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Q&A With Golden State of Mind

Continuing my series of Q&A's with bloggers from other teams, here is my back and forth for the Golden State game.  Enjoy.

First, here are the questions I gave Atma Brother #1 of Golden State of Mind:

1. Most Boston fans have a bad case of East Coast Bias.  So the when we last left the Warriors, they were making history by knocking off the Mavericks in the upset of the century, Don Nelson was re-establishing himself as a genius, and Baron Davis was a lovable, bearded maniac superstar.   Now we look at the standings and it took you 7 games to pick up your first win.  Whahappen?

Haha, well at least you're admitting the East Coast Bias in Boston. I give you a ton of credit for that. The first thing to remember is that for the first 7 games of this season this wasn't the squad you saw terrorizing the Dallas Mavericks in a good old game of 20,000 on 5. Two starters from that team were missing, namely Jason Richardson and Stephen Jackson, plus super subs Matt Barnes and Mickael Pietrus weren't there for every game.

The other key reason that it took the Dubs 7 games to get that first W is that they were suffering from some nasty allergies to defense and were giving up about 118 points a game- yes, 118! Last season during that 16-5 run and upset of the Mavs in the 1st round although the scores were high, they were playing high energy, turnover inducing D thanks to one of the fastest lineups ever assembled. That style of play still hasn't made an appearance for the Warriors this season, but hopefully it'll come. That brand of hoops is good for the Warriors and the rest of the NBA. As the ratings for the Warriors playoff games last Spring indicated, it's entertaining as hell too.

You know if you guys didn't steal KG from us, we would've been fine for the first 7 games. I kid, I kid- actually I cry, I cry.


2. I saw that you guys made Stephen Jackson a captain.  Really?  The same guy that went Captain Insano in the Palace brawl throwing haymakers to anyone within 3 feet even though he wasn't initially involved at all?  The same guy that was firing his gun outside a strip club last year?   That guy?  (Side note: I'm really hoping you tell me what a great guy he is and how misunderstood he is b ecause I hear he and Kendrick Perkins are childhood buddies.)
Man I'm actually really glad you asked that question. Check out these links for an answer to your question:

2k6-2k7 REPORT CARD: Stephen Jackson  

Stephen Jackson: An Appreciation [Fast Break]

Warriors Really Need Cap'n Jack [SFGate]

On Capt. Jack, his effect on Baron, Wright and other Warriors notes [Talking Points with Tim Kawakami]

Will he be their savior? [Mercury]

Jack is our man. When Jack's got your back as we say on the West Coast- it's all good.
3. Kelenna Azubuike, Andris Biedrins, Mickael Pietrus, Marco Belinelli, is this the United Nations?  I'm sure our Euro corespondant Fabio Anderle could give me the 411 on these guys, but I'm lost.  Give us the run down on these guys (and anyone I'm forgetting).  By the way, how are the Brandon Wright and Patrick O'Bryant experiments going?

Kelenna Azubuike- Your 2007-2008 NBA Most Improved Player. Kaz is a good shooter and rebounder. His defense is improving steadily, but his passing needs a lot of work.

Andris Biedrins- His game is supremely ugly, but he's effective on the glass and excels at catching and dunking a few feet away from the bucket. Regardless of how much more he develops his game, Biedrins will be a mainstay in this league for the next decade plus, so definitely keep your eyes on him during tonight's game if you haven't seen him play that much. I've been watching him on the Warriors for 3 years and there's really no player to compare him to. His game is that unorthodox.

Mickael Pietrus- MP is a solid 3pt shooter from the corners and decent enough perimeter defender, but really seems to have leveled off. Nellie often plays MP2 out of position at the 4 spot and he never complains, so he deserves a ton of credit. The good man is both intentionally and unintentionally hilarious- a winning combo! He makes a lot of mental errors that drive everyone crazy though.

Marco Belinelli- So far this season he's given us no reason to believe the hype from that 37 point summer league game (haven't we heard this story before). Nellie touted him as being NBA ready before the preseason began, but it really looks like he has a long way to go. Belinelli's defense, passing, rebounding, and overall intensity in the very limited minutes he's played this regular season leave a lot to be desired. Definitely take a look at our recent Q&A with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress about Marco.

Brandan Wright- He's barely played, but you have to trust he's going to be a very good player if he can go top 10 in that loaded 2007 NBA Draft. If he plays tonight look at how long his reach is- it's unbelievable. Other than that he's a big mystery to all of us. For more on BWright check out our recent Q&A with Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.

Patrick O'Bryant- The Warriors have so little faith in this project big man who is only year remover from being a top 10 pick that they didn't pick up his low risk $2.37 million option after this season. Believe it or not, but his game really reminds me of The Chief. O'Bryant's ability to challenge shots and smooth offensive moves resemble Robert Parish's. Getting back to reality though- The Notorious P.O.B. right now is a poor man's Robert Parish- make that welfare poor.

And don't forget Didier Ilunga Mbenga!


Next, Atma Brother #1 of Golden State of Mind asks me some questions and I give my answers: 

1) Whether it's media propaganda or brainwashing by bad NBA GMs and organizations, there seems to an unfounded principle in the league that it's automatically a good thing when your team gets under the salary cap or gets younger. For example there was a significant contingent of Warriors fans who claimed they would be extremely upset if the Warriors traded Monta Ellis or Andris Biedrins for the older and more expensive KG this past offseason, mostly citing that KG was on the decline, while Monta and Andris were rising stars on relatively cheap contracts. The Celtics did the opposite of the "common NBA logic" with the offseason acquisitions of Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. They got much older and added some really expensive contracts to their cap for the next few years. As a fan and astute follower of the game given age, contracts, etc which would you would rather have right now- Delonte West, Wally Szczerbiak, Jeff Green, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick (top three protected), Minnesota's conditional first round draft pick from the Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade, and cash or Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett ( i.e. the Celtics' current roster)?

Well, for the most part, that "common NBA logic" does make a good deal of sense.  There are countless examples of teams that handcuffed themselves to large contracts and older veteran players that doomed their franchise to years of mediocrity or worse.  The Knicks are just the most obvious and exaggerated example.  So teams and their fans are gun shy for good reason.

On the other hand, every rule has its exceptions.  You shouldn't trade young for old, but if the older player is Kevin Garnett, you do it.  You shouldn't trade cap friendly contracts for bad ones, but when you have a chance to pair Pierce with Ray Allen and KG, that's worth paying for.  We hated giving up Al Jefferson.  But if he's lucky, someday years down the line Jefferson might be almost as good as Kevin Garnett.  Maybe.  KG is KG right now and should continue to be himself for another 3 or more years.

2) A lot of people have poked fun of the KG deal from Minnesota to Boston saying that it was TWolves GM Kevin McHale's last great move as a Celtic, especially since he seem so fixated on sending Garnett to the Celtics this summer. Do you believe McHale was purely looking out for the Timberwolves with this trade or was there some collusion between him and Celts GM Danny Ainge going on?

Both GMs have gone out of their way to state that they made the best deal available to them.  Nobody else had Al Jefferson or anyone like him available for trade.  Nobody else had Theo Ratliff's contract and the TWolves draft pick to give back to them.  There were pretty good deals out there, like the Golden State deal that reportedly fell through on draft night.  But the best fit was always Boston and both sides knew it.  It was just a matter of getting KG to get excited about it and that didn't happen until the Ray Allen deal happened.

With all that said, nothing happens in a vacuum either.  It would be naive to think that the relationship Danny and Kevin have didn't play some part in this.  There's a certain amount of trust that is shared between those two that they probably don't have around the league.

Playing into the perception has to be the GM's reputations.  McHale was slapped hard for his wink, wink deal with Joe Smith.  The NBA has had to create new trading rules because of some of the things Ainge has pulled off.  Remember when he traded Gary Payton and wound up resigning him a month later?  You can't do that anymore. 

I will stop well short of saying there was any kind of collusion involved.  However, when you have a deal as complex and multi-faceted as the Kevin Garnett deal, you need to be able to trust that the guy on the other side is going to give you a fair shake and not make you look foolish.  I think that's what Danny and Kevin had.

3) The Western Conference elite include the San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, and Dallas Mavericks. The Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and Utah Jazz are a few notches below that trio, but by the end of the season could rank just as high. How do you rate the Boston Celtics, arguably the Eastern Conference's top 1 or 2 team, among those Western Conference powers?

This is a lot easier to answer now that they have finally lost a game.  This is a very, very strong team and they have come together very quickly.  With that said, they just don't have the years of experience playing with each other that those Western powers do. 

I like your description of that group that is a notch or two below the top 3.  By the end of the season any of them could be right there, especially if one of the top teams slips.  I think the same goes for the Celtics.  They are one of the few teams in the East that has a legit shot at growing together over the course of the year and coming out with a legit shot at the title.

It is worth noting too that the Celtics probably have a better shot at it than Houston, Denver, or Utah, because they only have to play one Western team, and in a 7 game series, anything can happen.

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