The Golden State Warriors have lost three of its last four and are teetering on the brink of playoff elimination. If it hadn't been for Denver's ineptitude in losses to Sacramento and Seattle, the Dubs would already be done.
And yet as Stephen Jackson, Baron Davis and Al Harrington brick three after three, there is one player who can score consistently at a high percentage, yet Coach Don Nelson consistently ignores him, especially down the stretch.
Yes, I'm talking about the Latvian Legend, Andris Biedrins.
Biedrins may have one of the best 'retro 80's white guy' haircuts in the NBA, but he is also a smooth finisher down low who currently sports the highest field goal percentage in the NBA. With the Warriors' glut of outside shooters and Monta Ellis' ability to either drive and shoot or drive and finish, Biedrins can pretty much always find an opening in the paint.
And when the Warriors go to him, he is pretty much unstoppable. He racked up 15 points in the first half against the Hornets yesterday on a combination of pick-and-rolls, put backs and fast break finishes. He's also been shooting better from the free throw line recently, despite his previously horrible percentage and bizarre shooting style.
But the problem is that, all too often this season, Biedrins has all but disappeared from Don Nelson's game plan. That's what happened in the second half yesterday in New Orleans, and that's what happened in the loss to Dallas earlier in the week.
From a Warriors fan's perspective, it's painful to watch a bunch of quick perimeter shots with no passing when we know we have one of the quickest penetrating guards with a great pull-up jump shot in Ellis, and one of the best athletic-finishing bigs in Biedrins.
There are even some fans who have suggested that Nelson has limited Biedrins' minutes this year to keep his value down as he is to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the team desperately needs to re-sign both him and Ellis, who is to become a restricted free agent.
Yet in the throes of a playoff chase, that hardly makes sense.
Biedrins is good enough to be a force on this team right now, and he's only going to get better.
I can only imagine when Brandan Wright develops a bit more what this team will be capable of with Ellis driving and either dishing to Biedrins and Wright for easy dunks, pulling up to shoot his great mid-range jumpshot, or finishing himself with his great reverse lay-ins and tear drops.
So listen up, Don. The Warriors offense should be running through Ellis and Biedrins. Their combination of finishing ability and athleticism are the future of the team.
And with the playoffs on the line, they're enough right now to be the present, too.
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