by Channing Kapin, Contributing Writer and Loyal Warriors Fan
The terrific NBA Playoffs were disheartening if you were a Warriors fan (more so for a Thunder fan, for that matter. They got beat bad.) The Heat and Thunder each have 3 better players than anybody on the Warriors. Well until Harden had an awful Finals. Now I’d have to toss a coin if I’d pick him or Curry first. But the point is, in order for this team to compete with the elite franchises in the NBA they’ll have to get much, MUCH better.
The three ways to improve your NBA team is through:
A) Free agency (ruled out because the Warriors are capped out)
B) Through trades (when was the last time the Warriors didn’t get fleeced in a trade?)
C) Through the draft. Well, today we’re looking at Warriors only available means of improving the team. Let’s call it Warriors Plan A, B and C for NBA Domination.
The beautiful thing about the NBA lottery is that every pick is a great pick until we actually seem them play in the NBA. So as far as we know the Warriors may have the a future All-Star in Barnes and the next coming of Serge Ibaka with Festus Ezeli. And we’ll have the entire summer to think that. Until they’re proven wrong with the first jump ball in the 2012-13 season the Warriors have greatly improved, getting a professional small forward with NBA size and skills and a 7 foot tall dude. I was ready to be disappointed, and don’t get me wrong, we all can still be disappointed. But the beauty of the NBA is that on paper the W’s have improved.
Now the daunting question facing this team is have they improved enough? Because sadly every other team in the West seemingly got better too. There are 5 locks to make the playoffs next season in the West: West Champion Thunder, Spurs, Lakers, Grizzlies and Clippers (yeah I know, The Clips are never a lock to make the playoffs, but based only on recent history, with the best Point Guard in the league Chris Paul, and the second most exciting player in the league, Blake Griffin (take a guess who’s first) and a bunch of grizzled veterans and talented players at every position.
Depending on what deals the Mavericks make they should be the 6th playoff lock. Then you have the always competitive Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets and Blazers. Hornets will be better by default after drafting the most dominant player in the draft. With a healthy Rubio the Timberwolves were on pace for the playoffs and with all of their high draft picks at some point the Kings will improve, right? So that’s every team in the West that has gotten better. Oh right, Phoenix. Yeah, they’ll suck.
Now, with the giddy anticipation of peeking at your hole cards in poker, let’s take a look-see at what the Warriors got. Harrison Barnes was a projected top 5 pick last year, but had two poor games in the Final Four and his stock dropped. So the Warriors are the beneficiaries for a mediocre tournament. They needed a small forward with size and shooting and they got him. Barnes is a motivated, high IQ guy who plays hard. Yep, sounds like a typical Jerry West draft pick. Barnes hasn’t lived up to the great expectations as a highly recruited high school player. But hey, that fits in with the Warriors lack of expectations. Us fans have only the lowest of expectations for this team. And also, Barnes’ lack of clutch play won’t hurt him because the Warriors are never in the playoffs. So win-win, really.
Festus Ezeli is the standard NBA 7 Foot tall Center project. How come 6’ tall guards with terrific athleticism but raw basketball skills are never projects? No, only really tall guys get to be “projects.” Anyways, I’ve missed the Warriors not having a really tall wacky foreign guy since the heady days of Adonal Foyle, NBA starting center.
And actually the Warriors have two of them after drafting Ognjen Kuzmic out of Bosnia & Herzegovina with their pick at #52. Festus is a big dude (6’11”, 255) with strong shot-blocking and rebounding. On the other hand he’s got negligible offensive skills and he’s already 23. But not having seen him suit up in Warriors blue and gold yet he might as well be the second coming of Serge Ibaka. I’ll join his fan club.
And finally the Warriors got Draymond Green, Big Ten Player of the Year and all around good basketball player with their other 2nd round pick, . He doesn’t really have a position in the NBA but can probably play the 2 or 3 depending on the matchup and can play 4 if the Warriors go small. He can shoot and play basketball. I’m happy with all of that.
So the Warriors finally have some depth, some defense, some more shooting and line-up flexibility. I’m really happy and hopeful, at least until the next horrible Warriors move that’s hiding around the corner. It’s inevitable.