#12 Golden State Warriors The focus is on winning, not choking, now that John Starks has replaced Latrell Sprewell

February 08, 1999

Nearly three hours before the Warriors' first exhibition game,
guard John Starks and forward Antawn Jamison, the team's
first-round pick in last June's draft, were taking the first of
what would be hundreds of pregame jumpers. Starks had invited
Jamison to join him for some early work, and a promising sign
for the Warriors is that Jamison appears to be the kind of
rookie who eagerly does whatever is asked of him. The workout
was exactly the type of moment that coach P.J. Carlesimo
envisioned when Golden State acquired Starks and two other
veterans, forwards Chris Mills and Terry Cummings, from the
Knicks for guard Latrell Sprewell.

The Warriors' plan is for the three former Knicks to help guide
their young teammates on the floor and in the locker room.
Golden State will start the season with at least six players 25
or younger, including three likely starters, power forward Jason
Caffey, 25, center Erick Dampier, 24, and small forward Donyell
Marshall, 25. "The guys we got in this trade have been winners,"
Carlesimo says. "There are lessons they can teach some of our
young guys about hard work and preparation that will be of
tremendous value. I think that aside from their talent they'll
have an effect on this team that you can't even measure."

Their presence won't obscure the fact that the Warriors are far
from a championship team. Golden State, whose agonizing 1997-98
included a 19-63 record and the notorious assault by Sprewell on
Carlesimo, failed to upgrade at point guard, where Bimbo Coles
isn't much of an offensive threat and 5'3" Muggsy Bogues is more
effective playing for short spurts off the bench than for a
starter's minutes. Starks, 33, takes over at shooting guard, but
some rival players wonder if he has the competitive fire that
marked most of his eight years in New York. When he brought his
golf clubs on a trip to Indiana during the playoffs last year,
some teammates were quoted as saying that Starks's heart was no
longer in it. He denies that he has lost his edge--a lengthy
workout before an exhibition game is strong evidence in his
favor--and he certainly doesn't sound like a player who is
coasting. "Losing is not something I handle well," he says. "It
eats at me."

Golden State has the makings of a solid rotation up front, with
Caffey, Dampier and Marshall, who was the fourth pick of the
1994 draft and was in danger of being labeled a bust until he
finally began to fulfill his promise last season. He'll have to
keep improving to keep Jamison from taking over his spot.

Carlesimo thinks Golden State can contend for a playoff berth.
It's overly optimistic to expect the Warriors to travel that
far, but for the first time in years, they at least seem to be
headed in the right direction.

--Phil Taylor

COLOR PHOTO: SAM FORENCICH/NBA PHOTOS Marshall plan Late bloomer Marshall will have to fend off a rookie for playing time.


Starters PVR* 1997-98 Key Stats

SF Donyell Marshall 48 15.4 ppg 8.6 rpg 1.30 spg 41.4 FG%
PF Jason Caffey 144 7.3 ppg 4.3 rpg 0.8 apg 48.5 FG%
C Erick Dampier 125 11.8 ppg 8.7 rpg 1.70 bpg 44.5 FG%
SG John Starks[+] 128 12.9 ppg 2.7 apg 39.3 FG% 32.7 3FG%
PG Bimbo Coles 152 8.0 ppg 4.7 apg 2.3 rpg 88.6 FT%

Top Reserves Bench Ranking (out of 29 teams): 20

F Antawn
Jamison(R)[+] 135 22.2 ppg 10.5 rpg 57.9 FG% 66.7 FT%
F Chris Mills[+] 205 9.7 ppg 5.1 rpg 1.7 apg 43.3 FG%
G Muggsy Bogues 228 5.7 ppg 5.4 apg 1.10 spg 43.7 FG%

1997-98 Record: 19-63 (sixth in Pacific)
Coach: P.J. Carlesimo (second season with Warriors)

[+]New acquisition
(R) Rookie (1997-98 statistics at North Carolina)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 68)

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)