Posted September 02, 2013

Offseason Grades: Golden State Warriors

2013 Offseason Grades, Andre Iguodala, Ben Golliver, Carl Landry, Golden State Warriors, Jarrett Jack
Andre Iguodala

Andre Iguodala gives the Warriors a defensive stopper on the perimeter. (Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Point Forward will grade every team’s offseason over the next few weeks. Click here for the complete archive.

Additions: Andre Iguodala, Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights, Jermaine O’Neal, Nemanja Nedovic (No. 30 in 2013 draft)

Losses: Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry, Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins

What Went Right: For sheer ingenuity, I’m not sure anyone topped the Warriors this summer. Houston meticulously planned for a successful run at Dwight Howard by managing its books, and Brooklyn creatively broke the bank to swing its blockbuster deal for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, but no one turned lemons into lemonade quite like Golden State.

It’s worth pausing for a moment to fully consider Jefferson and Biedrins purely as assets or, well, lemon-y non-assets. Jefferson, 33, last posted a Player Efficiency Rating above 15 (league average) in 2008-09. Last season, he averaged 3.1 points and 1.5 rebounds in 56 games for the Warriors, and he attempted a grand total of nine shots during two rounds of the playoffs. He is set to make $11 million this season, roughly the same amount of money that will be paid to Rajon Rondo, Joakim Noah, Ty Lawson, Tyreke Evans, Nicolas Batum and Tim Duncan. The major reason that he hasn’t been subjected to Andrea Bargnani-like derision is that he barely played in 2012-13.

Where to even begin with Biedrins? His career has been in a tailspin since 2008-09, when he averaged personal bests of 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds. He bottomed out last season, averaging 0.5 points and 2.9 rebounds in 53 games. In the last four seasons, he’s shot a combined 19-for-78 (24.4 percent) from the free-throw line. Coach Mark Jackson resorted to in-game pep talks and standing ovations to try to pump up Biedrins (and swing the crowd behind him), but it didn’t really matter. How far gone is Biedrins inside his own head? Monta Ellis averaged 22 shots per game for the 2009-10 Warriors; Biedrins, who was once put through a “mental training program” by his agency to address his confidence issues, shot 21 times total last season, or once every 23.6 minutes. Did I mention that he is set to make $9 million this season?

You’ve heard the phrase “bang for your buck”? Jefferson and Biedrins offer whimpers for your millions. The one upshot: Both are on expiring contracts,  a fact that transformed the pair from “basically untradable” to “barely tradable if everything breaks right” this summer.

And that’s when Warriors management stepped in to make its breaks, pawning off Jefferson and Biedrins (combined salary of $20 million for 2013-14), along with Rush ($4 million), two first-round picks and two second-round picks, to the rebuilding Jazz, one of the few teams in a position to 1) legally accept more than $20 million of salary without having to send out salary, and 2) willing to accept $20 million of dead weight.

But Golden State’s interest in doing that deal — as opposed to swallowing Jefferson and Biedrins for itself and keeping its picks — required an impetus. Enter Iguodala, a top-five free agent this summer and one of the best wing defenders in the league. Circumstances worked out in Golden State’s favor on that end, too, as Denver was in the middle of an implosion after a 57-win season, and Iguodala, 29, was hunting for one last big payday and a shot at playing for a contender. The up-and-coming Warriors, fresh off an exciting push into the conference semifinals, offered both, signing him to a four-year, $48 million deal.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers had to dump two players at the February trade deadline to get below the luxury-tax line — thanks to big-dollar deals for All-Star forward David Lee, center Andrew Bogut, Jefferson and Biedrins — and he entered the summer staring at spreadsheet gridlock and the very real possibility that he would be forced to go above the tax threshold in 2013-14 in order to keep his team from taking a step backward. Instead, by the end of summer, the Warriors had added an All-Star-caliber player in Iguodala and created a significant cushion between their cap position and the tax. That’s fairly exciting stuff, and the type of high-visibility swing that could put Myers in the discussion for 2014 Executive of the Year if the Warriors’ core players enjoy excellent health for a second straight year.

A postscript: Any “What went right with the Warriors’ summer” section would be lacking without a “Kent Bazemore led Golden State to the first Las Vegas Summer League title” shout-out. Summer League at its finest.

What Went Wrong: Golden State’s electric postseason ride made its roster ripe for poaching. Jack and Landry, two dependable, crucial reserves, both cashed out like expected. Jack, a solid combo guard who was in the Sixth Man Award discussion all season, signed a four-year, $25.2 million deal with the Cavaliers; Landry, an undersized power forward with some range, received a four-year, $26 million contract from the Kings. Their replacements — Douglas and Speights — fit the positional holes, but don’t exactly fill them. Letting either Jack or Landry depart in free agency was always seen as likely. But watching both go will leave an impact on the court, even if Golden State is in a more flexible position long term because of it.

The Warriors should see an extra jolt from their bench because one of two wing starters from last season, forward Harrison Barnes or guard Klay Thompson, is expected to move to a reserve role to accommodate Iguodala’s arrival. Even so, the quality of the Warriors’ depth takes a hit with Jack and Landry leaving, plus a summer knee surgery that is expected to keep reserve center Festus Ezeli sidelined until at least mid-December.

Whether the rejiggered bench winds up being a major factor or a minor one depends largely on the always-shaky health of Bogut, and the continued durability for the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Thompson, who missed a combined four games last season. Here’s wishing for good vibes, because few teams are as entertaining as the Warriors when they are going full tilt.

Grade: A-minus. The playoffs have a way of making us forget this, but the Warriors weren’t elite on offense (No. 10) or defense (No. 13) during the regular season and they backed into the postseason, going 18-18 after Feb. 1. This summer’s developments are logical and promising but, as argued recently at The Point Forward, not necessarily a guarantee of a regular-season leap forward into the West’s upper echelon. That said, the summer featured creative front-office work that has legitimate upside if the key pieces — Curry, Iguodala and Lee in particular — can find the proper fit.

23 comments
ShawnKFrazier
ShawnKFrazier

Really enjoy the back n forth posted already here. As a Warriors fan, I would like to tell the doubters why the. Warriors have a chance to win an NBA Championship this year. Bogut is healthy right now, so he says. He was playing hurt in the playoffs last year and still had an impact slowing down Duncan and the Spurs. If, and that's a big if, Bogut , Curry and the rest can stay resonably healthy, they can win 60 games and the championship.

ShawnKemp2012
ShawnKemp2012

Losing Carl Landry will hurt them a bit, so I hope these moves work out.  Not a Golden State fan, but for some reason, I always like to see Golden State do well.  They have a knack for putting together really entertaining teams.   RUN TMC!!!

frangooch32
frangooch32

Barnes will be better than Iggy this year. Just sayin'.  If I'm right, what does that make this deal?

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

I am sure Iguodala will bring the Warriors the same level of success he created in Philly and Denver...LOL

Most over rated player in the NBA. 

The Warriors sold their future (TWO #1's) - they better win now.


Steve Moore
Steve Moore

will be interesting watching Bazemore and Douglas fight for 3rd guard spot.

dinohealth
dinohealth

Would the Warriors taking the Conference Championship and in the process, retiring the Spurs, be a sufficient "leap forward" into the "upper echelon" of the conference for you?  Strap on your seat belt, and get ready for one heck of a ride!

adoolz
adoolz

The prospect of Harrison Barnes losing minutes is ridiculous. If that happens one of the leagues top young talents who is much better than and can play the 2 like Thompson will be benched. Barnes has the potential to shoot very accurately if not quite as well as Thompson but was obviously more dominant than I have ever seen either Thompson or Iggy ever in the playoffs. That is where it matters. Everyone remembers Thompson as beasting cuz of his one 34 point game against San Antonio. A closer look shows Barnes outscored and outrebounded Thompson in the playoffs. His play as a USA select player is stunning. Bottom line he has the most potential including Steph Curry on the whole team and it would be insane to take his minutes away. Thompson is also a top young talent but a one dimensional and non transcendent one. Barnes can handle, rebound, defend, slash, finish, and shoot. Thompson can shoot and somewhat handle, that is it. He is a classic great sixth man whereas Barnes looks like a possible second coming of Tmac and classicaly great player with a hopefully better injury career. Iggy is also good all around but not great. Examine the way Barnes handles and plays a smooth offensive game in a way that is much more skilled than Iggy. He is longer I believe and quicker with an amazing first step. Horrible article to lack mentioning the growth of Barnes and the possibility of his stagnation.

ajudki20
ajudki20

Huh? You just slapped the Wolves with a C on this series, but you give GS an A-? I don't get it. Yeah, Andre is a decent pick-up, but he's not going to suddenly give this team defensive teeth. He's also on the downside of his career on a young and rising team and no one knows how he'll fit in with this squad. But they let Jack walk, who fit in perfectly on this team. I have a feeling Jack will never quite as good without GS and the street might go both ways. Landry was also a piece that walked that fit very well. Everyone acts like GS upgraded in the offseason, but I see it is a swap---they gained about as much value as they lost. In terms of this series, breaking even would be a C. And none of this addresses their lack of diversity---this is a jump shooting team that loves the three and will again this season. That's not a formula for consistency that should lead a team from fringe contender to say the conference finals. 

tracester11
tracester11

@frangooch32Really? So you think HB will next year become a defender capable of locking down the very best players in the west and also potential triple double twice a week? he'll get there, but I think you are dreaming right now.

M20
M20

@frangooch32 It doesn't change anything necessarily. Are you saying Igoudala will take a step back or Barnes will take a step forward? Barnes may improve, but Igoudala is showing no signs of slowing down.

CurryMeAway
CurryMeAway

@WilyCoyoteSuperGenius Sounds like someone's a bitter Nugs fan...  Iguodala is an elite defender, a great passer, and a great slasher.  All three of those things the Warriors needed.  Giving up two first round picks in the 20s is not the end of the world.  The Warriors bought one this year for 600k and a second rounder.

Skins'Fan
Skins'Fan

@adoolz You won't see a reduction in his minutes, just won't be starting. He'll still see 30+ a night. Iggy will absorb most of Jack's minutes (large ball w/ Klay or Steph on the floor, Iggy playing the 2) and some of Landry's will be absorbed by Barnes (small-ball as a stretch 4, playing alongside Iggy) making him just as valuable as their de facto second team leader. A small ball lineup of Steph-Klay-Iggy-Barnes-Bogut is a scary thought. With the classic Warriors "if healthy" caveat

CurryMeAway
CurryMeAway

@ajudki20

"You just slapped the Wolves with a C on this series, but you give GS an A-? I don't get it."  Then there's little hope for you.

"Andre is on the downside of his career" He's 29 and he's an elite perimeter defender.  You then say "none of this addresses their lack of diversity---this is a jump shooting team that loves the three" Have you watched Iguodala slash?  Or David Lee's post game?  How about the fact that Bogut has had his first healthy season so he'll be able to polish his hook shot and turn into the 10 point 12 rebound 3 block beast that he is. 

Douglas is a 3 and D role player, but he'll be roped in more than Jack.  Jack played well as a Warrior, but he wasn't perfect either.  Landry was fantastic for the beginning of last season and then his production fell off after the All Star break. Those pieces fit into a system, because guys buy into Mark Jackson's system.  This year it won't be any different.

"That's not a formula for consistency that should lead a team from fringe contender to say the conference finals."

And you think that the Timberwolves have improved from a lottery team to anything more than a bottom playoff seed and a first round exit?  The Wolves won't be good enough on defense to do anything else.  On the other hand the Warriors have two lock down, starting caliber wing defenders in Klay and Andre.  One of the best defensive centers in the league.  Not to mention they have a bench full of defense with Douglas, Green, Ezeli, O'Neal, Bazemore, etc. etc.  The Warriors starting five is a lot better than the Wolves.  The Warriors bench is a lot better than the Wolves.  That is why the Wolves get a C and the Warriors get an A-


dinohealth
dinohealth

@Skins'Fan @adoolz Well, I am not all that excited about playing "small ball".  I think the Warriors have been playing small ball for years with limited, at best, success.  They played some of it in the playoffs, also, because of injuries.  Their best lineup will be Bogut /Lee (finally, that combo should be great to watch), Iggy, Thompson, and Curry.  I see Barnes getting minutes, off the bench, at the three.  Time is on his side.  Besides, I would much rather have Thompson's shooting on the floor, and Iggy's inside game/penetration playing with Lee and Bogut inside.  Opens Curry and the outside game, as well as the inside game, best.  Barring injuries, I think the Warriors should stay away from small ball as much as possible, when they can be devastatingly effective and quick with a powerful and quick, big ball, lineup.

adoolz
adoolz

@Skins'Fan @adoolz true. I guess with his versatility they can swing him anywhere from the 2 to the 4. Hes getting stronger than credited. Still the article writer didnt mention his growth from year one to two or outstanding summer play for Team Select. How can one neglect to mention a rising star on a young team who just enjoyed dominant playoff success as a plus to the teams offseason. There is NO WAY he averages the paltry 9.2 per game this year, his trend last season showed immense growth into possible stardom towards  the end of the year. But you make good points

ajudki20
ajudki20

@CurryMeAway @ajudki20 You may have already forgotten since browsing this article but these are grades for OFFSEASON  MOVES. In that light Minnesota improved itself more than Golden State did, yet GS got the A and Minny the C. If this article was for which team will get further than the other, the A and C placement would make sense. 

My prediction is a slightly disappointing season for GS and while I don't see the Wolves lighting the league on fire, I think they'll open a few eyes because they'll finally be in the playoff conversation---which people are not used to! But anything can happen. 

I actually agree with most of what you say about GS with some moderation. Is Andre on the peak of his career? Not exactly. The GS bench isn't exactly the the envy of the league. Is Jackson's system all that red hot? No. I'm pleased he's coaching as well as he is already, but I'll need to see a little more from him before I call him the next Popovich.


 I'm not trying to say GS isn't a good team or the Wolves will be better or anything like that (see above). But that doesn't mean GS is on easy street to improve from last season. The West is going to be tough. And GS had a lot of good fortune blow their way last season. Plus as already mentioned, they aren't built for deep runs because they rely on the 3 way too much. That doesn't mean they have bad post players and don't do ANYTHING else. They just take too many 3's. And if going 40% isn't getting them to the conference finals, perhaps they'll need to diversify their offense some. But it should be a fun season for you GS guys. 

dinohealth
dinohealth

@CurryMeAway @ajudki20   I think your argument would have been more effective if you valued Jack and Landry on par with what the rest of the league thinks they are worth and contributed to the Warriors last season.  When you upgrade that evaluation, you would understand that there are a lot of folks out there that may think that, relatively, it is a huge hole that has to be re-engineered and filled with whatever Golden State picked up (i.e. Iggy); and, that there is no guarantee that it will happen; at least, immediately, with new pieces to work out (hopefully, it will be working by the time playoffs roll around).

ajudki20
ajudki20

@CurryMeAway @ajudki20 Well, like I say, GS should be an interesting team. But I'm old-school. I don't think you win it all with 3's even if you have Curry and Co. A team with the shooters that GS has is going to be tempted to take a lot of threes, and they can make better use of a high volume of threes than most teams. But In the end, even with great shooters, I think they take too many. It's too much of their game plan. The fact that Lee and Bogut can work well in the paint and Andre can slash is less relevant if they don't get to do it enough to balance the offense a little better. Like I said, I'm old school and think teams that take too many 3's are a little boring to watch sometimes and capping how far they can go in the postseason. But it will be interesting to see what they do. Will they rely on the 3 less because of Andre and experience, or will they play just like last season? If they do how far can they go? Should be a fun season!

ajudki20
ajudki20

@Skins'Fan @CurryMeAway @ajudki20 You forgot Brewer and the draft picks, plus important resignings such as Pec on the MN equation. But even so, I just disagree that GS will go further in the playoffs. It is much more likely that the Wolves' next step, make the playoffs, will be achieved. Think of it this way---without injuries the wolves would probably made the bottom of the playoffs last season. And they added some things they needed. They replaced some of AK's D with Brewer. They got  badly needed 3 point shooting from Martin. Resigning Budinger will help with shooting woes, too (we was out almost the whole season with a knee). They drafted a potential scorer (we'll see) and a back up defensive center. All these little things will help them make the playoffs. But only the season can tell us. If I were a betting man, I'd not bet on a deep run by GS in the jungle that is the West. 

Skins'Fan
Skins'Fan

@CurryMeAway @ajudki20 You're both forgetting an important component to the ranking being done. Wolves are in a spot where they're looking to make the playoffs and the Warriors are looking to advance further. Does dead-weight salaries+jack+landry vs. iggy+douglas+speights weigh in their favour? Absolutely. Iggy is a perfect fit for the team and a solid ball handler to take it out of Jack's hands. They improved by an A-ish grade for their goal: making it further in the playoffs. As for the Wolves? Is Martin+Brewer+Turiaf vs. AK47+Ridnour+Stiemsma improve their goal of making the playoffs? No, not really. It's a wash for the latter two and offense vs. defense for ak47 vs. Martin. Last I checked they needed D. C+ makes sense. They deserve an A++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ for finally ditching Kahn though. "Kahn is Gahn" - woohoo!

CurryMeAway
CurryMeAway

@ajudki20 @CurryMeAway 

Fair enough, fair enough.  The reality behind the Wolves roster that both you and I know is that the major boost for the Wolves is coming from the fact that you will finally get to see your big three (Pek, Rubio, Love) play together and you've finally put together a strong supporting cast.  Wolves had a B offseason, maybe B+, but it doesn't detract from the Warriors offseason, which went from not having a draft pick, weighed down with dead weight, and two bench players that played themselves out of the Warriors price range to cap flexibility, added a genuine star player, filled out their bench with the cap space with decent enough roleplayers, and worked magic in acquiring the 30th pick and a player they were targeting from before the draft.  Whether Nedovic turns into the next Goran Dragic time will tell.  

In terms of the Warriors heavy reliance on 3 pt shooting?  They have two of the best 3 point shooters to ever stroke it on their team.  The lost Jack's 40% clip that he hit last year, and B.Rush's 40+% from the last time he was healthy, but they rounded out the roster better.  Speights is underrated.  O'Neal played well last season and went under the radar for the most part, because he played on the Suns.  Between Andre's passing, douglas' 3 and D, Nedovic's athleticism, slashing and passing I'm fairly sure the Warriors have replaced Jarrett Jack jacking up mid range jump shots.