Tag: Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green, LeBron James

Draymond Green in 2010: LeBron James ‘know he can’t lead a team to a championship’


Draymond Green is one of the NBA’s most-colorful personalities.

The Warriors forward speaks his mind, but he has also has more of a filter now that he’s in the league.

When he was still playing for Michigan State, Green tweeted much more harshly – especially about LeBron James (hat tip: Imgur user iah725):

I’d say LeBron led the Heat to championships in 2012 and 2013, but critics like Green might claim LeBron had too much help from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. (As if Michael Jordan didn’t have Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman; Magic Johnson didn’t have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy; Larry Bird didn’t have Kevin McHale and Robert Parish; etc.).

If LeBron leads the Cavaliers over Green’s Warriors this year, there’d be no doubt left.

Maybe LeBron teaches Green a lesson over the next couple weeks.

(Hopefully, Green has already learned a lesson about about the inappropriateness of using gay slurs like that.)

Cavaliers rate well when adjusting for playoff rotations. Warriors rate better

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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This is the NBA Finals matchup we wanted all along.

Or close, at least.

It would have been a little better with a healthy Kevin Love and no injury questions about Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson.

But the teams are right.

The Warriors have ranked No. 1 when adjusting to playoff rotation at every step. The Cavaliers started second in the league (and way atop the Eastern Conference), dipped after Love’s injury and recovered to show their chops without him.

A reminder how these adjusted rankings are calculated:

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

Here are the NBA Finalists’ ratings – actual regular-season to projected based on expected rotations:

1. Golden State Warriors

Projected rotation: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.0
  • Defensive rating: 101.3 to 97.1
  • Net rating: +10.4 to +16.9

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected rotation: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, James Jones

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.8
  • Defensive rating: 106.9 to 102.5
  • Net rating: +4.8 to +12.3


  • The big question is injuries. I included Klay Thompson (who reportedly expects to play Game 1) and Kyrie Irving (whom David Blatt said hasn’t looked like himself in practice) in their teams’ rotations.
  • The Warriors rate a little worse without Thompson with an offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating of 109.9/96.0/+13.9 in 429 minutes. The drop is entirely on offense, as the defense rates slightly better.
  • The Cavaliers actually rate better overall – the gains coming entirely on defense – without Irving (114.1/93.7/+20.4 in 405 minutes). It’s easy to see how Cleveland fares better defensively without Irving, and in that limited sample, the offense holds up behind heavy usage from LeBron. That’s probably unsustainable over the long run against Golden State. Irving is key to the Cavaliers not over-taxing LeBron.
  • The Cavaliers appear to have a small offensive advantage, the Warriors a significant defensive advantage.
  • Golden State has used a nine-man rotation for most of the playoffs, Cleveland eight. If the Warriors are challenged, they can probably shorten their rotation and improve.

LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry: More than meets the eye

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 15:  (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)    LeBron James #23 of the Eastern Conference in action against James Harden #13 and Stephen Curry #30 of the Western Conference during the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden on February 15, 2015 in New York City. The Western Conference defeated the Eastern Conference Knicks 163-158. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)


The temptation here is to paint these NBA Finals as the legendary, experienced player against the upstart underdog.

LeBron James is legendary — whatever happens in these finals and future ones, he will go down as one of the greats to play the game. He is experienced, this being his fifth consecutive Finals. He is as physically gifted a player as the NBA has ever seen, but one who also has an incredibly high basketball IQ. His stardom was pegged and followed by the time he was a high school sophomore.

Stephen Curry was an underdog — the skinny shooter couldn’t get big time colleges (or even a lot of mid-majors) interested in him, so he decided to go to Davidson. He led that school to the best seasons in program history. He entered the NBA Draft as an underdog, pegged by many as just a shooter he fell to seventh before being picked up. But teams underestimated his will to get better, for example how good a ball handler he would become. He’s a guy fans relate to because he wasn’t given superlative physical gifts, he had to work for it — he’s how many fans like to see themselves.

But that is just the surface of these two players. Just the part of the iceberg you can see.

This pairing is much, much more than that. Both players are much more than that.

Which is why they are at the heart of what makes this a compelling NBA Finals.

These men are more than just their simple caricatures.

If you paint LeBron as the guy pre-ordained for greatness, as the Goliath in this situation, you overlook his difficult upbringing. More than one talented young man got lost on a road far less bumpy, and with far fewer turns, than the one LeBron had growing up the son of a single mother in lower income areas of Akron.

If you paint Curry as the underdog who overcame incredible odds, you overlook that his father was an NBA player. Curry guy who grew up comfortable and around the best in the game. He had the advantage of that privilege.

LeBron certainly had advantages as he grew into an NBA player — only Wilt Chamberlain was this much more physically gifted than his peers. Curry certainly had rough times and struggles that he had to work hard to overcome. The caricatures of these men are not entirely wrong.

But they are much more than first brush stroke.

They also are the two most popular players in the NBA right now.

There are a lot of ways to measure the popularity of a player. There’s how many All-Star Game votes he gets, for one. Or, you can judge by jersey sales because those are fans willing to plunk down the money to put a guys name on their back.

However you try to get there, you end up in the same place: LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

They were 1-2 in All-Star vote getting this season. And they are 1-2 in jersey sales.

LeBron has been at the top for a while, Curry is new to all this (but handles it in stride, like you would expect of the son of a former NBA player). They are both good in interviews and let the public have glimpses into their families and lives, humanizing them as more than just a name on your fantasy roster.

Fans love them for all of it.

They also are arguably the two toughest players to guard in the league — but they dominate the game in very different ways.

LeBron can beat defenders almost any way he wants, drive past bigger ones on the perimeter or back down smaller ones into the post. That (and key injuries to teammates) is why he has worked much more in isolation these playoffs. His combination of size and speed — along with a steady jumper — allow him to get his shot even when the help defender comes. However, when the defense rotates his passes will find the right open man.

Curry has smooth handles that can create just a little bit of daylight against even the best defender — and that’s all he needs to get off the prettiest shot in the game. Curry is especially dangerous because he can work with the ball or be just as dangerous (and draw defenders) working off it, on cuts and screens. He rarely works in isolation, he’s a much better fit in a modern offense using ball screens to create space. Plus, he also is a gifted passer who will find the open man.

One more thing LeBron and Curry have in common: They are seen as the saviors of long-suffering fan bases.

The last time the Golden State Warriors won an NBA title was 40 years ago, led by Rick Barry. The Warriors have had some of the loudest and most loyal fans in the league — this team went through a couple of decades of terrible ownership prior to the current group buying the team, yet the fans continued to show up. Warriors fans stuck with their team through years of rough times.

The last time any team won any title in Northeast Ohio Lyndon B. Johnson was president and was talking about the just-released Warren Report on the assassination of President Kennedy. “Dr. Strangelove” had just entered the theaters. Bob Dylan was just becoming popular as a singer/songwriter. It has been more than half a century since a title came to the greater Cleveland area — which has always been a special burden for LeBron.

Of course, basketball remains a team sport — and the better team will hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy in a couple weeks. It’s not simply LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry, it’s the ability of teammates to help defend those two. The gravity of LeBron and Curry to draw defenders opens up things for their teammates, the question is which teammates are knocking down open shots and making plays while the defenses zero in on those stars.

But it is LeBron vs. Curry that will capture the nation’s imagination and attention for a couple weeks. It’s those two who we know will give us some highlight plays. They are the faces of their franchises.

This will go down as the LeBron vs. Curry NBA Finals. The only question is which one will get the Finals MVP Award.


Report: Klay Thompson has no recurring headaches, expects to play in Game 1 of the Finals

Klay Thompson

Days after Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, doctors determined that Klay Thompson had suffered a concussion when he took a knee to the head from Trevor Ariza. Initially, Thompson was simply diagnosed with an ear laceration and was allowed to return to the game, before later tests determined that he had had a concussion.

According to Yahoo’s Marc Spears, the headaches are gone and Thompson expects to be good to go for Game 1 of the Finals:

There was never much doubt that Thompson would play — even after the concussion was found, he will have had a full week to recover before the Warriors take on the Cavs in the Finals. But it’s good to hear that he’s progressing as planned and his symptoms aren’t acting up.

One-handed, no-look, over-the-head halfcourt shot? No problem for Stephen Curry.

Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry makes half court no-look shot nonchalantly after practice

A video posted by Spears (@spearsmarcj) on

I know Stephen Curry was shooting uncontested looks well in the last round, but this is is ridiculous.

Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports recorded this shot at the end of a Warriors’ practice. The Cavaliers would probably let Curry take that shot during the Finals, but maybe that’s a mistake.