Corey Maggette (above) will replace Baron Davis' scoring, but the Warriors still need an able floor general.
Defense has not been the Warriors' strong suit for a while: In '07-08 they allowed the most points in the NBA for the second straight year. The last team to do that? Golden State, from 1999-2000 through '02-03.
Record: 48-34 (9th in West) Points scored: 111.0 (1st in NBA) Points allowed: 108.8 (30th)
His best player left, but Don Nelson will still run-and-gun in what is likely his last season
Don Nelson has earned a reputation as a mad scientist during his 30 years on the NBA sidelines. But the coach who popularized such novelties as the point forward and small ball is spending more time in the classroom these days than in the laboratory.
"I'm doing a lot more teaching," says Nelson, 68, whose roster has a handful of promising players 23 or under -- and is now without All-Star point guard Baron Davis, who signed as a free agent with the Clippers in July. "I liken it to my first year [in Dallas], when I took over that team and had to rebuild it from scratch."
Nelson's biggest challenge this season -- in addition to developing those youngsters -- is finding a playmaker to replace Davis. After signing a six-year, $66 million contract, 23-year-old heir apparent Monta Ellis tore up his left ankle in an August moped accident, lied about it to the team and was suspended for 30 games. (He was expected to be out until mid-December anyway.)
The good news is that Nelson still has most of the core of a club that won 48 games a year ago. And free-agent swingman Corey Maggette can replace Davis's point production while allowing the team to continue Nellie's preferred pedal-to-the-metal offensive style. Still, it's not how Nelson planned to coach this last year of his contract before he most likely retires. "[Davis's departure] was a bit of a kick in the teeth," he says, "but that's the way it goes. You pick up and do the best job you can."
Nellie will no doubt find a way to adapt. It won't be enough to get the Warriors into the playoffs, but it will be fun to watch. -- Marty Burns
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.