Morning morning! Got my chai tea latte and the pound cake ready for shootaround. Big game at the Barclays center tonight
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) December 7, 2012
After back-to-back losses to the reigning champion Miami Heat and reigning Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder, the Golden State Warriors come to town to take on the Brooklyn Nets tonight at Barclays Center. The Warriors are 11-7 and have won four of their last five games, but they’re also in their second game of a seven-game East Coast road trip.
I haven’t seen too much Warriors basketball, except I did have the pleasure of watching this live, which was, uh, well, just watch:
Wouldn’t it be nice if Brook Lopez did that on Nikola Pekovic just once while the Nets were blowing a 22-point lead at home against Minnesota?
Outside of that game, I haven’t watched enough Golden State basketball, so I asked someone who does to help us learn a little more about the team. Joining me to talk Warriors is J.M. Poulard, blogger at ESPN TrueHoop Warriors Affiliate WarriorsWorld. J.M. knows his Warriors — follow him tonight for the alternate perspective on tonight’s contest.
Usual format: I ask J.M. three questions on the Golden State Warriors, he asks me three on the Brooklyn Nets. Onward!
J.M. Poulard on the Golden State Warriors
Devin: Are the Warriors better or worse off after the Monta Ellis trade?
J.M.: The Warriors are better off but that’s not entirely a product of the Ellis trade though. They acquired Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson (SJax was later swapped for Richard Jefferson) with the Australian center obviously being the headliner.
This season, Bogut appeared in four games before being shut down indefinitely, while Jefferson has contributed some, but is currently listed as day-to-day due to a calf injury.
The Warriors are better mind you because of the acquisitions of Festus Ezeli, Jarrett Jack, Harrison Barnes, Carl Landry and Draymond Green, coupled with Stephen Curry finally tapping into his potential as the man and Klay Thompson’s development and newfound confidence.
Put it all together and it’s a new team with a new identity.
Devin: Is this team playing over its head at 11-7, or is that about right for their talent level?
J.M.: Oddly enough, an argument could be made that the Golden State Warriors have actually under-achieved so far in this season. Andrew Bogut was supposed to be the franchise center that patrolled the paint and made things easier on offense but in the few games he played in, there was a cap on his minutes that essentially meant that Mark Jackson could only use him in small spurts.
The player the Dubs brought in to revamp the defense hasn’t actually had a chance to do so; and yet, Golden State owns the 11th best defensive efficiency mark in the league, which has kept them in games.
With that said, the main reason that I believe they’ve somewhat under-achieved this season is that their backcourt has only recently started playing well; and coming into the season many believed that it would be their biggest advantage against most teams. So the team record is about right, but could have actually been slightly better.
Devin: Are you comfortable with Mark Jackson’s rotation?
J.M.: Yes. Jackson has gotten production out of all of his players, regardless of how limited — yes I’m referring to Andris Biedrins aka Adam West’s doppelganger — they are in skill and talent.
I would love to see him give a bit more minutes than what he’s giving to Festus Ezeli, but that’s nitpicking a bit.
Devin on the Brooklyn Nets
J.M.: Best backourt in two years: Brooklyn Nets or Golden State Warriors?
Devin: I’m going with the Brooklyn Nets. I might change my tune if you double that length, and Stephen Curry is really, really good. But I don’t envision Klay Thompson becoming the type of impact player that helps him challenge a Deron Williams-Joe Johnson throne. Granted, Joe Johnson still hasn’t played enough like Joe Johnson yet, and Williams is struggling with his shot, so if this type of production keeps up we may need to revisit the discussion. But from the history we have on those two, I’d feel comfortable taking them for the two-year stretch.
J.M.: Which center would you build your franchise around: Brook Lopez or Andrew Bogut?
Devin: Wow, that’s an interesting comparison. Two players, known for their ability on opposite ends of the floor, who now have significant injury history. I’d still go with Lopez. I’m a big fan of Bogut — I think when healthy he’s one of the better defensive centers in the game, but he’s got a slightly longer injury rap sheet, is four years Lopez’s senior, and isn’t the offensive monster that Lopez has become. Plus I’m a bigger believer in Lopez’s ability to become a plainly average defensive player than most.
I get the lean of the question though, and it’s a closer call than I think most of us on the East Coast would admit. Lopez has just been an absolute offensive monster when healthy, in a way I’m not convinced Bogut can become; Bogut is a defensive monster in a way I’m not convinced Lopez can become. The tiebreaker is the age, and slightly more faith in Lopez’s offense than Bogut’s defense.
J.M.: True or False: The Warriors are the Brooklyn Nets of the Western Conference.
Devin: False. Truth be told, I’m not entirely sure what this means. If you mean that they’re both teams headed for perennial second-round exits, then possibly — though I think Warriors fans may be higher on the Warriors than others around the league. If you mean stylistically, they’re very different, both in on-court product and makeup; the Nets are built to “win now” (in whatever capacity that’s possible), and the Warriors are built to grow: four of their bigger pieces (Curry, Thompson, Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes) are under 24 years old. Though once Brooklyn fans figure out how to be fans, they may challenge Golden State for rabidity.