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Andris Biedrins of the Golden State Warriors Ready To Take the Next Step

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Andris Biedrins of the Golden State Warriors Ready To Take the Next Step
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For Warriors fans, the old Biedrins would suit this new squad just fine. Well, part of the old Biedrins at least.

For better or worse, this will be a season of change for the Warriors' big man. Gone are the coach who he constantly battled with, his dreadful free-throw form, his trademark spiky hair, and even his moniker, "Goose." In are a coach with whom he shares a great relationship, a new shot from the charity stripe with no hitch in the middle, a short hairstyle, and the new moniker, "Dre."

Prior to last season—a lost effort due to injuries and, ultimately, abdominal surgery—Dre had strung together three productive seasons, showing why the Warriors invested the 11th pick in the 2004 draft in him.

After playing limited minutes in his first two seasons, Biedrins got a chance to prove what he had in 2006-07, delivering to the tune of 9.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. Biderins upped those totals to 10.5 points and 9.8 rebounds and an incredible—and league-leading—62.6 field-goal percentage. The 2008-09 campaign showed more improvements, with career highs of 11.9 points and 11.2 rebounds.

At his best, Biedrins is a double-double machine, a big man who can run the floor and set pick-and-rolls, with soft hands. At his worst, he's one of the league's worst free-throw shooters (career 51.9 percent) and, according to a WarriorsWorld.net article, could be another disgruntled player looking for a change of scenery.

Biedrins, though, in his defense, said that the article originally given to Latvian media  was misinterpreted and hopefully, for the Warriors' sake, it was. He allegedly said, among other things, that most of his teammates are "egoists," that the Warriors staff rushed him back too quickly from injury, that he doesn't plan on playing long past his 30th birthday, and that a trade could land him on a "better team" with "better teamwork."

Assuming Biedrins is good on his word that those comments were not what he said, Warriors fans should take comfort in the fact that all signs point to another year of improvement. Not unlike other Warriors players, Dre's relationship with Nelson was less than cordial. Biedrins wanted to be a bigger part of the offense, and he felt disrespected when Nelson suggested that former Warriors great Rick Barry come in and work with Biedrins on developing an underhand free throw.

But with coach Keith Smart at the helm, things should be different. Smart has been a part of Biedrins' career as long as he's been in the league. Smart has even traveled to Latvia over the summers—serving as an assistant coach on the Latvian national team—to spend more time with the franchise center.

Also, he should benefit from playing a full season with a pass-first point guard—Stephen Curry—for the first time in his career. Biedrins' numbers took off with Baron Davis at the helm, but Davis has always been more of a scoring point guard.

Also, Dre's teammate Monta Ellis—the second-longest tenured Warrior—appears to have a new commitment to the organization and a more positive attitude going into the season. Add that to newcomers David Lee and Dorell Wright completing the improved starting five, and Biedrins appears to be back with the high-caliber playmakers he's blossomed with in the past.

In an offseason with this much turnover, Warriors' fans have a right to be optimistic about everything new with the organization. But in Biedrins' case, a little bit of the old could do the trick.

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