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Open Thread: Regular Season Game 51

The Essentials:
Wizards (24-26) at Warriors (30-20)
10:30 p.m.
The Oracle Arena

This year:
November 23: Warriors 123, Wizards 115

Notable Warriors numbers this season:
11th in expected winning percentage (.592)
2nd in pace factor (96.8 possessions per game)
5th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (112.9)
22nd in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (109.7)

Key Links (drop any others in the comments)
Golden State of Mind
Fear the Beard
A former Warrior has a new blog out today
Wizznutzz has some drinking suggestions to get you through this losing streak

Starting Lineups:
PG: Roger Mason
SG: DeShawn Stevenson
SF: Antawn Jamison
PF: Andray Blatche
C: Brendan Haywood

PG: Baron Davis
SG: Monta Ellis
SF: Stephen Jackson
PF: Al Harrington
C: Andris Biedrins

Tonight's Lines:
Wizards at Warriors: Warriors by 10
Over/Under on Total Scoring: 213

Over the years the Wizards and Warriors have crossed paths quite a few times, whether it was the '75 NBA Finals, a certain trade from a few years back, or players who have gone from one place to the other.  So it would make sense to have a little chit-chat from the two sides.  Your two participants in this blog-to-blog interview are Pradamaster (you may have heard of him before) and Atma Brother ONE of the fantastic blog Golden State of Mind:

Pradamaster: Chris Webber, in this offense?  Really?  Besides the nostalgic angle, how do you feel about that move?

Atma Brother ONE: When you think about how low this team was in depth, how much they struggle scoring in the half court sometimes, how they lack big men with great court vision, how undersized they are up front, and how Nellie wants smart veterans, Chris Webber was just found money.

He's obviously lost a few steps and isn't going to be finishing any fast breaks here in the Bay anytime soon, but that doesn't mean he can't be a very nice piece for the Dubs. CWebb is still a very high hoops IQ player, a very capable rebounder, and one of the league's best passers in the high and mid-post.

Shallow analysis will tell you that it's a bad addition since his knees have seriously racked up some frequent flier points. However deeper analysis will tell you that he can help this team play even faster if he helps out on the defensive glass and rifles some passes downcourt to get the fast break started.

Let's take this back to the schoolyard too. Have you ever run a 5 man fast break? That's just giving the other team a chance for a fast break as soon as you're done with yours. Someone needs to stay back to keep the other team honest and be the trailer if the fast break doesn't work out. Webber's that man for the Warriors right now. Another thing to remember is that I'd estimate about 40% of the Warriors' fast break points come via one man Monta Ellis- the 1 man fast break. If anything CWebb can help the 1 Man Fast Break get more opportunities with his court vision and rebounding.

Webber might be the only player on this entire roster that looks to create for teammates before looking for his own shot. His teammates just have to move and he'll hook them up for an easy two. Hopefully his philosophy rubs off on the other guys as well.

Let's no forget that the Warriors are paying him next to nothing as a rental this season. Plus it's the feel good story of the NBA season! Don't get me wrong it's going to take some time and Webber needs to slim down and get into better shape, but this was a low risk, potentially high reward situation.

Check out Chris Webber BELIEVES and So Do I for more thoughts and links.

Pradamaster: The juicy rumor involving the Warriors involves them making a play for Ron Artest.  Obviously, this isn't the first time he's been linked to the Warriors, as he was when Indiana was looking to deal him in 2006, but this time, the Warriors have a multitude of expiring contracts, thanks to Chris Mullin's ability to create financial flexibility.  How would you feel about trading for Artest, and who would you trade away to get him, if anyone?

Atma Brother ONE: I would be ecstatic if the Warriors got Ron Artest. As long as they were able to retain Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Andris Biedrins, and either Al Harrington or Matt Barnes (very possible) in the aftermath of the deal this move would vault them to contender status. They'd have the honor of being both the most hated/ fun to watch team across the nation. Nobody would want to play this team in the playoffs. If you thought WE BELIEVEd last Spring just wait till you see what happens when you give us the Tru Warier.

The first thing to remember is Ron Artest is only 28 years old. I wouldn't say he has all that mileage on him either since he pretty much lost an entire season to suspension and hasn't really played that deep/ often late into spring. Given his ties with Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis, I'd actually rate the probability of the Warriors not being able to hold on to him past this season as extremely low. He's not going to be just a 2-4 month rental and would be a huge boon for this squad long term.

I'm also willing to bank on the fact that Ron Artest will be a better 2-way player over the course of the next 3-4 years in this league than the vast majority of this Warriors roster, namely: Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Barnes, Marco Belinelli, Austin Croshere, Al Harrington, Patrick O'Bryant, Kosta Perovic, Mickael Pietrus, CJ Watson, and Brandan Wright. You could even reasonably argue that Artest will be a better Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins (although those are debatable) over the next 2-3 seasons after this one. If I were running the Warriors' ship I'd play my cards tight since it seems to be a buyer's market for Artest, but truth be told if it came down to it I'd be willing to part with anyone on this team not named Boom, Jack, or 1 Man Fast Break. I'd also throw in the 10 million dollar trade exception from the JRich deal and future draft picks to get this done.

This of course isn't to say I don't like or appreciate all those guys, but you don't get that many chances to add such a unique player of Artest's caliber. Chris Mullin and Rod Higgins screwed up the first time by foolishly passing on Ron Artest to hold onto guys like Troy Murphy and Ike Diogu. Hopefully we don't look back in a few years questioning the Warriors' front office for passing on Artest for a second time. It's amazing that they're even getting a second chance here. Carpe diem.

A final thing to note is that the Denver Nuggets seem to be in hot pursuit of Ron-Ron as well. If it comes down to the Warriors and Nuggets for the final playoff spot in the loaded West, I can't say I like the Warriors chances against a team with AI, Melo, Camby, and Artest. It has become a serious arms race in the West's Big 10 for 8 spots. Standing pat for the Warriors and accepting the status quo for this season, even though they're playing .600 ball, could spell their doom and set this team into a huge offseason of disarray.

Remember the Dubs are in the funny situation of being only 5 games out of 1st place in the West and 0.5 from sitting at home counting lotto balls in May. The West isn't going to get any easier. It's time to go all in.

See Rumor: Warriors Making a Run for Ron Artest for more.

Pradamaster: What's Baron Davis' future with this team?  Certainly, he's been the man in this Warrior resurgence, and he's a really cool guy to root for, but he's getting up there in years, has an injury history, and he's probably going to want close to a max contract.  How would you deal with that situation?

Atma Brother ONE: Alongside losing Nellie to retirement the biggest mistake the Warriors could make this offseason is lose Baron Davis. Although he's been struggling as of late Boom Dizzle is this team's best player by far. The Warriors simply have no replacement for him whatsoever. Take away Boom Dizzle and you take the Warriors off the NBA map again.

It's way to early to really know what the market is going to be like in summer, but you're right he's going to want a near max contract. As long as things go fine for the remained of the season and hopefully the playoffs, the Warriors just need to suck it up and pay the man. Whatever it takes.

Pradamaster: Okay, a basketball-related question.  What's up with Stephen Jackson?  Early in the year, he was having an all-star quality year, but his effective field goal percentage is down to 47.3, and his PER is down to 15.15.  How come his numbers have fallen, and is he really not playing as well as he was early in the year?  If so, what's keeping the Warriors afloat?

Atma Brother ONE: The simple answer is Jack was just playing over his head earlier in the year. He has the ability and will to be a shut down defender (Hello Dirk!), can distribute the rock, post up opponents, has ice in his veins when taking jumpers, is a fun player to watch, and is a great teammate. However he isn't an All-Star caliber player in the Wild Wild West nor a second scoring option. Stephen Jackson has been miscast this season and a big reason is the highly questionable Jason Richardson trade to save some dough this past draft day. Remember that trade with the Bobcats gave the Warriors absolutely nothing that helps them this year (at least up until this point).

That trade placed an enormous amount of stress and responsibility on Stephen Jackson. J-Rich was instrumental in making last season's miracle run and thrilling playoff run happen. He was playing some of the best ball of his career both offensively and defensively. With him gone the Warriors have asked Jackson to be the 2nd leading scorer on this team, make up for some of those boards Richardson used to snatch, and set up teammates more to make up for those lost assists J-Rich used to dish- all while shutting down the opponent's best scorer regardless of position. That's just an unreal request to ask of a guy night in and night out.

Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson would be a great tandem... I'm just saying.

Definitely check out 2k7-2k8 Warriors Midterm Report Cards... Featuring Hotspots!

Many thanks to Atma for the interview, make sure to check out Golden State of Mind for the flip side of the interview.

This is an open thread, so if you're good at making bank shots off of the ceiling (number 2 on the countdown) brag about it here.