How fun has it been watching the Golden State Warriors in these playoffs? They are exciting, young and playing with a chip on their shoulder giving the older more experienced Spurs all they can handle. Nobody gave them a chance against the Denver Nuggets but they pulled off the upset. Riding that momentum most people projected them to win a couple of games against the Spurs (including yours truly) but ultimately the consensus was the Spurs would pull it off in 6 games. Had the Warriors not let off the throttle in game 1, they would be up 3-1 in this series right now! How have the Warriors put themselves in this position? By going young and playing better defense.
First lets focus on the youth of this team. Stephen Curry was the 7th pick in the 1st round in 2009 and is 25 years old. Klay Thompson was the 11th pick in the 1st round in 2011 and is 23 years old. Harrison Barnes was the 7th pick in the 1st round in 2012 and is 20 years old. Draymond Green was the 5th pick in the 2nd round in 2012 and is 23 years old. They have surrounded these key 4 pieces with other young role players (ages 23-29) but also with several experienced veterans. These vets include Andrew Bogut (28, former #1 overall pick), Jarrett Jack (29), Carl Landry (29), and David Lee (30). Let’s also not forget that Richard Jefferson (32) is on this team and even though he does not play much he is probably a solid locker room presence and has a lot of NBA playoff and finals experience to share with this team.
It is quite obvious that Andrew Bogut and David Lee have solidified themselves as starters in this league. They are key parts to this team’s success and the Warriors would not be where they are without them. The type of games they play however, are very complimentary to the young core of this team. Bogut and Lee do not have to have the ball in their hands to be effective. They are both very good rebounders and give their team extra possessions with this skill. They know their roles and can score when needed. Lee has been hurt and not able to contribute as he would like, but in only 8 minutes of action yesterday he grabbed 5 rebounds (1 offensive) in only 8 minutes of play. Andrew Bogut in 28 minutes of action only scored 5 points but he grabbed 18 rebounds including 5 on the offensive side. The young guys mentioned above scored 61 of the Warriors 97 points. The vets handled the dirty work.
The voice of the Utah Jazz, David Locke, did a great breakdown on the Warriors improvement on the defensive side of the ball which can be found here: http://weareutahjazz.com/lockedonjazz/2013/05/09/insider-warriors-giving-jazz-a-blueprint-but-not-where-you-think/. This is where the likes of Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, Andrew Bogut and David Lee help the most. Lee, Landry and Jack’s hustle is contagious and spreads throughout the team. It has prepared them to face a team like the Spurs that plays playoff basketball to the T.
This is what the Utah Jazz need to do for their young core. Unfortunately for the Jazz, this past year was the complete opposite. The roster was full of ball dominant vets that were not effective at all unless the ball was in their hands. They only young guy that was really able to break through was Gordon Hayward and even then he mostly thrived when used as a point forward type player during Mo Williams absence. The Jazz need to make a decision at point guard whether that be a solid younger veteran that distributes the ball, go with Alec Burks and let him be a playmaker, or draft one. Then they need to fill out the rest of the roster with complimentary players. DeMarre Carroll is a prime example of a guy the Jazz need to resign to help accomplish this goal. Could the Jazz finally convince Ante Tomic to come over from Spain? Rand Foye would be a welcome returning player in a backup role to Burks. Because above all else, the Warriors have given their young players on the job training on the court and made them their go to guys. This must start this season for the Jazz with Hayward, Burks, Favors, and possibly Kanter. This is what the fans are craving for and Jazz management will be rewarded by seeing less green seats in the stands next year.