12 Golden State Warriors Antawn Jamison is the poster child for a team that's still in search of a star

Nov. 01, 1999
Nov. 01, 1999

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Nov. 1, 1999

NBA Preview 1999-2000

12 Golden State Warriors Antawn Jamison is the poster child for a team that's still in search of a star

Forward Antawn Jamison is the key figure in the Warriors'
promotional campaign for this season, with his smiling visage
appearing prominently in Golden State's print and television ads.
"I was the only guy who wasn't camera shy," he says. But that's
not why the Warriors gave him a starring role. They clearly want
Jamison to be the new symbol of their franchise, representing
brighter days to come. If you want to be pessimistic (and if
you're a Golden State fan, go ahead, you have every right), you
might consider the broken nose Jamison suffered in an informal
scrimmage the week before training camp to be a bad omen--the face
of the Warriors, already battered and bandaged.

This is an article from the Nov. 1, 1999 issue Original Layout

Golden State refuses to entertain such dark thoughts. The
Warriors are a relentlessly optimistic bunch, from general
manager Garry St. Jean and coach P.J. Carlesimo on down. Although
they traded Bimbo Coles, Duane Ferrell and a first-round pick to
the Hawks for point guard Mookie Blaylock, they came up empty in
their off-season search for a high-profile free agent. But they
insist that with their young front-line players--Jamison, center
Erick Dampier and forwards Jason Caffey and Adonal Foyle--they can
improve from within. Internal development has become Golden
State's catchphrase, which is the Warriors' way of saying, Who
needs a store-bought star when you can grow your own?

"We have guys who have only begun to show what they're capable of
doing," says Carlesimo. "All we're saying is that as they
continue to get better as individuals, we're going to get better
as a team. And we have every reason to think they're going to get
better as individuals. It wouldn't be accurate or fair to place
all of the burden on Antawn, but he's probably the best example
of what we're talking about. You can look at the way he played
the second half of last year and see why we have high hopes for
him and for the team."

Jamison, who left North Carolina after his junior year and
became the fourth pick of the 1998 draft, showed great promise
toward the end of his rookie season, and the Warriors will need
him to continue that improvement if they're to achieve their
goal of making the playoffs for the first time in six years.
After a rocky beginning that earned him a spot on the bench,
Jamison moved into the starting lineup for the final 24 games of
the season and averaged 12.2 points and 7.2 rebounds during that
stretch. This year he should feel more comfortable from the
get-go. He has even reclaimed his old college number, 33, after
wearing number 7 last season because 33 was being worn by the
since-departed Ferrell. "Early in the year, when I was
struggling, I knew things would start to fall into place, but I
was starting to wonder when," he says. "Things got better as I
got more used to playing small forward after spending my whole
college career playing with my back to the basket. But mainly I
just stopped trying so hard."

He hasn't, however, stopped working hard. Jamison, 6'8" and 230
pounds, may have been the most industrious Warrior during the
off-season, attending both Pete Newell's Big Man Camp in Hawaii
and classes at North Carolina, where he completed his degree in
African studies. His most obvious weakness in making the
transition to small forward last season was his shaky jump shot,
but Jamison worked just as hard on his footwork at Newell's
camp, polishing his offensive moves with his face to the basket.
He also benefited by being able to work with the Warriors'
coaching staff during the off-season, which he couldn't do the
previous summer because of the lockout. "My footwork should be
better, and my shot should be better since I worked on it just
about every day this summer," Jamison says. "Last year I had to
feel my way along a little bit, but this year I feel much more
prepared. I know much more about what to expect."

Even if Jamison takes another leap forward, a playoff berth
still seems too much to expect in the stacked Western
Conference. Replacing a Bimbo (Coles) and a Muggsy (Bogues) with
a Mookie makes Golden State significantly better at the point,
but the team has shortcomings elsewhere. John Starks, a
once-athletic shooting guard, has turned almost exclusively into
a jump shooter, and an erratic one at that. Caffey, the starting
power forward, was a big disappointment after signing a
seven-year, $35 million contract last season. That didn't keep
the Warriors from taking the risk of signing Dampier, who was
equally ineffective last year, to a seven-year, $48 million
contract in August. Golden State has reason to believe in
Jamison; with Dampier and Caffey, the Warriors can only cross
their fingers. Terry Cummings, 38, was a godsend last season,
emerging as Golden State's best low-post player, but if he still
owns that title this season, the Warriors are in trouble.

Golden State was offensively challenged last year; Jamison is the
only returning player who shot better than 45%. The Warriors'
poor aim, combined with the rules changes designed to make the
game more fluid, has convinced Carlesimo to try to speed up the
tempo of the offense to get easy shots. "I know coaches say this
every year, but we want to run a lot more," he says. "We need to
get our guys to push the ball up the floor."

Whatever the style, Jamison, who has impressed his teammates with
his willingness to pick the brains of veterans like Cummings and
Starks, will be a key part of it. Learning the tricks of his
trade is no doubt easier for Jamison than learning to swim, which
he did over the summer to fulfill his degree requirements at
North Carolina. He still doesn't feel comfortable venturing
beyond the six-foot level in a pool, but fortunately he's bolder
than that on the court, because the Warriors intend to find out
how well Jamison handles himself in the deep water. -


COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH SELF HELP Jamison hit the books and the blocks over the summer, and Golden State likes the result.COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH TALL ORDER Foyle (31) is one of the big men the Warriors are saying--praying?--will improve.

STARTING FIVE [2 1/2 stars]
BENCH [2 1/2 stars]
COACH [3 1/2 stars]
FRONT OFFICE [2 stars]
CHEMISTRY [3 1/2 stars]

By the Numbers

1998-99 record: 21-29 (10th in Western Conference)
Coach: P.J. Carlesimo (third season with Warriors)

AVERAGES (rank) (rank) (rank) (rank)

WARRIORS 88.3 (25) 41.5 (26) 47.5 (1) 15.4 (14)
OPPONENTS 90.8 (12) 42.0 (7) 43.2 (25) 14.7 (21)

In Fact

John Starks's 13.8 points per game was the second-lowest
team-leading scoring average in NBA history. Only Bobby Wanzer's
average of 13.1 points for the 1954-55 Rochester Royals was lower.

Projected Lineup


SF Antawn Jamison 79 9.6 ppg 6.4 rpg 0.7 apg 45.2 FG%
Averaged 16.4 points and 9.1 rebounds when he played at least 25

PF Jason Caffey 141 8.8 ppg 5.9 rpg 0.5 apg 44.4 FG%
Had career-best averages in scoring and rebounding last season

C Erick Dampier 185 8.8 ppg 7.6 rpg 1.1 apg 38.9 FG%
May miss time this month after surgery to repair left knee

SG John Starks 121 13.8 ppg 3.3 rpg 4.7 apg 37.0 FG%
Had worst field goal percentage of any NBA starter last year

PG Mookie Blaylock[#] 81 13.3 ppg 4.7 rpg 5.8 apg 37.9 FG%
Has finished in top 10 in steals per game in each of the past
nine seasons


F Donyell Marshall 125 11.0 ppg 7.1 rpg 1.4 apg 42.1 FG%
Led all nonstarters in double doubles last year, with 10

G-F Chris Mills 156 10.3 ppg 5.0 rpg 2.2 apg 41.1 FG%
Saw more time last year than Latrell Sprewell, for whom he
was traded

G Terry Cummings 204 9.1 ppg 5.1 rpg 1.2 apg 43.9 FG%
Was NBA's highest-scoring frontcourt player with no starts last

C Adonal Foyle 254 2.9 ppg 4.4 rpg 0.4 apg 43.0 FG%
NCAA's alltime blocks leader (492) has fewer than one per
game as a pro

G Vonteego Cummings(R)[#] 275 16.1 ppg 4.1 rpg 4.3 apg 41.1 FG%
Only player in Pittsburgh's top 10 in scoring, assists and
steals for career

[#]New acquisition (R) Rookie (statistics for final college year)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 102)