Moving Forward: Chatting Nets-Warriors

Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors

Harrison Barnes could’ve been a Brooklyn Net. Now he & the Warriors play Brooklyn tonight. (AP/Tony Gutierrez)

So the Brooklyn Nets lost last night in a semi-heartbreaker, falling 93-90 (I refuse to believe those last two free throws, with 0.2 seconds left and no chance of anything important happening, really counted) to the Los Angeles Lakers. But they (nor we) can dwell on that: the Nets schedule doesn’t stop because the whistles do. Tonight, the 6-3 Brooklyn Nets take on the 6-5 Golden State Warriors in the Bay Area, finishing off their road trip with another 10:30 EST game.

The Warriors are always good for an interesting matchup, even without starting center Andrew Bogut (out indefinitely with an ankle injury) and backup wing Brandon Rush (out for the season after knee surgery). To give us a little insight into how interesting they are, I’m joined by Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN TrueHoop Warriors blog Warriors World. Ethan is also an NBA Lead Writer for Bleacher Report, and contributor to HoopSpeak and ESPN.com.

In today’s edition, I ask Ethan three questions about the Golden State Warriors, and he asks me three questions about the Brooklyn Nets. Onward!

Ethan on the Golden State Warriors

 
Devin: How have your preseason expectations changed, if at all, for this Warriors team?

Ethan: Wow, that’s a great question. Well, my expectations were higher than usual because a Bogut-Lee-Barnes-Thompson-Curry lineup is the first sensible GSW 5-man unit in years. Then Bogut got hurt, and my expectations got lower than limbo with midgets. Then the Warriors managed to play markedly better defense in Bogut’s absence. Currently, my expectations don’t know what to do. They’re staring at a reflecting pond and twiddling shaky thumbs at the moment.

Devin: There seemed to be a lot of love for Klay Thompson coming out of Warriors-land last season, but it seems like he’s struggled this year. What’s going on? Is it reversible or just a small sample size?

Ethan: It’s reversible but it also doesn’t look like mere small sample size. The dude’s off, unraveling before our eyes. Not every cluster of misses is just that. Klay Thompson’s failures seem to be perpetuating more failure.

Devin: The New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets famously traded last year’s lottery pick to ensure they’d have Gerald Wallace. Had the Nets kept the pick, there’s a good chance they’d have selected current Warriors forward Harrison Barnes. How has Barnes looked thus far, and do you have high hopes for his future?

Ethan: Man, you guys should have went with Drummond. The Nets would be 2X more interesting in that hypothetical. As for Barnes, he’s exceeded my famously confused expectations. Though Harrison isn’t the best dribbler or passer, he’s using his immense strength to get buckets. Look for him to plant around the paint and use his bulk advantage on post-ups.

Devin on the Brooklyn Nets

 
Ethan: Is Brook Lopez now underrated, or is this just small sample size theatre? Is he about to dance all over what remains of Andris Biedrins?

Devin: I absolutely think he’s underrated by the select few that view him through the “can’t defend or rebound” prism. He’s not a good defender or rebounder by any stretch, but he’s progressed in both areas from the past two seasons. It’s also easy to forget that he can score really easily, to the point where he has 12 points in the first quarter without even seeming to dominate. He’s so long that if he catches the ball high near the rim it’s barely a drop-off for him. The only measure of his statistical profile that really seems to be outlier-y is the blocked shots — he’s long and has good timing, but I don’t expect 3 per 36 for a full season.

So yes, Andris Biedrins will be resurrected just so Brook Lopez can decimate him again & write a superhero story about himself.

Ethan: David Lee struggles against lengthy, mobile frontcourt defenders. Do the Nets have anyone like that? In other words, how good is Gerald Wallace at guarding 4s?

Devin: Wallace has been good at guarding everything. Kris Humphries has seen his minutes decline with the surge of minutes from Reggie Evans and Wallace’s ability to slide over to the 4. From what you describe, Humphries doesn’t seem like the ideal matchup to stop Lee, so I’d expect low minutes for him tonight, too. The Nets will likely struggle with Lee regardless of what they throw at him, but if anyone can stop him in Brooklyn, it’s Wallace.

Ethan: How have Joe Johnson and Deron Williams meshed? I have memories of a certain PG/SG duo not exactly working out well in the Bay.

Devin: They’re still getting there. They haven’t had a game yet where they really show off a 48-minute synergy — it’s come in spurts and quarters, but they haven’t piled on in tandem as you’d expect a backcourt this talented to. Johnson in particular has been surprisingly bland, even for his personality — with the starters, he often seems like the fifth-most important player on the floor. They have had moments though, such as the first half last night, where it seems like the two are really starting to figure “it” out.