Before tonight's game, I was reached out to by Nate Parham, one of the managers over at Golden State of Mind for a quick Q&A. Being a huge fan of his work, I happily obliged his request, and you can see my responses to his questions here. I also took the time to ask him a few questions about the Bay Area's finest team, and you can find his responses below. Hope you enjoy!
1. Is Carl Landry's strong start just smoke and mirrors, or is he really poised well to work within the Warriors system? What accounts for his better production?
Landry was one of those guys that I always loved/hated because he was exactly the kind of rugged interior presence that the Warriors needed, never had, and got killed by.
But the reason I think he has been so good with the Warriors is that they can really stretch the floor with all of their shooters and they have a number of good passers to surround the post with. But the win in Minnesota was a great example of what Landry has excelled at this year: most of his points came from finding gaps in the defense without the ball, particularly along the baseline under the basket, and getting easy passes for dunks.
Warriors fans have debated the costs & benefits of a Landry-Lee pairing since the moment Landry was signed, but in a Jack-Curry-Thompson-Landry-Lee lineup they basically have four guys who can shoot and an opposing post having to respect Lee away from the basket. The biggest beneficiary has been Landry who has been a far more efficient scorer when he isn't forced to spend all of his time scoring on back to the basket plays.
2. Speaking of surprises, is the old Andris Biedrins back, or is he just an emergency option?
Oh right, speaking of passers, Biedrins had three assists on Friday night so maybe we should be counting him among those passers on the roster.
In seriousness, I don't know if we have the old Biedrins back - he hasn't been so great as a scorer at all, despite actually making a pair of free throws against Denver - but so far this year it looks like we're seeing a player that is a useful rotation player and, hey, that's better than last year. If all he does is come in the game and rebound for 10-15 minutes that's a plus, especially with Bogut out. When Bogut comes back, having a 7-foot-ish guy on the bench as a third stringer who can rebound is a massive plus - when is the last time you could say the Warriors had a legit post rotation of 5-6 players (depending on how Draymond Green develops)?
I don't see him surpassing Ezeli in the rotation, but he's more than just an emergency guy right now.
3. Many people, including GSoMers, have agreed with the sentiment that David Lee plays for stats, rather than to win. Does this argument have any merit?
I understand where that comes from and it's a plausible explanation for the way he plays, but I choose to think about him as a player with strengths that are easily tallied in the box score and limitations that are easily masked by his numbers.
On offense, he's a good passer and shooter, which makes him extremely useful on a team with post scoring threats (e.g. Bogut & Landry) and shooters. He gives an offense a number of options and that's a plus that doesn't show up in the numbers. The issue is on the defensive end: in turning and going for the ball when the opponent shoots without boxing out, he can sometimes give up second chance points and that's frustrating to watch. And there are times when more athletic opponents can just lose him, which causes defensive breakdowns.
I choose not to think that a NBA player has anything but winning on his mind.
4. Another highly criticized figure has been Mark Jackson. Despite the 5-4 start, many are still calling for his firing. Do you see him as the Warriors coach of the future, or an experiment gone wrong?
This is a serious question: how many Warriors coaches in the last two decades have even been 5-4? Nellie and ??? I mean, relative to Warriors' history, that's keeping the winning momentum going for a long time.
I think there are a lot of legitimate reasons to not like the job he's doing, but considering that the team is 5-4 without Rush and Bogut (essentially) it's hard for me to say it's an experiment gone wrong. But it is an experiment and I think this is a big season for it - last season, in his first year ever coaching and no preseason to implement much, I thought of it as a development year. This season, I'd say he probably needs results.
5. Can the Warriors make the playoffs this season? If so, what separates them from the muck of the West?
To connect this with the question above, I came into this season not certain about what Bogut and Curry would do and just wanted to see an improved team and organization: the team playing together as a unit and some of the younger players showing signs of growth. It's been a mixed bag, but as frustrating as a couple of these losses have been, I'm pretty happy and it would be hard for me to harp on the coaching if the team closes in on .500 this season.
Playoffs will depend on Bogut's health. I think we've seen how difficult it is for this team to be playoff-caliber teams without Bogut's defensive presence. And if you look around the "muck of the West" that really is what separates the Warriors: they have a legit 7-footer who is an elite post defender and interior passer. When you put him on the floor for consistent minutes surrounded by the rest of this unit - and give them a chance to develop some chemistry - they're going to be tough to beat.
Without Bogut and Rush, there's no question this is going to be a weaker defensive team over the long-haul. So let's just hope Bogut comes back sooner than later.
Many thanks to Nate for the fantastic answers! Be sure to hit up Golden State Of Mind when you get the chance.