February 8, 2010

Hungry For The Wolves

The Warriors' first-half record of 13-28, while pretty damn bad, was nothing we haven't gotten used to around here. In fact, that record actually represented a one-game improvement over last season's feeble pace. And since the team ended Act One playing its best basketball of the season -- in games #29 through #41, they outscored their opponents by an average of 1.3 points -- Act Two looked like it might be a little less painful.

Surprise, motherfucker! The Warriors are winless in the second half. They've been outscored by over nine points per night. Their overall 13-36 record is their worst showing through forty-nine games since '99-'00. (If you don't remember that season, 1) count yourself lucky, and 2) imagine a team much like the current one, except that the young guard that takes all of the shots is Larry goddamned Hughes.) And the Warriors have quietly moved within shouting distance of the second-worst record in the NBA. Minnesota has won four games in a row, and now stands tied with the Dubs in the all-important win column.

Some may spin this as a positive. And indeed, the case can be made. The second-worst team in the NBA will have a 19.9% chance of grabbing John Wall, while the third-worst team will have only a 15.6% chance. The second-worst team is assured of a pick no lower than fifth, and the way this draft is shaping up (something we'll discuss ere long), the gap between five and six could be a sizeable one. At this point, it's hard to muster up much of an argument against tanking.

But let's be perfectly clear about this. The Warriors are now closer to being the second-worst team in basketball than they are to being the fourth-worst team in basketball. The Kings have lost eighteen of their last twenty and still haven't been able to get within two games of the Warriors (in part because the Dubs were one of the two chumps the Kings actually beat in that span). Mike Dunleavy just got the axe, in a move that all observers deemed justified... his Clippers are seven and a half games ahead of Nellie's boys. Even the Nets have won a game in the second half already, and they've played their opponents a helluva lot tougher than the Warriors these last two weeks. And while all the "Golden State D-Leaguer" comments are cute, it's worth noting that Monta Ellis, Andris Biedrins, Corey Maggette, Stephen Curry, Ronny Turiaf, C.J. Watson and Anthony Morrow -- in other words, the Warriors' three best players and seven of their ten best -- all played against the Thunder on Saturday. If you think that merits sympathy, you might want to keep it to yourself the next time you're around a Blazers fan.

Not all lost seasons are created equal. In the last two weeks, the Warriors have gone from scrappy, loveable losers to just plain losers... they have just plain quit. And as much as I'd love to see John Wall head our way, I have trouble believing that the universe will reward ugliness like this.

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