become restricted free agents in the summer of 2006. However, prior to the start of the 2005-06 season, teams can sign those players to contract extensions and effectively take them off the market. Sometimes, this is a very easy decision. The Houston Rockets, for example, pondered their dilemma for about a nanosecond before offering Yao Ming an extension for the maximum.

But in most cases, things aren't as clear-cut. Players either have shown promise but failed to deliver consistently, or provided more steadiness than sizzle. Indiana's Fred Jones, for instance, has been a solid role player, but the Pac ers had little incentive to offer him an extension since he won't be a high-profile free-agent target next summer. Or take the Clippers' Chris Wilcox, who has provided flashes of brilliance, but rarely on consecutive nights. L.A. couldn't risk giving him a rich multiyear deal unless he becomes a more proven commodity, so no extension was forthcoming.

In the case of Dunleavy, emotion trumped logic. This was a classic case of general manager hubris - Mullin was so unwilling to admit a first mistake (taking Dunleavy with the third overall pick in 2002), that he made a second one. Young Mike went six picks ahead of Amare Stoudemire, but he's produced modest career numbers of 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 43.8% shooting in his three seasons by the Bay.

Obviously, the risk of another team making a towering offer for Dunleavy next summer was limited. Only four NBA teams will go into next summer with more than the mid-level exception available, and they certainly won't be throwing their money at Dunleavy when better free agents like Ben Wallace, Peja Stojakovic, Al Harrington, Jason Terry, Nene, Drew Gooden, and Joel Przybilla can be lured. Moreover, even if Dunleavy somehow exploded this season, he would be a restricted free agent next summer - so the Warriors could match any deal if they really wanted to keep him.

If you're looking for a counterexample to Dunleavy,check out how Detroit's brilliant general manager, Joe Dumars, handled small forward Tayshaun Prince. Prince's 2004-05 production was very similar to Dunleavy's in the major statistical categories, with a few important exceptions. First, since Prince played on one of basketball's slowest-paced teams, he was more productive than his stats indicated. His Player Efficiency Rating (PER),my per-minute rating of a player's statistical production, shows that Prince outranked Dunleavy 16.2 to 14.5.

Moreover, that statistical rating ignores one very important area - defense. Prince is an absolutely fantastic defender thanks to quick feet and insanely long arms. In fact, he was one of the key reasons the Pistons ranked second in the NBA in Defensive Efficiency (my measure of a team's points allowed per possession) last season. Dunleavy, on the other hand, is a step slower and has much worse timing when trying to block shots. In other words, he's mediocre at best at that end of the floor.

So now that we've established Prince as the clearly superior player at both ends, are you ready for the punch line? Prince got a five-year, $47 million deal from Detroit on October 31 - almost exactly the same deal Mullin gave Dunleavy. So you have two general managers spending virtually the same amount of money on their 25-year-old small forwards. For that money, one GM will have a premier defender who has been statistically productive as well. The other gets a ho-hum talent who will only add to the team's significant salary cap trouble in future seasons.

And that, in a nutshell, is how a team like the Pistons can consistently beat the snot out of a team like the Warriors - all while maintaining a much lower payroll. The basic elements of running a pro basketball team seem so simple on paper - don't overestimate your players, don't overpay on long-term contracts and screw up your salary cap, and don't automatically leap at trading for "name" players. Unfortunately, for clubs like the Knicks and Warriors that seemingly have money to burn, this has proven to be an incredibly difficult lesson to learn

At 6:42 PM, Blogger atma brother #1 said...

spreeforfree- thanks for posting that hollinger article. we were going to post it later tonight.

Make sure to keep the comments coming!


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home