Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Warriors are the Latest Example of Big Picture Thinking

Classy move, Chris.
"Sometimes change is inevitable."

These were some of the words spoken from former Warrior great Chris Mullin to the raucous Oakland crowd on March 16, 2012. Then-new owner Joseph Lacob was trying to introduce Mullin at halftime to celebrate the retirement of his jersey.

Mullin ended up being right for the most part, except that change is not inevitable sometimes. It is inevitable at all times. It's the one constant in life aside from death, and it is all in how you adapt to it that shows your true colors.

On a night where he was to be celebrated for his on-the-court heroics, Mullin came to the rescue again. We have all been there- in front of others, freezing up and wondering when the ordeal would be over. Mullin could have sat back and and idly watched while the new guy in town took one on the chin from thousands of passionate and loyal fans. But the former St. John's standout is not one to sit by and watch things happen. On that night, he was the only one who could bail out Lacob. Former great Rick Barry admirably tried and failed, one step away from challenging the crowd to a fight outside the arena.

The game was the first since trading away fan favorite Monta Ellis. I remember at the time thinking "Where is this franchise headed?" Either Lacob and his crew had just made a franchise-crippling move for the sake of publicity, or the owner knew exactly what he was doing in order to make Golden State a contender.

At this point and time, Lacob looks like the smartest man in the room. Chris Mullin's unwavering confidence combined with then-first year head coach Marc Jackson's endorsement in the owner only makes everyone involved coming out smelling like roses.

Mullin continued his sermon that night, preaching patience and that "everything would work out just fine." Looking back, those words almost seem prophetic.

Lacob has put together a talented trio. 
The following summer, the Warriors would draft Harrison Barnes with the seventh overall pick, then select former Michigan State Spartan Draymond Greene in the second round at thirty-five (an absolute steal). This helped push forward with their youth movement. The season saw Stephon Curry take the reigns in a trial-by-fire, sink-or-swim kind of season. Not just for the young man from Davidson, but for the franchise as a whole. Lacob was making moves- but would they make sense?

Fast forward to present time. It's August 2013. The Warriors upset the second seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs, ultimately succumbing to the Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs in six games. For a team not even expected to make the playoffs much less take out a team that had the Coach and Executive of the Year....not too shabby.

The Warriors did not stay quiet during the summer, either. They helped their immediate picture by bringing in Andre Iguodala for four years and forty-eight million dollars. The casualties were solid backup point guard Jarrett Jack and savvy veteran power forward Carl Landry. These two losses were offset by the additions of future draft picks from the Jazz. Utah, in turn, took the albatross made up by the contracts of Andres Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush off Golden State's hands.

Iggy will shine in Oakland. Ellis will struggle in Dallas.
Ellis ended up signing as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks after a truly uneventful run with the rudderless Milwaukee Bucks. After whiffing on Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, Dallas is hoping Ellis can be that extra spark they need to attract a free agent in 2014. But if you are pinning your hopes on an aging Dirk Nowitzki and a streaky Ellis- well then it's a very tough time to be a Mavericks fan. 

Those series of moves helped solidify the Warriors' bench, as Barnes will be in sixth man of the year talks all season, and Iggy will help push a break and get more shots for Curry (who can easily create shots by himself) and Klay Thompson. With David Lee and Andrew Bogut on the boards, this team is going to be in playoff contention for the majority of the season, barring injuries.

We fear what we do not know. The abyss of uncertainty when it comes to peering into the future can seem endless. But if you have management that makes moves with a firm direction and always takes the big picture into account, then  you are in good hands. Teams like the Thunder (Sam Presti), Rockets (Daryl Morey) and Spurs (R.C Buford) have adopted that way of thinking.

When thinking big picture, one cannot afford to cripple their teams with bad contracts or make moves that lack purpose. One cannot become attached to players so much that they cannot be seen as expendable. Unless you are a franchise cornerstone under a maximum contract, everyone is expendable. It's not personal- it's business.

 This is what separates these organizations from one such as the Knicks, Nets and Pelicans. New York would give anything to get rid of Amare Stoudemire's burden of a contract. The new Brooklyn Nets have yet to take the court, but if things do not work out with their highly paid roster, I might say the same about them next year. The Pelicans have a young team, but a lot of money wrapped up in three guards (Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon).

Gilbert wonders where it all went wrong.
Learn from the Wizards, who finally have seemed to turn a corner after almost eight years without any progression because of bad contracts and moves for the sake of moves. The old big three (Arenas, Butler, Jamison) has been replaced by a new, much younger one (Wall, Beal, Porter).

I also find it interesting how the Nuggets- poised for tons of success and a deep playoff run- have gone in the exact opposite direction following their early exit. George Karl was fired (that's what Coach of the Year gets you) and GM Masai Ujiri bolted for the Toronto Raptors. What a difference a year makes.

In retrospect, I do not blame Warriors fans for acting like they did- it's human nature. I would assume that the majority of people fear change. Golden State fans' passion and loyalty to their team is met by the organization's cohesiveness. This cohesiveness with Lacob at the helm allows them to make moves that matter and set the Warriors up for years of competitive basketball.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Contact me on Twitter @SeanNeutron .

No comments:

Post a Comment