Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Golden State Warriors: Currently The Bay Area's Most Promising Franchise

For many years the Warriors have been the black sheep bay area franchise. With the Giants, A's, 49ers, Raiders, and Sharks all competing at very high levels, bay area sports fans grew to shun the warriors for their inability to lure superstars, and create a winning culture.

The 49ers, although very bad over the last five years, are the bay area's crown jewel historically, with five super bowls (all since 1981) and many ex-greats such as Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. The Raiders have a huge and very loyal fan-base, and were in the super bowl just five years ago. In baseball, the Giants and A's have both been consistent winners over the years. The Giants were in the world series in 2002 and 1989, and through the late 90's up until a couple of years ago, were in the playoffs just about every year. In addition, we had the added entertainment of watching probably the best hitter in the history of the game in Barry Bonds. The A's have achieved success with Billy Beane's coined "money ball" strategy, where they kept a low payroll and still managed to find enough talent to compete for the AL West titles just about every year. Additionally, they were world series champions with "the bash brothers" in 1989. The Sharks of the last few years are shoe-in's for the playoffs and have been predicted to compete for the Stanley Cup. It's thought by many, however, that their failure to get out of the second round of the playoffs each of the last two seasons has been a major disappointment. Could their window of opportunity be closing on them?

Therefore, with exception of the Sharks (who are in a second tier professional sport), all of the bay area teams mentioned in the last paragraph are currently in bad states. The 49ers offense is worthless once again and it looks like they might fail to meet their expectations this year that were not very high to begin with. The Raiders hit rock bottom last year with only 2 wins, and although slightly better this year are still not a playoff team. The Giants and A's both finished sub .500 2007 campaigns, and are in the need of new talent before the playoffs will be a reasonable goal.

This leaves us with the Golden State Warriors, the bay areas only NBA franchise. They are on the upswing in a big way after just this year breaking their 12 year streak of missing the playoffs. In most of those 12 straight losing seasons, they weren't even close to earning a spot in the post season, and were overshadowed in Northern California by the fun and exciting Sacramento King's, who rivaled Kobe and Shaq's Lakers in the early 2000's. After squeaking into the playoffs in March of 2007, and then upsetting the number one seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round, the whole country took notice, making the Warriors the "darling" team of the playoffs. As an added benefit, this upset has done a lot for making the Warriors a more attractive free-agent draw.

With the 2007-2008 pre-season starting up there is a lot of hype around the Warriors chances of doing well. Although they are not expected to be a top team in the western conference, they are expected to make the playoffs, and will definitely start to see some national attention. Despite losing the sharp shooting and high flying Jason Richardson, they have added first round draft picks Brandon Wright and Marco Belinelli. They have also thankfully parted ways with the overpaid and ineffective Adonal Foyle, which is addition by subtraction. Just about everyone else, including coach Don Nelson, will be back.

Now we just have to see if the Golden State Warriors can live up to the expectations and excite the bay area once again with their dazzling high powered offense and cocky swagger. For this to happen a few thing's are for sure: Baron Davis needs to stay healthy, Stephen Jackson needs to stay focused and out of trouble, and their emerging role players need to continue to emerge.

A lot is at stake. As the bay area's most promising sports franchise, the Warriors need to prove they deserve this tag, and that they can change the word "promising" into "successful".


louisgray said...

What about the Cal Bears? They're #3 in the country.

Jeff said...

Louis, they are a college team, so therefore were not considered. I definitely thought of them though, but chose to only consider professional sports franchises.