As an opinionated, occasionally caustic member of the Bay Area media, not to mention a lifelong Warriors fan, I’ve had quite a bit of fun with the whole are-they-tanking-or-not thing over the past few weeks.
The fun, and the season, is over now, so it’s time to get real.
Look, whether you think they should have been doing it or think they were doing it, all with that No. 7 pick in this year’s draft in mind, here’s what everyone needs to understand:
The NBA draft, no matter how deep the pundits tell you in any given year, is and always will be a crapshoot.
No. 1 picks have flopped, No. 19 picks have blossomed into Hall of Famers, and nondrafted free agents have gone on to have long and successful careers loaded with All-Star appearances and championship rings.
It’s hilarious, this frequently heard suggestion that this year’s draft has seven impact talents. Not six. Not eight. Seven. And that’s what made the Dubs’ retention of the No. 7 pick so damned critical.
The Warriors have Jerry Flipping West, widely considered one of the greatest spotters of talent in the history of the game, on their payroll. They’ve got an incredibly bright new general manager, Bob Myers, who’s said to know the league inside and out. Larry Riley is no slouch when it comes to scouting. Mark Jackson knows who can play and who can’t.
And people are thinking getting No. 7 or lower is the end-all for the future of the franchise?
Rubbish. The end-alls are the health of Steph Curry, Andrew Bogut and David Lee. The development of Klay Thompson and Jeremy Tyler. The ability to retain the key pieces of what ended up a pretty nice bench. And the ability of the aforementioned foursome of executives to use whatever pick they do have in the wisest of ways.
To tank or not to tank? Fun while it lasted. But it really was silly.
POSEY STILL VALUABLE BEHIND THE PLATE: The more Hector Sanchez hits, the more we’re likely to see Buster Posey playing first base, and that seems to make a lot of people very, very happy.
Let’s not completely dismiss the importance of the Giants’ golden boy’s value in the gear, though. It’s great that Sanchez has made enough progress defensively to earn increased trust from manager Bruce Bochy, a former big-league catcher himself.
Don’t think for a second, though, that the knowledge Posey has accumulated regarding the various talents, tendencies and personality quirks of everyone from Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner to Guillermo Mota, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla isn’t absolutely critical to the club’s success this season.
Sanchez will acquire that knowledge with time, the process having been started this spring and potentially accelerated through the summer. But when push comes to shove, when the pressure intensifies after the dog days give way to the heat of the pennant chase, Posey is going to have to lead the charge.
And no matter how much Hector hits, Buster has to do a lot of that leading from behind the plate.
My point? Sanchez should be taking grounders over at first base, too.
SPEED ROUND: Has the NFL draft ended yet? What a remarkable job they do of making that thing a spectacle. But anyone who already thinks they have a true handle on whether the Niners or Raiders — or Colts or Redskins or Vikings, for that matter — were winners or losers, they need to be strapped to a gurney and forced to listen to an endless loop of Mel Kiper’s breathless predictions of greatness for JaMarcus Russell on draft day 2007. ... It’s easy to say this in the wake of the guy getting a game-winning hit this week, but it’d be true even without the walkoff he gave the A’s on Wednesday: Kila Ka’aihue is one of those guys who really grows on you. You have to see him regularly, though. Mark Ellis-ish like that. But it’s there. Check it out.