I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to exchange thoughts with Atma Brother #1 from Golden State of Mind. If you have not visited GSoM you are certainly shortchanging yourself. They have developed arguably the best blog around and have a rabid community that loves the Warriors. There are a lot of pictures and other fun things over there, but the reason they are where they are is because they know basketball.
I asked Atma Brother #1 five questions about the Warriors so get ready for some deep thoughts about one of the funnest team in all of professional sports.
Jeremy - I catch Golden State almost every chance I get on NBA League Pass so I know the joy that can come from watching these guys play. Even believing (before Dirk went down) that Denver had to pass you guys to make the playoffs, I could never get myself to root against Golden State. For those unfortunate souls out there who do not get to see the Warriors play very often can you put into words why it is so much fun to root for this team?
Atma Brother #1 - It's honestly pure craziness and complete mayhem 82 times a season and as we say here that's a great time out! This team makes absolutely no sense. One day they're beating the elite Boston Celtics in a thriller and the next night they're losing to the Chicago Bulls minus 3 starters at home. It's a wild ride and you never know what to expect. Nothing's a sure thing. There are no guaranteed losses and no freebies.
Jeremy - I remember watching Monta Ellis play in summer league before his rookie season and I marveled at his dynamic ability. How he lasted to pick number 40 I will never understand. After the trade of Jason Richardson where would Golden State be without Monta? Is he just as important to this team as Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson?
Atma Brother #1 - What Monta has shown this year is pretty spectacular. I remember a few years back when Amare Stoudemire burst out onto the scene and put up 26 ppg. Everyone knew exactly what he was going to do every time down- go right and dunk it- but they couldn't stop him. Monta's been at that level this season albeit to a lesser degree. Teams know he's going to leak out on defense and look to push the ball up court FAST. He's going right and he's going to finish with his right hand. Still no one can stop him. It's been incredibly fun to watch.
If Monta didn't make the big step this season after the Jason Richardson trade they would've taken an even bigger step back. I know the Warriors have already surpassed last season's win total, but you have to compare this team to the spring small ball version post Pacers heist and when both Baron Davis and J-Rich came back from their respective injuries. That team went 16-4 to finish off the regular season, shocked the Mavs and the world, and lost in the semifinals against the Jazz mostly because of fatigue in the closing moments of the first 2 opening games. If Monta didn't step up this season, especially in February where he shot an eye-popping 60% from the field, this team would be headed to the lottery.
What holds Monta back in the importance ladder compared to Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson is the all-around game. Monta's defense leaves a lot to be desired, but when BD and Jack feel like it, they can be legit lockdown defenders. In general they're also both more well rounded scorers, passers, rebounders, and overall savvier basketball players. Hopefully Monta gets there though. He's still only 22.
Jeremy - What does Brandan Wright have to do to get off the bench? Among rookies that have played at least 30 games he is second in PER. He is not a consistent rebounder, but who is on the Warriors? Is his development the key to Golden State becoming a title contender in the next couple of seasons?
Atma Brother #1 - Brandan Wright's time will hopefully come, but Nellie doesn't seem to think that time is now and neither do I. We're in the middle of a wild playoff hunt here in the Bay. This isn't the time to develop rookies. Check out the Nellie Knows What's Wright section in this past Thursday's recap.
This offseason and beyond he's going to need to put on some weight, increase the speed at which he finishes and shoots (his long arms seem detrimental here), and step up his defensive awareness. He looks lost way too often on both sides of the ball. If he can improve in those areas and step up his intensity, it will really help out the Warriors next season and beyond. You have to remember the Warriors don't seem like they targeted Wright as a piece to build a championship contender in the future. He appears to be the remains of many failed Warrior attempts to land Kevin Garnett this past summer.
As far as his PER that's another issue for another time. However, I don't believe that's a good basis to give a guy who's played mostly garbage minutes a bigger role. It's one thing to put up nice stats per minute in spot minutes, but another thing to have those numbers actually extrapolate night and night out over the long haul when you're playing big minutes and other teams have a good scouting report and read on you. Nellie's being very careful with Wright and looking to only put him in situations where he will succeed. That will really pay off in the long run.
Jeremy - What is the ceiling for the Golden State Warriors in 2008? Can they make a playoff run or was last year's upset of the Mavericks going to be looked back as the high point of this team's success? Is it just a matter of avoiding Utah and San Antonio in the playoffs?
Atma Brother #1 - To answer your question let's look at the potential 2008 Western Conference Playoff teams and predict each series, remembering of course that a lot can change in 2 weeks.
vs New Orleans Hornets - Warriors in 6. Even though the Hornets are much bigger and stronger, I think the Warriors playoff experience wins out. Do you really think Baron Davis won't stick it to his former team on the national stage?
vs Houston Rockets - Warriors in 6. Eventually the Dubs will just run them out of the gym.
vs LA Lakers - A healthy Lake-Show with a front line of Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum is this Warriors' kryptonite. Lakers in 5 and even a clean sweep.
vs Utah Jazz - Jazz in 5. Unfortunately we've been down this route before here in Dub town.
vs San Antonio Spurs - Spurs in 6. I know the Warriors finally had some regular season success against the Spurs this year, but that was somewhat of an illusion.
vs Phoenix Suns - Suns in 7. The X-factor of course being Shaq's health and how well he continues to gel with them. If the Warriors can find a way to get him and Amare in foul trouble early and often, they could steal this series though.
vs Dallas Mavericks - Mavs in 6. The We Believe advantage that the Warriors had in last year's upset city was shipped out when they traded JRich and the Mavs brought in Jason Kidd. These teams have a lot of different key pieces now. I hate to say it, but former Warrior Erik Dampier could come back to haunt them. (I can't believe I just wrote that.)
vs Denver Nuggets - Nuggets in 6. Warrior Killlers saturate this roster up and down.
Jeremy - And finally, how can Warrior fans be so great when Raider fans are such psychopathic lunatics? Is there virtually no crossover between the two fan bases? Is it merely the presence of Al Davis that transforms normally sane individuals into mindless bloodthirsty freaks? Does the angelic presence of Jessica Alba automatically convert these people back into their normal frame of mind? Help me understand.
Atma Brother #1 - Haha I was actually talking about a similar topic the other day with a friend. Maybe it's Thunder's calming and friendly influence?
In all seriousness there isn't a more passionate, die-hard, and INSANE fanbase than Raider Nation. I grew up a big Niner fan even though I grew up in the East Bay because the Raiders were down in LA most of my pivotal fanhood years. But as a Bay Area native I can't help but root for and respect the Raiders and their rabid fans.
But you're right aside from the corporate types and bandwagoners who've been Warrior fans for all of 10 months and driven the price of tix at the Roaracle, Warriors Nation is the most hype and knowledgeable people in all of pro hoops. Check out this piece from last spring: Crunch Time For The Warriors ... And Their Fans [Deadspin].
Thanks to Atma Brother #1 and all the guys over at GSoM. Click here to read my answers to his probing questions about our Nuggets.
Should be a great game tomorrow night!