Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pacific Division Preview

Check out the Warriors preview section of the Pacific Division preview courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

Offseason goals: Try to encourage the NBA to move up the start of the regular season to sometime in mid-July; see if the entire roster is eligible to participate in Pete Newell's Big Man Camp.

What really happened: Thankfully, GM Chris Mullin kept to himself for most of the summer. The relative silence was refreshing after a first year filled with an array of sometimes questionable moves -- from throwing some $80 million at Mssrs. Folye and Fisher to turning an expiring contract and Speedy Claxton into Baron Davis before last February's trade deadline (a move that spurred the Warriors to win 18 of final 28 games while raising their scoring average by 10 points). Mullin followed up over the offseason with his second stellar draft in a row, securing three potential rotation players, although Diogu (a long Etan Thomas-type), Ellis (Nick Van Exel without that University of Cincinnati "education") and Taft (hopefully closer to Gilbert Arenas than to Chris Porter) may take two or three years to come around.

But this team also has enough young talent to keep things interesting right away. We would have liked to have seen Mullin hang onto the still-unsigned Rodney White, a slasher whose numbers suggest he could be a major contributor if afforded more than garbage-time minutes. The frontcourt is, at once, deep and unreliable. Assuming Diogu and Taft can't contribute right away, it falls on Troy Murphy to start defending, and Adonal Foyle to continue to do the dirty work underneath. Coach Mike Montgomery might want to start second-year big man Andris Biedrins (who should be a top-five center at some point) ahead of Foyle. The 19-year-old won't make it past the first quarter without picking up three fouls each night, but he can sop up minutes while allowing Foyle to do his damage off the bench.

Outlook: The Warriors have sustained that Flavor of the Month feeling for more than seven months now, and it appears they have done enough to make the playoffs more than a mirage. Still, the Lakers, Jazz and Timberwolves consider a postseason berth their birthright, and the Grizzlies won't go down without a fight, so the Warriors will have their work cut out for them.


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