October 22, 2008
SI.com's NBA Enemy Lines
Golden State Warriors
An opposing team's scout sizes up the Warriors

The first thing you notice is that the Warriors aren't as good as they were the last couple of years after losing their star player and leader in Baron Davis. Point guard is the most critical position on the team, and now -- because of Monta Ellis' injury -- they're going to start the season by entrusting it to some unknowns.

One of the candidates to start at point guard is Marcus Williams, who came over from New Jersey, where he was not loved. He's a guy who looks for his own shot. That's a problem on a team with so much duplication on the floor. All of these guys really like to shoot the ball, but they need somebody to get it to them. Having a point guard who likes to shoot may not be the easiest way to pull this team together. Now, you could say the same thing about Baron -- he was a shoot-first point guard too -- but he had a credibility to him, and he did incorporate others into the offense, and he is a star. It's easier to swallow the kind of leadership Baron provided than it will be to go with a young, unproven player who doesn't recognize the situation he's in and what his job is supposed to be, which is what I suspect they'll get from Williams.

Coach Don Nelson is in a weird situation. Is this his last year? Probably. In which case, knowing that he doesn't have a team that can win the championship, he might try to go out looking good at least. If he could put out a competitive team that pulls together, that would be a nice story and nice way for it to end for him. The question is whether he can keep guys like Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette all happy. We don't know who's going to be there in future years, whether it's Nellie or even GM Chris Mullin. [Nelson and Mullin are in the last year of their contracts.] But the cupboard isn't bare: They have a lot of talented young players. So the questions become, Where are we going and who is leading us there?

The second question is a difficult one. The leaders are Jackson and Harrington, I'm guessing. And I would not be thrilled about that. But do you know how there's always so much public complaining about someone like Rasheed Wallace, but then you talk to the coaches and players and they say he's a great teammate? I hear the same kinds of things about Jackson. My take is that he may have some leadership qualities, but I don't know if he sets the kind of example you want young players to emulate. Jackson is a guy who can shoot you into a game as easily as he shoots you out of it. What a strange dichotomy he is, between some of his past incidents and his opening of an academy for young kids. So who is he? Is he bad, good, temperamental, nice? You don't know which one of those guys is showing up.

The only thing we know for sure is that they're going to play fast and jack up a ton of shots from both sides of the three-point line. It's the only way to keep everybody happy.

After losing Baron to free agency, they went out and signed Maggette. I didn't understand that move. For one thing, he's so similar to what they have with so many shooters and scorers on their roster already. You know what you're getting with Maggette: He can score, but he's also going to do it his way, by drawing a lot of fouls and being sticky with the ball. They've already got too much of the latter. I've always considered Maggette as a guy who comes to work every day to get paid. If he gets his numbers, that's what he's looking for; whether his team wins or not is less important.

The issue with Harrington is lack of rebounding. But how do you expect him to rebound when he's out on the perimeter 22 feet away taking jumpers?

On a team like this, they're switching everything, with the exception of center Andris Biedrins. You end up finding a lot of weird matchups. Guys can get a lot of criticism for not doing their jobs, but when you play defense like Nellie does, it's hard to say who was responsible for guarding which man. You almost have to go clip-by-clip on video the next day, because each play a guy like Harrington might be guarding a different man.

Biedrins gets no deliberate touches. He's the one guy who doesn't need the ball. He primarily scores on dunks, put-backs and in transition, and he's probably going to be their best rebounder. While he's mobile, he's also somewhat mechanical.

A guy who is going to be recognized as one of the best free-agent signings of the year is Ronny Turiaf, who fits the team perfectly. I bet he's going to play a ton of minutes. He can play the big positions, he's active as a rebounder and he can score a bit.

I don't know if they'll find room for Marco Belinelli in the rotation. He's a guy who needs playing time because he has a quick release in every way -- he squares quickly and gets the shot off. After he had that big summer league game a couple of years ago, they might have talked him up too much, so I think they'll be more quiet in praising rookie forward Anthony Randolph. I love Randolph's demeanor -- no chest-bumping, yelling or emotion. He just has a quiet confidence about him. He is really long, he can grab rebounds and he has such a good handle that he can bust out down the floor as a playmaker creating for others. He's thin, and when he goes airborne, he'll get pushed around. He's another guy who may struggle for minutes because he'll be competing for time with last year's rookie forward, Brandan Wright, who is probably better in the post than on the perimeter.


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