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NBA Market Watch: Preview-Golden State Warriors

NBA Market Watch: Preview-Golden State Warriors
Oct 31, 2007, 04:26 pm
Off Season Overview:

Things have been very positive around the Warriors organization since last season’s surprise surge to prominence. Despite the loss of key veteran Jason Richardson, Golden State is counting on internal improvement to help build off of last season’s success.

Forward Al Harrington came into camp re-invigorated and in phenomenal shape. Harrington was virtually invisible on the boards last season, particularly in the playoffs. But Harrington seems to have gotten a bit of that bull-dog tenacity back and is scrapping inside and attacking the rim like the 21 year old version of himself. Better glass work will be a key element to the team’s improvement this season and Harrington has taken a step in the right direction.

Also looking to increase in prominence is veteran wing Steven Jackson. The volatile and emotional Jackson has always commanded attention with his personality-for good or ill-and this season he became a captain for the first time. While many have questioned this move, Nelson may be onto something. Jackson is well-liked by teammates and is fiercely loyal. The added sense of responsibility this title brings might just help Jackson to reign himself in. Always a lone dog fighting for respect, Jackson has been acknowledged as someone who must set an example for the pack. It will be interesting to see how this manifests over the course of the year.

The team got rid of salary so it could re-sign its young tandem of talent, Andris Biedrins and Monta Ellis. Both of these players should show improvement in all facets of their game and that alone should provide this team a boost. Biedrins needs more touches in the post early in possessions to get the team’s perimeter game going. The young big isn’t a world-beating free throw shooter, but in single coverage his quickness and footwork could really put pressure on opponents to help defend down low.

Ellis had an excellent sophomore season, but showed his age in the playoffs where he was a virtual non-factor. Expect a year of seasoning to have hardened his mental preparedness for playoff pressure.

Rookies Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli are on two different paths. Belinelli is expected to get a fighting chance to contribute to the rotations this year and will battle upstart free agent Kelenna Azubuike for minutes and scoring opportunities. Wright is most likely headed for a trip to the D-League to toughen him up and get him some run .

Depth Chart:

[c]courtesy of Synergy Sports Tech: Figure represents NBA offensive percentile rank[/c]

Strengths:

The Warriors enjoy very strong team chemistry and play with a passion and emotional intensity that is virtually unequaled in the league. Don Nelson’s unorthodox style of play fits his personnel well and despite some limitations the team is able to execute it at a high level.

The perimeter/slashing ability of the team is substantial as they are extremely deep in wing talent. If Harrington improves his board work and the group improves its shot selection the Warriors should be even more explosive offensively and suffer from less shooting doubts.

Defensively, the team’s scheme creates a lot of transition opportunities and they usually get a full 48 minutes of quality play because of their depth. 2nd chance ops killed this team against Utah, but they typically are on the plus side of the possession game with their ability to turn the other team over and limit their own miscues.

Weaknesses:

Rebounding, shot selection, and composure are the three strikes against this club.

The Warriors sacrifice rebounds in favor of positional mismatches and speed. If they get caught playing at another team’s speed in the half-court game they can get pounded on the offensive glass. This is typically only a problem for them if the opponent has two interior players with post skill, but the road through the playoffs is filled with such problems.

Golden State tends to fall into a lot of ISO possessions if their shots aren’t falling or they find themselves down in a game late. When the perimeter game isn’t functioning well the team stops trusting in ball movement and many individual heroes try and step up to the challenge. High caliber teams will simply play the percentages and out-pace them when this happens.

Much of this trouble comes from the emotional makeup of the team. Baron Davis and Steven Jackson are emotionally driven leaders. They have the ability to inspire and raise their level of play based off passion and spirit, but it can also cloud their judgment and negatively effect their game. Both players get caught up in personal battles on the court at times when under duress and this leads to bad shots, turnovers, and technical fouls.

Outlook:

The loss of the steady-minded Jason Richardson will hurt the balance of personalities on the Warriors by itself, but the team does have the guns to replace his productivity. Harrington, Biedrins, and Ellis are sure to step up their game and Azubuike, Peitrus, and Belinelli are all ready to show their stuff.

Re-signing Matt Barnes is a decision this team will have to hope works out for the best as his productivity last season has no precedent. Barnes is an excellent glue-guy and has a steadying influence on the more volatile rotation players. His effectiveness is a key ingredient to the team’s success this season.

The Warriors should improve their win/loss record this season considering all the weapons at their disposal and another season of chemistry building. But the road to the finals is just too clogged with superior competition to consider the Warriors to be true contenders. They are lacking in discipline, balance, and consistency to the point where its virtually impossible to see them beating Utah or San Antonio. The team does match up well against Denver and Phoenix however, so their should be plenty of fireworks come playoff time.

Bottom line, the team is still a couple years away from figuring out how to beat a more systematic team and must improve its post offense and its board work to truly compete for the crown.

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