Warriors’ worriers missing the point

Sometimes it seems as if the questions and complaints come more frequently than the wins. You hear them all the time.

“When are the Warriors going to start playing some defense? Why hasn’t established a set starting lineup with defined roles for the bench? How come Brandan Wright doesn’t play more? How can you be any good and lose home games to Minnesota, Chicago and Atlanta?”

You’d think it was 2000-01 all over again, when the Warriors finished the season by losing 37 of their final 40 games on their way to 17 victories.

In fact, it’s just the opposite; the Warriors are having a great season.

True, the Warriors have yet to lock up a playoff berth, but that is something that is outside of their control.

Last season, the Warriors stormed to the finish and won 16 of their final 21 games to squeak into the playoffs with 42 wins. In the offseason, they traded their heart and soul, Jason Richardson, and acquired Wright, the No. 8 overall pick in the draft.

Heading into 2007-08, the most optimistic predictions about the Warriors had them getting into the mid-40s wins-wise. I don’t think there is any doubt that most rational fans would have gladly lived with a 46-36 season and another playoff berth.

But the Warriors are on pace to win 52 games this season. In the Western Conference, for crying out loud. Imagine that. Fourteen months ago, the Warriors had a bad cap situation and Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy were getting booed by the home fans.

Since then, the Warriors have made the playoffs and pulled off a monster first-round upset. They’ve not only built on last season, but found themselves just 4½ games from the top spot in the West.

And yet Nelson would laugh you out of the room if you suggested the Warriors were in the same league as the L.A. Lakers, Utah Jazz and San Antonio Spurs. But the numbers say otherwise.

The won-loss column tells a different story. Over their past 86 games (a little more than a season), the Warriors were 57-29 heading into Tuesday’s game at Sacramento. Not to mention they’re 56-23 if you take out their 1-6 start this season without Stephen Jackson.

Take a little stock. Baron Davis, maligned as injury-prone for most of his career, is an iron man, having played in every game this season. Monta Ellis has evolved into a dynamic offensive player with an unguardable quality only great scorers have.

Jackson is having a career season; Andris Biedrins continues to get better; Wright has shown flashes; Mickael Pietrus is back.

So what if the Chris Webber thing hasn’t worked out and it’s too bad Patrick O’Bryant is back in Bakersfield. Matt Barnes could be playing better, too.

Those are details, however.

The big picture is that the Warriors missed the playoffs for 12 straight years and finally broke through last season. They are working on following that up with 50-some wins.

It might be worth repeating: The Warriors are having a great season.

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

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