What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 7. Golden State Warriors

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  9-6,  first place Pacific Division

This Month:

Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)
  • Points Scored: 98.0 (16th)
  • Points Allowed: 98.8 (18th)
  • Team FG%: .445 (14th)
  • Opponent’s FG%: .431 (3rd)
  • Rebounds per game: 45.9 (3rd)
  • Opponents rebounds per game: 41.5 (11th)
  • Turnovers per game: 16.4 (25th)
  • Opponents turnovers per game: 14.0 (24th)

Individual Statistical Leaders (as of November 30th)
  • Scoring (ppg): Stephen Curry (18.4)
  • Rebounds per game:  David Lee (10.9)
  • Minutes per game: David Lee (37.5)
  • Assists per game: Stephen Curry (5.5)
  • Steals per game: Stephen Curry (1.4)
  • Blocked Shots per game: Andrew Bogut (1.0)

Worst Player of the Month: Andrew Bogut

For the third straight year in his career, Andrew Bogut has proven to be yet another letdown as he has been sidelined indefinitely for the season due to injury.  He was expected to be that missing piece that the Warriors have never really had in its entire history—a solid post presence on both sides of the floor that can spread the floor and keep defenses honest.  Now that has all but evaporated as he announced that he is shelving himself essentially for the entire season.  At least the Warriors have not been hurt by his departure as they have been playing rather well in his absence.  What’s unfortunate is that they will be stuck with him and his brittle body for another couple of years at 26$ million
First Player of the Month: Carl Landry

After having to struggle the last couple of seasons with injuries and disappointing performances, Carl Landry seems to be back as he is posting his best season since the 2009 season where he posted career highs.  Coming off the bench, Landry has started the season playing better than starter David Lee averaging close to 15 points and 8 boards per game while shooting a scintillating .595 from the field (currently fourth best in the league).  If he continues his stellar play, he can certainly be in the running for sixth man of the year once the season ends making him one of the best come back stories in the NBA.  He has certainly silenced any doubters who believed that he could no longer perform at the high level that he did in 2009 and will be a key player in maintaining the Warriors current playoff hopes.  It would seem by his current play, Landry has let go of the past and looks to make a bright future with the Warriors.

For the maligned fans of the Golden State Warriors, this is a time to cherish as their home team has finally climb out of the pit they have been in for the past 25 or so years and have finally given them something to cheer for.  For this first time in what can be considered a lifetime, the Golden State Warriors have opened the season with a winning record along with capturing first place in their Pacific Division.  After years of patiently waiting for their team to turn things around, Warriors fans have finally learned what it feels to not only win, but for once in the team's history, be on the top looking down rather than it being the other way around.  It is as if all the pain and anguish they have suffered has finally paid off watching their Golden State team on the winning side of the final score.  The entire Bay Area certainly have something to celebrate as it has been such a LONG hard road to finally get to this point where the people can lift their heads high in stead of shaking the in disappointment and disdain.

At the beginning it seemed like it would be "business as usual" as the Warriors lost four of their first seven games; however, Golden State won their next two games and all of a sudden, as if by magic, they finished the month of November with the best record in the Pacific Division.  The Warriors  finished the month of November winning six of their last eight games losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder (11/18/2012) and the Denver Nuggets (11/23/2012),both on the road.  This sudden ascension of the Warriors is not only miraculous, but it also signals to massive paradigm shift in the balance of power of the NBA, as both them and another former laughing stock, the Los Angeles Clippers have now taken over a division that has been always draped in either purple and gold or purple and orange.  For the first time in what can be seen as an eternity, both the Lakers and the Suns, two team who for most of the NBA's History dominated the Pacific division, are now at the receiving end of the punishment.  The Lakers have come out the gates sputtering, trying as much as they can to climb out of the hole they have created for themselves as their struggle to remain at .500 while the Phoenix Suns are smack dab in the bottom of the division standings.       
What is even more incredible is not only that the Warriors have been winning, but it is also the way in which they have won and it is with a word that similar to "winning" has never been synonymous whenever mentioning the Warriors.  That word is "defense" as the Warriors uncharacteristically held their opponents to just .430 shooting, while at the same time crashing the glass out rebounding their opponents by a rather large margin--+4 to be exact.  In their nine wins, the Warriors kept their opponents to scoring 95.6 points and shooting .426 from the field--a sharp contrast from the 101.1 points .453 shooting that they allowed last season.  By all that has been seen thus far, it does not seem like that devotion to defense is likely to subside as coach Mark Jackson has his young Warriors team attentive and focused on maintaining a strong defensive presence before anything else. And long as their defense remains solid and consistent, there is no way, barring a major catastrophe that the Warriors will relinquish their current hold on their division as save for the Clippers, there is no other team in the Pacific that can hold a candle to them--and that includes the once dominant Los Angeles Lakers.

The renewed devotion to defense is just one small part of the immense culture shift that has occurred internally within the organization as it has become a more mature and professional group who are accountable for themselves and each other on everything that goes on the court.  Another key to this Bay Area Basketball Renaissance has been Stephen Curry, who finally healthy after two seasons playing on and off due to injuries, has taken the leadership role on both ends of the court.  On the offensive end, he has not only come through for his team in terms of scoring the basket, but has also taken it upon himself to assure that his teammates get involved as well.  Curry leads the team in assists and along with orchestrating the offense, he has also made himself a major factor on the defensive end leading his team in steals per game.  This 24 year old "shot happy"has suddenly grown up in front of everybody's eyes as he has shown plenty of grit, determination and maturity and in turn, has silenced his critics while at the same time has exceeded even the loftiest of expectations.

As with everything in life, there is always a call for cautious optimism because after all, it is the Golden State Warriors--the team that for the past 25 years has reached the post season just twice.  In retrospect, even the LA Clippers, who despite their recent success still historically rank amongst the worst teams in professional sports, performed better during that same span of time.  Through the team's entire history, the Warriors have endured such hard luck thanks to poor personnel decisions and just simple rotten luck.  At anytime, most observers will be looking to predict at what point will the floor will full from under Golden State's feet and fall back to reality.  Hopefully, that will not be the case for the sake of their fans, who after so many years of disappointment, deserve at least one season to joyously celebrate and cheer their team to victory.