All's not lost: Warriors' season sees harvest of young fruit

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:47 pm
By Marcus Thompson II
Staff writer

For a team 16 games below .500 with two months left in the season, successes are hard to come by.
The excuses and explanations are often aplenty, but the positives are usually the product of spin and exaggeration.
The Warriors, however, have legitimate fruit from this lost season: the development of some young players they can now rely on, and much better bartering tools on the trade market this offseason.
"It hasn't been a pleasure to win 19 games," general manager Larry Riley said in a phone interview. "It's been a real pleasure to see those kind of things happen with our team. We want these last 28 games to be used to continue to develop our squad.
"When the season's over, we want to be able to look back and say these guys played enough that we know what they are."
The growth of guards Marco Belinelli, C.J. Watson and Anthony Morrow, the emergence of swingman Kelenna Azubuike as a core player and even forward Brandan Wright solidifying himself as a reliable starter all give those in Warriors management something on which to hang their hats for this season.
The odd part is, these truths might not have been discovered had the season gone differently, had the Warriors been healthy and had they been a better team.
Chances are that Belinelli would have spent another year on the bench had guard Monta Ellis not missed the first 43 games recovering from left ankle surgery, especially after guard Jamal Crawford was acquired in late November.
As it is now, the Warriors have learned that Belinelli can create his own shot and has improved exponentially on defense.
Perhaps no Warrior's stock has risen higher than Watson's. He's turned out to be a quality backup point guard — which makes him a valuable commodity.
Remember, just seven months ago, the Warriors were uncertain enough about Watson to trade for point guard Marcus Williams. Just four months ago, the Warriors were so unsure about Watson that they named undrafted rookie DeMarcus Nelson the starting point guard.
Because of injuries, Watson got game experience to supplement the off-court work he put in. Now, coach Don Nelson calls Watson the team's most improved player.
Imagine if they didn't get a chance to see Watson and waived him in January before his contract was guaranteed?
"He always had that ability to do what he does," Ellis said. "He just needed to get the opportunity. This year, he got the opportunity and he helped us in so many ways."
The Warriors nearly passed up the opportunity to retain Azubuike this offseason. If veteran swingman Maurice Evans would have taken the same deal from the Warriors, Golden State probably wouldn't have matched the three-year, $9 million offer sheet Azubuike signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in July.
Now, that looks like a bargain. Which would you rather have, Azubuike at the current price or guard Jason Richardson, who is making $40 million over the same three years? Before the season, when Azubuike was an inconsistent talent, the answer might have been Richardson.
But with the Warriors knowing what they know now — that Azubuike is a solid starter or a significant weapon off the bench who can hit 3-pointers and rebound, and "he's even making some passes once in a while," as Nelson said Tuesday night — Azubuike doesn't look like such a bad option.
He'll certainly be more tradeable this offseason.
While Wright hadn't gotten significant minutes, even before he dislocated his left shoulder, he has proved something to the team. He's perhaps its best low-post scorer, and he's shown he can be an effective starter.
All of this adds up to a potentially busy offseason for those in Warriors management. They can afford to make a three-for-one trade or sacrifice one of their young talents without depleting the farm system.
Even for a team 16 games under .500, that ain't all bad.
Notes: Belinelli practiced for the first time since spraining his right ankle. He said he's about 99 percent healthy. Nelson said Belinelli would be active for tonight's game, but the coach wasn't sure he would play his "rusty" guard. ... Center Andris Biedrins (sprained right ankle) did not practice, just shot on the side. ... Azubuike spent much of practice on the side with an ice pack on his left knee.


http://www.contracostatimes.com/warriors/ci_11727007
Wish List

*New Owner and Management =D>
*Trade Monta
*Trade Maggette =D>
*Tank the season, get the top pick and draft Harrison Barnes
to be continued...
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:38 pm
The best thing about this season is the opportunity given to Azu, Belinelli and Watson. Azu was given a fair amount of minutes right from the start and the other two have gotten it due to injuries to the main players. The best thing about that is that they are more highly valued and would be worth more in a trade
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:58 pm
If we can find a superstar that is crazy enough to want to play for this organization, then trade away. Until then, I say let's keep the talent we have here and develop them.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:03 pm
Good read, and he's quite right. Although I agree with Jackattack: unless a good opportunity comes up, we should look to keep most or all of the young guys who have surfaced this season.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:39 pm
D4rk 0ne wrote:Good read, and he's quite right. Although I agree with Jackattack: unless a good opportunity comes up, we should look to keep most or all of the young guys who have surfaced this season.



That is good in theory, but truth is that these young guys that have somewhat emerged will just go back to the bench and play hardly any minutes. Best thing is to trade one or two of them, along with one or two of the bad contracts, and get a PG (preferrably) or a star big
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:27 am
I'm not saying we shouldn't explore some potential trades that could involve these guys. I'm just saying we shouldn't send them off unless we know we're getting good value for them. If we give up some great young potential for something that won't help us very much, I'll be really annoyed.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:38 am
D4rk 0ne wrote:I'm not saying we shouldn't explore some potential trades that could involve these guys. I'm just saying we shouldn't send them off unless we know we're getting good value for them. If we give up some great young potential for something that won't help us very much, I'll be really annoyed.



As would I, that's why I said for a very good PG or star big :wink:

I like Felton and not only is he heavily talked about in trade rumours, he would be had for cheap right now, like for Belinelli and I'd do that trade, as felton is a very good PG and Belinelli is like the fourth SG in the rotation, since Azu and Maggette are playing the forward spots right now, he's probably the first SG off the bench. We'd get a guy that would start here (at least he should) for a bench guy that has shown very good production as a starter
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:50 am
So we're on the same page then. :) That's an example of a trade I'd gladly take, by the way.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:02 am
D4rk 0ne wrote:So we're on the same page then. :) That's an example of a trade I'd gladly take, by the way.



I just see Felton as a proven distributor, as he has always been one, though this season he has seemingly gone backwards a bit (attributed to Augustin's presence). I see him as like Baron and with a couple more seasons of experience, he could just be that way, definately better than any PG we have right now
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