How the Warriors can get even better

In the interest of full disclosure, this column was written before Game 5 on Tuesday night. Even so, some things have become apparent over the past two months.

A few observations:

» Over the past few years, Warriors fans have concocted scenarios in which their team acquires a difference-maker such as Kevin Garnett, Pau Gasol or Paul Pierce, among others.

But over the course of the playoffs, what has become apparent is that the Warriors already have this kind of elite player. And his name is Baron Davis.

Yes, Davis has been injury-prone in the recent past, but he has proven that, when he is healthy (or approaching healthy), he is more effective than most of the big names out there.

Take Houston’s Tracy McGrady, one of the league’s premier talents. McGrady has never led a team into the second round of the playoffs — something Davis just did.

The bottom line is that Davis, when healthy, has more of an impact on a game than just about any other player in the league.

» Davis’ dunk over Andrei Kirilenko on Friday night in Game 3 was so good that “Kirilenko” should become the de facto verb for getting dunked on — as in “That guy really got ‘Kirilenko-ed’ on that play.”

» It’s no secret that the Warriors are going to need another big man upfront to give Andris Biedrins some help. Conventional wisdom suggests the Warriors need a low-post scorer to give them an interior dimension on offense.

No doubt, the Warriors need to get bigger, but they need to be careful about who that player is. The player in question cannot be someone who demands the ball or expects to be a go-to type of player. Unless, that is, the Warriors want to change their style completely.

Instead, the Warriors need a blue-collar guy who can defend, rebound and score occasionally in the low post. Not that he’s available, but Utah’s Paul Millsap is the kind of player we’re talking about.

» I’d like to see Stephen Jackson do a better job of getting back on defense, too, particularly after he thinks he was fouled on one of his moves to the basket. But I’ll take him the way he is.

It’s become fashionable to criticize Jackson for not being able to keep his emotions in check. But the same people ripping Jackson for over-the-top intensity are likely the same people who criticized Mike Dunleavy for being too passive.

» The Warriors should relish their first NBA postseason in 13 years. Why? Because if this were the Warriors’ second or third consecutive playoff appearance, fans wouldn’t be as forgiving for the meltdowns in Game 5 against Dallas and Game 2 against Utah.

Matt Steinmetz is the NBA insider for Warriors telecasts on Fox Sports Net.

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