Steinmetz: Nothing like midsummer hoops talk

Just because it’s July doesn’t mean you can’t talk hoops. I know baseball’s All-Star Game was Tuesday, but there’s always time for b-ball talk. Some summertime impressions:

» The fact that Greg Oden, selected first overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the draft, committed 19 fouls in his first two summer league games (players get 10 fouls before fouling out), doesn’t concern me a bit if I’m Portland.

I’d be considerably more alarmed if Oden picked up three fouls in two games.

» Marco Belinelli has been nothing short of spectacular in two summer league games for the Warriors. Belinelli, selected with the

No. 18 overall pick, had 37 points in the Warriors’ first game, then followed that up with a 23-point effort Monday against Philly.

Belinelli’s play has led me to think, “Who is going to start at shooting guard for the Warriors in 2007-08?” There aren’t a shortage of candidates: Monta Ellis (frontrunner); Belinelli (who would have thought he’d even be in the discussion?); Mickael Pietrus (long shot who likely won’t return), Kelenna Azubuike (not out of the realm of possibility) or Stephen Jackson (which very well would mean the Warriors acquired a frontcourt starter, pushing him to backcourt).

» Ever since draft night, the Warriors and Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett have been linked. Obviously, Garnett would be a blockbuster acquisition, but would the price be too high?

Call me crazy, but Phoenix’s Shawn Marion might be a better fit and he’d come $6 million cheaper. The Suns were said to be very much in the Garnett hunt and clearly still are.

But in order to get Garnett, the Suns are going to have to lose salary, too, and that’s where a potential three-way deal with Marion might come in.

» One of the most encouraging aspects of Belinelli’s game is his ability to knock down perimeter shots. Say what you want about the Warriors’ 3-point shooters, none of them can be considered good ones. Best you can say about a few is they’re streaky.

It doesn’t get talked about a lot — because the Warriors have more glaring needs upfront — but the fact is the Warriors were in desperate need of a player who could consistently make shots from the perimeter. It’s the one thing they lost when they traded Derek Fisher.

» It’s obvious that Don Nelson would like to get a pay raise before returning next season. Heck, his returning at all probably depends on that raise. But how acrimonious can things be considering Nelson and Warriors president Bob Rowell were sitting next to each other for much of the Warriors-Philadelphia 76ers summer league game in Las Vegas on Monday?

» It’s never easy to project how good a drafted player will be in the NBA. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it. So, here’s a prediction: Joakim Noah is going to struggle.

Noah has been praised for his work ethic, energy and the fact he was a winner in college. Unfortunately, he is limited offensively (doesn’t even shoot a jump shot) and is undersized when it comes to other power forwards.

Supporters suggest he could be another Anderson Varejao, but is that really a good thing when you’re the No. 9 pick?

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.


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