5 Questions Surrounding the Golden State Warriors for the 2011-12 Season
The Warriors are certainly a mystery.
Their third coach in three years is insisting that the team will be defensive-minded after about five years of run-and-gun offense and no defense.
They have two stars who are capable of making the All-Star team this year in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, but even with two All-Stars, the team was several games out of the playoffs. The team has failed to find a winning formula, but fans are still confident that the team can make the playoffs.
We'll see on April 26 when the Warriors finish their season against the Spurs.
Will the Warriors Be a Better Defensive Team?
In 18 years in the NBA as a player, Golden State Warriors Head Coach Mark Jackson was known for his rigorous work ethic and commitment to defense.
He hopes to implement a similar philosophy into the Warriors, a team that has not been known for defense under past coaches Don Nelson and Keith Smart.
Golden State continually ranked among the highest scoring teams yet also allowed the most points in the NBA under Nelson and Smart.
The Warriors lack a solid interior presence, leading to their unsuccessful courtships of Tyson Chandler and DeAndre Jordan and eventual signing of Kwame Brown.
With newcomers such as Brown and rookie Jeremy Tyler, the team can make a mark in the league with its defense.
Quick Answer: Yes
Who Will Start at Center?
GM Larry Riley brought in a few new guys to help the Warriors out in the post. In addition to last year's offseason acquisitions in David Lee and Ekpe Udoh, Riley traded for former high school standout Jeremy Tyler on draft night and signed Kwame Brown.
Although the team lost some bench depth in Lou Amundson and Vladimir Radmanovic, it has four players who can play significant minutes for coach Jackson at center: Udoh, Tyler, Brown and Andris Biedrins.
Jackson seems to favor Andris Biedrins, who started in the team's preseason game against Sacramento on Dec. 17 and racked up two points and five rebounds.
Udoh, however, played 10 more minutes than Biedrins, scoring 10 points and grabbing four boards in 26 minutes.
Tyler played 11 minutes and scored two points along with four rebounds.
Brown, who did not play on Saturday, will probably come off the bench for 10 to 15 minutes a night.
For now, it seems like although Biedrins will start, Udoh and Tyler will earn the majority of the minutes, and Brown will come off the bench for a brief period of time.
Quick Answer: Andris Biedrins
Will the Warriors Trade Ellis?
Rumors about an Ellis trade have swirled during the prolonged offseason, but it seems like that after the end of the lockout, they have died down, giving way to those regarding Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.
Owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have been adamant about keeping Ellis, who still has $33 million left on his contract.
Coach Jackson is still set on having Ellis as his shooting guard, and hopefully he can teach him a thing or two about defense. Although Ellis is among the league leaders in steals, he tends to go for steals much more often than actually defending.
But this won't exactly help.
Quick Answer: No
Can Ellis and Curry Coexist?
When Curry was drafted back in 2009, Ellis claimed that the backcourt duo would not work. Now it seems like they may be able to coexist, as Ellis and Curry are entering their third year together in Golden State.
The key is to get a solid defensive system in mind. Curry has never been coached by the same person for two consecutive years, but the Warriors will likely keep Mark Jackson past this year.
The most significant criticism of the two is that they can't defend because they're too small. But if the Warriors had an intimidating interior defensive presence, Curry and Ellis would be able to play up on their men and not worry about allowing him get to the hoop.
Lacob, Guber and Riley recognize this, but they were unable to get a center like this in the offseason, after Tyson Chandler signed with the Knicks and the Clippers matched the Warriors' offer to restricted free agent DeAndre Jordan.
Hopefully, Udoh or Tyler can grow into this type of a presence, or else the Warriors' centers of the future will be Biedrins and Brown.
Quick Answer: Yes
Will the Warriors Make the Playoffs?
Current high school seniors have seen the Warriors go to the playoffs once in their lifetime. The year 2007 was the only time since 1994 in which Golden State has reached the postseason.
Lacob and Guber are trying to set up a winning formula in Golden State, and although the team improved its record over last year, it ended up in the lottery for the 15th time in 16 years.
The Western Conference is the more competitive of the two, and with up-and-coming teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers and the post-Melo Denver Nuggets, it remains difficult for the Warriors to crack the Top 8.
Had the team been in the East, it would have barely missed the playoffs, as the Warriors won 36 games, and the eighth-seeded Pacers only won 37.
Warriors fans have been hoping for the team to consistently make the playoffs since the run-TMC era, but additions such as Klay Thompson and Kwame Brown don't cut it.
Quick Answer: No