Warriors

2011-2012 Warriors season preview -- playoffs on horizon?

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2011-2012 Warriors season preview -- playoffs on horizon?

It will be very simple to evaluate the coaching job that Mark Jackson does with the Warriors this season.Very simple, indeed.Jackson has virtually the same group of core players that coach Keith Smart had a year ago when the Warriors went 36-46. That was a 10-game improvement over the previous season 2009-10 -- which wasnt a bad little bounce.Still, owner Joe Lacob thought the Warriors needed to get better in the coaching department and so he hired Jackson, a man with no experience, but plenty of confidence.Jackson promised the playoffs on the day he was hired, backing up a guarantee Lacob already had made to Warriors season-ticket holders. That will be quite a challenge considering Jackson will trot out the same starting five on opening night assuming Stephen Curry is ready to go -- that Smart had the previous season.So, can Jackson get more out of Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee and Andris Biedrins than Smart? Well, thats the big question.Jackson may have a slightly better bench than Smart had last season, but thats also open to interpretation. This season, the Warriors will rely heavily on rookie Klay Thompson, veteran center Kwame Brown and second-year power forward Ekpe Udoh.Last season Smart rode with Reggie Williams, Vladimir Radmanovic, Acie Law and Lou Amundson for stretches.None of that matters to Jackson, who doubled down on his prediction earlier this week.Im not changing, Jackson said. We will be a playoff team. Thats not going to change.For that to happen, the Warriors, who finished 12th in the Western Conference a year ago, will need to leapfrog four teams and make sure that no team that finished behind them a year ago jumps over them such as the greatly improved L.A. Clippers.The only way that happens is if Jackson can somehow turn a team very similar to the one Smart coached into a solid defensive team. Jackson has been matter-of-fact about that happening, but its only fair to be skeptical.One man who is not skeptical is Lacob, who said he believes in Jackson and his staff on a recent Chronicle Live show.Said Lacob: We have a better coaching staff, top to bottom (than last year)." In truth, that remains to be seen. But well sure know if its true by the end of the season.
ROSTER BREAKDOWN- Andris Biedrins, C, 7-0, 240: Full rebound from Biedrins unlikely but he should bounce back some- Kwame Brown, C, 6-11, 270: He will help, no doubt, but hell be frustrating at times, too- Stephen Curry, PG, 6-3, 186: Its difficult not to be concerned with Currys ankle issues- Monta Ellis, SG, 6-3, 185: Ellis task in 2011-12: Become a more well-rounded player- Charles Jenkins, PG, 6-3, 220: Hes had a solid training camp, but can Jenkins keep it up when regular season begins?- David Lee, PF, 6-9, 240: Like Ellis, Lee must sacrifice some for the good of the team- Dominic McGuire, SF, 6-9, 236: Tough wing defender who can play some power forward if Warriors go small- Brandon Rush, SG, 6-6, 225: The more Rush plays the more likely it is that rookie Klay Thompson is struggling- Ish Smith, PG, 6-0, 175: You could make a case Smith is the only true point guard on the roster- Klay Thompson, SG, 6-7, 205: Outside of not shooting well, Thompson showing ability to do other things- Jeremy Tyler, PF, 6-10, 260: May be more beneficial for Tyler to play for Dakota Wizards, where he can get playing time- Ekpe Udoh, PF, 6-10, 245: He seems like the Warrior most poised to take game to next level- Chris Wright, PF, 6-8, 226: Warriors like his work ethic and athleticism, but hell likely play mostly in D-League- Dorell Wright, SF, 6-9, 205: Hes had a quiet preseason but is important piece if Warriors are to be successful

A Warriors fantasy 13-man team from the past

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AP

A Warriors fantasy 13-man team from the past

Stephen Curry is a two time MVP. Kevin Durant is a one-time MVP and four-time scoring champ. Draymond Green is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Klay Thompson, owner of the game’s most picturesque jumper, once scored 60 points in 29 minutes.

The Warriors not only have reached the playoffs in five consecutive seasons for the first time since moving to California in 1962 but also own the single-season wins record and have won two championships over the last three seasons.

All of which explains why fans, athletes and coaches following the NBA tend to shower them with praise. They respect the coaching staff, are impressed with the front office and envy the roster.

Longtime fans know this is a completely new feeling. They recall so many past Warriors teams with sardonic fondness because, well, the bad old days in the Bay were a local joke.

As the team’s play-by-play man since 1995, Tim Roye remembers those days, and we discussed them on this week’s Warriors Insider Podcast. Specifically, I asked Roye to name his personal 13-man roster generated from Warriors between his arrival in ’95 and the drafting of Stephen Curry in 2009.

Roye’s draft picks, along with many of his other observations, are available on the podcast. Mine, which were not given on the podcast, are available here.

BACKCOURT/WINGS

In alphabetical order: Gilbert Arenas, Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Jason Richardson and Latrell Sprewell.

Arenas, taken in the second round of the 2001 draft, quickly became a local sensation. He was here for only two seasons and, despite the pleas of local fans, left for big money as a free agent. At his best, his scoring skill was unsurpassed.

Davis, stolen in a 2005 trade with Charlotte, gave the Warriors a much-needed shot of credibility the minute he walked through the door. Following a lot of bad Warriors deals, BD was the best player trade acquisition since Bernard King in 1980.

Ellis, selected sfrom a Mississippi high school in the second round of the 2005 draft, came to California as a shy teenager and eventually blossomed into electricity in sneakers. He was a wonderful scorer with crazy quicks and a deadly midrange J.

Hardaway, drafted out of UTEP in the first round, 14th overall in 1989, was the original crossover king, except he referred to it as the UTEP two-step. Difficult to contain and utterly fearless, he is a Hall of Famer in waiting.

Mullin, drafted out of St. John’s in the first round, seventh overall in 1985, Mullin was a fabulous shooter and a deft passer who became a five-time All-Star as a Warrior. His Hall of Fame ticket was punched in 2011.

Richardson, drafted from Michigan State in the first round, fifth overall in 2001, quickly became the team’s most exciting player. That he won the dunk contest as a rookie, and again the next season, provided a rare thrill for local fans.

Sprewell, drafted 24th overall out of Alabama in 1992, was popular until he jumped coach P.J. Carlesimo and was suspended and shipped out of town in 1997. Over a 19-year stretch ending in 2013, he was the team’s only All-Star. He made it three times.

FRONTCOURT

In alphabetical order: Andris Biedrins, Antawn Jamison, Stephen Jackson, Troy Murphy, Joe Smith.

Selected in the first round, 11th overall, in 2004, Biedrins was only 18 when he came to America. He had good hands, rebounded well and was developing into a solid center before he fell victim to confidence issues and the trappings of the good life.

Jamison, selected in a bizarre draft-day deal in 1998, was the best player on some wretched teams. A good rebounder and scorer -- he once had back-to-back 50-point games -- the power forward became an All-Star after he left the Warriors in 2003.

Jackson was picked up in a January 2007 trade with Indiana and it didn’t take long to see his value at both ends. The small forward who could play big makes this team for one primary reason: He stole Dirk Nowitzki’s soul in the 2007 playoffs.

Murphy was the second of two first-round picks in 2001, 14th overall. He wasn’t particularly athletic but he was an effective rebounder and a good shooter. He’d be a stretch-big, somewhere between Ryan Anderson and Mo Speights.

Smith was the team’s most recent No. 1 overall pick, in 1995. A natural power forward, he was named to the All-Rookie first team and was even better the next season. He faded in his third season, was traded and never reached full potential.

SIXTH MAN

Jamal Crawford. Easy call. A Warriors for only 54 games in 2008-09, that was plenty to see the three-time Sixth Man of the Year could deliver instant offense like few others.

Is it a great team? No. But it’s a playoff team. We needed 13 seasons of history, which feels like cheating until you consider the franchise went more than 10 years, from November 1994 to March 2005, without anyone honored so much as Player of the Week.

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

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AP

Klay Thompson randomly interviewed on local NYC news about scaffolding

With a big break until their next game, the Warriors spent a couple days in New York City.

Klay Thompson spent part of his Monday walking around the city.

And as only Thompson could, he wound up appearing on a local news report. But he wasn't talking about basketball. Not even close.

Courtesy of Twitter user @MP_Trey, Thompson was interviewed on Fox 5 NY to talk about ... scaffolding.

"I usually observe if the piping and stuff is new. Sometimes, you know, something looks like it's been there a while, I try to avoid that," Thompson said in the report.

You can watch the odd video here: