The Warriors come to Town, and West is Invited to Phoenix

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Published: January 30, 2009

Today it was announced that David West will be heading to Phoenix to take part in the All-star game again this season, and much like last year, there’s a bit of storm raging around the internet about his selection.  I have to admit that at first I was a bit torn by this selection.  I am, first and foremost, a Hornets fan, and I’m pleased he’s being recognized for his production despite being one of the quietest and least self-promoting players in the league.  Still, the fact remains I’m also a stat-geek, and by any measure there were better producers in the West that got left off the team.  There are three players in particular I have a hard time dismissing out of hand as worst than Fluffy: Manu Ginobili, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.  I could be persuaded to put Nene on that list as well.

All that said, each of those players have their own drawbacks.  Jefferson is a terrible defender.  Manu barely plays more than half the game.  Millsap . . . well I don’t have anything bad to say about Millsap.

The case for David West?  He carries a huge load for the Hornets, being the primary offensive creator behind Chris Paul.  The last five games, the sheer number of Paul turnovers have also made it pretty clear how important having that second player who can create shots is to keep Paul from having to do too much.  Oh yeah, and West can be downright deadly – just look at what he did to the Lakers.

So – are there players who may be better?  Sure.  Do they combine the same set of heavy team responsibility, production and contribution to a winning team?  Not in my book.  Congrats, David.

Oh – and those claiming Carmelo should be in the All-Star game?  Sorry, he’s been hurt for weeks, and when he has played he’s been sub-par.  Plus, I’m still wallowing in contempt for him ever since he slapped Knick Stick Figure Jared Jeffries while Jared was being held, and then pranced backwards as fast as he could, chirping and crowing like he’d just won a UFC Championship.  Feh.

Matchup: Warriors(14-32) @ Hornets(28-14)

Off Efficiency: Warriors 105.2(13th), Hornets 107.5(7th)
Def Efficiency: Warriors 110.0(29th), Hornets 103.4(12th)

I’ll be honest – a lot of the excitement this matchup used to inspire left when Baron Davis went to the Clippers.  Now the Warriors are simply a badly put together team that can infrequently catch fire.

It’ll be interesting to see how this game shakes out.  The Hornets are the second slowest in the league, while the Warriors are the fastest.  Honestly – I’m not particularly worried by the prospect of being sucked into a fast-paced game.  Peja and Posey are deadly shooters in transition, Wright, Butler and Bowen have been solid at giving Paul wingmen going to the hoop, and, of course, Paul is great at finishing a break.

The Warriors are 4-6 over their last 10, and their wins are over Sacramento, Washington, the Clippers and the slumping Hawks.  They’ve managed 4 wins out of 25 tries on the road, and appear to be just the sort of team the Hornets might overlook with the Spurs game looming tomorrow night in San Antonio.  Let’s hope not.

The starting lineup of the Warriors is the hardest to predict in the league.  Don Nelson has already tried 29 different starting lineups, so take the following lineup with a grain of salt.  West says he is ready to play Friday.  Byron says he’ll be cautious, but I expect to see our snazzy All-star on the floor.

Injuries:

Hornets: Chandler Out, West Day to Day, Peterson Day to Day
Warriors: Crawford Day to Day, but should play

Positional Analysis:

PG: Monta Ellis v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
This game will be Monta Ellis’s fourth game this season as he returns from an off-season ankle injury.  So far, he’s not managed to knock the rust off, shooting terribly and not showing the explosive fast-break mentality he put to such deadly effect last year next to Baron Davis.  It’ll probably take him another week before he becomes the threat he once was.  Of course – that threat was never comparable to what Chris Paul delivers by stepping onto the court.

SG: Jamal Crawford v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Warriors
I’ve never been a fan of Crawford.  He shoots way too much, and misses way too much, and has never been as good as he thinks he is.  He is currently the Warriors leading scorer, but that’s part of their problem.  You want your primary offensive weapon to get about 1.3 points per shot or better.  He gets about 1.18.  He’ll outproduce Butler, but this is not the edge the numbers seem to indicate.

SF: Kelenna Azubuike v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hornets
Over the last five, Peja has scored 23 points on 55.8% shooting.  He’s been hitting 51.4% of his deep shots.  I like Azubuike as a backup wing, but he’s not comparable to Peja right now.  That is – if Peja continues to get his 13-14 shots a game with Fluffy back on the floor.

PF: Stephen Jackson v All-star Fluffy
Advantage: Hornets
This is a sick joke.  It’s a bit of a stretch to play Jackson at the small forward spot.  His minutes are huge, yet he’s still a weak rebounder even for a shooting guard, which is his true position.  He’ll give his all trying to keep West out of the paint, and I expect him to force a couple turnovers with fast hands, but West should eat him alive, bad back and all.

C: Andris Biedrins v Hilton Armstrong
Advantage: Warriors
Biedrins essentially produces like Tyson Chandler last year.  Oddly, he actually has some offensive moves in the post, but Don Nelson – and his guards – aren’t interested in taking the time to set up a post entry pass, so he doesn’t get to use it.   Hilton is going to have his hands full.

Bench
Advantage: Even
The Warriors have some nice players off the bench.  Maggette is a hyper-efficient scorer(1.54 points per shot? Wow) and Ronny Turiaf and Anthony Randolph are the current forwards in favor with Don Nelson.  Both are out there to rebound, and are alright at doing it.  Undrafted rookie Anthony Morrow will also get some minutes and he’s proven to be capable of scoring and rebounding a bit more than you’d expect.  Still – I call this even, even with Corey Maggette’s offensive burst, because not one of these players are interested in defense.  And I don’t mean they are bad at defense – I mean they aren’t at all interested in doing it.  Whatever mix of Posey, Daniels, Marks, Wright, etc that Byron throws out will have little trouble scoring – and will provide much more resistance.

Enjoy the game.

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