Golden State Warriors: 10 Burning Questions Heading into the 2010-11 NBA Season
The Golden State Warriors have a number of substantial question marks heading into the 2010-11 NBA season. The team went through some serious changes this offseason, including the ownership, roster, head coach and uniforms.
New head man Keith Smart faces the challenge of making almost an entirely new group of players gel and play a new brand of basketball that emphasizes defense and rebounding.
This season may be the toughest to project in years, but here are 10 burning questions for the Warriors heading into the 2010-2011 season.
Question 10: Will Ekpe Udoh Be Healthy Enough to Contribute?
After being drafted No. 6 overall, power forward Ekpe Udoh suffered a left wrist injury in summer league that required surgery.
As of now, he's projected to miss the season's first six months. The question is, how much will his injury set back his development?
The Warriors went into the season hoping Udoh would be able to challenge Brandan Wright for playing time and perhaps challenge him to become a better player.
If Udoh does miss the first six months of the season, it's hard to see him earning a place on the roster over a player who participated in training camp.
The D-League may be the best place for the Baylor product to get back in shape and up to game speed.
But if he's a quick healer and learner, he could be used sparingly come spring if the Warriors are once again out of the playoff picture.
Question 9: Is Jeremy Lin Good Enough To Deserve a Guaranteed Contract?
New owner Joe Lacob's first move was to sign point guard Jeremy Lin off the Dallas Maverick's summer league team.
Lin is a Bay Area product and already a cult hero among Warriors' fans.
So far this preseason however, he has shown why he went undrafted and some within the organization are beginning to wonder if signing Lin was as much of a basketball move as it was a PR move.
It's unlikely Lin will see much playing time, but will the team regret giving him guaranteed money? If Lin turns out to be a non-factor, the team will likely have to eat his contract and look elsewhere for another point guard to come off the bench next season.
Question 8: Will Rodney Carney Be a Contributor Off The Bench?
The Warriors signed swing-man Rodney Carney to come off the bench and provide a spark with his athleticism.
His offensive game is limited, but he can defend the perimeter well enough for a bench player.
He will be a different look from Vladimir Radmanovic, who's a spot-up shooter and not much else, which enticed Larry Riley to sign the Memphis product.
While much of the roster is unproven, the Warriors are lacking depth at the SG-SF positions, and a productive season from Carney would be helpful.
Question 7: Will Brandan Wright Ever Be The Player He Was Projected to Be?
All the physical tools are there. At 6' 10", Brandan Wright has incredible length and spring for a power forward. But since being acquired for the beloved Jason Richardson, Wright hasn't stayed healthy enough to ever be a become a contributor.
He has shown the ability to run the floor and finish around the rim, but has yet to do so consistently. He might be one of the players that benefits the most from Don Nelson's departure, as Nelson was infamous for lack of trust in youngsters.
While hindsight is 20-20, its pretty clear now that Wright should have stayed at North Carolina to become a more polished player. But with Udoh out until at least December, Wright will be given the chance to earn serious minutes as a backup power forward.
If he stays healthy and progresses like he should in his third NBA season, he could be an asset off the bench.
Question 6: Is Louis Amundson The Answer As a Backup Big Man?
The Warriors believe they were very lucky to land backup center Louis Amundson. He's solid on the glass and comes from an up-tempo system in Phoenix.
But he recently broke his right index finger and the timetable for his return is in question, Many believe he will miss up to six weeks.
Amundson is nearly the same player as the departed Ronny Turiaf, whom the team felt it was able to trade because of injury problems.
The fact that Amundson is already hurt and scheduled to miss a chunk of time doesn't bode well for the team. Luckily it is only a finger and not something more major.
Amundson will need to be healthy if the Warriors expect to become a better rebounding and defensive team in the interior.
Question 5: Will Reggie Williams Take The Next Step?
Last season, Reggie Williams was the newest Developmental League player to make a solid contribution for the Warriors.
The southpaw shot an impressive 49.5 percent from the floor and became a fan favorite. Was last season an aberration or is he really that skilled offensively?
Williams will likely be the first scoring option to come off the bench and maybe even give Dorell Wright a run for his money at the starting small forward position.
If he's not the instant-offense the Warriors are looking for, then he may struggle to find minutes. But if he matches or bests his play from a season ago, he could become a major contributor.
Question 4: How Good Is Dorell Wright?
Athletic swing-man Dorell Wright was a symbolic acquisition for the new-look Warriors.
Former coach Don Nelson prefers his small forwards to be offensive oriented players who shoot, shoot, and keep shooting. Wright is not that player. He is more defensive minded and comes in as the best perimeter defender the team has.
It didn't take Keith Smart long to declare Wright as his starting small forward. Whether Wright was good enough to earn that distinction has yet to be seen, because it's clear that he plays team's weakest position.
Wright's role will likely be to defend the oppositions best perimeter player, and take spot-up threes. Last year he shot 39 percent from three, and has been said to be improving drastically.
If Wright can play solid defense and hit enough threes, Larry Riley and company will be thrilled.
Question 3: Will Andris Biedrins Come Back to His Old Form?
Andris Biedrins was as important a player as any when the Warriors made their playoff run in 2007.
Last season, while battling with injuries, confidence issues, and mostly Don Nelson, Biedrins struggled in every aspect of his game. Most notably, he shot an unbelievable 16 percent from the free throw line. While he's always been a lousy free throw shooter, he had never shot worse than 57 percent from the line prior.
The coaching change from Nelson to Smart offers hope for the young center. He's known for being a quality finisher around the rim, good at running the floor and good enough defensively to not be a liability.
His ceiling might have already been reached, but at his best he is as good as any non-scoring center in the game.
If the Warriors want to become a better rebounding and defensive team, it will all start with Biedrins.
Question 2: Is David Lee The Missing Piece From a Playoff Puzzle?
Against the Warriors last April, All Star David Lee dropped 37 points, grabbed 20 rebounds, and distributed 10 assists. Not a bad first impression. An impression so good in fact, the Warriors went out and traded three rotational players for him.
Lee is clearly the best power forward the team has had since Antawn Jamison, but played center last season for an awful Knicks team.
While he is familiar with up-tempo style of play, he has always been a suspect post defender. Playing against true centers, Lee was able to use his quickness to his advantage.
He'll play power forward for the Warriors and likely struggle to defend on the block.
Offensively, expect Lee to thrive in the pick-and-roll game with Steph Curry and Monta Ellis.
Keith Smart has implemented Jerry Sloan's motion offense that he ran with John Stocton and Karl Malone, so expect Lee to be a focal point in the team's offensive game plan.
Question 1: Can Monta Ellis and Steph Curry Play Together?
Much has been made of the comments Monta Ellis made during last season's training camp when he proclaimed that there was no way he could play in the same backcourt as Steph Curry.
This time around, all parties are singing a different tune. Ellis has appeared to come back from his summer in Mississippi with a new attitude and is ready to be half of one of the most explosive back courts in basketball.
But Joe Lacob has intimated that he may not be enthralled with having Ellis as his long-term shooting guard. There is talk of Ellis being the team's most tradeable asset if Lacob does indeed want a more traditional shooting guard.
Last season, the Warriors reportedly declined a trade involving Ellis for Memphis' O.J. Mayo and Hasheem Thabeet. After the fact, Don Nelson said that if he knew the deal was on the table, he would have made the trade in a heartbeat.
In reality, Ellis is on the team and ready to roll. The relationship between the two guards appears to be better than ever. The question is, can they blend their styles well enough to be effective?
Ellis is nearly impossible to stop one-on-one and his three-point shot is improving. Curry is by far the best shooter on the team, but is hampered by assist-to-turnover ratio. The ceiling for the duo is as high as any, but they both must be committed to making it work based on their contrast in styles.
If they can't make it work, expect Ellis to be traded unless the team chooses to move Curry for a superstar type player, like Carmelo Anthony.