Could Ezeli have more impact than Harrison Barnes?


Could Ezeli have more impact than Harrison Barnes?

So, the Warriorscome away with Harrison Barnes (No. 7), Festus Ezeli (No. 30), Draymond Green(No. 35) and Ognjen Kuzmic (No. 52), and that haul seemed to very much pleasegeneral manager Bob Myers and owner Joe Lacob.Myers said headinginto the draft hed rather not use all four picks because the Warriors werealready young. Not to mention they have nine players under contract and thatsnot counting Brandon Rush. So where does that leave each of the selections? Lets figure it out:HarrisonBarnes: It was clear after hearing Myers and owner Joe Lacob talklate Thursday night that they very much like Barnes, were hoping hed be on theboard and isnt part of any kind of larger trade scenario.STEINMETZ:Warriors select Harrison Barnes seventh overall in 2012 NBA DraftNo, the Warriorsvery much believe Barnes is the small forward of the future, and dont besurprised if that future starts sooner rather than later.The one thing thatboth Myers and Lacob tried to stress on Thursday is they dont believe Barnesis a finished product. They think hes going to get better, and maybe even alot better.Thats a littledifferent point of view than many others share. Theres sentiment out therethat Barnes, who played two years at North Carolina, is what he is and doesnthave a lot of upside.Most have Barnespegged to be a solid pro, but maybe never an all-star down the road. Hes avery good shooter, but has trouble putting the ball on the floor and finishing-- and making plays for teammates is not a strength.RELATED: Barnes welcomed by Warriors on TwitterBut hes going toplay, make no mistake about it. And the Warriors will likely try to give Barnesmore of a window by trading Dorell Wright, one of a number of small forwardswho are on the roster.Simply put, itdoesnt seem to make a lot of sense to have Wright, Richard Jefferson andBarnes on the same roster. Thats toomuch overlap and too much money being paid out at smallforward.FestusEzeli: In the aftermath of the draft, Lacob called Ezeli a beast,and he more than suggested Ezeli dominated his workout against Tyler Zeller atthe Warriors practice facility on June 11.When Lacob was askedabout whether Ezeli was similar to Ekpe Udoh or in that same kind of role, hesaid Ezeli was a center and that Udoh was more of a power forward.Lacob might be rightabout that, but Warriors coach Mark Jackson had Udoh playing mostly center lastseason before he was traded to Milwaukee. In any event, I think theres ascenario in which Ezeli could help the Warriors more than Barnes.STEINMETZ:Warriors draft C Festus Ezeli with final first-round pickI think theres achance Barnes will come in, do some nice things, have a solid rookie year andmaybe even start a few games for the Warriors. But at this point, hes not allthat dissimilar from Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush and even Stephen Curry in thathes a player whose strength is at the offensive end of the floor.Theres apossibility Barnes could simply be a blend-in player at least for a littlewhile.Ezeli, however,gives the Warriors something they dont have: a frontcourt player who is mostlyabout defense, rebounding and shot-blocking. If you watched the Warriors at alllast year, you saw that Kwame Brown had a positive impact on the team beforehis injury.You also saw thatwhenever the Warriors played their best basketball of the season, Ekpe Udoh wasusually a part of it. The Warriors, of course, traded Udoh last season in theAndrew Bogut deal. But it appears the teams front office realized quickly thatwhen it gave up Udoh, it gave up something tangibly important.The reality withEzeli is this: If hes competent enough to play good help defense, take somefouls at the rim, block a shot or two and rebound, hell be the first big manoff the bench, and hell get more minutes than you think.He may have to there are going to be nights when Bogut picks up fouls early, and the Warriorsbetter have someone capable of replacing him.DraymondGreen: Green had a remarkable career at Michigan State, putting upnumbers that rival some of the numbers put up by the schools all-time greats.Green was Michigan States all-time leading rebounder; he ranked 17thall-time in scoring; second in career blocked shots and second in careersteals.Why then did he fallto the second round? Well, hes considered a classic tweener a little toosmall to play power forward and not quite athletic enough to play smallforward.But thats whatsgoing to be interesting to find out about Green. There are instances whereplayers like Green thrive, and sometimes theres a fine line. What if Greenbecomes the other kind of tweener the kind of small forward that is too bigand strong for small forwards and too quick to be guarded by opposingfours?Its not outside therealm of possibility. The thing about Green is that he has a complete game andcan do a little bit of everything. Yes, he was Michigan States all-timeleading rebounder, but he also shot 39 percent from beyond the arc lastseason.The other thingabout Green is he can pass. He averaged 4.1 assists as a junior and 3.8 assistsas a senior. Thats pretty nice production out of your three-four man.OgnjenKuzmic: You wont be seeing Kuzmic anytime soon in a Warriorsuniform. The Warriors selected him for two reasons; first because they like himand second because theyll be able to keep him overseas for now.

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

Kerr, Warriors in preliminary stages of planning for Durant's return

OAKLAND -- Though Kevin Durant is eager to get back to the court, Warriors coach Steve Kerr and his assistants are in preliminary stages of planning his return.

One thing is certain: There will be restriction on the number of minutes Durant is plays in the first few games after he receives medical clearance.

“It’s something we’ll consult the training staff on,” Kerr said Saturday after practice. “I imagine we’ll ease him back by playing him shorter minutes to start, so he can build up his rhythm and his conditioning.”

Durant has been out since Feb. 28, when he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and bone bruise to his left knee. After several days of strict immobilization, he has over the past week progressed to the point where he is engaging in vigorous workouts and shooting sessions.

Yet Durant will not be re-evaluated until next Thursday, which means he likely will not be cleared before the week of April 3. Not until then will the coaching staff devise a plan to reintegrate Durant.

“That obviously has a domino effect on the entire rotation,” Kerr said. “When we get to that point, we’ll figure that out. But it’s not something I’m giving a lot of thought to right now because he’s still at least a couple weeks away.”

The Warriors lost five of seven in the immediate aftermath of Durant’s injury but have recovered to win the last six in a row.


Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

Feeling more comfortable, West cleaning up Warriors' messes down stretch

OAKLAND -- David West is as much a cleanup man as he is a basketball player.

The veteran power forward, masquerading as a center for the Warriors, cleans up behind teammates, cleans the clocks of opponents and probably cleans his plate after every meal. And he’d hit fourth in any baseball manager’s batting order.

The Warriors during their renaissance haven’t had such a personality. They’ve been a fun bunch, enjoying life, each other and their pillaging of the NBA.

West, 36, brings a more laconic dynamic, and it’s on full display as the Warriors lean into the final weeks of this regular season. He’s a leader who is producing and, more and more, winning over a fan base that was somewhat skeptical early this season.

“David West has been playing brilliantly,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Friday night, after West came off the bench for a highly efficient 14-minute stint in a 114-100 win over the Kings.

Showcasing sharp passing, splendid shooting, solid rim protection and his usual old-jerky toughness, West totaled 8 points, four assists, three rebounds, three blocks and one steal. The Warriors were plus-8 when he was on the floor.

Such production, it seems, is a bit of a bonus.

“He’s been very good for us as a veteran leader,” Draymond Green said. “He’s been playing well, but just his presence also has meant a lot to this team.

“D-West is just kind of a no-bull---- type of a guy. He doesn’t say much. But when he does, you know it means a lot. And everybody hears him.”

Said West: “It’s just about adjusting and learning personalities. Obviously, this group has been very successful. I just try to add my 2 cents where I feel like it fits. Try not to over-talk people. I speak to guys directly and just make sure that we’re all on the same page.”

West is in his 14th season. Drafted by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003, he also has played for the Pacers and, last season, the Spurs, before joining the Warriors in July.

The question at the time was whether he still had a lot to give. West is a two-time All-Star and one of the most widely respected players in the league. But did he still have the legs to compete at a high level?

The answer is visible, particularly over the past month, since he returned from fractured left thumb on Feb. 23. West is shooting 53.0 percent from the field, he’s rebounding consistently and he has proven to be a spectacularly good passer -- easily one of the best in the league among big men.

Earlier this week, to quell any lingering concerns about how much athleticism he still has, West rose up and dunked over a crowd of three Dallas Mavericks. It was clock-cleaning at its finest.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” West said, referring to his game and his locker-room influence. “We’ve developed good chemistry, communicating, harping on our defense more than anything else at this moment, because we feel that’s going to give us a chance if shots aren’t falling.”

West is on a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum, $1.55 million. He sacrificed bigger dollars for a chance at his first championship. He’s doing his part. And he neither takes nor leaves any mess.