Warriors still stuck in no-man’s land 

click to enlarge If the Warriors are going to make a run at the playoffs in the second half of the season, they’ll need Stephen Curry to stay healthy. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • If the Warriors are going to make a run at the playoffs in the second half of the season, they’ll need Stephen Curry to stay healthy.

There’s no pun that you could slip Jeremy Lin’s name into to adequately describe the disappointment Warriors fans feel midway through the 2011-12 season.

When coach Mark Jackson was brought aboard last summer, he guaranteed a playoff appearance this season; but so far, the product on the court looks frustratingly similar to the team that missed the postseason 16 of the past 17 years.

Despite Jackson’s promise of beefed-up defensive play, the Warriors (13-17) are one of only five teams that has allowed an average of more than 100 points per game thus far; the center position continues to be a glaring hole and the players can’t seem to get it done in crunch time, posting a miserable 2-7 record in games decided by three points or less.

More than anything, success in the NBA requires star power — something the Warriors have sorely lacked for the better part of two decades. (Latrell Sprewell was the team’s last All-Star in 1997.)

That’s why the Jeremy Lin debacle is so depressing. Look at the league’s top five teams and the faces who lead them: LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan and Chris Paul.   

Sure, Monta Ellis, David Lee and Stephen Curry are quality players, but they aren’t likely Hall of Famers such as the aforementioned.

So it’s easy to indulge in those “What if?” thoughts as Lin dazzles the world on “SportsCenter” every night for the New York Knicks.

But in reality, it took a perfect storm in New York to make Linsanity happen and one fantastic month does not make him Steve Nash or Jason Kidd — yet.     

The problem is that the Warriors are stuck in no-man’s land when it comes to acquiring that superstar player. The team isn’t attractive enough to lure in big-name free-agents-to-be such as Dwight Howard and they aren’t bad enough to land one of the top three picks in the draft, where guys like James, Rose and Duncan are selected.

To make matters worse, they’ll be sending their first-round pick to Utah this year unless it’s a top-seven pick (a byproduct of the 2008 Marcus Williams trade with New Jersey). Right now, they’re the ninth-worst team in the league, meaning that if they don’t start tanking soon they’ll likely be without a first-round pick in June.

On the bright side, they do have a decent nucleus in Lee, Ellis and Curry, and last year’s top pick Klay Thompson is looking like he could be one of the league’s better sharp-shooters in future years.
Moreover, Jackson has the right makeup to be a stirring motivator in the locker room.

Let’s say everything goes right in the second half: Lee averages a double-double every night, Curry’s ankle problems dissipate and Ellis starts draining those clutch end-of-game shots like he did in Phoenix last week. Maybe, just maybe, the Warriors can make a run at that eighth playoff spot starting Tuesday in Indiana. It wouldn’t really get them anywhere in the long run, but it might cure some of those Lin-blues going around town.

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Paul Gackle

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