For the Golden State Warriors, Memory Lane is a dead-end street. It’s poorly lit and riddled with potholes. It’s dangerous to pedestrians and is closed to through traffic. Get the idea? The recent past for the Warriors isn’t pretty, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a quick trip down the deserted avenue. Who knows what we might find?
In this edition, we’ll take a look back at an interesting trio of former Warriors who all appeared to be promising wing scorers at one time, but soon faded into obscurity.
You remember Morrow, right? He burst onto the scene during the 2008-09 season as a lights-out perimeter marksman. In only his fourth game of that season, Morrow went 15-for-20 from the field, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. He totaled 37 points and 11 rebounds in a 121-103 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on November 15.
Morrow didn’t do much for the rest of that season until the month of April, when he averaged over nearly 17 points in over 40 minutes per game. On the year, Morrow shot a blistering 46 percent from three, but only averaged three rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. The following year, Morrow’s usage rose, but his efficiency dipped.
On July 13, 2010, Morrow was dealt to the then New Jersey Nets for a second rounder. He continued to be an effective outside shooter, but never lived up to the expectations he created during his first season in Golden State.
Williams arrived out of the D-League in 2010 on a 10-day contract with the Warriors. He went on to average better than 15 points per game on 49 percent shooting in 24 games for Golden State that year. Fans were excited about Williams, who had a pedigree as a scorer—his 2,526 career points at VMI made him the state of Virginia’s all-time D-1 scoring leader.
Predictably, Williams’ minutes and production dipped the following year and he ended up signing with the Charlotte Bobcats as an unrestricted free agent in December of 2011. He had his worst career season for the lowly Bobcats last year.
After bouncing around the D-League and having a cup of coffee with the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets, the Warriors pulled Azubiuke out of the D-League and gave him a few minutes during the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. He played sparingly, putting up an average of eight points and three rebounds over those two years.
But then he got the starting nod in 2008-09 and averaged 14.4 points per game on 46 percent shooting (including 45 percent from three-point land). He followed that season up with a disappointing, injury-shortened campaign in 2009-10 that saw Azubuike play only nine games. Since then, he’s been a New York Knick—but never took the floor for them—and a Dallas Maverick for three games. He was traded to Cleveland this year on draft day.
The Mystery of the Scoring Wing
All three of these former Warriors shone brightly for a short period of time, and then promptly faded into obscurity. What happened? Maybe there was some bad luck involved. Or maybe the Warriors’ up-tempo system of 2000s artificially inflated their confidence and scoring stats.
I know nobody asked, but here’s my take on the trio’s disappearing act: wing scoring is really easy to find. You give anyone 40 minutes a game (like Morrow got for a month) and you’re going to get close to 20 points out of almost any guard. Those 20 points probably won’t come efficiently—at least not for a long stretch of time, but they can be impressive in the short run.
The sad reality is that the Warriors were so bad for so long that they had no choice but to prominently feature these dime-a-dozen scorers in their offense. On the bright side, Golden State didn’t make the mistake of rewarding any of these three flashes in the pan with a long-term contract. But they’re still good reminders of the dark days in the Warriors’ past when D-League retreads played major roles for the Dubs.
Look around at the NBA’s worst teams, and you’re sure to find a new crop of guys like these three every year. After all, they practically grow on trees.