All is quiet on the trade front this morning. If any news breaks, we’ll break it down, but as of right now, I would be surprised if the Warriors make any trades before the deadline.
I still would like to see the Warriors trade Monta Ellis. It’s getting more difficult to ignore the evidence that this is a better team without him. That’s not a knock on Ellis’ talent. Ellis is a very good player and he really has acted like a professional in the way he’s handled all the ups and downs of this season. He’s a fun player and he’s easy to root for. It’s not like I want to see the Warriors boot him out the door. But I don’t think he’s right for this team. He’s not right for this roster. He’s not right for Stephen Curry. I think the Warriors have to make a choice between those two guards and I think Curry is clearly the one to keep. However, the team values Ellis and if they were going to trade him, they shouldn’t ship him out for nothing. If the right offer isn’t out there, it’s probably best to sit this out.
Anyway, I wanted to touch briefly on Wednesday night’s 130-98 win against Sacramento. It was the Kings, and it was only one game, but it was really a spectacular performance. Even in the midst of a down season, this team continues to create must-watch moments with games like this and performances like Stephen Curry’s triple-double against the Clippers. Wednesday’s game was another example that when Curry has complete control of this offense, good things happen. His court vision is mature beyond his years. He is equally adept at running a fastbreak offense as he is breaking down a half-court defense. That kind of versatility is not something you usually see from a rookie. It’s hard to find a weakness in Curry’s offense. In addition to all his natural point guard abilities (handle, passing, vision), he’s a gifted scorer, who can score from almost any spot on the court. His defense is still a work in progress, but he has the natural gifts to develop that part of his game. He’s a special player and the Warriors are fortunate to have him.
So, on a night when Curry had 24 points (on only 15 shots — efficiency!), a career-high 15 assists and six rebounds, it’s amazing that another player was able to overshadow him. That’s how good C.J. Watson was against the Kings. He made 15 of his first 16 shots and finished with a career-high 40 points on 16 of 23 shooting. He was fearless, attacking the basket almost recklessly, and some of the shots he made were jump-out-of-your-seat unbelievable. When Watson made his last shot of the night, a driving, twisting layup with less than a minute remaining to give him 40 points, the reaction from Watson and the Golden State bench was great. Curry and Ronny Turiaf were jumping up and down by the bench with these huge, ridiculous smiles plastered on their faces — it’s nice to see this team still playing hard and enjoying themselves during a difficult season.
I think I would be wrong if I didn’t give the Warriors — and Don Nelson, in particular — credit for the way he has helped turned multiple D-League players into legitimate NBA players. Players like C.J. Watson and Kelenna Azubuike might still be playing in the NBDL, getting the occasional 10-day call-up from NBA teams, if it weren’t for the Warriors. No other team gives D-Leaguers the opportunity that Nelson and the Warriors provide. I don’t think building a roster with multiple NBDL players is a way to create a winning team, but it’s hard to argue with Nelson’s philosophy of giving these guys a chance when you see the way Watson and Azubuike (when healthy) contribute to the team. It’s impressive.