5 Questions for the West: Better or Worse?

What is the biggest vulnerability for the Warriors? Are they worse because of the players they had to move to fit in Kevin Durant?

Worse. They aren’t going to cross the 70 win plateau. They lost a lot of speed and skill on the bench. The replacements are adequate but don’t operate with the same quickness or offensive accuracy. The Warriors motto: strength in numbers, worked because they were 12 deep. They had so much versatile talent. But Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, David West, Ian Clark, James McAdoo, Elliot Williams, Anderson Varejao aren’t making anyone scared. Does a weaker bench mean they have to depend more on their starters? Fatigue was an issue last year in the playoffs. The Warriors are not as deep as they have been these last two seasons.

Will Harrison Barnes live up to his potential? Will he be a better NBA player coached by Rick Carlisle?

I am not giving up on Barnes because he had a disastrous NBA Finals. It all went to his head. He couldn’t make a shot, not because he couldn’t make a shot, but because he was thinking about not making a shot. The pressure got to him. Barnes has his NBA ring and regardless of how it all unraveled against Cleveland, and the humiliating embarrassment of his Finals performance, 35% field goals, 31% from three, 60% from the line, he has a second chance. With Dallas the pressure is off and Barnes can go back to who he used to be. He is a talented defender who can guard three positions. He’s sneaky explosive, a nice perimeter shooter who can post up. He’ll fit in well with Dallas’ pieces and is better than Chandler Parsons because he has innate instincts on how to stop scorers. He should return to the old Harrison Barnes.

Did Kevin Garnett make an impact on DeAndre Jordan? Will Jordan’s year be better, so much so, he’s an All-Star?

I don’t think D.J. will be an All-Star. The West is too stacked and he just doesn’t score enough. Take away his dunks and what kind of offensive threat is he? Outside of two feet, he can’t shoot 40%. So the All-Star game is out. But Kevin Garnett made an impact on DJ. He’s DJ’s hero. The force of Garnett’s personality influenced DJ to embrace and attack the nuances of the game, not to mention Garnett’s killer instinct. He takes the game a lot more seriously than DJ who is all into having fun. To Garnett, winning and making opponents fear you is fun. I don’t think DJ will ever rise to that level of mania but just having Garnett in training camp will push DJ to another psychological level.

Is Ty Lawson recovered? Will he be a better player after his catastrophic fall from grace? His career has been put through the meat grinder and everyone is questioning his efficacy as a top level point.

I’ll say this for Lawson. It can’t get any worse. If Houston and playing with James Harden was a disaster, then Indy was Lawson in purgatory. He came off the bench and he was a ghost of himself. What happened to him? Repeated drunk driving citations and appearing before court and everyone knowing your business and calling you an alcoholic, even your former GM saying you came to practice drunk, that’s what happened to him. He lost whatever confidence he had. He’s on a one year deal so this is an audition. We’ll know more about Lawson in a year. The Kings are playoff long shots. So he can do like Rondo. Use Sac. They definitely want to use him. He’ll get plenty of opportunities with Darren Collison probably suspended by the league for domestic violence.

How much will the Spurs miss Tim Duncan? Are they are a better team now that Duncan has retired?

No. They are not better. They are different. LaMarcus Aldridge is a good player but he can’t hold a candle to Duncan on the defensive end. Neither can Pau Gasol. Both are offensive players. The paint defense is going to take a step back. Kawhi will handle the perimeter but Duncan’s presence can’t be depended on anymore. He made up for a lot of mistakes. Now Aldridge will have the burden on him to be Duncan’s replacement. That’s too much pressure for Aldridge and it is unfair. He can never be Timmy. Duncan will be missed in the locker room too. His retirement is a significant loss for the Spurs.

 

photo via llananba