It's time for another Jazzy Jam session, and today we get the great Nate P of Golden State Of Mind. Few people know the entire game as well as he does, from NBA, WNBA, and NBA-DL. So it is a treat to entreat with him here. Less talking from me, and more jamming from our guest. Let's get to it!
1. The Dubs are likely going to the NBA Playoffs for the third season in a row this year, something Golden State Warriors fans haven't seen since . . . . *low whistle as I check Basketball Reference* . . . the 1976-1977 season. What's the fan reaction like? Is this a more fun team than the RUN-TMC days? (Chris Mullen, Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond) If not, is this a core that has greater expectations place on it by the fans, starting with making the playoffs three years in a row?
Nate: I became a Warriors fan as a kid during the Run TMC era so it's hard for me to recall anything about expectations back then. I do know I was initially attracted to the NBA by rooting for the Showtime Lakers and there was never a time during Run TMC when I actually thought that team would overcome Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Byron Scott (I used to love Byron Scott, which makes their current state of affairs all the more sad).
So I think the big difference this year is that this team is both fun and legitimately good enough to be considered a contender from Day 1. We Believe was fun but I never assumed they'd go anywhere and the height of that was really just a few months after that mid season trade.
So for me this is more fun than Run TMC or We Believe because it's fun, feels sustainable, and I feel as though this team can play with anybody (though favorable playoff seeding would be nice). But after years of being mediocre - rarely bad enough to get a top pick, rarely close to playoff contention - it has been funny to watch some Dubs fans complaining about whatever they can find, perhaps because they simply don't know any other way to be a Warriors fan.
2. It's just unfair that the splash brothers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) are averaging 50 points a game by themselves. It's like if Mark Price and Reggie Miller were in the same backcourt, and both years away from turning 30 years old. What's the best non-Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan way to defend this pair?
Nate: That's a good question and I honestly don't have an answer.
Perhaps you could say that containing Klay is "simply" a matter of forcing him off the three point line to limit his spot-up attempts and making him a slasher. But a) he gets a number of spot-ups as a result of executing sets that are just hard to defend with the amount of talent the first unit has and b) even if a team managed to consistently run him off the arc, he has become much better as a slasher/playmaker.
Yet with Curry, there just isn't an answer to *consistently* stopping him - a player who can handle the ball as well as he does and pull up to score from nearly anywhere he wants just isn't easy to guard. Even if you stop him from scoring, I still don't think he gets enough credit as a passer (from the many people out there who hold fast to the theory that he's not a point guard). Teams were able to force the Warriors/Curry into turnovers last season by "blitzing" him with high traps when he cross mid-court, but that doesn't really answer the question of how you stop him from reaching his scoring average.
3. Are turnovers (19.7 turn overs per game, 17.9 TOV%) a real problem this season, or merely just a product of the high pace (99.8 possessions per game, 1st in the NBA)?
Nate: Turnovers are a real problem this season as they were last season. Many people tried to blame Mark Jackson's offense - which is a reasonable suggestion - but the Warriors also just have a number of turnover prone players. Last year, a number of turnovers came from players trying to force plays 1v1 and getting stuck in a bad spot - yes, the lack of movement in the offense was part of the problem, but the players also had a tendency to make some mind-boggling decisions with the ball. This year, there's less of that due to the nature of Kerr's offense, but you still have players trying to make, um, overly-creative plays that result in errant, inaccurate, and sometimes just plain wild passes.
There are a lot of reasons for that but the pace argument really doesn't hold up against the actual film of these turnovers - as talented as this group is, they have a bad habit of making terrible decisions.
4. Andrew Bogut was a beast back with the Milwaukee Bucks. He's had to take a back seat with the Warriors though. I wouldn't be surprised to see him blow up a few times for vintage Bogut games this season with how open the offense looks. Are we going to see him go for 30 this year at any point? The Jazz have two Aussie players on the roster with Dante Exum and Joe Ingles. Can you rank all of the Australians in the NBA from best to worst right now?
Nate: I had to cheat for the top Australians and really haven't seen enough of Exum to say anything, but since SBN loves our biases I struggle to see a way that Bogut isn't at the top of that list - sorry, Uncle Drew - and I thoroughly enjoy Mills and Dellavedova because they played college ball locally. So lots of bias there... but I accepted your challenge on Twitter and raised you a discussion of All-Time great Australian ballers - can you rank the top Australian women's players? ;)
Anyway, Bogut won't go for 30 simply because his role is as a high post facilitator on a team full of talented and developing (how 'bout that Harrison Barnes this season?) scorers. I can't really imagine a scenario where it make sense for Bogut to take enough shots to go for 30. I have thought that it would be fun for Kerr to spend a game against some team in the middle of a tankfest just going to Bogut as the top option to see if he could get that career-high (32 with Milwaukee at Dallas, 1/27/2010) but I don't see any way that happens.
Nate: As I told you previously, I'm a Michigan fan/alum and I was ecstatic when Green was drafted out of that other university - you can't help but respect the guy even if he spends four years killing you in various ways. He's a uniter when no unification is even desired. I think what really stands out this year is his increased confidence and dramatic improvement from beyond the 3-point arc where he's at a career-high 41.9%. I thought his ability to develop as a shooter would be a key element of his NBA success coming out of college and it has made him even more of a threat this season.
So if there's one way that he might hurt the Jazz, that would be it: when you have him hitting threes along with Curry and Thompson and Bogut facilitating from the middle with Barnes just able to find gaps I really don't see how you can possibly defend that. They just move the ball so well and having that many shooters is going to eventually create a hole in the defense.
Defensively, I think everyone will be impressed with what he's able to do whether working in space or battling inside, but that's not at all anything new.
Thanks again Nate, and I really hope our team doesn't get blown out tonight. Also Utah Jazz fans -- check out my answers to his questions over here!