While browsing my native Golden State of Mind (SB Nation's Warrior's syndicate), I stumbled upon a recent fan-shot quoting SLC Dunk's Amar outlining SLC Dunk's livid take on the lottery, in particular surrounding the Warrior's tanking 'efforts'. I can understand how frustrating it can be, but the only method of achieving rationale and understanding is to address both team's outlooks on the situation. I would love to try and convince you of how there truly was 'no shame' in the Warrior's second half efforts after the jump.
Before I begin, I ask you keep an open mind about how it is an front office's perogative to do whatever it takes to become a better basketball team. I'll break down Amar's argument seeing as it seemingly appears to sum up most of the resentment pretty nicely.
"The Warriors were capable of beating current 2012 Western Conference playoff teams regularly, but could not climb above a certain high water mark -- around the No. 10 or No. 9 rank. Even after the All-Star break they were within the Western mix, and in better position than the Jazz (who did make the playoffs)."
This, simply, is not true. We may have been considered to be 'in the mix', but by late February, we sat 3 games out of the eighth seed with a 13-17 record. Losing trends rarely reverse themselves in basketball - it was pretty evident early on that our playoff chances were nothing but glimmers of dim hope. Our starting C was arguably the worst player in the league in Andris Biedrins, we continually started an undersized backcourt with Stephen 'Glass Ankle' Curry and the ever inefficient Monta Ellis, and a coach with all the heart but none of the experience. Our only bright spot was our fantastically efficient bench unit, starring defensive specialists Dominic McGuire and Ekpe Udoh, and 3 pt. specialist Brandon Rush. To say we had a chance in hell to compete with the current playoff rosters is a farce. We lacked competence on defense, offensive unity, and front court dominance, three obvious requirements and qualifications for a playoff squad.
"But instead of fighting they traded for injured players, sat their best players, and even goaltended last-second shots by the opposition to ensure losses"
The winning equation in basketball is simple: you don't win championships, much less earn playoff berths, without a competent big man. The Jazz embody the perfect example of this concept: your frontcourt is loaded with potential and dominant big man play on both sides of the ball (though, I think that Al Jefferson does more harm than good in the end). David Lee, in comparison, demonstrates all the heart, rebounding, and offensive prowess you'd expect out of a PF, yet zero defense. Our offense consisted of a shattered Steph Curry, and Monta Ellis, arguably the single most inefficient and infuriating 2 guard in the NBA. Monta was flashy, fun, and athletic - the perfect antidote for the NBA hungry voyeur, yet so statistically detrimental that the MIT Sloan Sports Convention invented an entire metric of measuring badness coined the MontaMetric. To make matters worse, we were in peril of being booted from the well of future-building: the draft (Utah, of all fans, should understand our drafting situation better than anyone: Top 7 pick or go home without a first round rookie).
Simply put: we couldn't get better through the draft, impact FA's inexplicably don't enjoy coming to the Bay Area, so the only hopes of getting better was by trading. Take it from a Warrior's fan since my first breath, being stuck in the land of mediocrity is the worst place of limbo in the NBA - there's simply no good way to get better. Mediocre teams get mediocre draft picks, so the future maintains the same level of, well, mediocrity.
"But instead of fighting they traded for injured players..."
So our revamped front office pulled off the unheard trade - trading small for big. We traded the eclectically detrimental Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh for Captain Jack and Andrew Bogut, who when healthy, is a top 6 C in this league on both sides of the ball (albeit, he is frequently, but none of his injuries are chronic or re-occurring). Miwaulkee received a Brandon Jennings clone, and for the first time in a decade, the Dubs got their dominant starting C.
"...sat their best players"
Sitting Stephen Curry was a no-brainer - a player who sprains his ankle 5 times in a span of 6 months should never be testing the strength of his brittle ligaments. Bogut, sporting a broken anke, was an obvious. Here's the breakdown, courtesy of tafkasam:
Every night, our injury depleted squad would start the best combination of players possible, which essentially turned out to be a squad of no-names and rookies, and trust me, they played their hearts out, almost sinking the Lakers, Clippers, Celtics, Grizzlies, Rockets, and in case you forgot, we only lost to the JAZZ by 6. There was zero losing basketball coming from our players on purpose.
"All this tanking because they did not want to live up to the terms stipulated in a previous trade -- where an honest effort at winning by 'State would have meant another team got their pick this year"
Duh. We put ourselves in a hole, so we tried to climb out of it. That's what you do when you're a Front Office; you make your team better at all costs. The Jazz will receive our pick next year given that we don't land any of the 1-6 picks, which in our shoes, is the best method of winning.
In summation: we prepared for the future via trades, getting rid of the detrimental black hole that was Monta Ellis, injury prevention, and lastly, the draft. If that's not being a good Front Office, I don't know what is. Remember, Jerry West works for us, and it would strike me as hard to believe that Jerry West would encourage a direct undermining of NBA values.
I could continue explaining our situation for years, but I understand that SLC would probably enjoy a brief more than a novel. I'll end by asking you this:
If your team is stuck in mediocrity, riddled with injury, and at risk of losing their best chance at becoming a better team through the draft, what would you do?
The Jazz are a playoff team who hoped for a high first round pick... consider yourselves lucky that it was even an option. You still have a first rounder and a squad who will continually compete. Yes, the Warriors may have stained your offseason slightly, but it was far from shameful or disgusting - I'd go as far as to say it was smart and clever.
Best of luck to the Jazz. Get that PG and you guys could do someone serious damage in the future.