Thursday, June 23, 2011

Warriors Grab Klay Thompson With Pick 11

At first, I cringed at the pick, but the more I've looked at it up and down, the more I'm starting to see some logic in the selection of Thompson. I would have liked more of a power guard like Burks or a power big-man like one of the Morris', but Thompson should provide a key component for the Warriors; a sharp-shooter who can put up 20 ppg with ease.

As for the draft as a whole, I thought it started out great for the Warriors chances with all the European guard/forward hybrids going so highly, while players like Brandon Knight (the guy I really wanted to see the W's move for) and Kemba Walker waited and waited to hear their names called. In fact Walker didn't go until one pick ahead of Golden State at #1, and I can only imagine the dilemma that Larry Riley and Mark Jackson wound have faced had Walker fallen to them at 11? I think it would have been a draft Walker/trade Ellis scenario if that were the case, but it wasn't. Instead, the Warriors went with Thomoson, the Jr. out of Washington State which, again, kind of left me a little curious at the moment. Immediately after Thompson went, the guys I was hoping for, SG Alec Burks or one of the Morris brothers, Marcus or Markieff, were taken off the board in succession, so that had me thinking again; did the W's make the right move, or is Jerry West stuck in the 70's. Burks is more of that in your face, take it to the rim, true 2 guard who really reminds me a little bit of JRich and Stephen Jackson. As much as I like watching Ellis and Curry play together, I think this team needs a big 2 guard, one who can defend the likes of Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durrant and one who can get to the line 10 times per night. But one thing neither will likely do as well as Thompson, especially in their rookie year, is score the basketball!

Now, they had their chance to do that with Burks, or even re-make their front line with a Morris, but hopefully by passing on them, Larry Riley has something up his sleeve, cause the team is a little deep with guards now who will want minutes. You can't forget about 2nd round pick Charles Jenkins, who many projected as a 1st rounder. Riley, West and Jackson have to figure out the guard situation where Thompson, Wright, Curry, Ellis etc... will all be in the mix, or he's gotta deal Ellis. In reality, they could use a 3-man rotation at the guard spot with Thompson learning behind Monta, then if Thompson asserts himself, Monta could become a big trade chip come February, but then you run the risk of damaging chemistry. Unless they have a plan to keep everyone happy and playing, it may have been wiser for Golden State to have taken that big man who could play 25-30 minutes per night right off the bat and allow their guard situation to gel as is, if that's what they want. Now Thompson makes you wonder a bit. The Warriors didn't need another scorer, certainly not a perimeter scorer. Now if they can deal one of these guards for a true big man, say an Al Jefferson from Utah, then I'd absolutely have an improved view on this pick. As of now though, I can't give them anything higher than a C+/B- for adding a guy who'd be lucky to be another Dorrell Wright-type.

The Dubs did get a big man though, sneaking in a late first rounder in a deal with Charlotte, but Jeremy Tyler is hardly the guy Warrior fans had in mind coming into this draft as the post factor they needed.

WRD Grade for Warriors Draft: C+

More NBA Draft Coverage to Come!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Warriors Draft Preview

The Draft is creeping up quicker than I anticipated, as the Golden State Warriors' brass, including the new comer, Mark Jackson, are currently cramming together their last minute game plan for the 2011 NBA draft.

There has been all sorts of names tossed out there from the Spanish "Dikembe", Bismack Biyambo, to Washington State SG Klay Thompson and Kansas PF Marcus Morris or even the free-falling Jimmer Freddette. It appears almost certain that the top-6 will be PG Kyle Irving, PF Derek Williams, PG Brandon Knight, C Enes Kanter, F Jan Vesely, and PG Kemba Walker. Obviously, you can tell it's a point guard heavy draft, and it just so happens the teams selecting high in the draft could certainly use a strong guard. That could also bode well for the Warriors, should they decide to try and pawn Monta Ellis off onto one of those teams in order to move into position to get an Enes Kanter or Derek Williams, but that's all speculation. What I do believe though, is there is going to be somebody worth drafting when the Warriors select 11th in Thursday's NBA Draft. A lot of basketball people feel Washington State junior SG Klay Thompson would be a nice fit. A big, 6'6" 2 guard who can shoot the lights out and could look very nice along side Steph Curry in the backcourt. Problem with Thompson though, is that he lacks defense, and isn't a great play-maker yet.

The guy I'm hoping will fall down to the W's, who's know projected to go #10 to Milwaukee (according to DraftExpress), is the post-dominant Marcus Morris. The thing I like so much about Morris is that he reminds me of a young Elton Brand and is a guy who lives in the paint and succeeds. As much as the Warriors were hoping David Lee would be that guy last year, that really just isn't his style, he's more of a free-playing power forward who runs around. I think the Warriors could draft Morris and use him with Lee on the front line a lot, giving the team 2 completely different looks up front. Then they could use Epke Udoh and Andris Biedrins as purely rebounders and defenders with no obligation of scoring. It would also enable the team to keep the duo-guard threat of Curry and Ellis, which appears their plan. Either way, if the Warriors are indeed going to deal Ellis, it better certainly be for a sure thing, and not another Jason Richardson deal! They better get a Brandon Knight or Kyle Irving or a young, all-star NBA point guard which would allow Steph to move into his more natural spot.

5 Possible Draft Scenarios:

-Draft a true PG, trade Monta, move Steph to SG
-Draft big man scoring presence, the type David Lee did not provide (Morris)
-Draft big bodied defender/shot blocker, the Adonal Foyel that never produced (Biyombo)
-Scoring SG (Thompson), allowing a trade of Ellis or Lee for another big scoring threat
-Trade down

Dark Horses:

SG Alex Burks, Colorado: Burks is a bright young scorer who reminds me very much of Jason Richardson with a twist of Dwayne Wade the way he gets to the hoop. Not quite polished from beyond the arch, which may hurt him, but I still think he's a better all-around player than Klay Thompson.

SF Chris Singleton, Florida St.: Super defender, but may not have a place in Golden State with the emergence of Dorrell Wright, but would compliment the 3-point sniper, as well as come in and overpower strong SG's with ease. Still isn't quite a polished scorer, though that could come.

My Hope: Marcus Morris or Alex Burks (latest poll has him dropping out of top-10... He and Steph would be amazing.. Kidd and Terry Pt. 2, but better, and no Monta attitude!). I really think Freddette is a great talent, but he's basically a Stephen Curry clone, and what the heck would they do if they ended up with Freddette, Curry and Ellis, all 6'2" tweener guards? That said, my draft philosophy in all draft, unless your picking in the top-10, is take the best player available and that's what I think I see the W's doing. If they don't like any of the top-15 players, they should trade down a few spots and target Marcus Morris's brother Markieff Morris, a real physical center (6'11'', 260 pounds) who has the skill-set to come in and take the job right away from Biedrins.

My Guess: SG Klay Thomspon or F/C Bismack Biyambo: The Warriors are gaga over Thompson, and I have a hard time seeing them pass on him if he falls to them... If he doesn't, Biyambo should, and the W's will see the defensive upside and go for it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

A's Take Giants in Bay Bridge Series

After the Giants shut down the A's over at AT&T Park 2 weeks ago, the A's got their revenge vs. Timmy and Co. over the weekend.

The A's were on their game Friday night, dropping Giants ace Tim Lincecum's record to 5-6 on the year as he struggled through 6 innings allowing 10 base-runners to reach across the bay. He held the A's to just 6 hits and 3 runs while striking out 7, which is pretty close to his norm, but his era is climbing bit by bit to the point where he'll be approaching 4 by mid-July at this pace. Again, Lincecum has had these spurts throughout his young career, which has before caused some panic, only to have him revert right back to form after a few bad weeks. The most recent example would be last August when he went 1-4 I believe, but then look how darn nails he was down the stretch and into October for the Giants. He was the Tim Lincecum we all know and expect when it came down to it and I don't see any reason to believe that will be different this time around. He seems plenty healthy and energetic and just has been a little off in his last few outings. Wouldn't surprise me to see him now turn and go 5-0 with a 1.50 era and 60 K's in July, even with the break. He loves proving his haters wrong, as much as any professional athlete I've really followed and very much like that old Left Fielder that wore #25 in SF for 15 years.

The A's rookie journeyman, Geoff Godfrey, outduelled the 2-time Cy Young winner, and the A's finally got to serve a taste of their own medicine, shutting the Giants bats down cold. The Orange and Black collected just 6 hits and 2 runs in the 6 innings vs. Godfrey before being shut down by Andrew Bailey (who's finally back) and Brian Fuentes. The A's played like they needed to to win ballgames (pitch tremendously, limit mistakes and cash in on opportunity) and the Giants did what they'll do when they lose ballgames (offensive slump, impatience, rough defense). Only Cody Ross had 2 hits and a long home run, which weren't nearly enough in the end. The A's have to use this as some sort of catapult if they want to make any noise whatsoever in the AL West. If that sweep against at World Series caliber team doesn't jump start their engines, I don't know what will.... Finally, I'm happy they finally gave Jemille Weeks a call, and what has he done since arriving in Oakland? 16 hits in 44 at-bats (.364), 6 RBI, 7 Runs, 2 SB. I just don't know what took them so long to make the move, and I really hope they start looking down in the minors for help too. Young outfielders Jai Miller and Michael Taylor are ready for a shot in my opinion.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Warriors Hire Jackson, Shift Focus to Draft

Well, it's not breaking news to anyone who follows the Warriors closely, but since we've been so wrapped up in baseball lately, we just haven't had a chance to touch on it yet.

The Warriors now have hired their 3rd head coach in as many seasons as their first attempt to replace Don Nelson with Kieth Smart last season didn't go as planned. In comes Mark Jackson, the former Indiana Pacers point guard who has been a basketball analysis on cable and has stayed very much within the realm of the NBA since his playing days ended in the early 2000's. I think Jackson is a guy who could relate to the team very well, as he's been there and was a star NBA point guard himself not to long ago. After having the ancient Nelson and his protege Kieth Smart, I think the younger coach and new approach will be a sight for sore eyed Warrior fans. Still, Jackson has no coaching experience, and doesn't appear as if he's entertaining the idea of bringing on a big name assistant, Del Curry's name has been tossed out there as a possible assistant for Jackson, especially with his relationship with Warriors consultant Jerry West. I don't mind Jackson wanting all control of things, I actually see it as more confident than cocky. He has an idea of what this team should look like and he said all the right things during his press conference. Again though, only time will tell as to whether or not he'll pan out, but so far, so good as far as new coach Mark Jackson is concerned.

The Warriors now can turn their focus fully to the NBA draft, where they'll be selecting 11th in a few weeks. I really like that big Enes Canter out of Kentucky, as he's scaring away all competition in workouts. Top ranked Power Forward Derek Williams, who is essentially a lock in the top-3, refused any workout scenario that involved him going up against Kanter, which I think tells you a little something about the 6'11" 260 pound Kentucky center! But the guy I have my sight set on is the guy who was aguably college basketball's best post-presence in 2011, and that is Kansas' 6'9" PF, Marcus Morris. The Yahoo Mock draft has the advanced offensive post-player falling down to #10, just 1 slot below Golden State, if they can move up a spot or 2 to ensure they land this guy, I would be all for it. As far as Yahoo's Mock draft goes for the Warriors, they have them selecting Span Forward/Center Bismick Buyombo, but judging the Warriors last few overseas draft picks, It wouldn't surprise me to see them stay in the states with this one. If that's the case, Morris would be my guy by all means necessary!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A's Sweep O's, Then Shutout By Yankees

The A's continue to be one of the more Jekyll and Hyde teams in Major League Baseball this season, after sweeping the Orioles over the Memorial Day weekend and winning 5 of their last 6 games, they looked like they may be getting themselves on track. But, as has been the case so often this year, they were shut-out Monday night by Bartolo Colon, who exposed their in-patient hitters.

They let the 38 year-old Bartolo Colon, a 38 year-old who's been out of baseball since '09, to throw his best game in 6 years! The A's scrawny bats made Colon look like a modern day Roger Clemens out there, burrying the A's with fastballs and needing just 103 pitches to complete 9 innings against them. That's a ridiculously low number of pitches for a complete-game, which normally requires at least 120 pitches from a starter, but Bartolo burnt right through the A's like a hot-knife through butter. You have to hand it to him though, he was throwing well, hitting the mid-90's even in the ninth inning, but that's still no excuse for a Major League offense to go quietly into the night against big Bartolo. The main problem for the A's right now, in my opinion at least, is the top of that lineup, especially the #2 spot, where Bob Geren insists on hitting Daric Barton. The first basemen just isn't working out for the A's, and I don't know how long it's going to take them to figure it out? After a very mediocre season last year which was way below average offensively for a 1B'men, the A's were hoping he'd build on it and only improve, but that hasn't been the case. The 26 year-old is now hitting .206 with a .525 OPS! I know Chris Carter strikes out a few more times, but I have no doubt in my mind he's a better option at first for the A's right now though, in nothing else, at least move him into the 9th spot and out of the 2 hole.

On the contrary, Josh Willingham has been a beam of light that's kept this team afloat and was huge over the weekend. Willingham hit 2 homers and drove in 7 runs over the weekend, and now has 9 home runs and 35 RBI on the year, leading the A's in both categories by a long shot. Fellow new outfielder, David Dejesus is starting to pick it up though, at least, and has hit .261 with 4 homers and 11 RBI in May. Still not quite where he should be average wise, but you can start to see him moving in the right direction. Coco Crisp has also, quietly, been a rock atop the A's lineup and finally looks healthy. He's got 16 steals and has hit around .275 all year long, providing stability in the leadoff spot. But I'd try and mix things up after him if I were Geren, in order to try and jump-start their bats. Again, why Jemile Weeks is still in AAA, while hitting .340 with pop and run production while Mark Ellis is struggling to stay above the mendoza line (.210 average). Their only regulars hitting over .250 right now are Kurt Suzuki, barely at .251 and Crisp, everyone else is down closer to .200 and with 2 months in the books, patience is getting thin! Some players need 150 at-bats to get going and normally by 200-250 at-bats, you'll know what kind of season a player is going to have, and that's right where these guys are at, so expecting a miraculous turnaround is wishful thinking!

We knew it coming in, this team's hitting was way behind it's pitching, but I actually thought the pitching would prevail, and after the weekend, I started to think they may be on the up-swing, but the Colon shutout reminded me just how pitiful that offense can be. Even though there just a handful of games out of first place and it's still pretty early, unless this team brings up some minor leaguers that hit right away, and/or Billy Beane adds 2-3 hitters to the roster via trade, the pitching, even if the main 4 (Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Tyson Ross) do get and stay healthy all year, won't be quite enough in this division with the Rangers and Angels!