The Morning Report: C.J. Watson as a starter? Ronny Turiaf in a big lineup? Don’t put too much stock into it all
By Geoff Lepper
Warriors coach Don Nelson said Wednesday that he wants to treat tonight’s exhibition finale against the New Orleans Hornets as if it were a regular-season game, with a typical rotation and a closing lineup meant to procure a win.
So when Nelson listed his expected starting lineup — which already featured Corey Maggette in place of the injured Anthony Randolph — it came as a bit of a shock when C.J. Watson was the first name out of his mouth.
C.J. Watson? A guy who strained the medial collateral ligament in his right knee three weeks ago? Really? Over a healthy Anthony Morrow, who’s been the Warriors’ best player in this exhibition season? Over a healthy Stephen Curry, who is already after three weeks as a pro Golden State’s best facilitator of ball movement?
Sure. This is Don Nelson, after all, whose motivational techniques never lack for bluntness. (Recall the Rob Kurz-over-Randolph situation early last season.)
I think there’s a two-fold dynamic in play here. Watson said Wednesday that his right knee is only back to 75 or 80 percent of full strength, and he’s logged less than 100 minutes of play in three exhibition games this season, so there’s a question of conditioning and using the last chance to really get Watson back into game shape.
There’s also certainly a component meant to keep expectations for Curry from getting out of control. There are going to be struggles for any rookie point guard, no matter how highly prized he may be — Steve Nash, for example, shot 42.3 percent from the floor as a backup to Jason Kidd in 1996-97, and committed a turnover just less than once in every four plays.
So to throw Curry out there on Opening Night as a starter, alongside Monta Ellis and (if Randolph still isn’t ready) Maggette in a lineup that will get slaughtered defensively, may not be the wisest course of action.
Also, I’ve said it before and will reiterate: Curry and Morrow must play together to maximize their impact. Curry is the one guy on the team who finds the hot hand (unless you count Stephen Jackson pulling up from 26 feet with 19 left on the shot clock because he hit his three previous shots as “finding the hot hand”) and feeds that guy constantly, and Morrow is the shooter best equipped to take advantage of that kind of room service. If you’re not going to start both — an impossibility unless Monta gets dealt alongside Jackson — then bringing them both off the bench at the end of the first quarter is a good alternative.
There’s another way to look at it, of course: That Watson is merely the latest incarnation of DeMarcus Nelson, the East Bay product who opened last season as the starting point guard and feel-good story of the year but found himself joining the ranks of the unemployed just after New Year’s Day.
That’s not going to happen in this instance; Watson is far too valuable a piece for the Warriors to simply cut loose. But I wouldn’t put any more stock in Watson’s ascension to the starting lineup than we do, in retrospect, to DeMarcus Nelson’s stint at the point.
Big lineup? Believe it when you see it…
Starting Ronny Turiaf alongside Andris Biedrins on Tuesday was much more about getting Turiaf — who hadn’t played until that point because of a sore knee — up to speed than it was about actually playing big; remember that we went through this whole song and dance last year, and despite the fact that Turiaf was the Warriors’ best answer, statistically speaking, at power forward, that unit got very sporadic run and never made a real impact.
Put it another way: For every minute of Turiaf at power forward, expect to see 12 minutes of Maggette there.
CohnZohn/Santa Rosa Press Democrat (Lowell Cohn): The transcript of Lowell’s one-on-one with Don Nelson from Wednesday. The most interesting answer is at the very end, where Nelson takes his famous “I’ll work one year for free, whatever they want me to do,” and walks it back: Now Nellie is saying that he’ll work for free, but not as the head coach. That means, unless he engineers the ouster of team president Robert Rowell to open up that job, that Nelson will likely be working as a consultant in 2011-12. As a coach, Nelson would merit $6 million in salary. As a consultant, it’s more like $1 million. So Nelson has essentially cut his “gift” to Chris Cohan by 83 percent.
Talking Points/San Jose Mercury News (Tim Kawakami): Tim notes that Corey Maggette took a whack on his surgically repaired right wrist — the same one he just recently had checked out in Los Angeles, where it received a clean bill of health — during practice on Wednesday. Also, he reminds us not to put much stock in the exhibition season, where no team has ever won an NBA championship. In addition, there are transcripts of Don Nelson’s group interview, and a one-on-one with Monta Ellis.
Contra Costa Times (Curtis Pashelka): More details on Randolph’s bruises: A lower back contusion and back spasms, plus a left knee contusion. On this injury-ravaged team, that’s actually what passes for good news.
San Francisco Chronicle (Rusty Simmons): Jackson is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game after being examined by Dr. Frank Chen, which would push Morrow into the starting lineup.
Oakland Tribune (Monte Poole): There’s an LOL moment when Monte takes a whack at Nellie over his claim that Anthony Randolph was the laziest rookie he’s ever coached: “This is certifiably deceitful when you consider Nellie coached Victor Alexander.”
San Jose Mercury News (Tim Kawakami): “It’s all so Warriors: Very interesting, constantly changing, interrupted by bursts of controversy, and none of it ever quite fits together.”
HOOPSWORLD (Travis Heath): Pointing out that a Denver deal for Jackson is made exceedingly unlikely because the Nuggets’ big, soon-to-expire trade exception falls a couple hundred thousand short of fitting Jackson’s salary.
ESPN.com (LZ Granderson): On the ex-Warrior front, a syrupy feature about Jamal Crawford’s “new beginning” in Atlanta (after his “new beginnings” in Oakland and New York). LZ quotes a couple of scouts who frankly must be smoking dope if they’re serious. (One scout likens Crawford to a black Manu Ginobili, a fact which should prompt an undoubtedly victorious libel suit from Ginobili.) I couldn’t help but notice, however, that neither one of them mentions defense. In fact, Crawford’s historically poor defense doesn’t get mentioned until the 17th paragraph, when coach Mike Woodson has this to say: “”He’s still learning what we like to do defensively, but no question, his impact on the team is felt.” OK, Mike. Good luck with that.
Garbage Time All-Stars: One cartoonist’s interpretation of the marooned Stephen Jackson.
KNBR (Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey): Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports discusses his recent flame-o-gram to the Warriors’ front office.
Warriors.com: Post-practice interviews from Wednesday:
7 Responses to “The Morning Report: C.J. Watson as a starter? Ronny Turiaf in a big lineup? Don’t put too much stock into it all”
“despite the fact that Turiaf was the Warriors’ best answer, statistically speaking, at power forward, that unit got very sporadic run and never made a real impact.”
no. Turiaf was not the best answer at PF. according to +/-, Steven Jackson was far and away the best answer at PF. they are a 47 win team with Jack at PF.
CJ is -7 in 4th period.
He’s the only GSW in the negative.
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TagsAcie Law Al Harrington Allen Iverson Andris Biedrins Anthony Morrow Anthony Randolph Baron Davis Brandan Wright C.J. Watson Chris Cohan Chris Hunter Chris Mullin Corey Maggette Dan Dickau DeMarcus Nelson Devean George Don Nelson Gilbert Arenas Jamal Crawford Jason Richardson Jeff Fried Jermareo Davidson Keith Smart Kelenna Azubuike Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett Kobe Bryant Larry Riley Marco Belinelli Marcus Williams Matt Barnes Mickael Pietrus Mikki Moore Monta Ellis Patrick O'Bryant Richard Hendrix Robert Rowell Rob Kurz Ronny Turiaf Stephen Curry Stephen Jackson Stephon Marbury Steve Nash Troy Murphy Vladimir Radmanovic
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