December 16, 2008
If Don Nelson has a a brilliant plan for his Golden State Warriors, there’s no better time than the present to start executing it. Otherwise, this franchise that just two seasons ago shocked the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, and looked to finally have clawed its way back to respectability, will have completed its rapid plunge back into sub-mediocrity.
It turned out to be a tough summer for Nellie and the Warriors, to be sure. First they lost enigmatic fan-favorite Baron Davis to the Clippers, then lost out on the Elton Brand Sweepstakes. With a sudden stash of free-agent dollars, they then settled for injury-prone Corey Maggette, who seemed like a natural fit for the system but has already missed 9 of the team’s first 25 games; the team is 3-13 with him in the lineup.
And then after awarding their supposed franchise player (and ETB favorite) Monta Ellis with a healthy contract extension, Monta celebrated with an ill-advised moped ride that has severely submarined his season. Resigning double-double machine Andris Biedrins is about the only summertime move that’s panned out thus far.
But is that an excuse for Nelson’s lineup silliness we’re seeing on a nightly basis? It is if he’s purposely trying to join the ever-growing parade of fired head coaches, but otherwise it’s looking less and less like there’s still a method to this madness, and more like Nellie has finally lost it and/or thrown in the towel.
Almost every player on this 7-18 Warriors’ roster not named Biedrins, Stephen Jackson, or Jamal Crawford has no assured spot in the rotation on any given night; Maggette does
when if he’s healthy (keyword “if”) and we assume Ellis will be logging big minutes later this season if that ankle of his can take it.
Everyone else seems to have their playing time allotted by chance, by whether or not Nelson pulls their name out of his hat during pregame warmups. This is a bad team with very few defined roles, little to no continuity or chemistry, and absolutely zero consistency–and Nelson is square in the middle of this trainwreck and one its main culprits.
It’s almost as if Nelson has decided to look down upon and punish individual success. How else to explain ’07 lottery pick Brandan Wright being rewarded for a two-game span in which he totaled 28 points and 11 boards on 75% FG with three straight DNPs? Or recognizing this year’s lottery pick, Anthony Randolph, for his first career double-double by barely getting him on the floor the next two games? For severely cutting rookie Anthony Morrow’s minutes after he scored 62 points in two games? Or for most recently giving rookie forward Rob Kurz a big, fat DNP two days after he went for 20 points on 63% shooting (including 3-3 three-pointers), 7 boards, 2 steals, and 2 blocks?
Playing mind games with the youngest roster in the NBA is a great way to shatter their personal confidence, lose their trust, and send your franchise spiraling into the league’s cellar. It’s also a great way to punch your one-way ticket out of town.
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Don Nelson Photo Credit: Icon SMI