New Year’s Resolutions Part VI: Pacific Division
Golden State Warriors
Mark Jackson really has this team clicking, to the point where they are legitimately looking at not just a longer season than the norm, but a likely top five seed.
To say they could use the big Aussie in the middle is an understatement, I think they become infinitely tougher to handle when Festus Ezeli moves to the bench, and Carl Landry doesn’t have to come in and defend opposition centers.
Curry and Klay Thompson are arguably the best young back-court in the NBA, as both are shooting the lights out from deep, combining for over 150 made threes just a third of the way into the season, at an average of 40%.
Sure their strength of schedule has been weak, but you can’t fault them for winning the games they’re meant to.
They want everything to keep going smoothly as it is.
I’m sure the team would like DeAndre Jordan to show the improvement in his post game that he had early in the season, or to have Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill healthy, but really this team doesn’t need a lot.
I think the only thing on their mid-season shopping list will be another back-up center, as they are incredibly deep at every position.
Jamal Crawford has become the assassin he should have been for years, Eric Bledsoe is putting up crazy per 36 minute numbers of 17.9 points, 5 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.9 steals and 1.5 blocks on 48% field goal and 82% free throw shooting.
Matt Barnes is their jack of all trades forward off the bench, giving them an edge whenever a game gets a bit testy.
This team just needs a healthy Paul/Griffin combo and the bench to keep doing what they’re doing, and they will go far.
Perhaps the toughest one to answer.
They just want the real Pau Gasol to show up.
And Nash to be healthy.
And Howard to be healthy.
And Kobe to keep being historically ‘great’.
Not all of the parts are there, they still need some perimeter defense off the bench at both back-court positions, but the main pieces to be a title contender are there.
It wouldn’t surprise me if they are still hovering around .500 at the All Star break that they make a move, something that would net them a solid starter and some bench help.
How about Pau and Darius Morris to the Kings for Chuck Hayes (vastly underrated defensively, just ask Howard), Francisco Garcia, Marcus Thornton, and Isiah Thomas?
What about to the Bobcats for Byron Mullens, Gerald Henderson, Ben Gordon and a first round pick?
Or my favourite from a Lakers point of view (could only happen after Jan 15 due to contract restrictions), Ersan Ilyasova (he just needs out of Scott Skiles’ doghouse), Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Mike Dunleavy and Beno Udrih and his expiring contract for Pau and Steve Blake.
There’s options there if they do falter, but I wouldn’t count out a big move just for the sake of making one when it comes to Mitch Kupchak.
Their resolution should be to blow it up.
It simply isn’t working and the bunch they have together as the ‘core’ has expired, and it needs to be broken down and built back up again.
The exit of Steve Nash isn’t the only reason for this team’s fall from grace, they just don’t have the horses in the stable that it takes to compete in the West.
Goran Dragic was a nice signing, as was the addition of Luis Scola, but Michael Beasley was a head scratcher at the time, and he has basically let his game do the talking, and unfortunately it is trash.
He has the lowest +/- rating in the entire league, consistently turning the ball over and bricking mid range jumpers as he floats by collecting pay checks.
I suspect a contending team throws an offer at the Suns for players such as Jared Dudley and Marcin Gortat around the deadline, both would fit perfect on the Spurs, Celtics or Thunder rosters.
Hope is on the horizon in that they will have cap-space as well as three first round picks and two second rounders next draft.
The Kings would like one order of a grown up star in the making.
DeMarcus Cousins really needs to mature quick and accept the fact that there are shortcomings in his game, and every so often he won’t get a call going his way, but to take it on the chin and move on.
Too often he lets his immaturity and aggression get the better of him, as far too many NBA front office types and players alike are saying the same thing about Cousins – he has big time talent, but an even bigger problem with dealing with his emotions.
Apart from Cousins, the team also has the problem of having seemingly five mediocre players at every position.
Marcus Thornton got paid, but Keith Smart won’t play him 30 minutes unless Tyreke Evans is out.
There isn’t a coach in the NBA who does less to live up to their last name than Keith Smart, and the team is perhaps a four or five game losing streak away from firing Smart to give another coach a shot at running this squad.