March 6, 2011

Lacob's Jabber

There's lots to talk about in Oaktown. In the last several days, the good guys debuted their latest no-D gunnin' swingman, gave a $54 million man's starting lineup spot to a rookie, and faced two of the other eight NBA originals, losing to both Celts and Sixers in that torturous fashion that exemplifies dem Dubs on the road. There's plenty of basketball-related business that we'd like to discuss. But we can't get to that stuff just yet, because the Warriors' new owner simply refuses to shut up.

We Worriers were heartened by the fact that Joe Lacob attended the Sloan MIT Sports Analytics Conference over the weekend, a stat-nerd summit that the Warriors eschewed last year. We were somewhat less heartened by the only news he made there, claiming that bloggers "are not real fans, because they don't have season tickets" (though to be fair, the context was and remains murky). And we were downright, well, worried by Lacob's recent interview with Tim Kawakami. The whole piece is worth reading in a "buckle your seatbelts" sort of way, but these are the five takeaways that troubled us the most:

March 4, 2011

Thornton?! Wild! Er...

The signing of Al Thornton, coming immediately on the heels of his being bought out by Washington, has been a polarizing one in the wilds of Warrior Nation. Two types of reaction have predominated:

1) "Al Thornton? Nice! He's a former lottery pick, and the dude can score. We just got an NBA starter for nothing. Great signing."

2) "Al Thornton? Gross! All he can do is score, and he can't even do that well. Why grab this clown when you can go for real upside in the D-League? Shit signing."

We Worriers place ourselves unequivocally in the latter camp. Thornton is an ineffective player, and at age 27, he's not likely to become effective all of a sudden; another offense-first player ain't exactly what the doctor ordered; a gamble on a D-Leaguer would've made far more sense. This was a poor signing.

However, comparisons to the pickups of the Azubuikes and Reggies of the world are premature, for one simple reason: those guys were brought in to play, at moments where the Warriors badly needed someone to swoop right into the rotation. In this situation, the guy Thornton will be backing up is fourth in the NBA in minutes played. The starter at the other position Thornton could conceivably fill leads the NBA in minutes played. And the main backup to those two positions is playing the best basketball of any Warrior. If you're worried about Al Thornton coming in and playing a lot of low-quality minutes, you can stop worrying... there's no room at this inn. From the looks of it, he was acquired for emergency purposes only.

That doesn't make it a defensible signing. The shiniest D-Leaguer on the tree still would've been a better choice, and Lord knows if Matt Steinmetz's theory is correct -- that the front office sees Thornton as Reggie's replacement for next season -- we'll cry bloody murder as loudly as anyone. But in all likelihood, Al Thornton won't play 150 minutes in a Warrior uniform. Unless and until he does, his acquisition is better described as "pointless" than "disastrous".

March 1, 2011

Golden Stats, 3/01/11

The Warriors have opened the season's second "half" with three straight losses, the last to a Minnesota Timberwolves team that is comprised of, well, Minnesota Timberwolves. The trade deadline has come and gone, leaving Oakland one young 'un lighter and one blooper heavier. Hope, in its many-splendored forms, has been extinguished from the hearts of all but the most crazed Dubs fans, and there's nothing left to do but take a peek at what's left in this grim cupboard. Line up, Warriors: you're getting inspected, numbers-style.

Last season, we Worriers experimented with a statistical amalgam we called SCORE. We've put that bad boy on ice, partly because BP's WARP, a tentpole metric, has not yet been published for this season, and partly because statistical amalgams are for fucking babies. This year, we're busting out a fat chart. This chart will feature

- John Hollinger's famously flawed and nevertheless useful PER;
- Justin Kubatko's readily available and plentifully plausible Win Shares per 48 minutes;

Without further ado: said chart! Above-average numbers are in green, below-average in red.