Group Chat Fury: Grading the Warriors offseason

WARNING: Rambling DNHQ Slack transcript ahead

What you are about to read is a free flowing Slack conversation between legendary blogbois such as Patrick Murray of Forbes Sports, Thomas “Dr. Tom” Bevilacqua author of “Golden Age: The Brilliance of the 2018 Champion Golden State Warriors”, Joe Viray of Rappler Sports, Ivan B. our brilliant graphic designer, and the good ol’ boys Duby Dub Dubs and I.

It all started when friend of the blog Evan Zamir tweeted some skepticism over Sports Illustrated giving the Warriors an A- minus for their offseason grades.

And as we are wont to do in the Slack, we all immediately bailed on real life responsibilities to drum up this offseason convo about what the proper grade for the Golden State front office should be for their efforts this summer. Normally this would be left in the privacy of our chat, but I think Apricot might be exhausted from churning out offseason content since he pleaded with us to share our convo for your reading pleasure.


Daniel: We did nothing this offseason?

Ivan: Quick roundtable: what grade would you give the Dubs for the offseason thus far?

Daniel: Definitely an A for me.

  • Re-signed Steph the legend. If we failed there, the future is basically over (ask Houston/OKC/Cleveland)

  • Added two top 14 lottery picks (if OKC did this, they'd be called geniuses!)

  • Re-signed an old Iguodala (the brains of the dynasty)

  • Added quality vets on bargain basement deals, with the TPMLE available

  • Revamped the coaching staff 

    All this despite being a gwabillion dollars over the cap.

Duby: I'll go with a B. Re-signed Curry, solid drafting. But not using MLE, and just adding minimum vets with question marks doesn't feel like a home run.

Ivan: I think I have them at a B, leaning B-. The draft is an A, coaching staff / player development updates probably A. Curry extension obviously A+.

Porter and Bjelica? I’d probably say C. Yea – the question marks are there, which is why we grabbed them on bargain basement deals; it could easily become an A, but I’ll wait and see if these guys can play at all. Iguodala is probably also a C – feel-good story but he’s pretty washed, right?

Overall, it doesn’t feel like they did enough to get into true contention on paper. Maybe that was impossible, but the grading curve for this team is high, so hard for me to think A.

Daniel: *begins screenshotting*

Ivan: I gave myself enough wiggle room to escape permanent scorn.

Duby: lmao if my new worst take is not believing that Bjelica could win us games, then I’ll accept my fate with a smile.

Ivan: “Otto Porter: NOT the missing link? Some skeptics think so. Story at 11”.

Daniel: JTA and Poole just went through the same doubt and now they're pillars of this season smh.

Duby: If I have to hear one more time about the team overall payroll ...

Daniel: I'll just wait until reality hits and my phone starts pinging with "whoa Otto Porter at 11 MPG is a steal! And are we done assuming Wiggins will be trash? Yall got that outta your systems? 

Duby: Still overpaid. He's cool, but it's still weird that we aren’t allowed to worry about his bloated contract making team pass on using MLE. I'd say my concerns by tier are.

  • health (curry/dray/wiggs, plus all the new FA and Klay’s return

  • reliance on Curry going nuke again pretty much every game

  • needing rookies to play 15 minutes on the regular, more with injuries

Daniel: Oh you're allowed to worry; I'm allowed to constantly roll my eyes at the handwringing too hahah.

Duby: Lmaoooo fair enough!! What seed you thinking for this squad?

Daniel: The West is pretty banged up minus the Lakers and Portland probably, but I don't see the Warriors working too hard for wins (knowing Kerr and they already won 73, and they're not healthy for a bit). So they'll probably start herky jerky and then turn it on after the all star break to nestle in somewhere around 4 through 6.

But even if they're the 8th seed, if they're healthy, LOOK OUT.

Duby: Same. 4-6 range I think. Contingent on health, as always, for every team.

Patrick: Man y'all are gloomy. They were on a 44-win pace last season while 2/3rds of the year being pretty trash. As soon as they lost the players who couldn't fit, they took off. What did they do this offseason? Got rid of the players who couldn't fit, signed players who did.

As for Andre, they don't need 20-25 mpg out of him. I count 10+ games they just gave away with dumb play down the stretch last season. 15 mpg of Andre in those at the crucial moments, and they'd be over 50 wins.

I'm not saying they're going to the Finals, but then again beating a healthy rotation in a seven game series of Steph, Klay, Andre, Wiggins, Green; Poole, JTA, Looney; one of Porter/ Moody; spot minutes Wiseman, Bjelica, Lee isn't going to be easy.

I don't see some major juggernaut in the West. This thing could click and I for one don't want to be screenshotted by Daniel  when it does. You'll never hear the end of it. oh, and Klay will still be able to shoot - which solves their other major problem from last year

Finally pretty clear they would have used the taxpayer MLE if Mills or Batum would take it. Let's see who wriggles free in the buyout market and whether they use that to outbid everyone else for someone like Gasol or Kevin Love.

(It's an A from me if you can't tell lol).

Ivan: My only point here is that we should wait and see on this front. Bjelica I think was a non-factor last year for a team trying to make hay (in the east), Porter has been injured for years, and Iguodala is old as dirt.

And I don’t remember a lot of people being concerned about Oubre’s fit coming into last season, nor were there complaints about Wanamaker before we discovered he was actually two children stacked on top of each other.

Daniel: TWO CHILDREN!!!

Ivan: Potential good value adds, but also potential waiver wire candidates. Bjelica and Porter don’t represent guaranteed improvement, IMO.

Joe Viray: WE GONNA BE SHAMPIONSHIP *I exclaim as Daniel points the proverbial screenshot gun at my head*.

Daniel: WEAPONizedjoy.

Duby: I like to think of me being wrong about stuff as a gift to this community.

Patrick: I’d say the fit point is something we (re)learned last year. So while it wasn’t flagged as a big concern for Oubre or Wanamaker (great description btw) it was one of the top things they needed to do.

Ivan: For this grade debate, it’s worth looking at the problem areas, what they didn’t do or fix. IMO:

  1. Rebounding. None of the additions are very proficient, and Klay is also not much of one.

  2. Depth at C. Really counting on Wiseman again to step in and eat important minutes, or go small and further exacerbate the rebounding problem.

  3. Playmaking. Patty Mills would’ve been great, but they couldn’t make that happen. Instead we have some guy whose nickname is Cheese. But I do like cheese, so maybe this one will work out.

  4. Didn’t miraculously trade for a megastar. Try harder, Myers!

Daniel: You don't think adding Iguodala helped playmaking??Also for 1 and 2, would you be shocked if Wiseman improved?

Ivan: For me it’s more a question of degree. Can Wiseman improve? For sure. Will he improve sooo much that we don’t notice the team didn’t sign a center?

Duby: Also on Wiseman, I'd say the lessons learned by coaching staff last season, and staffing adjustments bode very well.

Ivan: This is an exercise in grading the offseason moves. You can give them a positive grade for not trading Wiseman – and I do – but it’s not an absolute home run that he’s gonna help in those problem areas. An A for me is if they did something that we could directly point to as a solution.

Daniel: I think I'm not sure how you're weighting your grades, because you gave A's for resigning Steph, the coaching staff revamp, and for two lottery picks. Then you say C for free agency, knowing the team had very little money to spend regardless.

You gave three A's and a C, and grade the whole offseason as a B-? You were leaning on free agency THAT hard?

Duby: That's where I'm at too. It was a good offseason, but an A grade implies some sort of major victory.

Ivan: I mean fair point, but no, I’m not counting those grades in equal parts. FA signings are going to hurt/help the team in the win column more than coaching revamp or, frankly, ensuring we have Steph in 3 years. He’s gonna dominate next year regardless.

Duby: B is a solid grade! A, to me implies they couldn’t have done any better.

Ivan: Yeah Daniel, I can’t imagine you saw the Bjelica news ping on your phone and were like, “FU*K YEAH! That motherfu*ker Myers did it again!!”

Daniel: And "couldn't have done any better"… you mean roofie Batum and force him to sign? It's not like they spent the TPMLE on a trash player, they still have it. Which FA cracks the top 7 of the rotation? Steph, Klay, Wiggins, Iguodala, Dray is for sure the closing lineup. Jordan Pole is sixth.

So you’re mad because we didn’t get a veteran for spot minutes??? The team is already stacked!

Ivan: “Jordan Poole is 6 / The team is stacked” – I mean I like Poole more than the average fan but, come on.

Duby: Batum woulda. Gasol would likely start. Again, an ‘A’ implies to me that they knocked it outta the park. Not screwing anything up shouldn't earn you the highest marks, imo.

Daniel: So they nailed the draft by all accounts, which Duby specificaly claimed was so narrow of a margin that they were probably screwed…and they get a B. Lmao Dr. Tom let’s be grateful these cats aren’t teachers.

Duby: Lmao, nah, the point was they HAD to nail the draft. We aren’t through the eye of the needle yet sir. I’ll eat pounds of crow if they make the Finals this year.

Dr. Tom: Isn’t that a separate question though? Like we aren’t grading the future we’re just grading the off-season. And they did as well as they could given whatever limitations exist. Therefore, A.

Duby: Everyone “does as well as they could, given limitations” though, don’t they?

Daniel: Let's see, a published author of Warriors content gave them an A, a Forbes man gave them an A, and me the greatest blogger in Warriors history gave them an A. I think we gotta start looking at the sources here folks

Duby: Lmao getting angry calls to the principal because your favorite kid got a B instead of an A? B is a good grade. Damn.

Ivan: I mean who knows “what they could have” done – maybe they get Batum if they send his mom flowers I dunno. We have to look at outcome instead, and fact is they walked out of the offseason with a couple scrap heap guys that fit pretty well, brought back a legend who’s old as dirt, have a bunch of young guys that have promise but are raw, and have some serious gaps that are likely to improve to average at best. That’s a B!

Duby: Chris Chiozza, OPJ, and whatever Bjelica has in the tank to me, that's not an A. If summer league was good indicator, Reggie Williams woulda been a perennial All Star.

Dr. Tom: I mean they didn’t get KD or Paul George on the vet minimum so yeah as high as you can go is a a B…I mean the fact that this team is contending at all after trading for Wiggins means it HAS to be an A.

Duby: Ooh look, a strawman!

Daniel: Warriors have same betting odds as the reigning champions.

Duby: Betting odds are designed to move money, not be accurate portrayals of calculated chances.

Ivan: The odds is a fair point, though I imagine there’s still a lot of “dumb public” money on the Dubs.

Dr. Tom: Also what would an A off-season look like?

Duby: Don’t get me wrong, I like what they did with the offseason, but a lot of the same concerns that affected last seasons team are still there.

Pros
-nailed draft (probably)
-didn't piss off Curry
-coaching staff revamp

Cons
-All FA are gambles, and none of the primary targets were gotten
-Didn't address size/rebounding
-Lost Baze even at minimum
-Lost that Oubre salary spot for nothing. So, overall, solid offseason, but I still see some identified gaps that would have been part of an "A" offseason.

Daniel: Lost Baze at the minimum hahha

Joe: "Is giving the Warriors a grade of A participation-trophy culture??? Up next on First Take with Stephen A. Smith"

Daniel: Here I thought I was being unbiased by not giving them an A+. I think it would help me to better understand the logic of the underwhelmed members of the congregation if they weighted each factor because "Lost baze at the minimum" is literally irrelevant to me considering we got Iguodala, but it appears to hold more weight for Duby.

And "resigned Curry/nailed draft" were the two most important things possible to me to accomplish this offseason, with the FA thing being a relative pipe dream considering the franchise can't really spend too much.

As far as the big man thing, I'd love to get Millsap, but if Jokic's old coach can turn Wiseman into a factor (as you would assume a #2 pick would be), then I think that answers those questions in house and cheaply. So I guess it's not even really possible to see if it's an A until the season is finished?

Dr. Tom: Also Batum would’ve been nice but I don’t think his skills are so unique that you can’t get them some other way.

Daniel: *pastes link to Stathead comparison of Otto Porter and Batum*

Well we know who the better shooter is (Porter career 40% 3PT shooter > Batum 36%)

Duby: This horse has been beaten, but look at OPJ minutes total the last 5 seasons. This is a gamble signing.

Daniel: Steph Curry was a gamble signing! Did you not see My Worst Take?? Curry's ankles were made of tissue! The Warriors gave Klay Thompson a max AFTER he tore his ACL lmao, talk about a gamble!

Speaking of health, it's amazing that Wiggins being the paragon of health was never brought up during your slander sessions hmmm. Another gamble signing the Warriors somehow made good on hmmmmm

Duby: Yeah, that Klay contract was also a gamble... so was Nick Young, Cousins, etc. They take risks all the time. I just tend not to dunk on these gambles as wins.

Anyways, sure, if you argue nothing other than signing Steph matters, then it's really hard to argue with your assigned grade. But in my book, I think losing Baze matters some. Completely writing that off as a nothingburger doesn't feel right to me.

Daniel: ^^^ literally not my argument. I thought we weren't doing Strawmen lmao.

"Any ways, sure, if you argue nothing other than signing Steph matters, then it's really hard to argue with your assigned grade." Quote me where I argued that. I’ll wait.

Duby: I mean... you said it's "irrelevant". For me, these are the edge moves that matter a little.

Daniel: if you argue nothing other than signing Steph matters” where was that argued buddy.

Duby: Losing Baze "irrelevant" or nah?

Well, it's inferred from you saying Steph plus draft were two most important things in response to the Baze / Oubre salary slot / missing on primary FA targets. Is there some sort of super "S tier" grade that you've reserved in case the plan came together better? Doing that A plus plus plus thing from Xmas story across the chalkboard

Daniel: You parroted my three reasons it was an A here…

Pros
-nailed draft (probably)
-didn't piss off Curry
-coaching staff revamp

…but now you rephrase my argument as "only steph resigning matters" hahahah. SIR

Duby: Well, if those are the two areas that hold the majority of your review basis, then it's close.

Patrick: Man, how long was I out of the house? I think OPJ is a pretty solid gamble personally, if he hits, he's a bargain who can really help. If he misses, they can cut him at the trade deadline and still have the MLE.

Dr. Tom: Kent “Foul Machine Bazemore”.

Daniel: I'd be really interested to find any point this upcoming season where the fan base floods the comment section with "damn we coulda used Bazemore tonight".

Dr. Tom: I mean I could see it happening but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t also be ridiculous. Steph, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond, Wiseman, Looney, Poole, JTA already, then add in the rookies and the FA signings? That roster is fine.

Unless we make that trade for Bradley Beal, the top of the roster is set. So it’s all just marginal/around the edges stuff and I don’t think that’s enough to go from an A to a B.

Daniel: I agree with that, and I wouldn't have agreed with that as much last season until I saw Steph and Dray drag an 8 man rotation to one of the hottest win streaks in last year's regular season as Patrick noted. Really if you can get Steph and Dray and live bodies, your team is already terrifying

Ivan: Whew finally out of meetings for a little bit, time to pour some more gasoline on this MF .

One more pass at how I look at it:Dubs might be a lot better next year, but I think that will be in large part because Klay comes back healthy. And I’m not including Klay in the offseason grading, because they didn’t do shit. We can grade them on what they did do, though – and those moves were good! Maybe even very good! Aaaand that’s a B.

Daniel: Would the Batum signing have pushed that into "A" category for you? And/or is there another TPMLE person available that pushes it there?

Ivan: Man I don’t even really like Batum tbh. But I think I hate on French players unreasonably. Might have to look within myself to crack that one.

Daniel: Was it even possible for the Warriors to get an A this offseason without making a trade, in your book?

Ivan: It’s a good question. Maybe not, given what they had to work with and what we know people signed for. If they’d gotten Mills alongside the other moves, maybe it’s a B+. If they’d gotten Mills, Porter, and like, Derrick Favors, that might be an A.

Daniel: Let the record state that Ivan would have only given an A grade if the Warriors signed Mills and Favors, who will be paid $5.8M and $9.2M respectively for next season.

Ivan: But yeah I think an A would have been, making a trade (probably the 14th pick and a bundle of other stuff) for a starting-caliber wing that they could bring off the bench. Not even asking for Beal, just someone that we know can impact winning positively.

I don’t know that about Porter and Bjelica given their recent histories, nor do we know that about the rooks. If none of those guys can actually help, and if Klay isn’t as healthy as we hope, this team looks a lot like last year, which missed the playoffs.

Daniel: I understand now. You don’t believe Iguodala + Porter is a positive, and Klay Thompson could be hurt, and you don't believe Moody can fill any of those edge roles at this juncture.

Ivan: It’s maybe not a matter of belief, but about expectation. I believe that all could be true, and I certainly hope it is, but I don’t expect them to be, based on the risk potential. It’s hard to point at any one addition and say, “ok THAT’s an improvement for next season”. Lots of yellow flags everywhere.

Definitely an interesting aspect of this exercise is in trying to grade on things they didn’t do. Like they didn’t trade Wiseman. In a vacuum without context of who they would have / could have gotten, I still tilt that as an overall positive – but there are so many uncertainties both ways that it’s hard to put too much credit there. I dunno.

Daniel: Oh yeah, there's hella unknowns for sure. I think I'm grading them based on their two stated intentions: compete for a title now without forfeiting their future.

They can absolutely contend for a title now and they have the coaching staff focused on developing young guys, including three lottery picks. I think we may take for granted just how big a deal them navigating that draft was since after summer league everyone appears to have relaxed.

But just a month ago it was like "if they botch this, Steph's gone and it's all over!".I guess being a contender with a bright future is A for me, and they nailed that this offseason

Unless you don't think they'll be a contender...

Ivan: You know what – I haven’t actually been thinking of them as a Contender. I don’t know if this team is 10+ wins better than last year, even with Klay. I sat here staring out the window for a solid 10 seconds before hitting Enter on that message.

Patrick: This time last year the Clippers signed Batum for nothing because he looked washed in Charlotte. He was as much a gamble as OPJ is. OPJ has just spent several years in the Boylen experience, then dumped in Orlando. Nothing to motivate him to get in shape, and if you're not in shape injuries will pile up.

We could very well end up having this A/B argument because we got this year's Batum on the minimum instead of actual Batum on the taxpayer MLE - let's see how that works out shall we?

The funniest thing here is we’re arguing whether they should get an A or a B lol

Dr. Tom: Because it’s obvious they deserve an A?