On Tap Tonight: The Golden State Warriors

 —  December 3, 2004

How bad is Golden State this season? Well, look at the official poll on the Warriors World fan Web site:

What does it take to get you through a game this season:

1) 12 oz
2) 40 oz
3) 6 pack
4) 12 pack
5) Case
6) I am clean and sober, but won’t be by the break

Remember back a couple of years ago, when Golden State was considered a team on the rise, a team of the future? Apparently management from three Bay Area teams — the Warriors, Raiders and 49ers — all went to the same fly-by-night schools, because they’ve all got questionable futures.

With Golden State (3-11 this season), the core problem is pretty simple — the team can’t shoot. So far this season, a very high 73% of the Warriors shots are jump shots and their effective field goal percentage (eFG%) on them is 36%. (For comparison, the Lakers shoot 65% jump shots and the eFG% is 44.3%, for Seattle it’s 70% jumpers hitting 48.3%.) Overall this year, the Warriors are shooting a sad 39.5% from the field, while their opponents are shooting 45.8%.

Or, look at it this way: So far this season Golden State averages 102 possessions per game, as do their opponents. On each possession, Golden State is averaging .93 points, while their opponents are averaging 1.02.

The leading scorer for Golden State is Jason Richardson, who is averaging 18.4 ppg, and is fourth in the league shot attempts per game. Problem is, using the Roland Rating (judging how a team does with a player on vs. off the court) he is one of the least valuable players on the team. When he and his points are off the floor, the team does better. Bad sign.

Richardson is the only Warrior with an offensive PER (player efficiency rating) above the league average of 15 — the problem is tonight he will be covered by Kobe. With the Warriors best offensive player covered by arguably the league’s best defender, tonight could be a chance for the Lakers to get an early lead again — and not blow it, this time. We can hope.

Tonight could be another spot for Caron Butler and Lamar Odom to shine — defensively teams exploit the Warriors most from the three and four spots. That is especially true of the three spot, played by the son of one Clippers coach, which has been the worst defensive spot for the team this year. I should note, that while the four has been little better over the course of the season, in the past couple of games Troy Murphy has put up better numbers (two double-doubles, including one against Minnesota).

Of course, all the hype tonight will be centered on the return of Mr. .04 — Derek Fisher. I feel a little sorry for Fish, who went from a team looking to win a championship to a team that may top the lottery. Fisher hasn’t played poorly — he is averaging 9.7 points and 4.6 assists off the bench — but he isn’t even starting on a bad team. Well, I feel sorry for Fisher until I remember he is making $4.9 million this year and is signed through the 2009/10 season, when he will make $7.3 million.

The Laker loss the other night in Chicago hurt because the team didn’t play smart, but I can overlook a clunker here or there. However, a loss to the Warriors at home would be a real shot to the gut.