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NBA Preview: Golden State Warriors


Record:  42-40, 2nd (tie) in Pacific Division, 7th (tie) in Western Conference

Statistical Comparisons:


2nd in the league in scoring (106.5 ppg)
30th in opponent scoring (106.9 ppg)
4th in assists
1st in steals
3rd in blocks
1st in opponent turnovers


13th  in ppg differential (-0.3 ppg)
12th in field goal %  
19th in opponent field goal %
13th in three-point %  
25th in turnovers
Poor offensive rebounding team
Very Poor defensive rebounding team

Significant Additions:  
Austin Croshere, Troy Hudson, Brandan Wright (R), Marco Belinelli (R), Kosta Perovic (R)

Significant Subtractions:
Jason Richardson, Adonal Foyle, Anthony Roberson

Don Nelson

Key Players

PG:  Baron Davis, Monta Ellis
SG:   Stephen Jackson, Mickael Pietrus, Marco Belinelli
SF:  Matt Barnes, Kelenna Azubuike
PF:  Al Harrington, Austin Croshere, Brandan Wright
C:  Andres Biedrins, Patrick O'Bryant, Kosta Perovic

Comments:  There's one, simple requirement if you're going to run a Don Nelson system to its fullest effect:  you've got to have horses.  The Golden State Warriors have horses.  Looking up and down the lineup you can see a lot of athletes who can also score.  Height doesn't matter.  In some ways position doesn't matter.  They just have to run and put the ball in the hoop.  In that sense this team is quite scary.  You're in for one heck of an offensive onslaught every time you play them.

The systems really starts (and sometimes ends) with Baron Davis.  If he is injured the Warriors will have a hard time replacing him.  Not only is he a primary scorer he also knows how to get the ball into other people's hands.  He's the guy who puts this offense into overdrive.  Stephen Jackson is a scoring machine.  Al Harrington is a scoring machine.  Monta Ellis is becoming a scoring machine.  Mickael Pietrus is a scary athlete.  Andres Biedrins provides versatile (and much needed) inside scoring.  He fits their system far better than the departed Adonal Foyle.  Azubuike, Croshere, Wright, Barnes and even Belinelli and Perovic should fit in nicely.  You can't find a stiff among that group.

The Warriors' defense is as opportunistic as the offense.  Ignore that last-place points allowed stat.  That's a by-product of the style of play.  This is far from the worst defense in the league.  It's not a Suns-like polished effort on both ends of the court, but it will do.  The Warriors are all about quick, easy baskets and those steals, blocks, and forced turnovers give them the ammo they need.

Between Ellis and Jackson the Warriors aren't going to miss the gimpy Jason Richardson at all.  Brandan Wright adds to their frontcourt of the future.

So what's not to like about the Warriors?  Plain and simple...I don't trust them.  Baron Davis has had physical and emotional issues over the years.  Stephen Jackson is a little off.  Al Harrington hasn't exactly been Mr. Stability either.  This isn't a well-oiled machine, this is a hut full of fireworks.  They could put on a spectacular show.  If the match hits the wrong spot they could also blow up in your face.

Despite not being the worst defense in the league they're not the best either.  I think the Wizards proved last year that you can score your way to mediocrity but not to greatness.  The Warriors have the same issues.  They don't rebound well (though part of that is a by-product of their style of play).  They don't shoot that well when the bucket isn't a gimme.  They turn the ball over a bunch.  

I'm not trying to say the Warriors are a bad team.  Far from it.  But when you hit the second round of the playoffs you're looking for a leap on to the Conference Finals the next year.  It just doesn't feel like that leap is coming for this team.  "Up and down" describes not only their style of play but their fortunes.  A team that's equally capable of giving up 92 points or 130 is going to have a hard time stringing together enough wins to get a high playoff seed, let alone win long playoff series.  It'll be another good year for the team.  But in the end, Nelly-ball will end up the way it always does:  pleasing to the eye but ultimately defined as much by its weaknesses as its strengths.

--Dave (