Warriors midseason -- player grades


Warriors midseason -- player grades

The season isnt quite halfway over, but since its the All-Star break, what better time to take stock of the Warriors.Golden State entered the break with a 13-17 record, and has a tough slog if it hopes to make good on owner Joe Lacob and coach Mark Jacksons playoff promises.Lets take a look at the Warriors roster and grade out each of the players:Stephen Curry: His numbers are fine, and, in fact, his shooting percentage, 3-point shooting percentage and assist-to-turnover ratio are all up slightly from a year ago. However, anyone who has watched Curry play this year realizes he hasnt made the impact he has in past seasons. Hes missed almost a third of the season, and when he has been playing he hasnt been the kind of difference-maker the Warriors need him to be.
Grade: C-plus.Monta Ellis: Hes having a Monta Ellis-type year, which is good and not so good. The good is hes the team leader in scoring and continues to be the teams most important player.
Whats not so good is Ellis scoring is down a touch and his shooting percentage from the field and 3-point range are down from a season ago. Is Monta Ellis playing better than last year or the year before? From this view, the answer is no.
Grade B-minus.Dorell Wright: Wright had a breakout season a year ago, but hes failed to build on it. Hes gone from averaging 16 points per game last year to 10 points per game this year, and his effect on games has lessened.
Grade: C-minus.David Lee: Hes having a good year numbers-wise, and truth be told, hes made more of an impact this season than last season his first with the Warriors. Lee has done a nice job of scoring both facing up and posting up and his rebounding remains solid.
Hell never be the player many want him to be, and he still hasnt shown he can be a factor down the stretch of games, but all things considered Lee has been a positive.
Grade: B.Andris Biedrins: Conventional wisdom was that Biedrins was a shoe-in to bounce back at least a little bit from a miserable 2010-11, a year in which he averaged five points and 7.2 rebounds per game.
And yet the opposite has happened. Biedrins has actually become less effective this season, playing less, scoring less and rebounding less. Despite coach Mark Jacksons consistent praising and pumping up of Biedrins, everyone watching the games can see how far Biedrins has fallen off.
Grade: D-minus.Kwame Brown: Hes likely done for the season because of a pectoral injury, but while he played there is no doubt he helped. He gave the Warriors a big body inside who could defend, rebound and give another six fouls.
Grade: B-plus.Ekpe Udoh: In the past few weeks, Udohs play has improved, but the reality is that Udoh was never playing as poorly as Jackson sometimes intimated. At his best Udoh is a terrific low-post defender and shot-blocker and a half-decent post-up guy and face-up jumper guy.
But even when hes not at his best Udoh gives the team a consistent defensive presence a rarity on the Warriors.
Grade: B.Nate Robinson: All or nothing; hit or miss; feast or famine. Pick your favorite. The bottom line with Robinson is that while hes helped change the direction of a few games, for the most part hes been so-so. Hes barely shooting 40 percent from the field, and while hes hit some big shots for the Warriors, hes forced his share and missed his share.
Grade: C.Brandon Rush: Give Warriors general manager Larry Riley credit for acquiring Rush for Lou Amundson. Solid trade in any league. Rush leads the league in 3-point shooting and competes on the defensive end. Hes been a key to many Warriors wins this season.
Grade: B-plus.Klay Thompson: He struggled early, came around after that and now has struggled of late (1-for-10 from 3-point range past five games). But hes shown he is a bona-find NBA player, though whether he is an NBA starter remains to be seen.
One thing is for sure: Thompson can shoot the ball.
Grade: B.Dominic McGuire: McGuire has emerged as a defensive specialist for Jackson. McGuires offensive game is not exactly a thing of beauty but thats not why the Warriors acquired him. They acquired him to give them another versatile wing defender and McGuire has certainly been that.
Grade: A-minus.Jeremy Tyler: Nobody expected a whole lot from Tyler this season and thats exactly what theyre getting. Hes not quite a project, but hes not going to become a factor overnight.
Tyler has never had to work as hard as he has this year in the NBA, and its been an adjustment for him.
Grade: C-plus.Charles Jenkins: While Stephen Curry was out with an injury, Jenkins stepped in and did a nice job for the Warriors. He showed an ability to knock down open shots and hes already learned how to become a professional player in terms of dedication and work ethic.
Grade: B-minus.Chris Wright: The Warriors liked Wright enough to keep him around, but apparently not so much that hes going to get any meaningful minutes at the NBA level. He played a few games for Dakota and did well there. Next step is to find some kind of niche with the Warriors. Still, that Wright is still on the team is an upset in and of itself.
Grade: B.

Zaza returns to starting lineup, West available to play vs Clippers

Zaza returns to starting lineup, West available to play vs Clippers

OAKLAND -- For the first time in nearly four weeks, the Warriors will take the court Thursday night with their regular starting lineup.

Center Zaza Pachulia, out since Jan. 29 with a strained rotator cuff, was cleared to play and will return to his status as the starting center when the Warriors face the Clippers at Oracle Arena, coach Steve Kerr said in his pregame news conference.

Backup center David West, who has been out since Jan. 18 with a fractured thumb, also received clearance and will be available.

JaVale McGee, who performed well while starting eight games in place of Pachulia, will return to his normal role, playing spot minutes off the bench.

“I considered either way, but I think we had a good groove with Zaza as a starter,” Kerr said. “And JaVale was still making an impact when Zaza was starting, bringing him in midway through the first quarter. We hadn’t done it the other way.

“I’ve seen JaVale with our other group, later in the first quarter, and that worked well. So I figured I might as well go back to what’s already worked.”

While Pachulia was out, McGee averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 1.0 block and 16.5 minutes per game. Generating most of his offense on dunks off lobs, he is shooting 74.7 percent (71-of-95) over his last 22 games and 67.8 percent this season.

Pachulia, who has started 44 games, is averaging 5.9 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He is shooting 52.7 percent from the field.

Power of science: Warriors thriving with chemistry experiment

Power of science: Warriors thriving with chemistry experiment

OAKLAND -- Zaza Pachulia holds his own during competitive games of poker on the airplane alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson - they call it the "Good Guys Table." Andre Iguodala and JaVale McGee, one-time teammates with Denver reunited in Oakland, hold secret chats.

"We're building an empire," Iguodala joked. "We've got secret stuff we can't talk about."

Jonnie West - son of Hall of Famer and Warriors executive Jerry West - joins Curry, Pachulia and Thompson for their card games.

"It depends how Klay feels. If he's tired, then no card game," Pachulia said.

With all that was made before the season about adding Kevin Durant to an already star-studded roster, Golden State's players have jelled just fine. The NBA-best Warriors (47-9) are gearing up for the second half and what they hope is another championship run, and chemistry sure isn't holding them back.

Two-time reigning MVP Curry and KD love to watch each other accomplish amazing things on the floor, along with Draymond Green and Thompson and all of the others who contribute off the bench.

Curry initially allowed Durant to find his groove, then began to assert himself more and increase his shots. Experience playing together is the biggest factor to keep building team bonds, if you ask Iguodala.

"Weathering storms builds chemistry and adversity builds chemistry," he said. "The season's long and you want to have all types of ups and downs. And that's where you build it the most, and off the court, plane rides. I think when you play with teammates seven, eight years, you're still building throughout that time. You continue to learn about each other. You've just got to understand that that's part of the process and you've got to want to learn from one another."

The Warriors are counting on every advantage they can gain, on and off the court. During flights, team dinners, anywhere.

After a heartbreaking Game 7 to end last season's NBA Finals, Golden State's players want nothing short of a championship. Many of them got a taste winning the title two years ago for the franchise's first in 40 years.

Steve Kerr, the reigning NBA Coach of the Year, gets a kick out of watching his teams come together each year.

"It's one of my favorite parts of coaching honestly, is seeing how a team comes together, seeing the relationships develop, seeing guys laughing together, seeing who hangs out with who," Kerr said. "It's great. This team has a really, really good chemistry that developed really quickly. Obviously, we had the core group intact from last year. We lost some key guys, too. The additions have been great. The chemistry is really good."

Pachulia took it upon himself to be a part of that. With constant attention on the Warriors, he knows the importance of sticking together through all of the many challenges that come in an 82-game season - and those things prepare a group for the postseason.

"You wish for the chemistry to come right away because you're kind of feeling pressure, a lot of talk's going on from outside," Pachulia said. "The reality is it's a process. It takes some days, it takes some games. It takes some bumps as well for the team to get on the same page and get the chemistry right. You've got to go through the process. I just don't see it the other way. We couldn't wait for these 40 or 50 games to pass and see where we were going to be. I feel really confident where we are right now, with everything we had throughout this 50 games, even the losses we had unexpected. It made us better, it made us stronger. You can appreciate it, honestly. We care about each other. We're on the same page. Keep going. We're not going to stop."

For Iguodala and McGee, the "chatter" stays between them.

"I have a lot of really in-depth conversations with JaVale McGee," Iguodala said, "about life."