The Examiner breaks down the 2007-08 Warriors.
FIVE KEYS TO THE SEASON
1. Having lifted the Warriors — and the emotions of the Bay Area — onto his shoulders this spring, Baron Davis took his star level up a few notches (note all of the celebrity apperances he made) as he led Golden State’s charge to the shocking upset of top-seeded Dallas. Now, he just has to make sure to keep it there or, if possible, take it higher. The oft-injured point guard, who averaged 25.3 points in the stirring playoff run after putting up 20.1 in the regular season, needs to stay healthy after missing 19 games last season, the fewest he has missed in the last three years.
2. The Warriors are a playoff-caliber team right now, but in order to take the next step in their growth, they will need to become better defensively, which includes being a better rebounding team. The common philosophy is that while they might not win the rebounding battle, they will try not to get killed on the boards.
3. With Jason Richardson now in Charlotte, the Warriors lost some leadership. But what they gained (along with dumping Adonal Foyle) was salary-cap space, which they used to bring in rookies Marco Belinelli, Brandan Wright and Kosta Perovic and underappreciated veterans Austin Croshere and Troy Hudson, giving them improved depth.
4. The Warriors were often immature during their playoff run, letting their emotions get the best of them and costing them at key junctures, particularly in road games. Davis and swingman Stephen Jackson, who are the emotional and on-court leaders, have said in the preseason they want to set a better example.
5. No longer will the Warriors be able to sneak up on people. Unlike last season, when they wallowed formuch of the season before putting together a magical late-season and playoff run, they will be media darlings whenever they go to a new city (except Dallas), so how they handle their fame will be key. Players and coaches have said last season means nothing this year.
— Steve Drumwright
Year 2 of the second Don Nelson era has a lot more known qualities than unknown. What should help is the midseason additions of last year having a training camp under their belts and learning more of the nuances of Nellie ball. Nelson has said that this roster has a lot of chemistry, which should help the Warriors deal with whatever adversity they will encounter.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Stephen Jackson, guard-forward
The tempermental swingman is probably the Warriors’ second-most important player behind Baron Davis. But Jackson’s habit of drawing technicals and ejections — not to mention off-court issues — have detracted from his on-court skills. His value is in his defense, with his rangy arms and desire, while he can also be a big contributor offensively (he had 16 or more points in 10 of 11 playoff games, including 33 in the clincher vs. Dallas). Jackson has committed himself to cleaning up his act off the court, but time will tell if his actions back up his words.