Marc Spears talks Warriors basketball.
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports shares his thoughts on the Golden State Warriors past, present and future. Spears discusses the demise of the ’07-08 playoff team, nicknames the “We Believe” team, and shares his optimism about the Warriors young talent. Spears breaks down why he sees Anthony Randolph as a future superstar and what we should expect from the rest of the returning players.
SLAM: The Warriors organization has been under tremendous scrutiny for the decisions and moves they’ve made especially after the ’07 Playoff run. How do you see the organization as it currently stands?
Marc Spears: I like what Larry Riley is doing and the Warriors have done a great job of getting a lot of young talent. It’ll be interesting to see what happens, whether or not the Warriors keep all the young talent or do they use the talent to acquire other players.
I liked the move to get Devean George because they needed another veteran player as they were a bit too young. Marco Belinelli is interesting and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him play well in Toronto which may cause the Warriors to second guess themselves on why they didn’t give him more of an opportunity.
The young core of players on the Warriors reminds me of the young core the Clippers had about 8 years ago with Elton Brand, Andre Miller, Darius Miles, Quentin Richardson, etc… The Clippers played it the wrong way so hopefully the Warriors can learn from the Clippers mistakes and keep the best guys while moving the others to get veteran help.
SLAM: The frustration level from the fan’s vantage point is at its highest level because, after a lengthy playoff drought, the Warriors finally made a run in ’07, only to have the team to torn apart within two years. How do the Warriors re-capture the magic they had in the ’07 Playoffs?
MS: I grew up in the Bay Area and remember watching Sleepy Floyd, Jon Barry Carroll, Pervis Short, Terry Teagle, Mr. Mean Larry Smith and others on KICU Ch. 36 on black-and-white television. I grew up a big Warriors fan and obviously as a journalist you change as you have to be impartial.
Rajan Rondo of the Boston Celtics said playing in Golden State was the toughest place to play in the League and if they can somehow get a very good team to go along with the atmosphere it would do wonders. When they made the Playoffs in 2007 we all thought they had arrived to that point. The dunk over Andrei Kirilenko by Baron Davis will forever be remembered as well as there upset of the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round. It was sad to see things turn in the wrong direction so quickly. There were front office issues that contributed to the changes with people not being on the same page and having a consistent voice representing the team.
I like what the franchise has now in terms of young talent, but it always seems as if the Warriors are building for the future instead of building for now. They’ll be fun to watch but the Bay Area is long searching for a team they know will be in the Playoffs every year. In San Antonio, Boston or Cleveland the talk is about winning championships where as in the Bay Area the talk is about hoping the Warriors can make the Playoffs as a lower seed. Bay Area basketball fans are long overdue a team who consistently wins and makes the Playoffs every year as there are no better and deserving fans than Warrior fans.
One thing Larry Riley has is assets; the Warriors have a lot of good young talent that is attractive to teams around the League. The Warriors might have to trade some of their young talent to become a better team now rather than later. I wouldn’t count on the team they have now to be the team they have at the end of the season because they’ll be active in potential deals with Amar’e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer and others. Keep an eye out on Larry Riley because he might have something up his sleeve.
SLAM: When you think of young talent on the Warriors the player that comes to mind is Anthony Randolph. Randolph has been a very active man this offseason with a dominating performance in the Las Vegas Summer League, Team USA camp and two a-day workouts. How good of a player can Anthony Randolph become?
MS: Got to know him a little bit this offseason and he’s an extremely grounded kid. He is scaringly talented for being so young; he’s still growing and may end up being 7-1. As he develops more of a perimeter game to go along with his quickness and athleticism, he’s got All-Star potential. I’m not saying he’s going to be an All-Star next season because he will have his struggles but you can definitely see the talent he possesses.
It was such an extreme honor for him to get invited to Team USA camp especially at the age of 20 and it speaks volumes about what the basketball world thinks about his potential. He’s not going to make the Team USA for the next Olympics in London but in 2016, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him on the Olympic team.
He got humbled his rookie year and as a result his work ethic was strengthening. He’s been working out like crazy this offseason and putting in a significant time on improving his game. He’ll make the Rookie Challenge this time around and he’s one of the young forces to keep an eye out on this league.
I think in time he’ll be able to play some small forward once his skills develop more but with his height he’s more of a power forward. If he can get his jumper down to go along with his ability to play point-forward and working on his skill set he’s going to be a helluva player. It’s scary to think about what he might be in five years if he continues to work hard and improve his game.
Another thing that was good for him besides being humbled and not having everything handed to him his rookie season was going to Las Vegas and working out with Team USA. He got to see how hard the best young players work and spend time on their game everyday. There are not many people who work harder than Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose; for Randolph to be around all these young stars and learn from them will help him tremendously. His experiences during that week in Las Vegas aided his work ethic and made him step it up a notch. One of the greatest attributes that Randolph possesses is being so humble and I’m confident he’ll get to the superstar level; Warrior fans just have to be patient.
SLAM: Randolph was the youngest player at the Team USA camp this past summer. What was the general consensus from coaches and executives about his performance in camp?
MS: They were impressed with him considering he was the youngest guy there. The first couple of practices he did OK, but when the lights came on and the games started, he was one of the top 5 players there. Everyone left very impressed with him and he’s definitely in the future plans for Team USA.
SLAM: Let’s talk about some other Warrior players and get your thoughts on them moving forward. Monta Ellis missed a large portion of last season due to an injury he suffered while riding his moped last summer. What should Warrior fans expect to see from Monta this coming season?
MS: Haven’t heard much about Monta this offseason other than the rumors about him voicing his displeasure if the Warriors drafted a guard. Hopefully the whole experience he went through with the accident and subsequent suspension and fine has humbled him some. The Warriors should be his team because he’s the star of the team. He’s healthy and it should be a breakthrough season for him. With his talent, what they’re paying him and with the drama behind him, it’s Monta’s team if he wants it. Monta has to become a leader on this team and that should start this season.
SLAM: The Warriors drafted Stephen Curry with the 7th pick in the Draft. Heading into the draft it seemed like a pipedream that Curry would fall to the Warriors. How do you see Curry fitting in with the Warriors?
MS: In Nelson’s offense he can play point because you don’t really need a traditional PG as the system is run ‘n gun, up and down. He doesn’t have to be a prototype point guard in this offense and he’ll be a great player coming off the bench for the Warriors. There’s some that question if he can get open but in this offense it’s a moot point because of the tempo and abundance of scoring opportunities available. The system is made for him to succeed and I expect him to pay well from the beginning.
SLAM: Rumors were rampant this summer about a possible Amar’e Stoudemire trade to the Warriors which was nearly completed until Stephen Curry fell to the Warriors. Was the deal not made simply because the Warriors couldn’t include Curry in the trade for Amar’e?
MS: At that time it was a tough trade to make because Amar’e still needed eye surgery and the Warriors didn’t think Curry would be there at the 7th pick. There’s a lot of talent in the draft but few that are popular. Other than Blake Griffin, Curry was the most popular guy in the draft and when he was in Las Vegas for summer league, fans were chanting his name everywhere he went. He’s a household name without even playing in an NBA game yet and those guys are hard to find because he can sell tickets, jerseys and bring enthusiasm to the franchise.
Amar’e is a beast, he’s an unbelievably talented player and has been a perennial All-Star; now when was the last time the Warriors had an All-Star or had someone represent them at the All-Star game?
It wasn’t so much that the Warriors were reluctant to part with Andris Biedrins and others but more so is the fact that the Warriors have a young player who they believe will be as special as Amar’e and is seven years younger in Anthony Randolph. Finances are a big part of the equation and having a younger cheaper alternative in Randolph allows the Warriors to allocate their money elsewhere. Randolph’s development made the Warriors comfortable in not making the trade for Amar’e.
SLAM: One of the better young big men in the NBA that fly’s under the radar is Andris Biedrins. How important is Biedrins to the Warriors and their ability to play their run ‘n gun style?
MS: Biedrins is one of the most underrated players in the NBA. Everything doesn’t have to be scoring; Biedrins is a terror on the boards, blocks shots and knows his limitations.
I covered Marcus Camby in Denver and he’s also one of the most underrated stars in the League because he owns the boards, blocks a lot of shots, alters the other teams’ offense because of his presence. He did so much that wasn’t in the box score and maybe I’m more of a basketball purist but I think too much emphasis is put on scoring. Biedrins reminds me of Camby in the way they defer to the other scorers on their teams and focus on the underappreciated things it takes to win games. It’s no coincidence when Camby or Biedrins miss games their teams usually lose because it’s hard to replace the contributions they make to their teams.
SLAM: The book on Stephen Jackson prior to coming to the Warriors was that he was a out of control player who constantly was in the news for the wrong reasons most noticeably the brawl in Detroit. Jackson has worked hard to shed those negative attributes during his time with the Warriors as Don Nelson has brought the best in Stephen Jackson. Talk about how Jackson has been able to rehabilitate his image in Golden State.
MS: Stephen Jackson is a talented player and the Warriors know exactly what they’re going to get on a nightly basis from Jackson. He’s a surprising leader for the Warriors and has matured since his time in Indiana which was constantly mired in distractions both on the court as well as off the court. It’ll be interesting to see if he can continue being a leader on a team which will have its struggles this season and isn’t a lock by any stretch of the imagination to make the Playoffs.
The whole saga with his contract extension was interesting to follow as there seemed to be confusion and clouds over what was going on. It was odd to say the least. We didn’t know who was the one approving the deal or negotiating it as there was rumors about Jackson firing his agent, Chris Mullin not knowing about the deal until after it was done which all just created a big cloud of confusion and mystery over the situation.
Jackson and Corey Maggette are probably two of the most consistent players on the Warriors because you know what they’re going to give you on a nightly basis. The deal the Warriors gave Maggette to bring him to the Warriors was one where they did overpay as he had offers from other teams but no where near what the Warriors gave him. However, people have to remember, what San Antonio offers and what Golden State offers is two different things. When you’re a struggling franchise you’ll have to overpay to get somebody versus a team like San Antonio who can offer a legitimate shot at winning a championship.
Kenyon Martin caught a lot of flack for his deal in Denver but he got market value. A lot of times people forget players get paid based on their market value and not on their playing time or talent. Glen Davis signed a 2-year/$6 million deal with Boston but he’s probably worth more than that; however, the deal he got was his market value. The marketplace is what determines a player’s value and how much he’ll end up receiving.
SLAM: With all that being said, what’s the season outlook for the Warriors? Can they make a run at the Playoffs this season?
MS: A good season for the Warriors would be anything around the .500 mark because they’ll be fun and exciting to watch all season but need to catch a few breaks if they want to be a potential playoff team. I wouldn’t be surprised if some kind of deal is made to make the team better because there will be teams looking to shed salary and it’d be hard for the Warriors to refuse a sweet offer. I’d keep an eye on the Amar’e situation because you can have him play center next to Randolph which would make the Warriors even more explosive.
The Warriors are not a playoff team based on the team they have right now because they’ll have success at home but will struggle to consistently win on the road.
Born and raised in the Bay Area and currently residing on the Peninsula, Rasheed Malek represents the younger demographic of Warrior fans, which, according to Malek, “means I’ve witnessed nothing but bad basketball for most of my life.”