The Golden State Warriors begin their 2008 campaign tonight at the Oracle Arena in Oakland against Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. The Warriors roster has significantly changed from the past few years.
Gone are players like Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Mickael Pietrus, and Matt Barnes. There has been an influx of youth with the likes of rookies DeMarcus Nelson and Anthony Randolph along with second year players Brandan Wright and Marco Belinelli.
Their key player, Monta Ellis, who they wanted to build around, is now out for at least three months due to an ankle injury caused by a moped accident over the summer. Davis, the team’s MVP and leader, bolted for the Los Angeles Clippers.
This will not be a fun season for Warrior fans. Although the team signed free agents Corey Maggette and Ronny Turiaf, this team does not have the pieces for a playoff run.
Maggette is a solid player on offense but his defense, or lack of, will not entice him to Bay Area fans. Turiaf is a good backup and can play the power forward or center positions, but he is not a scorer. Turiaf will be good as a defensive presence and shot blocker. His enthusiasm will most likely make him a fan favorite.
Stephen Jackson is the team’s most important player since Davis is gone and Ellis is injured. Jackson plays well on both ends of the court but he needs a lot of help. Who will provide the help?
Wright needs to show more than he did in his rookie year and so does the sharpshooter, Belinelli. If Nelson gives them more playing time, perhaps we can see how good these two players can be.
Another question mark for the Warriors at the beginning of the year is who will be their point guard. Nelson pegged Nelson, a rookie from Duke, as the opening night starter. His first challenge will be trying to stop the speedy Paul. Nelson was never a flashy player in college and he played for Duke for four years. How many good players stay in college for four years these days? The answer is not many. What we do know about Nelson is that he is a good defensive player and plays hard. But is that enough?
The bottom line is that Nelson won’t make anyone forget Davis. Another offseason acquisition by the Warriors was former Net, Marcus Williams. Williams underperformed in preseason and is beginning the season on the bench.
Al Harrington does not like playing for Coach Nelson and it will be interesting to see if the Warriors trade him. Harrington is a good scorer but he all too often has a bad shooting night and he doesn’t play any defense at all.
This season won’t be as fun as the last few years for basketball fans in the Bay Area. The Bay Area has only one winning team and that is the San Jose Sharks. The Warriors will probably go 33-49 and not make the playoffs once again.