Not because Mark Jackson wasn’t getting along with Joseph Lacob, the majority owner of the Golden State Warriors. Not because Jackson wasn’t getting along with Lacob’s son, assistant coaches, or any other of Lacob’s friends. Let’s, for the sake of basketball, put all the rumors to the side.
Let’s examine only the basketball side of things.
Let’s start with Lacob’s moves with the Warriors after his group purchased the team for $450 million (a sure bargain after the Clippers’ deal).
Monta Ellis? Remember that guy? Loved by the fans, and admired by his team. Lacob traded that guy Ellis. Short term lost, long term gain. Why? Ellis was a volume shooter at the time, and needed the ball in his hands. Stephen Curry, a good ball handler and a good scorer, needs the ball too — he is the point guard, you know.
If you remember those days, there were plenty of times when Curry and Ellis canceled each other out, thus ruining their performances.
Ellis was traded for injured (at the time) big man Bogut, and the Warriors found themselves in the lottery the next year. Fans were rubbed the wrong way, and were left wondering, “Why give up Ellis for an injured big man?”
I’ll tell you why: Lacob was thinking ahead.
The lottery pick turned into Harrison Barnes, a 6’8” versatile small forward that can play power forward when needed. Yeah, short term lost after all, huh?
Let’s move forward a little.
After the lottery season, the team made steady progress. With each new talent, and further developments of current talent, the Golden State Warriors looked to be on their way to the top.
So what was the basketball-related problem with Jackson?
Well, one can make the argument that the team won in spite of the head coach. The talent alone was enough to win games, especially in the regular season.
The Splash Brothers, Klay and Steph, put on show after show each game, and when they didn’t have good games, Green, Barnes, and Iguodala were more than enough. The front line big men of Lee and Bogut were great too. That’s a lot of talent that can win in the regular season, but talent alone can only get you so far.
Coaching shows in the playoffs and in the playoffs, my friend, the Warriors were exposed big time.
The Warriors lack ball movement, as shown in a Harvard study. In the playoffs, one person can’t win you a championship. Basketball is a team sport, as proven by the Spurs this year. Not only were the Warriors lacking ball movement but also the player substitutions were abysmal, especially if a player was in foul trouble.
So looking back at these brief examples, where could one point out the weak link? Only looking at basketball reasons, who was the weak link?
The talent improved year over year. The coach didn’t.