NBA 2010-11 Season Preview: Golden State Warriors on the Rise
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The biggest offseason move the Warriors have made may not have been trading for an all-star after all.
New owner Joe Lacob's decision to move on from the Don Nelson regime proves the new administration's hunger for winning over making a buck. There's nothing sexy about a Keith Smart becoming the new head coach, but with the team trending to younger, more well-rounded players, having a coach who can actually relate is invaluable.
Injuries aside, the Warriors' largest problem during Nelson's tenure was basketball philosophy. The shoot first, ask questions later mantra was highly entertaining, but not enough to be a winning team. Each January, it was always pretty clear that the W's were far from a playoff contender no matter how exciting the basketball was to watch.
Come 2010, things have changed for the better.
What plagued Nelson was his ability to communicate with younger players. Just ask Anthony Randolph, Monta Ellis, Marco Belinelli, Mickael Pietrus, and Andris Biedrins to name a few.
Randolph was the classic case. The promising forward often found himself in the doghouse for reasons that were never made clear to him. Many times he would play, make a mistake and not see action for a few games or even weeks. It's hard to develop talent without giving it the opportunity to.
But Smart can change all of that. He is an excellent communicator and has always had the respect of his young players. But even more important than that, he coaches defense and rebounding. Don't read the previous sentence again, it did say defense and rebounding.
Smart seems to have this year's group motivated and hungry to make a change. Last season, under the leadership of Steven Jackson, the Warriors were a disgruntled group wondering how a backcourt of Monta Ellis and Steph Curry could ever translate to success.
After Curry's outstanding rookie season, they believe the back court is the team's most important asset. The roster's leadership is feeling positive about what the team has this season, and that could not be said about last year's team.
There are still plenty of question marks regarding the roster. Will Dorell Wright be enough of a defensive force on the perimeter and be productive enough offensively to justify his starting spot?
Will Reggie Williams improve on his solid rookie season and bring instant offense off the bench? Will Brandan Wright ever stay healthy enough to be a contributor? What will happen with the backup point guard spot?
It won't take very much time for Larry Riley and Lacob to see what they really have with their roster. They are in a fortunate position of having more than $14 million in expiring contracts between Vladimir Radmanovic and Dan Gadzuric that could potentially bring back a significant piece if the team is in the hunt at the trading deadline.
As it currently stands, the team is still a player away from being a legitimate playoff contender. Expect this team as constructed to be better than last season, but still struggle to make the post season. The prediction here is 37-45, which is a decent step up from 2009-10's record of 26-55.
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