Intrigue, concern for Warriors in 2012-13


Intrigue, concern for Warriors in 2012-13

The Warriors might make another move or two this offseason,but it seems clear the core of their team is in place.Theyll have Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in theirbackcourt, with Jarrett Jack likely coming off the bench. Harrison Barnes orRichard Jefferson is expected to start at small forward, and the four-fivecombination should be David Lee-Andrew Bogut.The Warriors will expect a little something from second-yearguard Charles Jenkins and rookies Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green.The Warriors still hope to re-sign Brandon Rush and add abig man off the bench, but the team is not expected to dramatically changebefore October training camp.Well what do you think? Keeping things very broad at thispoint, thats a roster that is both intriguing and concerning. Yes, its stillonly July, but its not too early to start talking about the 2012-13season.THE INTRIGUEThe Warriors roster is different from virtually every otherroster in the league in one, specific way: The best passers and decision-makerson the team are in the frontcourt. Andrew Bogut and David Lee are both terrificpassers when you compare them to other big man.Other four-five tandems may be better in other areas, butwhen it comes to passing, know-how, and a little cleverness in delivering theball, Lee and Bogut have the potential to be the best passing frontcourt in theleague.Thats good, in and of itself. But it should be even moreadvantageous given the Warriors backcourt of Curry and Thompson. Those twoexcel at shooting the basketball from the perimeter and coming off screens. Ditto for rookie Harrison Barnes, who should get plenty ofplaying time in his first season.If theres been a knock on Curry early in his career itsthat hes not a true point guard and running a team doesnt come naturally. Atthe same time, Curry is a dynamic shooter, and with his feet set among the bestin the NBA.So, why not take the ball out of his hands a little more andput it into the hands of the frontcourt players? In short, why wouldnt thisteam try to emulate Sacramentos style in the earlymid-2000s, when they had VladeDivac and Chris Webber delivering the ball to Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovic,etc?Thinking about the Warriors offense that way makes it easyto look forward to the 2012-13 season.THE CONCERNTheres a fine line between bad luck with injuries and beingplain-old injury prone. This is a big year for Bogut and Curry, likely definingwhich side of that line theyll be on in their careers.Bogut is going on four seasons now of being banged-up andmissing too many games. Yes, a couple of them were of the strange variety, butthat doesnt matter anymore and it certainly doesnt matter for theWarriors.Its all about this year for him and them.For the Warriors to be successful, Bogut has to play a fullseason or pretty close to it. Hes too important to this team on both ends ofthe floor for the Warriors to win consistently without him. Ditto for Curry,though not to the same degree.And the reason its not to the same degree isnt becauseCurry is less important, but because hes got a very good point guard in Jackbacking him up.Simply by being on the floor, though, Curry makes theWarriors better. His flaws have been documented, but hes such an elite shooterthat he always must be accounted for.Can Curry make it through a full season? Who can say forsure after seeing him tweak and re-tweak his right ankle during the 2011-12season?Acquiring Jack helps a lot because it means that if Currygets hurt the season doesnt need to be lost. Golden State can progress and besuccessful with Jack.But lets be clear: The Warriors cannot reach theirpotential as a team unless Curry is healthy. And speaking of Jack, hes notwithout his own health issues. Jack quietly missed 21 games last year (almost athird of the lockout season), including the last 13 with a stress fracture inhis right foot.Can Thompson get through a Year No. 2 in which hes going toplay more games and more minutes?

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards


Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK — Russell Westbrook moved past Oscar Robertson and kept right on going to the top of the NBA.

Westbrook was voted MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles during his historic season. He led the league with 31.6 points and added 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, joining Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season and breaking Robertson's single-season record of 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

"I remember growing up just being home, playing the video games and stuff with my pops, and my mom sitting there and my brother and just talking about maybe one day I could be the MVP. Obviously I was joking at the time," Westbrook said.

"But now to be standing here with this trophy next to me is a true blessing, man, and it's an unbelievable feeling, something that I can never imagine."

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

He received 69 first-place votes and 888 points from a panel of 100 media members and a fan vote to easily beat Houston's James Harden, who had 22 first-place votes and 753 points. Kawhi Leonard was third with nine first-place votes and 500 points.

Westbrook succeeded Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards. The point guard who plays with defiance on the court got choked up during an acceptance speech in which he brought some teammates onto the stage with him.

The Thunder went 33-9 when he had a triple-double, riding Westbrook's record run into the playoffs in their first season after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors.

"Oscar, guys like him, Magic Johnson, those guys, obviously I wasn't able to see those guys play, but just to look back at history and see the things that they did, it's something that I looked up to as a kid," Westbrook said.

"I never thought I would be able to say that I broke Oscar Robertson's record, and that's just a true blessing."

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era, beating out Philadelphia's Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

"Obviously I'm just proud of the team and the way they responded all year. Great organization," D'Antoni said of the Rockets' 55-win season.

"This is not an individual award. This is a lot of people, a lot of hard work goes into it, and I'm the recipient of some pretty good players."

In his first season coming off the bench, Gordon set a single-season record with 206 3-pointers by a reserve. He averaged 16.2 points to help fuel the Rockets' run to the surprising No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and edged former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala of Golden State by 32 points.

Golden State's Draymond Green won the Defensive Player of the Year, ending Leonard's two-year run. Leading the league in steals from his do-everything role with the NBA champions. He had a franchise-record 10 steals in a Feb. 10 game at Memphis while recording the first triple-double in NBA history without scoring in double figures, adding 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Draymond Green named 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year

Draymond Green named 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year

Two days after Draymond Green said, in the wake of the Warriors winning the NBA Finals, that he no longer cared about the Defensive Player of the Year award, he got it anyway.

And he was very happy about being the first player in Warriors history to win it.

After finishing in second place in the balloting in each of the past two seasons, Green received the top honor Monday night during the NBA Awards Show from New York, beating out fellow Rudy Gobert (Jazz) and Kawhi Leonard (Spurs). Leonard topped Green in each of the past two seasons.

Green received 73 of the 100 first-place votes, totaling 434 points. Gobert received 269 points, including 16 first-place votes. Leonard received 182 votes, 11 for first place. The three finalists accounted for all 100 first-place votes.

Green posted impeccable overall statistics, leading the league in steals (2.03 per game) for the team that led the league in that category and averaging 1.39 blocks, as the Warriors also led the NBA in that category.

The 6-foot-7 forward finished third the NBA in defensive rating and second in defensive win shares, largely due to his ability as an irreplaceable force on that end of the court. Though Green starts at power forward, he spends considerable time at center -- while also playing point forward on offense.

Yet Green, smiling during his acceptance speech, also pointed out the work of his teammates, particularly Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, as the Warriors led the league is nearly every significant defensive category.

“This isn’t an individual award,” Green said. “There are five guys out there on the floor at a time. I can’t do this all by myself, so I appreciate them. With KD and Klay not making the All-Defensive team, I appreciated everything they do.”

Green earlier Monday led the media balloting for the NBA’s All-Defensive team, racking up 198 of a possible 200 points. He was voted to first team on 99 of 100 ballots yet completely omitted from one ballot.

If you want a splashy number, try this: Opponents shot 27 percent against Green when he switched a pick-and-roll and activated one-on-one defense, according to good folks at Synergy Sports Tech.

Green, who finished fourth in real plus-minus, averaged 10.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. He also led the Warriors in assists, averaging 7.0 per game.