October 21, 2008
SI's 2008-09 NBA Scouting Reports
Golden State Warriors
Projected Finish: 10th in Western Conference
Corey Maggette (above) will replace Baron Davis' scoring, but the Warriors still need an able floor general.
Fast Fact
Last Season

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


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